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How To Sell T-Shirts Online Without Inventory: Step-by-Step Guide

by | Last updated Jan 4, 2024

Designing and selling t-shirts online is surely one of the most popular online businesses people start today because you don’t need much knowledge or investment. In this post, we give you useful tips on how to sell t-shirts online without inventory.

However, just before we dig in, let’s give you some reasons why the selling of t-shirts is such a profitable business venture.

Is Selling T-Shirts Online Still Worth it in 2024?

If you’ve never designed or sold t-shirts before and are about to start, you might be wondering if this popular online business is still worth it in 2024.

Over the years, online retail has become very rewarding. According to Statista, over $500 Billion was realized from e-commerce sales in 2018 alone. That number is expected to rise to over $700 Billion by 2023, with clothing expected to rake in more than $138,000 by 2022.

With so much money flowing around the online apparel industry, you could become a player in the game and earn some good money for yourself too!

Here are some tangible reasons why selling t-shirts online is a good idea.

1. You Don’t Need Experience or Any Special Skill

Most jobs will require you to have years of experience before you can be employable in their field. Luckily, online t-shirt sale does not.

Unlike being a lawyer, dentist, carpenter, or hairstylist, an online t-shirt seller doesn’t need to go to college or receive any training to be in the business.

You also don’t need to submit resumes to anyone before you start your business. All you need to do is decide you want to start selling t-shirts online and make the moves to begin.

2. It Is Easy to Start

Another reason why selling t-shirts online is a good idea is that it is easy to start. Since you can set it up as a dropshipping business, you don’t need much to get started.

You do not need to rent a physical store; neither do you need to employ sales attendants. You can design and sell t-shirts right from the comfort of your home.

There are also several digital platforms available for you to display and sell your t-shirts, for instance, the most popular one is Shopify.

Registration with these platforms, promotions, and payments are all hassle-free!

Man with T-Shirt

3. It Doesn’t Stop You from Doing Other Jobs

In this day and age, having just one source of income is a bad idea. More people are starting to see the importance of diversification, as far as earning money is concerned. Especially creating a passive source of income is always a great idea.

Selling t-shirts online is a good side hustle. Not only because it is lucrative but also because it also allows you to do other jobs.

As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to hire a sales attendant to sell t-shirts online. You also don’t need to be present in a physical brick-and-mortar store to make a sale. You can actually make sales while you sleep or are busy with other endeavors.

4. You Only Need Little Capital to Start

Like most online businesses, you don’t need an “arm and a leg” to begin. You would need to invest some money, but it’s a minimal amount.

You can create the designs with free tools, e.g. Canva, and sell them on print-on-demand platforms, such as Printify. Here you don’t need to pay anything in advance. The production costs simply get deducted from your selling price. This means you don’t have to pay anything but can only make a profit.

The only thing you might need to invest in is marketing, for instance, ads on social media. This depends on your marketing strategy and you decide on your own how much you want to spend on that. 

5. You Can Switch Up Ideas

Your first set of designs may not be your best, but there’s always room for improvement.

Your first ideas can inspire other ideas. Customer feedback can also help you come up with more mind-blowing designs. The concepts are infinite, and you can explore them for as long as you are in business.


Step-by-Step Guide on How to Sell T-shirts Online

As a first-timer, you probably need to learn how to sell t-shirts without inventory from scratch. Not to worry, I’ll be providing a step-by-step guide on how to get started.


1. Do Your Research & Come Up with Ideas

Don’t make the mistake and focus on a certain niche simply because you like it. You need to go for a niche that sells. You will have to go online and find out what’s hot. Is it pictures of rock stars, sports icons, past heroes, motivational quotes, or artistic patterns?

After you have done your research and settled on your niche, you will have to develop unique ideas and pass your message in a catchy manner.

Ideas may seem difficult to come by, but they will come if you keep an open mind. You can also get inspiration from other people’s designs. This doesn’t mean you should bite the ideas of others. It merely means you can take a cue from it.

2. Create Designs

Now that you’ve settled on your design ideas, the next step would be creating the designs. And you can use Canva for this.

Perhaps you haven’t heard of Canva before. Canva is an online graphic design platform that allows you to explore your creativity in so many ways. It has many ready-made layouts and templates that you can begin with. These templates are also flexible, meaning you can add your features to them.

This makes it a great tool for t-shirt print designs of all sorts. You can also use it for your e-books, posters, and other digital designs. On top of that, the basic use is for free. They have paid packages that allow you to access some additional features. However, you can begin with the free package until you start making money from the business.

Of course, if you are more advanced, you could also go for design software such as Adobe Photoshop. This is much pricier but also comes with more features.

Before you use the design ideas in your shop, it is a good idea to validate them. One way to do this is by showing it to close friends or family members and asking for their honest opinions. Honest feedback will give you a clue as to how those in your target market will receive it and whether you need to make some improvements or not.

Extra Tip: You should also make sure that the images or texts in your design are not offensive and do not infringe on anyone’s rights.

4. Upload Your Designs to A Print-On-Demand Shop

When your set of designs is complete, it is time to find a print-on-demand provider. I have worked with Printify before and can highly recommend this platform. There is a wide range of fabrics and different t-shirt styles and colors you can pick from.

For those who don’t know, print-on-demand simply means working with a specific supplier to have your designs printed on white-label products after a customer has made a purchase. In this case, t-shirts.

The t-shirts will be sold on a pre-order basis and will carry only your brand.

The concept of print-on-demand dictates that you’re not paying for the t-shirts until an order comes in. This means you won’t have to buy in bulk and keep inventory. This spares you the burden of looking for storage space and having a pile of unsold t-shirts.

Another advantage of print-on-demand services is that the supplier will be the one to handle shipping.

T-shirts on Printify

5. Create Your Shop and Connect to Your Print On-Demand-Shop

You will need a platform to sell your t-shirts, which is where an online shop comes in. Several platforms allow you to create an online shop for free. Two of the most popular ones are Shopify and TeeSpring.

Creating a shop with Shopify is super easy and can literally be done in less than 30 minutes. There are several store templates. All you need to do is pick one and customize fonts, colors, texts, or photos if you like.

If you need help doing so, check out this handy step-by-step Shopify store guide that shows you exactly where you have to click and what you need to pay attention to.

Once this is done, you can easily connect your Shopify store with the Printify platform. With only a few clicks, your designs will appear in your store. If you want to, you can customize the descriptions of your t-shirts. Write something funny or inspirational or talk about the quality of the fabric. Whatever you feel represents your brand and your designs best.

Once your shop is ready and all designs are imported, give it a test run. Order a t-shirt or two for yourself to see if everything runs smoothly – from adding items to the cart, to the payment process, to the delivery. You most certainly don’t want your customers to run into any bugs while trying to order your products. That looks unprofessional and you probably won’t see that customer again.


6. Use Social Media to Market and Sell Your T-Shirts

Having an online shop is one thing, but getting people to buy is another. For you to drive traffic to your store, you will need to create some awareness. There are several ways to do so. One of the most popular ones is probably using social media.

Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are perfect for promoting and selling apparel.

The good news is, that creating a social media account is free. However, to boost your posts and reach out to more people, it would be wise to use paid ads. Especially, when you don’t have a big following yet.

Using ads means paying the social media platform to extend the reach of your posts. For instance, if a regular post gets 50 views, a sponsored post could get as many as 100,000 views, depending on your promotional budget. And the more people see your ads, the more people can buy your products.

Sponsored ads will also allow you to target your specific audience. If your target group is young moms between 21 and 34 years, living in the USA, then you can show your ads to this group of people directly. That means you don’t have to waste time and money to show your ads to senior men from Russia if they wouldn’t be interested in your t-shirts anyway.

If you want to learn more about how to advertise on Facebook, check out the linked guide by Hootsuite.


How Much Money Can You Make from Selling T-Shirts Online?

I know you don’t like the answer but: It depends. Figures can vary significantly among business owners and are dependent on your design ideas, your online shop, and how efficient your marketing strategy is.

The source of your t-shirts is also a determinant. For instance, if you’re paying $2 per white-label t-shirt, and you’re selling the finished product at $10, you’ll be making $8 per tee. Someone else who buys a white-label tee of the same quality for $3 from a different source and sells it for the same price of $10 per finished product will be making $7 per tee. That’s one dollar less than you.

The factors that would determine how much you can make from selling t-shirts online include:

  • The cost price from your source
  • The quality of your finished product
  • Your retail price
  • Your design ideas
  • How user-friendly and appealing is your shop is
  • Your marketing strategy

To still give you a couple of numbers:

Benny Hsu made USD 100,000 in 5 months selling on TeeSpring. Pastor Carlos Rodriguez used Printify and managed to make USD 200,000.

If you look at their t-shirt designs, you will notice that they don’t use any super fancy or artsy designs, but rather simple statements. So you don’t have to be extremely creative. You only have to find messages that wow people so much that they would love to have it on a t-shirt.

Woman in statement t-shirt

How Much Does it Cost to Sell T-Shirts Online?

Investing in an online t-shirt business doesn’t require too much investment:

  • As mentioned before, you can get your designs done for free using tools such as Canva.
  • If you pick a print-on-demand platform, such as Printify, you don’t need to pay anything in advance but only pay for your shirts once someone buys them (and you get to keep the margin obviously).
  • You can get a storefront with Shopify for as little as USD 29 per month.

The only part where you could spend more would be on marketing.  If you go for Facebook ads, you should probably have a bare minimum of at least USD 100 to play around with. Once you’ve learned more about ads, you can optimize them and get more conversions for your money.

This business can be operated from your home or anywhere else, provided you have these devices in hand, which also means you don’t need to have an office or actual store.

As you can see, the cost for selling t-shirts online without inventory is significantly lower than opening a brick-and-mortar t-shirt store, where you have to pay annual rent, buy sewing and embroidery machines, and printing machines, and pay for utilities and staff.


Get Your Online T-Shirt Business Off The Ground!

Selling t-shirts online is a great business idea that doesn’t require much investment but can potentially make you lots of profit. You don’t need to have much knowledge. You don’t even need to be super creative or a talented designer. Simple statement t-shirts can be designed by literally anyone using free tools such as Canva.

The combination of a print-on-demand platform, e.g. Printify, and an easy-to-create storefront, for instance with Shopify, makes it possible for anyone to sell t-shirts online without inventory.

Facebook ads or Instagram ads can help you increase your reach a lot and bring more potential customers to your online store.

With the right design ideas, an online t-shirt business can definitely make you a very side income or even generate a full income and beyond.

Pin: How to sell T-shirts online

Guest Writer


This blog post was written by one of Digital Nomad Soul’s content creators. Stay tuned to get more information on the team’s guest writers soon!

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