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How to choose your t-shirt design: Examples on a $0 budget

By Julia Gifford - Reading time: 2 minutes

Ok, so you’ve decided that you want to start a t-shirt line, sounds great! The biggest challenge is figuring out what will go on those t-shirts, because really what’s important is the product you’re offering. If your product is a winner, then things like website design and marketing become secondary.

Start with something you’re good at

You want to offer a unified feeling. Get your philosophy down first – what is it you’re offering? Quirky tees, ironic tees, visually stunning tees? That probably depends on what you can actually physically create, and that means taking into consideration what your strengths are (you can always hire a designer to realize your ideas, but right now we’re talking about a $0 budget, so you have to be able to do it all).

Are you funny? Witty? Can you draw? Do you have a way with words? Keep reading for some real-life examples.

This will help you decide what’s going on your shirt. The only rule: it must have added value. This can either be in the form of a super-witty catch-phrase (just words – minimal design necessary!), or a really badly drawn meme (again, no design skills necessary).

Who are you making it for?

Make sure you’re making this for someone in mind. When we made Startup Vitamins, we knew very clearly that the target audience was startups and entrepreneurs. That made it really easy to understand whose attention we want to grab. Whose attention do you want to grab? Here are some examples of different tees targeting different kinds of people:

The ironic t-shirt kinds

The kind that make you snicker…

The Ironic TeeThe Ironic Tee 2

Cult fans (In this case, Harry Potter)

Because they’re always willing to shell out for something they’re obsessed with….besides, it’s easy to find them, with all the forums and such.

Muggle

Total Nerds (industry-specific inside jokes)

Inside jokes make people feel special when they get them. Chances are only designers and programmers will understand these two…hehe

babyCSS to my HTML

Haters (people who love to show their discontent with the world)

Vegetarian Spoiler

Those crazy social networkers…social media enthusiasts…

Tweet That Like

Internet people…who like memes

Like a Boss Challenge Accepted

What we’re trying to say, is that it will be inherently easier to 1) create your design, 2) sell your design, if you know who you’re targeting. Not sure who to target? Check out our list of 115 niche market ideas.

Once you know, all it takes is a little imagination, and playing around with fonts. All of these t-shirts prove that you don’t have to be a master designer to come up with a great t-shirt. And just in case, here are 20 t-shirt design tutorials that might help you get started.

Show us your designs! We might feature them here in the blog – put a link in the comments 🙂

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