Designing for a new audience

If you want to sell to a new audience you’ve got to create a design that means something to them. A meaningful design will it stir up an emotional response from the person wearing it—whether it’s an inside joke shared by a group of fans or something a particular group of people identify with and feel strongly about. 

If you’re interested in selling to a new audience this means you’ll likely sell your products using one of the following channels:

  • An online community you plan to create using social media (ex. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch, etc.)
  • Social media and internet users you plan to target through advertising.
  • Marketplace shoppers acquired through Teespring’s Boosted Network (i.e. marketplaces like Amazon  and eBay).

Research will be your key tactic for creating designs that sell. After all, if you don’t know your audience, how can you create something meaningful for them? Here are the steps you can take to determine your new audience and identify designs they’re most likely to buy. 

Note if you already have an existing audience to sell to click here to learn about popular design themes to try.


1) Identify your buyer persona

Who are you trying to sell your products to? Nurses who love knitting? Americans who have moved to Spain?  Fishermen living in Massachusetts who love country music? Once you’ve decided who you want to buy your products you can find out what makes them tick and narrow this group into a specific niche. Then you’ll be able to create a meaningful design for this group based on your research.


2) Research your audience

Let’s use paramedics as our buyer persona in this example. Your goal is to answer the following questions about this group through research.

  • What are these people like – their gender, age, location, etc.?
  • Where in the world would I find someone wearing a similar shirt?
  • What kind of interests do these people have?
  • What kind of communities would they be a part of online?
  • What social media groups would they frequent?

You can use the following online tools to help answer these questions.  

  • Google: Google is a good place to start your research. If we search “paramedics” we’ll see common or related keywords like EMTs, EMS, Emergency medical responder and ambulance technician.
  • Twitter: Search “EMT” or “Paramedic” hashtags and phrases to see what type of content appears. What kind of people are discussing these topics? What type of content are they sharing or are interested in?
  • Reddit: Gain further insight rom Reddit—type your general interest or audience into the search field to find the most popular subreddits, i.e. forums where specific content is posted and voted upon. The content at the top of the page is the most popular content by that specific subreddit audience; this is a good way to see what’s trending for a particular audience or topic.
  • Pinterest: On fashion-forward sites like Pinterest, you can easily discover more about your niche’s sense of style and what they like to wear. If you search “Paramedic Tank Tops” on Pinterest, you will discover popular apparel pins that involve that certain theme. Once you’ve discovered some popular pins, you can click through to the pinners’ profile to get more inspiration on the type of content this buyer persona is interested in.
  • Facebook: If you search “paramedic” on Facebook you’ll see there are several community pages with over 300,000 members; it’s important to note if followers of these pages are active and engage with content regularly (their level of engagement, likes, comments, shares, can indicate if they’re more likely to be responsive to your ads or similar content you share in your own group). If you’re having trouble finding your niche on Facebook consider other search terms to use (if “paramedics” is your audience you can search for other words like EMTs, EMS, etc). Keep an eye out for ‘buyer + passion keywords’ in the comments of these pages. You may have to search for a broader audience before you can zero-in on your specific niche. Keep in mind Audience Insights is a helpful Facebook tool to use during research as well.

Dan Nikas, successful Teespring user, explains identifying ‘passion’ keywords while researching (TeeCon 2016)


3) Narrow it down to a niche

A niche is a smaller section of a larger audience, whose members are interested in very specific things. As a general rule of thumb for Teespring listings, the smaller the niche you target the better. For example, it’s hard for a tee about expats to stand out. However, male Americans from Florida who have retired in Seville, Spain is a very specific subset of a larger ‘expat’ audience. Once you’ve researched your audience you should have enough information to identify interesting niches within that group.

niche research teespring

Keep in mind there are several types of niches to choose from. You can also adapt your existing evergreen niches to become seasonal or trend too—for example, you’ve got a specific family niche (evergreen) you sell to and create holiday designs (seasonal) to sell to them.

  • Evergreen niches: for example, ‘mom’ themed designs which are not impacted by seasonality.
  • Seasonal niches: for example, ‘hockey mom’ shirt which will likely sell better during hockey season as opposed to year round. 
  • Trend niches: for example, the term ‘twerking’ trended for several days on social media following the MTV Music Awards.


4) Create meaningful messages

Now that you know your niche through and through, you’re ready to start brainstorming design ideas. If you really want to pinpoint people’s emotions try to make your design messages as specific as possible. Many sellers use a “layering” technique which can be used with all audiences—the technique involves adding particular interests to the message so the design will resonate with a very specific audience (niche). Because you’ve researched this group, finding elements to use for layering should be easy…

Keep in mind layering messages is also a great way to scale successful designs or tweak them to appeal to new audiences. Let’s look at the “mechanic” niche for example:

Layer 1 (career): All men are created equal, but only a few become mechanics!

Layer 2 (career & family): Some people call me a mechanic, the most important people call me daddy.

Layer 3 (career, family, hobbies): This mechanic lives by 4 rules; don’t touch my tools, my bike, my beer & my wife!

Search on Teespring and Google to find similar messages and see what designs have been used already. It’s important to check if the “message” has been used before because if you’re noticing a lot of listings with the same message you should consider using something else. If the message has already been sold to your audience they will be less inclined to purchase a similar design…and nobody likes a copycat. 😉 

Dan Nikas explains how he develops winning designs (TeeCon 2016)


Ready to start creating?

If you’re able to create your design straight away then visit the Teespring Launcher to get started. If you need help creating designs don’t worry, we’ve got you covered in our Design Resources section of the training center. 😉