In this guide we will briefly go through how to start your own label and online store to sell your designs on apparel and homewares. Whether its tees, kidswear or homewares we can offer a few tips to get you started making money from your art.
Step 1: DESIGN
The first thing you need to start with is a design. Illustration / doodle / photograph / artwork. Any medium, style, subject matter. We can print full-colour, watercolour, pencil drawing, photo or computer illustrations.
To break through, you’ll need to have designs people love, something original. We do not recommend taking art from the internet. Firstly it is not usually good enough quality to print and it also may infringe on copyright. See our previous blog post about The Rights of Copyright.
If you are not an artist yourself you can commission designers you have found. How much they charge per design is their call, so you will need to negotiate to find a solution that works for both of you.
Step 2: BUSINESS STUFF
Now that you have a few designs here are a few things you need to get started.
Name: Choosing a business name is hard. Someone once told me it is both the most AND least important decision when starting a business and that is totally true. You want a memorable name, but if your products are popular they will promote your name.
Unique business names come from all kinds of ideas. A name that will get stuck in your customers head is key.
Using a random name generator to inspire you isn’t lazy. It’s smart. You’ll be surprised how many good ideas are still out there (and that maybe didn’t occur to you, either). A lot of name generators also find out if the domain name is available. You do not need a domain name to start a website, but it is definitely recommended so you own it rather than someone else.
If you already have a name, search Crazy Domains to see if it is available. They usually cost around $15 for a year. Always try to purchase .com or your country specific one (.com.au for Australia)
Payment: We recommend PayPal. Its takes the payment securely from the customer and gives you the money in your PayPal account which can be transferred to your personal bank account. It also offers customers who are not members to enter credit card details so is the safest way for both customers and sellers.
Extra legal stuff to start up a bigger business: Depending on your location, most local government sites offer a range of start-up checklists.
These checklists include: Registering your business name, Business structure (sole trader / partnership), ABN (Australian Business Number), Registering for GST etc.
Step 3: SAMPLES & PHOTOGRAPHY
You can upload in our custom section 24/7 at The Club to purchase your designs onto any of our blank base garments. Because it is digitally printed you can purchase one at a time, full colour with no set-up costs. Simple.
Printing one at a time means you can make samples to photograph. If you are on a tight budget most smartphones have pretty decent cameras that can take great product images. Here are some tips for taking awesome product photos with your smartphone. (If you want to skip the sampling process you can photoshop your art onto a blank mock-up. There are a heap of tee templates online.)
Don’t zoom – Manually shoot from a closer distance. This way you can adjust the focus.
Steady your camera – Set up a makeshift tripod on a pile of books, window ledge etc
Don’t use the selfie camera – More often than not, the backward-facing camera is better than the front-facing camera.
Don’t use the flash –Take photos during the day if possible under natural lighting or with lamps. Placing two desk lamps either side of your product or model is better than a single harsh spotlight.
Background matters –Simple single colour backgrounds are great for product shots on websites, while in situ shots are great for social media and look books. You can edit out the background in photoshop or for a very cheap and fast service to do this for you check out Pixc.
Edit – Adjust contrast, colour etc in photoshop to help tweak your photos and correct lighting from the shoot. There are also a great range of free apps you can download on your phone like Snapseed to edit pics from you phone camera.
Step 4: SETTING UP A WEBSITE
Here’s the good news. Building and launching a new website is relatively inexpensive, easy and quick. You can be up and running in as little as a few hours and do not need any experience in technical web stuff. Here are a few options, but there are millions more depending on what you are looking for.
A. Big Cartel is great. Really easy to use and set up your own site. You can choose from different looks, create categories for products, direct your domain name to the site and integrate your payment methods. It is free for 5 products or a small monthly fee to upgrade for more products and features.
B. Another great option is Etsy. Rather than a monthly fee they take a listing fee and small commission from each sale. Etsy is a marketplace rather than independent online store so people might stumble upon your designs when looking around which can help with sales.
C. Squarespace offer template websites that look amazing. Super simple to build a portfolio or online store.
Step 5 : ADVERTISE
Now you have your site all set up and full of your new products you need to start promoting to get the sales rolling in. Social media is great. We love Instagram as it is a great visual platform to show new products, behind the scene pics, sketches, inspiration etc. It is great to test new designs and get feedback as well as promote your store. But remember don’t fall into the trap of social media self-doubt if your art does not get as many ‘likes’ as you had hoped. You should make art for you and not take it personally.
Step 6: YOUR FIRST ORDER. CONGRATS!
You have two choices to fulfil your online orders with The Club.
A. You can either purchase from us in bulk.
- Pros: Bulk discounts, screen printing options for larger runs, combined shipping costs.
- Cons: Difficult to predict your most popular designs and quantities per size.
B. Purchase online one at a time as your customers order from you.
- Pros: No huge start up cost involved buying stock. Get the exact size and design needed after the customer has ordered and paid you. (We have a fast print turn around so not a huge delay)
- Cons: Slightly higher cost per unit plus double shipping costs can eat at your profits.
(We are happy to ship directly to your customers to save on double postage. When checking out just add your recipients name and address. Please note these parcels will come with Club packaging materials rather than your brand)
Printing methods: Screen printing vs digital printing
- Minimum order 20 units per design
- Set up costs for each design and each colour within the design
- Great quality print with excellent washability
- Cheap for large print runs
- Can print onto sleeves, inside neck etc.
- Full colour
- No set up costs
- Print one at a time
- Mix and match garments with all different designs to qualify for a bulk discount.
Step 7: THE EXTRAS
Customers love the extra details. Packaging / stickers / business cards / hand written gift cards / discount codes. Make sure you promote your brand and say thanks for their support.