How to Start a Successful Online Clothing Store with Shopify and Print on Demand

Learn how to start your very own clothing brand without buying inventory or spending a fortune.

Reading Time: 
7
 minutes
June 3, 2022

Starting your own online clothing store can be a very profitable and exciting venture. With the right planning and execution, you can create a successful business that sells clothing to people all over the world.

Whilst it can be it expensive if you plan on buying equipment and printing items yourself or if you plan on buying inventory, and you risk losing large amounts of money, you can mitigate a lot of the risk if you opt for a print-on-demand dropshipping model.

In this blog post, we will teach you how to start an online clothing store using Shopify and print on demand services. We will also provide some tips for success along the way.

There are a few key things you will need in order to start your online clothing store, which we will cover in the guide:

  • Choosing a Niche
  • Creating Your Shopify Store
  • Installing & Setting Up Your Print on Demand App  
  • Creating Designs for Your Apparel
  • Marketing Your Products

Choosing a Suitable Niche

The first step to starting your online clothing store is to pick a niche. You need to work out who you want to sell to.

Are you going to be selling clothes for men, women, or children? Will you be selling to cat lovers, fishing enthusiasts or sports fans? What age group are you targeting? What style of clothing are you going to sell to your chosen audience?

Some useful tools and websites for researching your niche are as follows:

  • Google Trends
  • Facebook Groups
  • Facebook Audience Insights Tool
  • Pinterest
  • Etsy, Amazon, Ebay

Researching your niche is as easy as simply typing it into one of the above websites and spending time to understand what is selling well.

Typing Bass Fishing into Google Trends shows seasonal trends over time

Once you have spent some time researching and choosing your niche, you will have a much clearer idea of what kind of store you need to create and exactly what print on demand products will work best.

Creating Your  Shopify Store

Now it’s time to start creating your online store. Shopify makes it easy to set up and manage your online shop and they have a lot of helpful resources and support available if you need it.

Shopify is by far the most popular ecommerce platform that sellers use to create and manage an online store. It's easy to use and has a lot of features to help you run your business smoothly.

It's important to note that your store needs to look professional and stylish in order for people to take it seriously. Fortunately, Shopify offers some great themes that can be easily customized to match your brand. You can also hire a Shopify Expert to help you with the design and set-up of your store if you need some assistance.

Let's go through some of the steps you will need to take to ensure that your store is ready to start selling.

Claim Your 14-Day Free Trial to Shopify

When you start your Shopify trial you will need to enter some basic details but it should be very easy and will only take a few minutes.

Choose a Name & Buy the Domain

Choose a name for your store that is catchy, memorable and relevant to your niche. Your domain name should also be available to purchase, obviously, and you should try to get the ".com" domain if possible. Once you have chosen a name for your store, you can set up your Shopify account.

Get a Logo Designed

You can either create a logo yourself with free design software like Canva, or you can try out a freelance designer on marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork.

Create Your Policy Pages

Shopify helps you by providing templates for your important legal pages, but you will need to craft a simple About Us, Contact & Shipping Policy page yourself. These pages are very important for building trust with customers that visit your store.

Your Shopify store settings are easy to understand and customize as required

Set up Your Shipping & Tax Settings

Inside your Shopify dashboard you'll find your settings tab on the bottom left. It's inside the Settings section that you'll find other important details that need to be set up such as your Shipping & Tax settings.

Shopify makes it very easy to set everything up and they have a great help center if you need further assistance setting up your store.

Installing & Setting Up Your Print on Demand App

One of the main benefits of using a print on demand supplier like Subliminator is that you don't need to buy any stock at all, and you only pay for the items that you sell.

It doesn't cost anything to install Subliminator on your store and all you need to do is go to our Shopify App Store listing and click "Add App".

Then once you've installed the app on your Shopify you will need to complete the account billing details inside the Subliminator app. This will only take a few minutes and you're ready to go!

Browse through our catalog of products and take a look at our catalog of free, pre-made designs that you can add to your store right away.

Now let's take a look at how to start creating and adding your own designs.

Creating Your Print on Demand Designs

Now you've picked your niche, set up your Shopify store and installed Subliminator you can get to work creating designs for your target audience.

When you chose your niche, you should have also worked out what products are going to be suitable for your target customers. Most of the time this is pretty obvious, but there may also be times where you need to test particular products to see if there is any demand in your niche.

Subliminator specializes in the highest quality cut & sew products and we provide you with all the design templates for every single product so  you can create accurate and seamless all-over-print designs.

To access the design templates, you just need to go into the Subliminator app from your Shopify dashboard and navigate to the Products & Pricing section. Every product in the catalog has a Product Info button which contains the design templates you need.

Now if you’re not a designer, don’t worry – there are plenty of resources available to help you create professional-looking designs.

Canva is a great option for beginners; it’s an online design tool that’s easy to use and has a lot of templates available.

If you want to hire a professional designer, you can look to marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork. 99designs, Behance & Dribbble may also be useful if you have a slightly higher budget to work with.

Quite often simple patterns and designs can work well for some niches so take a look at Shutterstock and Creative Fabrica for ready-made graphics.

Launching Your First Product

The Subliminator app is very easy to use so you shouldn't have any troubles at all following the steps below.

  1. Open the Subliminator App from your Shopify dashboard and browse the Products & Pricing section.
  2. Find the product you want to launch and click on Create Product.
  3. Drop your design templates onto canvas and ensure that it is positioned correctly.
  4. Once you have added all of the relevant design files, hit Choose Mockups.
  5. Subliminator automatically creates stunning, unique mockups with your design. Pick the ones you want to use and click Generate Selected Mockups. You can also download them if you want to use them elsewhere.
  6. Select Set Your Pricing and enter your desired pricing, product information and tags. Choose Submit To Store and your product will be published to your Shopify store!
Choose from a variety of mockups, auto-generated with your unique design

Buying a Sample Design

Buying samples of the products you intend to sell is a great way to get to know the quality of what you are selling, and you can also take your own product photos that can be used on your Shopify store or on your Social Media profiles.

Whilst we highly recommend that you purchase a sample product once you have created your first designs, this is not mandatory to launch your clothing store.

We have an easy guide to help you order a sample once you have launched your first product.

Marketing & Advertising For Your Print on Demand Store

This is where it can get a little overwhelming for new ecommerce entrepreneurs, but it doesn't have to be that way. You just need to choose the direction you would like to start and stick to a plan.

The most common way to start is with organic marketing, which means promoting your brand without spending money on Ads. This is a popular method of promotion because it doesn't cost you anything, but you will need to dedicate some time to the process.

Once you start getting some sales, or if you already have a decent budget set aside, you can try some various paid methods of promoting your store.

The biggest lesson you can take on board for any form of marketing and advertising is to be consistent, patient, and willing to test new designs and products regularly.

Let's break down the different free and paid methods of getting sales on your print on demand store.

Organic Marketing

You'll need to dedicate time to promoting your store without paid ads, so be prepared for that. The following platforms are great for growing an audience and making sales without ad spend:

Instagram

Post high-quality images at least once a day, using up to 30 relevant hashtags. Follow and engage with other accounts daily to help build your following.

Pinterest

Create at least 5 'boards' on your profile, each with a different topic within your niche. Re-pin relevant pins to each board every single day consistently to build your following.

Facebook Groups

Communities built around your niche are so valuable but don't get tempted to start spamming your store link in Facebook Groups. You are better off speaking to group admins and doing a joint promotion, or just slowly building yourself up as an authority in the niche to increase your following.

SEO

Search engine optimisation can take some time to work but it is a great long term organic strategy for your Shopify store. Stores with consistent organic google search traffic also have greater re-sale value if you ever decide to sell your business.

Paid Ads for Print on Demand

Facebook & Instagram Ads

The entire Meta suite of platforms have always been very popular for print on demand stores because sellers have the ability to "stop the scroll" and make sales with eye-catching ads and appealing products.

Pinterest Promoted Pins

Pinterest is one of the biggest social platforms and possible the most visual. It's a fantastic platform for paid ads with promoted pins being used widely in the apparel industry.

Google Shopping Ads

Often underutilized by print on demand sellers, Google Shopping ads are widely popular amongst many ecommerce brands but you need to be aware that it relies on customers searching for actual products, rather than making sales from impulse purchases like Facebook and Pinterest.

Tiktok Ads

Relatively new on the scene but proving to be very popular are TikTok ads. You may also be surprised to know that over 50% of US based TikTok users are over the age of 30, so it's not all just teenagers dancing around!

And That's a Wrap!

Whilst this article has only just scratched the surface, we hope it has given you some clarity on how to start a successful online clothing store with Shopify and Print on Demand.

A great way to learn more about this type of business is to network with fellow business owners, like in our Facebook group where thousands of other print on demand entrepreneurs like you discuss the ins-and-outs of POD life!

Thanks for reading and happy selling!