5 tips for creating shirts that sell

April 15, 2022

Let’s chat about how to make shirts that sell. You’ve started your side hustle, you’ve got all the tools — now what? How can we convince others that your shirts are as beautiful as you have dreamt in your head? Presentation is everything! We want them to wear your shirt more than once. The key is to keep them coming back for more.

Raise your hand if you have pressed a shirt design upside down before. For those wondering, my hand is raised! Mistakes happen when learning how to design a shirt. It’s a part of your “research and development” phase. Those learning moments help to fine-tune your process which creates your unique style. There are a ton of shirt makers in this industry, but there is still space because you bring something unique….you! Building your individual style comes from how you design, the ways you promote your products, and the service you provide. Customers will buy the shirt because of who you are. Remember that. 

Design size matters

The size of the shirt design will make or break the overall impact of a shirt. Too small, and the message may not be clear. On the flip side, too big, and the message gets lost by the natural movement of the wearer. There are many size guides out there, and you will find your sweet spot. It can vary depending on the design you are creating, but most women’s sizes can range from 8” to 11” depending on the shirt size. My sweet spot is 9”. You should aim for the center focal point of the chest. How do you get there? Some people use the 3 finger rule from the collar, others whip out the ruler and stay between 2-3.5” depending on the size. For me, I find the middle of the shirt and use my index finger. Ultimately, find what works for you, and is flattering to your customer. Remember, the goal is to get them coming back for more!

Brownie Tip: Cricut Design Space has awesome shirt templates that help guide you. You can change the color of the shirt, size, and style. From there, you can see if the design is too big and will invade the armpits, or too small, in which you can enlarge it to a good size.

Quality matters

I said before, you buy cheap, you buy twice. In this case, if you buy cheap, you may create a one-time customer. I prioritize quality when searching for the best shirt. The only way I know that is to buy the shirt, try it on, move in it, and put it to the test. Then I can deliver a product to my customers with confidence. I love the response, “OMG, this is the softest T-shirt I own” when made by customers. That makes me smile because I know the time it has taken to get to THAT shirt. I am deliberate in choosing the shirt because ultimately, I want them to feel comfortable while wearing it, without fear of it shrinking. That means that I spend a few dollars more than other shirtmakers, but from the feedback I have been given, my customers are ok with the extra cost. They see it reflected in the quality of not only the shirt but the customer service I provide.

Brownie Tip: In my opinion, the best way to buy shirts to sell is from a wholesale company. Sign up for an account with your Resellers License and watch the price become more profitable.

At the Brownie Boutique, here are the top 3 shirt brands I use:

  • Cricut Brand Shirts (Women, Men, and Children): Great for sublimation and Infusible ink. Made with 95% or higher Polyester. These shirts have a good weight to them and keep their shape. Be sure to try them on first because the women’s sizes can vary
  • Tultex: The Tultex brand is quickly moving up on my favorites list. The 241 style is heathered. Heathered shirts typically have more polyester in them. The more polyester, the more I can do with the shirt. I can add HTV vinyl, Infusible ink, & sublimation designs. The lighter colors can be sheer though, which is a good fact to know when communicating to customers. The Tultex 202 style has a wide range of colors to choose from which allows me more variation when creating styles for my customers.
  • Bella + Canvas shirts were my go-to when starting the business. They are a softer cotton shirt that also offers beautiful color options.

Your style matters

Remember when I said customers will buy the shirt because of who you are? It’s true, they fall in love with your values, messaging, and character, which then builds confidence in the product you are selling. Because of that, share your story when promoting your collections. Find a way to connect with your audience. For example, we are a military family. Every April, the military celebrates military children, and it is represented by the color purple. Every April, I make a Month of the Military Child Collection that helps celebrate our littlest heroes. I share my story of being a military kid now raising military kids. My audience feels connected to my family and I, and that collection typically does pretty well amongst my military customers. buying. 

Mockups matter

It is said that 65% of the population are visual learners. They are able to process information faster when they first see it. In order to make an impression with your customers in the digital age, you have to dress it up. Literally! Do you want shirts that sell? Grab a mannequin, a person in your house, or a pre-designed mockup online, and put your image on it. Style it in different ways so that your customer can picture what they may look like in your items. Part of the reason I began creating graphic T-shirts was that when searching online, I did not see images of women who looked like me, wearing the shirts I wanted to wear. When creating my website, I wanted it to be a place of representation for my culture and those who shared similarities with me. 

When taking pictures of my products at home, my Cricut Bright 360 comes in handy. Not only do I use it while working, but it also helps brighten my photos to give them a more professional look. 

Brownie Tip: Cricut Design Space is a lifesaver when creating mockups for shirts that sell. I create the design completely in Design Space, screenshot the image, and send it to my customer for review. On the go? Don’t forget that you can use Design Space on your mobile device. Send mockups while waiting at the doctor’s office, parent pick-up line, and more.

The “Fit” matters

Once you have designed a beautiful creation, added your own style, and crafted an amazing mockup, show it off! No, I am not saying wear a shirt that a customer has paid for. But it’s okay to make a different shirt for yourself and snap a selfie. Post it on your business page, make a TikTok in it, or wear it to the kids’ football game. You are your own walking advertisement. Every Monday I try to go Live on my Facebook page. No matter what, I will have a Brownie Boutique shirt on. It’s my “uniform.” Whether it is my logo or a shirt that I am experimenting with, you won’t catch me with another brand on. This is a part of becoming your brand. People see you with it on, comment how cute it is and BAM, you have made a sale — you’ve made shirts that sell. Don’t believe me; try it out and watch what happens. Oh, and when it does happen, be sure to have a business card handy, you’ll thank me later.

Happy Crafting, Business Owner!