How To Build A Side Hustle Selling Custom Printed T-Shirts

Colour custom printed t-shirts with a printed design and customized tag on it.

These days, everyone wants a side hustle. While the idea of quitting your day job to pursue your passion might be too scary, a side hustle allows you to go after your dreams, after hours. If you have a passion for fashion, a custom t-shirt business may be your ideal side hustle.

Chris Guillebeau, author of Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days, says everyone should have more than one source of income. He argues that being dependent on only one source of income makes you vulnerable. Even if you have a secure, steady gig, a side hustle is an excellent opportunity to have a little extra cash in hand for those impulse buys or to boost your savings.

At Entripy, we’ve helped hundreds of side hustlers create their own custom t-shirt lines. Check out The Kind Company’s success story.

T-shirts are staple casual wear items and are a great way for creative types to showcase their talents.

Here are our top 7 tips for building your own clothing line:

1 - Define Your Niche

Chances are, your custom t-shirt designs aren’t going to appeal to everyone. Define who you are selling your t-shirts to? Are you coming up with slogans and funny sayings that appeal to dentists?

Be Kind custom t-shirt of Entripy's customer selling their t-shirt line.

Or are your trendy designs targeted to girls between the ages of 20-30? Pick your demographic and focus on designing custom t-shirts they will love.

2 - A Good Design Is Key

To stand out as a clothing line, you will have to have a design that people will love. That doesn’t mean your design has to be complex. Some of the best-selling customized t-shirts have a simple, one colour design or text. You also don’t need to be a designer to create a great t-shirt design. You can hire a freelance designer through a platform like Upwork or Fiverr to get a professionally-made design at an affordable price. Or you can use our design studio and create your own graphic using clip art images and text.

3 - Ask Others for Opinions

Once you have a few design examples, you may want to ask others which they think are the best. Simply asking a few friends can help you to narrow down your design choices. If you do post on a public forum or social media channel, be sure to watermark your designs so they can’t be copied. Choose only a few designs to start with. Once you start selling your custom printed t-shirts, you may be surprised by which designs are most popular!

4 - Protect your design

Be careful when designing your custom t-shirt that you aren’t infringing on another company’s copyright or trademark. If you’ve come up with a super catchy phrase or design, you may want to copyright or trademark that as well.

5 - Select a Printer

Having a good relationship with your custom t-shirt printer is a key component to your success. When choosing a printer, you’ll want to ask about their turnaround time, their minimum quantities and their price. You want to get a good quality t-shirt that people will wear, but at a price point that they’re willing to pay, while still leaving enough room for you to make money off the shirts.

6 – Priced Right

Printing custom t-shirts and putting them through a dryer for the last completing step.

The price you’ll pay for your custom t-shirt printing will depend on the number of colours in your design, the quality of the garments you select and the quantity of t-shirts you order. You can easily reduce your cost per t-shirt by increasing your quantities or simplifying your colour palette. When pricing your custom t-shirts, be sure to include not only the cost of printing, but your other business expenses as well, such as shipping and marketing.

7 – Take Your T-Shirts to Market

When marketing your personalized t-shirts, refer back to your target market information. Where does your target market hang out? Where do they shop and where do they look for information? Are they mostly on Facebook? Perhaps investing in Facebook advertising would be a good strategy? Do they visit local craft markets? Perhaps a table at the local Farmer’s market is a good way to get noticed. Find where your target market hangs out and get your custom t-shirts in front of them in as many places as possible.