Looking for a Side Hustle? Try a T-Shirt Business

Laptop with t-shirt business in a box side hustle on the screen

Side hustles are all the rage, because now it’s easier than ever to start your own business while still working a full-time job. At least 44 million people have a side hustle, the majority being millennials. In the next 5 years, the gig industry is predicted to grow by 9.5% to $441M.

You might be looking for a fun way to expand your skills or make some extra pocket money. Maybe you are looking for a flexible way to grow a business to replace your income. Whatever your reason, a t-shirt business could be your next opportunity.

Before jumping in though, it’s always a good idea to do some personal reflection, business research and then to keep refining your goals along the way. This will keep you from getting overwhelmed and help make your business a success – whatever that means to you.

Set Goals for Your T-Shirt Side Hustle

Goals, like road signs, get you to your destination – and sometimes quicker. One of the top reasons side hustles and small businesses fail to thrive is due to a lack of goals, or more specifically focused and attainable goals.

  1. Start by asking yourself why you want to start this business. Do you want to pay off debt? Do you want to have some extra money for fun? Do you want to turn this into your full-time income? By getting clear on why you want to start this business will give you a better focus and desire to succeed.
  2. Try to imagine what the end result will be. Maybe you will feel a little less stressed about money or you will have some flexibility to spend more time with family and friends.
  3. After you’ve established your reasons for starting a side hustle, now you need to determine the steps you will take to accomplish this. Starting at the end and working backwards is a helpful goal setting strategy. If your goal is to make extra money, then determine how much extra a week you need or want. An important part of goal setting is to create smart goals that you can achieve. Make sure your goal is not too high or too low that you won’t accomplish it.
  4. Once you have your goal broken down into steps now, it’s time to turn it into reality with a time management plan.

Create a Time Management Plan

A time management plan is a necessity when you are running a side hustle. Most likely you will be devoting at least 40 hours a week to your full-time job and often have other obligations to friends and family.

Time is a precious resource, and although we’d all like more of it, the reality is that there are only so many hours in each day. Managing your time well, especially when running a side business will increase your odds of succeeding.

Begin by figuring out where your time goes. Look at a typical week in your calendar and block out all the hours you spend at your day job. After that, cross out all family activities, time spent socializing and any other commitments you must keep.

Once that time is allotted for, look at your schedule to see where you have time to devote to your business. For some people, it means getting up earlier and working an hour or two before work. For other people staying up later and processing orders is a better fit. Figure out what is best for the way you work and go with that.

Go back to your calendar and block out that time to designate to growing your t-shirt side hustle.


Notebook with time management and business ideas for a side hustleChoose a Customer Base

Finding customers for your t-shirt side hustle may take some trial and error to figure out. Sure everyone loves t-shirts, but not everyone will buy from you. The most successful businesses are the ones who have discovered how to meet a need that hasn’t been filled yet.

Start with the knowledge you already have or the communities you are a part of.

  • Do you volunteer for a cause that holds an annual fundraising walk?
  • Are you a part of your child’s PTA/PTO?
  • Does your friend play in a band looking to promote their music?

These are all good places to start to find your niche in the t-shirt market.

Already being part of the audience that you are trying to reach will help you determine what their needs are and how you can fill them with your t-shirt side hustle.

Start with one group at a time to target, depending how much time and how much money you want to make. Once you are successful selling to that niche, see if there are ways to sell to similar groups or to sell them different types of screen printed products.

Learn About Apparel

While you don’t need to become an expert, it will be helpful to learn about apparel, especially the materials you will be working with selling t-shirts. Plus, you might want to eventually expand your business to include hats or even tote bags.

T-shirts come in a lot of different blends and you’ll want to know the difference, because it will affect the heat transfer types you use. It’s likely that you will be using 100% cotton, 100% polyester or a blend of them both.

Also, you’ll want to educate yourself on ink colors. Because computer and mobile screens vary, our color selector is a low tech solution that shows customers the actual screen printed colors.

Take Care of You While Taking Care of Business

Once you get your side hustle up and running, you don’t want to get burned out. Burnout is common when you are trying to balance a day job with your side gig. The long hours can take their toll not only on your physical health but can also impact your mental energy. You and your business don’t have to be another statistic.

First, go back to your initial time management plan. Notice where you are spending most of your time.

  • Are your side hustle and day job overlapping?
  • Is there a way you can find that time elsewhere?
  • Can you spare an extra hour on the weekend?

Another solution may be to hire additional help. This help doesn’t necessarily mean an added employee to your business. If you are earning enough money from your side hustle, you might consider hiring help to free up some of your personal time spent doing laundry, cleaning your house or shopping for groceries. Can you pay someone to clean? Can you order your groceries online? This extra time can be spent growing your business.

Finally, don’t forget to take care of you. This means blocking out time on your calendar for fun and relaxation. When was the last time you read a book by your favorite author? Or when was the last time you took a class to learn how to make your favorite dessert?

There are plenty of ways to indulge in just one hour a week. By taking yourself away from your business, you will come back refreshed and likely with new creative solutions to problems or ideas for new products.

Make a Long-term Commitment to Your Business

After several months in business, take a break to sit down and reflect on your success. Look at your original goal. Are you getting closer to achieving it? Why or why not? Take this time to see what is working or not working in your business.

Maybe you started with the goal of making an extra 10% of your weekly salary. But maybe you aren’t there yet. The average person makes between $500 – $1000 on their side hustle per month. Do you need more customers with a higher volume of orders? Is your marketing not reaching your intended audience or is it costing you too much to get new customers? Determine where you can make small changes or adjust your long-term plan to account for your level of growth.

Side hustles are not for everyone. They require you to be able to:

  • multi-task
  • manage your time
  • solve problems effectively

Starting a t-shirt business as your side gig is a creative way to not only build new skills but a way to make extra income and possibly even give you the freedom and flexibility to make it your full-time work.

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