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Blog / Marketing tips / How to Sell Shirts on Instagram: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

Marketing tips

How to Sell Shirts on Instagram: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

How to Sell Shirts on Instagram: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples
Katrina Resne

By Katrina Resne

14 min read

If you want to turn your love for custom t-shirts into a thriving business, Instagram is a great place to start. It’s free, full of content creation features, and has over 1.6 billion users. This is your opportunity to share your t-shirt brand with the world.

In this 7-step guide, you’ll learn how to sell shirts on Instagram. Whether you have an active Instagram business account or you’re just starting your t-shirt brand,  this blog is for you.

We’ll walk you through the main steps to lead your Instagram t-shirt business to success. From crafting a compelling brand and creating engaging content to using Instagram shopping features, let’s dive right into it.

1. Define your target audience

You’ve probably heard this a million times, but knowing your target audience is vital for your t-shirt business to succeed. The best companies know their customers to the tee. Defining your target audience will help you create better content and products. Most importantly, it will help you effectively grow your Instagram t-shirt business.

Who is your ideal customer and what kind of shirts do they like?

Instead of focusing on just demographics, we suggest you dig deeper. Understand the desires, needs, and aspirations of the people you’re talking to. Discover the emotional triggers that will resonate with your dream customers. That way, you’ll create t-shirts and an Instagram profile that feels tailor-made for them.

You can also look at relevant t-shirt trends and see which ones fit your ideal customer. If you’d like to learn what’s trending this year, we have just the blog post for you: 7 T-Shirt Design Trends for 2023.

2. Decide on fulfillment

Choosing a suitable fulfillment method impacts the efficiency of your business. To select the right one, it’s crucial to understand your long-term goals. Do you plan to scale your t-shirt business or keep it as a creative shirt studio? Let’s explore these options for your Instagram t-shirt business.

Yourself

If you’re looking to infuse a personal touch into every t-shirt you sell, fulfilling orders yourself may be the path for you. Whether you like to experiment with printing, painting, embroidery, or other art techniques, you’ll have full control of the creative process.

However, remember that fulfilling a large volume of orders can become time-consuming and physically exhausting once your business grows. It can divert your attention from improving your marketing and sales strategies hindering the growth of your t-shirt business.

Print-on-demand

Printing-on-demand means that an experienced t-shirt printing company fulfills your orders. This is a good option for your Instagram t-shirt business if you’re just starting out or you’d like to outsource your t-shirt production. By having a reliable print-on-demand partner for your Instagram t-shirt business, you can focus more on creating content and selling t-shirts.

With print-on-demand, you can offer a wide range of designs without the risk of overstocking. You can create custom shirts with different printing methods or embroidery. Once a customer orders, the t-shirt is printed, packed, and shipped.

Finding the best t-shirts for printing can be challenging. A print-on-demand partner usually has many options to choose from. If you want to find the best t-shirts for printing, we have a blog post to help you: Top 7 Quality T-Shirts for Your Store.

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3. Design a brand identity

The competition on all social media platforms is fierce. How can you stand out? By having an authentic and memorable brand identity. Discover what differentiates you from other t-shirt brands and make it your focal point.

The clothing brand “Broken Planet” is a pro at keeping a consistent aesthetic throughout its Instagram account. From their brand identity and video content to their t-shirts and other garments, they have everything nailed down to the last detail.

broken planet instagram feed

Source: Broken Planet

Your brand name and logo set the stage for your business. Start with these elements to express the essence of your brand identity. 

Selecting a fitting brand name is a powerful way to help people remember your business. There are different ways you can decide on a brand name. For example, do a clever play on words, use a literal explanation of your product, or include your name. Make sure that the brand name is clear and unambiguous, and aligns with what your target audience understands.

A well-designed logo is simple enough to be easily understood and interesting enough to be memorable. It can consist of geometric elements, an iconic illustration, or a combination of both.

Remember that your brand name and logo will be visible on your Instagram profile, website, packaging, and possibly your t-shirts.

4. Develop a consistent aesthetic for your profile

The Instagram account of your t-shirt business will often be the first thing people see. So make sure to leave an excellent first impression. A consistent aesthetic enhances the visual appeal of your Instagram business profile but, most importantly, builds trust and recognition.

When developing a consistent aesthetic for your profile, consider the style, vibe, and mood you want to communicate through visuals. Are you aiming for a minimalist, clean look, vibrant, playful atmosphere, or a vintage and nostalgic feel? Here you have to merge your brand’s identity with what your ideal customer understands and feels connected to.

A consistent aesthetic can include but isn’t limited to:

  • A defined color palette

  • Typography

  • Props in your content (flowers, skateboard, painting supplies, etc.)

  • Scenery (the gym, countryside, city, etc.)

  • Photo and video editing style

Use these elements to intentionally build a captivating aesthetic for your Instagram t-shirt business. Take your time to curate a feed that reflects your brand identity and gives an immediate idea of what kind of shirts you’re selling.

Use hashtags to increase visibility

Instagram uses hashtags to categorize your content and suggest it to users that might be interested. So adding the appropriate hashtags increases your visibility. On Instagram, they work similarly to Google search. When you add hashtags to your posts, they’ll show up when someone searches for those hashtags—for example, t-shirt brands.

Instagram's algorithms determine the ranking of posts under hashtags. That’s why hashtag research will help you use hashtags effectively. When selecting the appropriate hashtags, you need a mix of niche and trending hashtags. Your niche hashtags can be as simple as #tshirtbrand, #tshirtbusiness, etc. For trending hashtags, you’ll need to follow trending topics or events that align with your brand.

You can also create a unique hashtag for your brand. It can be a brand name, slogan, or creative phrase. Ask your followers to use this hashtag when sharing their photos wearing your shirts. This way you’re creating a sense of community.

“Mate” is a clothing brand that makes healthy clothes for people and the planet. They’ve created and even registered the hashtag #DressClean. This hashtag has now been added to 11.7K posts, primarily customers who posted pictures wearing “Mate” products. 

When you post content on Instagram, add hashtags that illustrate what you see in your content. Although Instagram allows adding up to 30 hashtags, it suggests using 3–5 truly relevant hashtags.

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5. Create engaging content

The secret ingredient that transforms casual viewers into devoted fans is engaging content. Your content should resonate, inspire, be relatable, and create a connection.

Use storytelling, create styling videos, encourage interaction, and slowly build a community of loyal followers that’ll become your customers. Add something special, like passion, creativity, or humor to improve your content.

For example, the artist at “Is This Real Life?” creates storytelling videos of her drawing t-shirt designs.

is this real life instagram feed

Source: Is This Real Life

Take high-quality photos of your shirts

Taking high-quality photos of your shirts can’t be understated. Visuals have the power to communicate without words, and Instagram is a platform highly focused on visual appeal.

You don't need a professional camera to create high-quality content for your Instagram account. If your phone has a good camera, you can use that. It’ll be easier and faster to edit your content later.

Here’s how to get high-quality images for your t-shirt business:

  1. Steam or iron your shirts so there are no wrinkles.

  2. Find or set up good lighting. Natural light is your best friend to capture all the colors, textures, and details of your t-shirt designs.

  3. Select a backdrop that fits your Instagram t-shirt business. It can be a white studio, a natural background, or even a graffiti wall in the city.

  4. Experiment with different angles and perspectives to show your shirts. Take full-body shots as well as close-ups.

  5. Show styling variations to help potential customers envision themselves wearing your designs.

  6. Keep a cohesive editing style while editing your photos.

The clothing brand “Bonkers Corner” photographs their t-shirts in different locations to show a range of styling possibilities. 

Don’t forget about videos and Instagram stories

Not only is video content pushed and encouraged by Instagram, but it’s also requested by viewers. With video content, you create a deeper connection with your customers. 

There are different types of videos you can create. Share behind-the-scenes of your t-shirt design creation process, glimpses into your design studio, or sneak peeks of upcoming collections. You can play with creating urgency or anticipation to keep your audience excited and waiting for your next t-shirt design.

Instagram stories are a great place to share your brand story and get customer feedback. The best Instagram stories have a mix of photos, videos, and engagement stickers to keep them fresh and exciting. 

Take a look at how “Retro. Fitz” does it. They share behind-the-scenes of their t-shirt designs and sneak peeks of upcoming collections. Plus, they keep a consistent brand identity by showing their colorful tie-dye t-shirt designs in every video.

retro fitz instagram feed

Source: Retro Fitz

Collect user-generated content

User-generated content, or UGC, can help you build a community and trust around your brand. Research by Matter Communications found that 61% of consumers trust influencer product recommendations. And a study by Nielsen discovered that 92% of people trust recommendations from people they know and 70% trust customer opinions posted online. User-generated content builds trust in a similar yet more powerful way than written reviews.

Potential buyers can envision themselves doing the same when they see other people wearing your shirts. As authentic reviews are more appreciated and requested, brands use UGC as a marketing strategy to boost trust and sales. UGC is often more cost-efficient than professionally filmed and edited content.

6. Grow your Instagram account

To grow your Instagram t-shirt business, you’ll have to build your following. Even if you haven’t yet created your products, you can start posting content about your soon-to-be-launched brand. Consistency will be your best friend in growing a following on Instagram. You can create a posting schedule and post on certain days or specific times a week. A steady flow of content will remind your audience of you and your brand.

Engage with your Instagram followers

Remember how we talked about your target audience? This is where you’ll need it the most. To build a connection with your Instagram followers, you should address their needs and desires. Sharing your brand is part of selling t-shirts on Instagram, but remember to add value to the posts to keep them interesting for your audience.  

You can engage with your followers by replying to comments or direct messages. Try different Instagram engagement stickers like polls or question bars. Show genuine interest in getting to know your followers, and you’ll build a loyal community on social media that feels valued and connected to your brand. That's how you turn potential buyers into new customers.

Be patient. Building a following and getting Instagram’s algorithms to push your content to more people takes time. Remember that it’s not about numbers and follower count. It’s better to have fewer people following your Instagram t-shirt business who genuinely connect to your brand and are ready to buy rather than thousands of people following just to see what you’re doing.

Use Instagram ads

With Instagram ads, you can show your t-shirt designs to the right people at the right time. To get started, you’ll need to define your goals for Instagram ads. It can be brand awareness, increasing traffic to your website, or boosting conversions.

Next, you can create an Instagram ad in many different formats and select its placements, like the reel’s discovery page, Instagram stories, and feed. You can add a specific or broad targeted audience when setting up an ad. There are options for defining demographics, interests, locations, and behaviors. If you have data available about your customers or your ideal customer, then use that to create your targeted audience for the ad.

A compelling and creative ad is essential if you want to grab the attention of viewers. Invest in stunning images or videos and a concise copy to make the ad clear and visually appealing. Make sure to highlight your shirts’ value, style, and benefits. Don’t forget to add a call-to-action (link to your own website or profile).

Budget wisely and experiment with different ad spending levels to find the sweet spot for your business. Start with a modest budget and scale up gradually as you see positive results. Once you’ve created your first ad, you can test multiple versions with different visuals, copy, and call-to-action buttons.

However, be mindful that Instagram users see ads very often. People avoid ads by changing their preferences or swiping away once they notice them. Especially if your primary audience is Gen Z or Alpha, make sure your ad isn’t too salesy. The more authentic it feels, the more likely your ideal customer will connect with your product.

Do a partnership with influencers to reach new audiences

If you try influencer marketing for your brand, remember to be selective about your partnerships. Choose influencers that align with your brand values and have a strong community. You don’t need an influencer with a high following. There are many influencers and content creators you can partner with whose follower count ranges from 10–100K. While their following is smaller, their engagement is often higher.

Collaborate with other businesses

By collaborating with other businesses, you can attract like-minded people who are genuinely interested in following you and buying your great t-shirt designs. You can share your t-shirt design ideas with other businesses and create the next bestseller together. Similarly to user-generated content, collaborations also build trust.

Check out this collaboration between ”Huckberry” and Brad Leone. “Huckberry” is an online retailer specializing in stylish, high-quality outdoor gear. Brad Leone is a renowned chef and video creator with a laid-back and adventurous personality. Together they created a t-shirt that shares their passion for exploration, craftsmanship, and quality. 

7. Make it easy to purchase

In ecommerce, you must make sure your products are easy to buy.  If you have a long and complicated path to making a purchase, it can discourage people from buying. Reduce unnecessary steps so that it’s easy for your followers to buy your t-shirts.

Streamlining the buying process on your online store is crucial, but you can start by optimizing your Instagram account to lead people to your online store. According to statistics from Zippia, 79% of smartphone users in the USA have used their mobile devices for shopping. That’s why it’s vital to use Instagram shopping features, which make it easier for your followers to shop.

Use Instagram's shopping features to tag your shirts in posts

If you have an online store, you can create an Instagram shop. Adding Instagram shopping to your Instagram profile will help your followers easily explore and buy your shirts. You’ll be able to tag your products in Instagram posts and stories. This can help drive sales and make the shopping experience easier for your customers, since they can see detailed information about your shirts once they click on the Instagram post or story.

Here’s how you start:

  • Make sure your account and business fit Instagram’s commerce policies and guidelines

  • Set up an Instagram shop and get approved as a business account eligible for shopping features

  • Once approved, you’ll get access to a range of shopping features

After that, you can create a product catalog on Facebook Business Manager and tag products in posts to show more information about your t-shirts. Your tagged products will be shown on Instagram’s Explore page as well. This way, more people will discover your products. Later, monitor the performance using analytics to see how people interact with product tags.

“Leset” takes full advantage of this Instagram shopping feature and tags its products in every post to make it easier for Instagram users to shop.

instagram shoppable post feature

Source: Leset

Always add a link to your online store or website in your Instagram bio. It builds trust and allows people to buy or learn more about your t-shirts. Instagram now allows multiple links, but 1–3 is the best amount to avoid overwhelming your followers. You can also update these links based on what’s currently relevant for your business, such as a new collection, special offer, or exciting campaign.

For example, the clothing brand “Buck Mason” has 2 links added to the bio. One leads to its website but the other one tells the story of how “Buck Mason” was created. 

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Slay the style game on Instagram one t-shirt at a time

We’ve come to the end of this 7-step guide. We hope you gained valuable insights and actionable tips to take your business to new heights.

As you can see, selling t-shirts on Instagram is more than just posting and hoping for the best. You have to consider many elements of the business to become successful.

The journey may have its ups and downs, but as long as you stay true to your passion, you’ll build a loyal following on Instagram and sell out your t-shirts like hotcakes.

author

By Katrina Resne on Jul 18, 2023

Katrina Resne

Content Writer Intern

Katrīna is a content writer with a background in Material Technology and Design. She loves the digital world and creating content in visual and written form.

Katrīna is a content writer with a background in Material Technology and Design. She loves the digital world and creating content in visual and written form.