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Lesson 2: How to Start Online T-shirt Store


One of the most important factors in building a successful t-shirt business is the ability to stand out from the crowd, and one of the best ways to do that is by catering to a specific niche.

In general, t-shirts with funny slogans are going to be too broad to get noticed in an already oversaturated market, so in our first lesson, you’re going to learn how to effectively brainstorm specific niche ideas.

First, decide on a broad topic. Here are some examples:

  • Jobs and professions – ex. nurses, trainers, farmers
  • Popular hobbies and interests – ex. sports, music, pets
  • Affiliations and clubs – ex. politics, religion, schools
  • Cities and places – ex. local landmarks, street names, figures

Now in order to connect with your audience and effectively target your niche, you’ll need to narrow your focus and drill down to one particular aspect of your chosen topic.

For example: instead of musicians, consider trumpet players; instead of pets, consider bulldogs; instead of trainers, consider CrossFit trainers.

Don’t forget your bonus content

Course attendees can receive an exclusive bonus pack—including our 22-minute crash course in online marketing—by claiming their extended 30-day free trial of Shopify through this unique signup page and selecting a plan.

Once you’ve selected a plan,submit your store’s URL using this form (you don’t need to remove your storefront password or open your store to the public). Delivery usually takes between 24-48 hours.

Validating Sales Potential

Once you’ve narrowed down a few of your broad ideas, evaluate them based on the following criteria:

  • Is it a “feel good” topic? Would someone wear your shirts with pride?
  • Can you easily describe its demographic, behaviours, and interests?
  • Is there the potential for designs to be expanded to other products?

Here are a few examples of t-shirt stores that chose highly targeted niches with high sales potential (and succeeded as a result):

Example 1: Thinkpup. Tucker Schreiber, a content creator for the Shopify blog, built a dog-themed t-shirt store that earned $1,248.90 in 3 weeks.

Example 2: Bobo Academy. Liz Bertorelli, another content creator at Shopify, built her own t-shirt store that catered to the LGBT community.

Example 3: Toronto Outfitters. Created by Mark Macdonald, Shopify’s head of content, Toronto Outfitters targeted residents of the greater Toronto area.

As you can see, each store owner chose a highly specific niche to target. Thinkpup is able to connect with dog lovers, Bobo Academy cornered the LGBT market, and Toronto Outfitters appeals to residents of Toronto neighborhoods.

Today’s Action Items

Now it’s your turn. Use the instructions and examples above to brainstorm a specific, highly targeted niche for your online t-shirt store.

What’s Next?

In our next lesson, we’ll be generating a name for your store, creating your first logo (for free!), and setting up your Shopify store. All of this will stem from your chosen niche, so make sure you’ve decided on that before moving forward.

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