How to Create T-Shirt Designs That Sell

by . October 16th, 2012

You probably find yourself geeking out over t-shirt designs you see online all the time. You may have even created a few t-shirt designs yourself. Maybe it’s your dream to become a successful t-shirt designer, quit your day job, and just sell the awesome threads you create for a living. If you’re seriously thinking about entering the t-shirt niche, you’re going to need a serious plan to monetize what you’re doing. Here are a few things you can do create the kinds of original tees that sell:


Think outside the box

There’s a market for t-shirts that are, for lack of a better word, weird. The kinds of t-shirts that sell are those that stop people in their tracks when they’re walking down the street. They’re the kind of t-shirts people notice and compliment because they’re visually pleasing and interesting. You can design an attractive t-shirt, but it’s probably only going to sell if it’s unique. So, think outside the box.


Think outside the box t shirt design via  Esyok


Aim to entertain

T-shirts that are funny while remaining tasteful are usually winners on sites like Threadless and top sellers on sites like Etsy. When it comes to selling t-shirts, especially in the online sphere, you absolutely have to be able to get people’s attention. People like to be amused, and they like to wear amusing shirts. So, aim to entertain.


“Arial is not my type” t-shirt


Avoid overloading your designs with text

If you’re like most designers, you probably love combining fonts and images in your designs. While text is a necessary addition to a business card, logo, or billboard, it’s not always the best addition to your t-shirt designs. Think before you use text in them, and try to keep text to a minimum. Generally, one tasteful word on a tee is more powerful than a sentence, unless that sentence is exceptionally catchy or entertaining. Many of the most popular t-shirt designs are image-based. So, avoid overloading your designs with text.


vector tshirt design via designious


Keep an eye on your competition

A lot of designers sell t-shirts. The chances of your t-shirt getting featured on Threadless or your online t-shirt design shop hitting it big are slim, unfortunately. If you’re serious about entering the t-shirt design field, you’ll need to watch what other designers are doing and try to outdo them. Somewhat cool t-shirts are a dime a dozen online. You have to create t-shirts that are truly exceptional. So, keep an eye on your completion.

Once you’re creating amazing t-shirts, you’ll have to figure out how to promote them. If you have your own website, you’ll probably use SEO and other online marketing strategies to attract people to your tees. Or you might want to sell them using an online shop like Zazzle or Spreadshirt, which will handle most of the promotion for you. Research what you’ll need to do to promote your designs, consider the tips above, and get creative!


Rachel Sanders

About the Author

Rachel Sanders is a freelance writer and designer who creates content for as well as other education, design, and business websites. When Rachel isn’t writing informative articles and designing logos, she likes to read, research education trends, and discuss typography. Please leave comments and questions for Rachel below. She appreciates your feedback!