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How to brand your t shirt shop to be a successful business on etsy

Branding your Etsy T-Shirt Shop: Tools to Set Your Business Up For Success

By Shirtspace | Feb 05, 2021 |  Updated Feb 05, 2021

If you have already created an Etsy seller account you can focus on the next step in evolving your business - branding your Etsy t-shirt shop! You didn’t think the work was over did you? It has just begun! You can’t just open your shop expecting to attract potential customers without the necessary additional steps. 

When it is someone’s birthday, you don’t just write a message on a note card or scrap of paper; most people get a colorful, alluring, clever, or sentimental card that attracts them for some reason or another. Your shop needs some personality to set it apart! This is why branding your Etsy t-shirt shop is essential. Creating a strong Etsy t-shirt shop brand that is likeable will only lend to customers conversions.

Branding

What exactly is branding? Along with the quality and desirability of your product, branding is one of the most important parts to think about when you are starting an Etsy t-shirt business because it communicates to your customers the identity of your shop. A strong brand communication strategy can be just what it takes to create loyal customers that identify with, relate to, trust and eventually become devoted purchasers to your brand and the personality you have created for it. 

Paired with a strong product and good customer service, these emotions and associations will convert to interactions and sales with these customers that we reach. Brand perception will consist of the customer considering the product and business to hold some sort of value in their life. Elements such as brand voice, graphics and imagery, and even company policies can communicate so much about a brand so it is important all of these things are ironed out. This will ensure that clear and consistent messaging is being put out.

Things to consider when selecting a name when branding your Etsy t-shirt shop:

From a branding standpoint, choosing your t-shirt business’s name is an incredibly crucial decision when it comes to starting the process of branding your Etsy t-shirt shop. You likely will not want to change it once you establish your brand so make sure you select something that represents your shop well and something that will grow with your company as time passes on. 

Think about possible items you may add to your product mix. If you only have t-shirts in your shop right now but you think down the line if things go well you may want to add hoodies and leggings to your listings, then maybe do not name your business OnlyTees4U. Check out our blog post that shares how to start a t-shirt business on Etsy for more tips about name selection. 

Every aspect of your business and its proceedings needs to reflect the brand identity that you establish. Remember that all elements of your brand should align with your values. Within Placeit’s Guide for T-Shirt Sellers About How to Be Successful on Etsy, we are reminded of the importance of consistency, the point being brought up that, “if you run a t-shirt shop that sells merch with an environmental message, everything from your logo to your eco-friendly packaging should reflect that.”

Things to consider when selecting a logo and brand asset designs when starting an Etsy t-shirt business:

Once a name is selected, you can start thinking of a logo for your brand. This should be the thumbnail of your Etsy store page, and appear when you are having a direct message conversation with someone through the platform. It is important that the logo mesh well with the overall Etsy t-shirt shop brand identity and name. It needs to be simple yet unique, as well as memorable and clean. You can create your logo in a graphic design program like Adobe’s Photoshop or InDesign, or something simpler like Canva. If you are not familiar with these programs you can hire a graphic artist to create a logo for you. Make sure your brand’s color palette is included in the Etsy t-shirt shop logo design. Your logo might be a graphic, your name, or the first letter of your business name. Plan to have your logo show up on everything from letterhead, business cards, stickers, anything related to your business - you name it!

Things to consider when writing the bio for your online store when branding your Etsy t-shirt shop:

This is the part of your Etsy small business where you can really communicate your messaging to your customers. It is a section where the identity of your t-shirt Etsy shop comes to life! In your Etsy business bio and “about” section you can include: 

  • Company values and missions

  • Your personal or business backstory

  • Who inspired this venture

  • Why you are passionate about creating and selling these products 

  • Applicable partnerships with other brands

In your Etsy store bio you can add anything else you might like the customer to know about you. Use your “bio” to create a brand voice that is positive and friendly. Make sure this section is not too long, a few paragraphs will suffice. Structure your “about” area by breaking the content into sections. Also, make sure to proofread the text for any errors as well. 

Gatski and Shoup from the popular for “Dummies” brand of informational how-to advice also suggest including press clippings, “If you or your business has garnered a nod in the media”. Just do not go overboard with too many press clippings. They also suggest including additional product information, a disclaimer if your offered product warrants one, or even a mention of charitable giving and partnerships your business may contribute to. Some of these suggestions can be included in the “about” section as well if you feel they are better suited for that area on your Etsy t-shirt shop page.

Things to consider when writing the “about” section when branding your Etsy t-shirt shop:

The “about” section you write out when you are branding your Etsy t-shirt shop cannot exceed 5,000 characters. Try to shy away from traditional marketing copy, Etsy users appreciate genuine copy that sounds like it is coming from a relatable human - not a sales pitch or gimmick. Remember why Etsy users come here - to get unique finds as well as to get away from corporate influence and products. 

Other ideas to include when you are branding your Etsy t-shirt shop are social media links to increase your brand presence and following. You can let your customers see your work space, the process to create the product, raw materials used before production and any suppliers or assistants utilized to create this item. Feel free to go into detail about your brand or company story here as well. Make sure to establish a brand voice and personality. This is where you really sell your brand so make sure you are presenting your Etsy t-shirt shop in an appealing way that facilitates positive associations, piques interest and fosters a healthy brand-customer relationship.

Things to consider about setting policies when branding your Etsy t-shirt shop:

While creating the policies section when branding your Etsy t-shirt shop, make sure to be clear about any major regulations or processes your customer may need to know about while making their purchasing decisions. Caroline Goldstein from Just Business gives sound advice about establishing your Etsy shop policies, stating that you may need to communicate to your customers about details when it comes to manufacturing, processing, shipping times, accepted forms of payment, the payment process, as well as rules about returns and exchanges. 

It is very important that you make this section thorough and easily understandable so that if any disputes regarding these guidelines arise, you can reference your page and the clearly laid out policies. An easily available and fair policies section will also add to your Etsy t-shirt shop’s legitimacy. Consider sanitation, financial loss, how fragile your product is, and the type of product when setting policies regarding returns and exchanges.

Things to consider about customizing your online storefront when branding your Etsy t-shirt shop:

Your online storefront aesthetic is important when you are branding your Etsy t-shirt shop because it not only displays how you want your brand to appear, but it also adds (or takes away from) the legitimacy of your business. If you do not put much effort into making your digital store looking organized, presentable and visually appealing, then the customer will likely think you will not be putting in much effort into your products or creating a seamless buying experience for them.  

When you are choosing design elements, make sure to choose complimentary colors that reflect the mission, goals and vibe that you have set for your brand. If you group your items into categories, your users can find desired items easier, or even just browse around and perhaps find something they did not know they needed but must have. The more organized and user-friendly you set up your store to be, the more likely it is that you will make a sale once the person finds you.

Image source: Paradise Apparel

Things to consider about shipping materials and package presentation when branding your Etsy t-shirt shop:

You want the entire buying experience to be a positive one when it comes to customer experience. This is why shipping materials, packaging, shipping method and more factors should not be neglected once the purchased item has been produced and the sale made. Consider the best way to ship your item(s) so that it is not damaged, costs you the least money, and is still presentable. Consider shipping with colorful tissue paper, or place a nice handwritten thank you card in with the order. You can also include branded merchandise like stickers, buttons, a magnet, pens. Even consider something as simple as postcards with attractive photographs, graphics, a message holding value, social media channels handles, or a promotion such as a discount on future purchase.

These touches will leave a valuable first buying impression on the customer, a one-time chance to stand out as a top brand in their mind. Marketers and business owners strive for Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA), meaning they are competing to be one of the first, if not the first brand that comes to mind when a person thinks of a product within that particular category. These thoughtful elements will aid in making a good impression with the person buying from you. The goal is to incite brand recall - where a particular tune, color scheme, character, etc. is synonymous with your brand and creates an instant (and hopefully positive) reaction. Make them remember you from the very beginning when you are branding your Etsy t-shirt shop!

Choosing Suppliers for Materials and Equipment

Another extremely important part of the process when you are branding your Etsy t-shirt business is choosing your suppliers to obtain materials. Luckily ShirtSpace has a whole article about what to look for when choosing a supplier. Supplies will include blank apparel, and whatever equipment, tools and materials you may need for garment decoration. 

For screen printers this could include inks and additives, screens, heat presses, squeegees and more. For vinyl artists this could be an assortment of vinyl sheets in a variety of colors and finishes, weeding tools, a heat press, etc. Those that use direct-to-garment methods will need software, ink printers, heat presses and other supplies. Embroiders need thread and perhaps equipment if your operation has moved beyond a hobby and you are a digitizing embroiderer. And for tie-dyers, they need soda ash, quality dyes, rubber bands or wax coated string and perhaps more. Some brands choose to attach custom-made tags made especially for the brand in mind. 

All of these supplies also need to come from a trusted source that will frequently re-stock, has good customer service and ships quickly. Your orders should also be a bargain so that you can set fair prices for your customers and still make a lucrative profit for your business. All of these mediums of apparel decoration have one thing in common - needing quality blank apparel to serve as the host of the design. Browse ShirtSpace for a wholesale online store that checks all the boxes. ShirtSpace provides a deep inventory of t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and much more for all of your blank apparel needs. 

Every t-shirt shop on Etsy will need to find a supplier for packing materials as well since you will be shipping out many orders. You will need to have different sized boxes or envelopes on hand so that orders can be sent out quickly and efficiently. You do not want to be sending your orders out in the old box from the air fryer you got for Christmas, or your sons’ box from his new sneakers. Would that not be confusing as a consumer to receive your goods this way? If anything it threatens to lower the legitimacy and reputation of your Etsy t-shirt shop. 

Advertising and Marketing

When you are branding your Etsy t-shirt business, advertising is often a necessary element needed to grow your business. How will you sell anything if no one knows your t-shirt operation on Etsy even exists? If you are thinking, “I do not know how to advertise or market - This isn’t Mad Men!”, do not fret too much. There are some simple things you can do to advertise for your Etsy t-shirt shop. Just account for the time and possible expense for these efforts within your budget, business plan and when setting prices for your product listings. 

The first thing you can do to get the word out there when you are branding your Etsy t-shirt shop is to pay for Etsy to feature your products. This will get your t shirts in front of the Etsy community and is a great tool to utilize when trying to boost your t-shirt business presence on the site. Just remember that it is important to have clear, attractive product photography to supply Etsy with when using their advertising services.

Another way you can get traffic to your page after branding your Etsy t-shirt business is to use Pinterest. Create attractive “pins” that link to your Etsy site. You can create these pins in simple graphic design programs like Canva, or more advanced software like the previously mentioned Adobe InDesign or PhotoShop. Link relevant keywords so that your pins are found when people are searching for items like yours. Pinterest is for crafty people, so you are putting your products right in front of the perfect demographic when taking advantage of this platform. 

Partnering with complimentary brands that do not compete within the same space is another way to get your name seen. For example, if you only sell shirts then you could partner with a trusted pants, skirt or shorts company that is similar in style. Shout eachother out in one other’s bios. It’s mutually beneficial for both businesses and puts you directly in front of your market. 

There are many, many things you can do in the realm of advertising and marketing when it comes to learning how-to brand your tshirt business on Etsy. The last tip we will share in this particular post to get some traction when trying to gain a following for branding your Etsy t-shirt business is to use the major social media platforms. Use Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Really try to figure out which channel not only holds the most potential customers for your niche but also which one drives more sales. You can use these platforms to simultaneously create a brand personality and market your products. Win- win!

Customer Reviews

Many people make online purchases based on reviews so it is crucial that you always strive to not only gain more reviews, but positive ones at that! After starting an Etsy t-shirt business you can have your friends and family get you started when they make purchases, but shortly after you should really strive for 100% unbiased reviews from strangers. You can incentivize reviews by giving a small discount for future transactions after a review is made on the first purchase. 

If you receive a negative review, reply to the customer’s comment kindly and ask them to direct message you so that you can try to help resolve the situation or make it right in some way. Handling negative reviews like this promptly is the best thing you can do to lessen any negative impact they may have. As positive reviews increase, your legitimacy and trustworthiness as a t-shirt shop on Etsy will increase.

A Few Tips and Tricks for a Successful Etsy T-Shirt Shop

LAUNCH GROW JOY interviewed t-shirt Etsy shop owner Michael Phipps and he shared his strategy to increase exposure, stating that, “the best way to kick start your shop is to post new designs as often as possible, or at least renew your ads frequently. Renewing your ads will place your item higher up in the search lists as it will appear like a newer ad than your previous posting.”

It’s also valuable to keep in mind that according to Etsy’s algorithm, the more products you post, the most visibility you will get organically through the site. LAUNCH GROW JOY also shared Mary Feurer (who owns Cracked Vessel Vintage)’s advice on this, stating that after she posted 100 listings on her page, the traffic went noticeably up - and continues to as “milestone” numbers are hit. 

A quick way to streamline your shipping process would be to create shipping profiles. This step is done after you have created and set up your Etsy shop. This feature was created so that “you can quickly update items with the same shipping costs” (Just Business, 2020). Any way to get your products to customers faster is a worthwhile tool to be used and helps with brand perception. 

Another viable resource for branding your Etsy t-shirt shop that should be explored is Etsy’s Social Media Tool. This tool brings in new business while simultaneously keeping existing customers informed about new products, restocks, positive reviews, general store or policy updates and other miscellaneous shop news. Etsy’s Social Media Tool allows the shop owner to easily update the synced social media channels - streamlining the process - since time is often a precious commodity for small business owners. 

Featured Etsy Shop Owner: Ivanna Roque’s Stellar Threads

We chatted with budding Etsy business owner Ivanna Roque to learn about her success on Etsy, the craft of embroidery and how it all started. A college student at Cal State Long Beach, twenty-year-old Ivanna was forced to move back home when the 2020 pandemic hit. This prompted her to learn how to embroider. Only a month later, she opened up shop and Stellar Threads was born! Currently Ivanna has so much business - she has to take short “shop breaks” to fulfill her orders and plans to start her own website in the future. Her fun anime and pop culture inspired t-shirts and sweatshirts are created with a digitized embroidery machine - producing minimalistic designs that appeal to a niche market.  

Q: What first inspired your love for embroidery and to open your Etsy shop? How did it all start?

A:  I had always loved embroidered apparel ever since I was young! I thought it looked so beautiful and so much nicer than just apparel that had things printed out. But what inspired me to open my shop was seeing other small brands and other small business owners posting behind the scenes of their businesses and packing orders! I just thought that that looked so fun and it was such a great way to reach people. Also, the idea was very spur-of-the-moment. I felt like I was in a rut and just wanted to do something bigger with my life so one night I decided to buy an embroidery machine and other supplies and from there I started figuring everything else out!

Q: What has been the biggest struggle while running an Etsy business?

A:  The biggest struggle while running an Etsy business has definitely been all the legal aspects! Right now my Etsy shop is under my name and not “Stellar Threads” because I do not have my DBA and I don’t plan on getting it soon, because I am moving in a few months closer to my college (once I move I will be getting the DBA). But overall, it’s been very confusing trying to understand what I need to run this business and make it legal. 

Q: How do you market your shop? Do you pay for any advertising?

A:  The main way I market my shop is through Tik Tok! Tik Tok is super easy to use and any video can go viral (which actually happened to four of my videos back in October). I also use Instagram to market and promote my shop, but Instagram’s algorithm is a little harder to break through. But I do not pay for any advertising! Right now Tik Tok is helping me get my sales, so I don’t think I need any paid advertising for the moment. 

Q: What is your favorite blank apparel piece to print on that we sell at ShirtSpace and why?

A:  My favorite blank apparel piece from ShirtSpace would have to be either the Hanes P1607 Ecosmart Crewnecks or the Gildan G180 Heavy Blend Crewnecks! I absolutely love crewnecks, but more specifically, these are perfect because not only are they extremely comfortable, but they have great color ranges (especially the Gildan Crewnecks). 

Q: What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own t-shirt Etsy business?

A:  Do a lot of research!!! I would also suggest that they try different types of marketing and advertising on social media before going straight to paid ads, because a lot of money can be saved from doing that. And lastly, I would definitely suggest buying their blanks from Shirtspace! Not only does Shirtspace have an immense amount of variety, but prices are really good!

Images Courtesy of Stellar Threads by Ivanna Roque

Now Go For It!

Now that you know exactly what is needed for branding your Etsy t-shirt shop, get to planning and then take the leap of faith! There are bound to be mistakes that will arise but if you begin with a solid product line, a well thought out plan, a passion and drive to put in the work you will go far. Also keep in mind that you need to have a resilience for when minor failures occur and patience for growth. With these components we are sure your Etsy t-shirt shop will be just the success you had hoped for. Let’s help each other out - if you have small business and/or Etsy experience - make sure to drop any additional tips you may have for aspiring Etsy t-shirt shop owners in the comments below.

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