Starting A T-shirt Designing Business For Newbs: 10 Mistakes To Avoid

By Michael Baker , Oct 6 2022
tshirt designing

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Thanks to digital printing and the internet, you can start a t-shirt business in a few hours these days. You don’t even need to invest so much money in it; simply use print-on-demand service and drop-shipping.

However, 93% of t-shirt companies fail in the first 2 years due to stiff competition. Many people take t-shirt designing business as an ‘easy business that you can build in your free time’. But like many other business owners, you need to devote money, time, and effort into a t-shirt startup; and not repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

We’d like to save you from failure. That’s why we outlined below the top ten mistakes that you should avoid when starting your own t-shirt design business.

1. Not Knowing Your Target Audience

People from all walks of life wear t-shirts these days, no matter the gender, nation, or age. However, it does not mean that everyone is your target audience. They have different cultural, economic, and social backgrounds that influence their tastes. You can keep t-shirt design trends in mind, but you should never aim to create a t-shirt that everyone likes; it’s impossible to target all people at once.

That’s why the first step in any business is to identify who your target audience is. Create a customer profile that includes age, gender, income level, interests, and place.

It will help you to define what colors, style, and design your target audience prefers. For example, if you create t-shirts for teenagers, you need to focus on the bright, bold colors and creative designs. At the same time, girls would like pink, purple and other soft colors more than boys.

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For those of you who design t-shirts for adults, consider a muted color scheme. Most adults like neutral colors, like black, white, blue, or beige, because we perceive clothes from a practical point of view (while kids like bright clothes because they want to show their personality and stand out).

2. Too Big Size

Usually, the dimensions of the graphics on clothes will be the same for every size of the item. And yes, it means that the graphics could look larger on smaller on the end product. For example, it will be smaller in adults and big sizes of t-shirts while bigger on kids or XS sizes.

When designing a t-shirt, selecting a logo design graphic is critical to the overall outcome. Designers sometimes overlook the size of the graphics that they are going to put on a t-shirt. You may think the size of the logo does not play any role in t-shirt design, but it matters significantly. When the logo is too big, a t-shirt may seem weird.

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Moreover, different geometrical shapes may look different on the final t-shirt design as well. For instance, rhombus and square shapes look considerably bigger as compared to circles.

Tip: You could print your design on paper and hold it up to your t-shirt. This way you will know for sure whether it will look good or not.

3. Not Investing in Higher-quality Materials

Most business owners agree that to run a successful t-shirt company, you need to keep the price of the t-shirt low. But, don’t compromise on the quality of the material to save money.

The cheap fabric used for the t-shirt will eventually make the design fade out after a few washes, and you would lose the loyalty of your customers. After that customers would never buy a tee from your company. Many clients are ready to pay more but only for high-quality items. People want to feel extra special when they wear their t-shirts.

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Thus, invest in time and money to find quality material for your t-shirts even if you get a little less income. Your customers will express their gratitude through more sales, positive feedback, and loyalty.

4. Devil is in the Details

Everyone appreciates attention to details. It’s great to have unique, creative t-shirt graphics that you can wear and show off for years.

However, in most cases, people choose t-shirts with simple, minimalist designs. A clean, modern design has more chances of getting noticed and loved by more people.

A minimalist white t-shirt with a logo design or any other artwork is a perfect solution for almost every occasion. Feel free to use online t-shirt editors to create a mockup and try many different designs on your t-shirt online.

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5. Spending Too Many Resources at Once

Unplanned use of resources is one of the key reasons why many businesses fail today. In their struggle to generate immediate profits, startup owners squander all their resources and even end up in crippling debts. Instead of this, start with producing on a smaller scale, and avoid investing all your money at once.

For example, create and produce 15-20 t-shirts and observe how it goes; whether people like your product or not. This way you’ll secure enough time to learn how this business works, what designs people like, and other details.

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Another great way to earn money on t-shirts is by taking bulk orders. You can get in touch with different sports leagues and brands, and offer to design team t-shirts for them. Just include a logo and text on the t-shirt. Use a free logo maker to create a sports team logo or come up with your own artwork.

6. Not Using Higher-quality Images

Many newbies in t-shirt businesses tend to use poor quality, low-resolution images for t-shirt graphics found on Google Images. The low resolution is destructive because it blurs the images when they are scaled for printing.

If you want to get high-resolution images, do not download from Google Images, Facebook and other social media networks. These sites not only compress the images, but they could also be items of copyright. Be sure that you have the right to use them to avoid a copyright suit. Instead of social networks, use free stock photo sites like Unsplash and Pexels.

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They are the best places to find high-quality free images. For those of you who are looking for high-quality illustrations, you can find a lot of them on Freepik, but also make sure to check the license of the resources.

7. Fail to Choose the Right Fonts

Typography and fonts are equally important. They can break the design if they are chosen without taste or purpose. Your fonts should make the written words look aesthetically pleasing and readable at the same time. Here are some spooky fonts for Halloween t-shirt.

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Don’t hesitate to try different fonts before selecting the right ones. However, try not to use more than three at once because it will overload your design. And avoid Times New Roman and Comic Sans, these fonts have been out of style for years. And when in any doubt go to this font pairing guide.

8. Ignoring T-shirt Colors and File Types

They say, ‘the devil is in the detail’. Another thing that many designers overlook is the file type. If you make the wrong decision about the file type, it will result in an undesirable quality of your design.

For instance, some designs require a transparent background. That’s why you should save them (or convert) in a PNG format. Concurrently, the design will appear on a white background if used on a colored t-shirt if you use JPG, PSD, or, EPS file types as shown below.

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As you can see, the design in .EPS format appears on a white background on the grey t-shirt on the right. You can spoil the whole bunch of t-shirts when you send them for printing if you provide the wrong file type. Additionally, it’s critical to pay attention to the color of the t-shirt as well. Select contrasting colors so that your design stands out.

9. Forget about Composition

The success of your t-shirt design is also dependant on whether your composition is well or poorly planned out. To get a well-designed composition, arrange all the elements properly in relation to each other. There is no precise rules on how to do this, but ‘the rule of thirds’ is a good rule of thumb. Due to the rule of thirds most of the logos and graphics are placed on the top part of the t-shirt, but not in the center or bottom.

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Devote some effort and time on it, experiment and then show your results to other designers to gather their feedback.

10. Fail to Combine Colors

While deciding what colors to choose, do not forget that certain colors affect people in different ways. Green is a color that helps one to relax and calm down, while the pink color is playful and romantic. Check on color meanings and psychology before moving forward with a color palette for your t-shirt design.

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There you have it. The top mistakes to avoid when starting your own t-shirt designing business, and how to succeed in your venture. If you have some tips, feel free to comment below or let us know if we have missed out any.

Until then, good luck!

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Market research nerd with a penchant for graphic design and branding. A digital marketer by profession; a creature of the web by compulsion.


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