Determine your audience

Everyone, at some point, has thought of what they think would be a [insert: hilarious, witty, inspiring…] t-shirt. Unless you are designing only for yourself (hey, that’s cool too!) you need to think like an expert tee marketer. First, focus on who you are designing for as opposed to what the design should be; understanding your audience is one of the most important elements of creating a winning design. Below we’ll look into different methods you can use to learn more about your target buyers.

Before you start creating a design focus on your audience first!

Step 1 – Who are your buyers?

So what is the secret to finding a top-selling design? It’s essential that you find -or create- your target buyer first. You need to know who they are, how to reach them, and what they are passionate about. An audience is a group of individuals who share an interest; these groups are everywhere, even in places you might not realize and between individuals you might not associate together. 

If you are a creator who already has an audience to sell to, you can skip ahead to learn how to create your designs!

But, whether you’re an artist looking to promote your own personal designs or an entrepreneur hoping to establish your own brand, the first step to launching a successful listing on Teespring begins with identifying and clarifying a niche of individuals within an audience who will be interested in your unique tees.

So let’s put the physical design on hold for a moment and develop your buyer persona first.

Here are some examples of different kinds of audiences:

  • Nurses who love knitting
  • Fishing fans who love country music
  • New Yorkers participating in an annual Cancer Walk
  • A university intramural sports team
  • Kale lovers in San Francisco
  • Americans who have moved to Spain

List five audiences that you’d want to design a t-shirt for. Try to come up with at least one for each of these categories; those with a shared interest or hobby, people talking about a controversy, and a group that you’re a part of.

What’s a “niche”?

 You’ve probably heard top sellers use this term before – and it’s very important in the tee-selling business. By identifying these precise groups, you can create tailor-made shirts that sync perfectly with their interests. 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 the medical field to stand out. However, male nurses over 40 that love Taylor Swift is a very specific audience that will like a certain kind of tee. Keep in mind there are two main types of niches; evergreen niches and trend niches.

Evergreen Niches

  • You can sell to this niche year round
  • Example: gun niche, mom niche, etc. these niches are not affected by seasons and you can sell to this audience 365 days a year

Trend Niches

  • Appear periodically during the year
  • Example: hockey mom shirts are most popular during hockey season
  • Example: something is “trending”, i.e. something happens and everyone is talking about on social media (example “twerking” after MTV Music Awards)

Step 2 – Find your “niche”

Before creating your design you should know the answers to the following questions about your target audience:

  • Who would wear this shirt; think of demographic details – their gender, age, location, etc.?
  • What kind of interests or hobbies do these people have?
  • What kind of social media groups would they belong to or other online communities?
  • Does this group appear to be passionate enough to purchase products?

This discovery process is called “targeting” in marketing language and will allow you to better understand how to effectively promote your tee to the “right” people once your listing is live.

Going back to our earlier example of shirts for those in the medical field, you can get more specific by targeting orthopedic surgeons or paramedics. Another good way to identify a niche is to look for overlapping audiences—think of this as a Venn Diagram, or an intersection of two or three big audiences that have some overlap. Female paramedics who like cooking, for example. 

venn-or-now1Moving forward, we’ll continue to use paramedics as our primary example of a real audience that has yielded immensely successful listings. Remember that the strategies we lay out are applicable to whichever niche you choose. In the next section we’ll focus on how to perform niche research