I remember the day like it was yesterday. The box in hand, a sense of breathlessness. I was about to change the world.
There was only one small… Well, I guess it was a big problem I encountered.
I’d been selling bracelets and watches for my company but decided that I wanted to sell t-shirts instead. I never heard of a drop shipping t-shirts until after disaster had struck.
As my company was nautical themed, I figured I’d be selling nautical themed shirts. My logo on the front and an anchor on the back.
My first inclination was to get a design for the shirt. I ended up getting the designs from Fiverr.
Once I had pictures of the shirts for my social media accounts, I promoted them. Within a few days, I was selling around 30 shirts a week. There was only one problem, I didn’t have any shirts in hand. This had been my first test run.
I took the money I had made and ordered my shirts to be screen printed at a local company. Two weeks later, I had my shirts in hand. Proud as can be, I fulfilled my orders.
First Big Mistake
My belief was my customers would be as satisfied as I was… Then came the first email telling me the shirt was too small. Then another. It came to be that almost every shirt I had sent out had been too small.
With my chest tightening, I investigated. After looking at what my competition was doing, I quickly found the problem.
Being a man, I’ve never tried on a women’s shirt. As men, we buy men shirts. Yet, for the majority of women when they buy shirts, they buy unisex which is a split between men and women sizes.
This meant that all of my smalls and mediums would not fit my customers. My larges and extra-larges would fit the people who normally wear small and medium. This was a big problem.
I’d spent nearly all my money on the shirts with no clue what to do. With the catalog I received from my screen printing company, I looked at shirt after shirt. I had to fulfill my orders, but the orders required a lot of money upfront, money I had just wasted.
There had to be another way. I went online and did research. This is when I first learned the power of drop shipping t-shirts.
When someone would now order a shirt from my company, a third party would fulfill my order. This means you can start a t-shirt brand with virtually no money. All you need is your designs.
The downside is the drop shipping companies take a good percentage of your profit. But the upside is far greater. You no longer have to worry about your inventory count.
You’ll want to put on your website that all shirt sales are final.
Different Drop Shipping Companies
I’ve tried a few t-shirt drop shipping companies.
The first one I tried was Printful. Printful is based out of California. Their turn around service is about 3-5 business days after you send in your order. You can customize your package to have your address on it.
I’d been using them for a little while but realized the colors on the shirts being printed by them didn’t match the colors of the design. This when I looked at other options.
I tried Print Aura, but their prices were a few dollars more than Printful. Eventually, I tried the company Scalable Press. They had long sleeved pocket tee’s that I was interested in using for my company.
There was only one problem. The shirts would take a week or two to be fulfilled. I had a few orders that took over a month to ship. They wouldn’t tell you if they were out of stock of a certain shirt.
I decided to go back to Printful. I ended up working with their design team and we fixed the problem with the color designs.
Printful is the best of the three drop shipping companies. If you wish, try the other companies as well and you’ll get a notion for which one works best for you.
Before you begin your drop shipping company, you will need to hire a designer. I used Fiverr and hired my designer for $5. This almost ended up a terrible mistake.
I gave my designer suggestions of designs I wanted from other companies to reference. After drop shipping a few of the t-shirts he designed for me, it came to my attention he was copying the design from another company without changing it at all.
I had to delete all those shirts from my site and start over. With UpWork, I’d hire a more skilled designer, one who didn’t steal designs. I’ve found it’s worth spending the money to hire a good designer for your shirts. You can find a designer to design you a shirt for around $40-$100 per design.
When looking for ideas for your shirt, I recommend using Freepik. This is the site where you can find vector designs that’ll be the basis of your shirt. You can find different fonts and color you’d like for your shirt.
If you’re looking for different fonts to use, check out the site Dafont. You can find any font you desire.
Once you have your designs for your shirts, it’s time to market them.
Getting Orders Through Social Media
The social media accounts you can use to market your shirts can be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Etsy, and Pinterest.
I’ve found that Instagram had been the greatest social media outlet to sell the shirts. But I’d like to talk about the other four social media sites and what I found by using them.
While using Facebook, I noticed that contests are a great way to grow your page. You can give away a free shirt and have people share your post and comment friends in the post.
The only problem with Facebook is when you’re trying to grow your page, it can be expensive. I recommend growing your page to a few thousand likes to show your credibility if you wish to use Facebook.
When you’re using Facebook, you’d be using it for displaying ads of your shirts. The ads can be expensive and it will take time to find the ones that work with your company.
If someone sees your ad and likes your page that doesn’t mean they’ll ever come back to your page. If 3000 people like your page, Facebook will only show your post to 300 people. They limit your reach. Unlike Instagram, where more followers could see your brand.
I believe it’s easier to build a connection with your audience on Instagram.
With Twitter, I gained a decent following through paying for retweets from accounts that had large accounts of my target audience. This allowed my products to be seen in front of my ideal audience. The problem is that eventually, the audience you’re buying from will dry up. Unless you have a business that has a lot of other large niche accounts on Twitter, it’s not worth using.
I had been using twitter and had a decent amount of sales, but it doesn’t have sustainability. Twitter is a dying brand.
From Twitter, I tried Etsy. The market can be saturated on Etsy and have tough competition. I tried using paid promotions on Etsy but didn’t notice an increase in sales.
With drop shipping taking away from your profit, it’s hard to compete on Etsy.
If you’re selling high-priced shirts, then Etsy may be for you.
Another social media company I used was Pinterest. Pinterest is great if you’re selling women’s shirts as the company’s user comprises 80% of women. Pinterest is time-consuming if you don’t know what you’re doing. It can be tricky trying to figure out how to get your product in front of the right audience.
I never tried Pinterest ads so I have no opinion on them. You can always try for yourself.
This takes me back to the last social media company, Instagram. In the beginning, I found Instagram hard to grow my account and didn’t pay too much attention to it. It was over time I could see the benefit of using Instagram for my shirt company.
I’d been taking pictures of my clothing myself, but the photos were unprofessional and I’d only post once a week. I knew something had to be done.
Get Quality Photos At A Low Cost
When I searched around Instagram, I noticed that there were a plethora of great photographers without a large following. I reached out to these photographers. I told them the story of our company and I’d ask them if they’d be willing to take a few pictures of the shirts. They’d cordially agree.
It was a mutual benefit. I send them product they can photograph and then use in their portfolio and also be able to keep the product. I gained the benefit of having photos to show my clothing on Instagram to make my brand look professional.
This is the type of photo you’d receive from a photographer.
Even though I was only running the company myself and a few other workers, the photos showed the effect it was a much larger company.
There are tons of accounts on Instagram that have great photographers. One account I used was @quietthechaos.
Over time, you’ll develop a feeling of the photographers you want to continue to work with. This is essential for when you’re coming out with a new product.
To go along with photographers, I’d have models wear my clothing. This would show people what my shirts would look like on themselves. You can find models with Instagram accounts under 10k followers that’d be more than willing to help promote your products for recognition and free product. Like the photographers, you’ll have a good feel of models you wish to continue to work with.
This is the type of photo a model would take for you.
Earlier in the article, I mentioned how no one could wear my small and medium shirts. I found cheerleaders who had a large following and that my target audience followed and I could send those shirts to them. This is helped grow my brand.
Another way I grew my brand was through shout outs. I’d pay an Instagram page around $50 that’d have a following of over one million followers. This allowed my target audience to see my brand. Buying shoutouts increased my followers and sales.
This is an example of the post you’d give a brand when buying a shout.
You know an account will do a shoutout if they have their email, Kik name or they say to direct message them on their profile.
I tried the same tactic using twitter, but there weren’t as many large accounts in my niche. Instagram is a better way to showcase your shirt company.
The last piece of advice I can give you for when building your company is to reach out to similar companies in your niche and ask them how they grew their following and generated sales.
If you want to see a company with a large following that drop ships shirts: sevenly.org
What do you think of the article? Let us know in the comments!