Custom t-shirt designing has exploded in the past five years or more with the emergence of print-on-demand types of stores that enable anybody and everybody to try to make a buck off the trend. Unsurprisingly, the market is flooded with a lot of not so good designs and many that are just slight modifications of the same idea replicated across social channels like Facebook, Pinterest, and Etsy. How does a t-shirt artist stand out and make a name in this highly saturated market?
While some t-shirts artists succeed at the batch and blast approach to ideas, building a loyal following is a little trickier. How do you as an artist capture the attention of customers and keep them coming back to see what else you might have to offer in the future? One strategy is to design for niche interests.
What is niche designing? Instead of throwing mud on the wall to see what sticks, as a niche t-shirt designer you would be going after specific segments of society that have a passion for or a deep connection to a specific interest or state of being.
Niche markets could be almost anything but it’s important for you as the artist to also have a deep understanding of what drives a niche interest. Picking a niche that you have no relationship to or experience with will make it difficult to make meaningful designs that speak to that market.
Another thing to consider when deciding on a niche target is the market potential. If you think you’d like to target a young demographic, they will probably have less expendable income that an older age bracket. Of course there are exceptions like most sorority or fraternity targets.
The propensity for recurring purchases in a niche is another aspect to evaluate before throwing yourself into designing for that niche. For example, there will be less opportunity for return business if your chosen niche is bridal. The exception of course is word of mouth marketing amongst brides-to-be that generates a wider, albeit, less frequent audience.
Paying attention to what is trending can open up new ideas for niche targeting. If you have an idea for a niche, you can do research to see if it’s a viable niche to target by using tools that track trends. Google Trends is one free tool you can use to search Internet interest over time on any keyword. By itself, it’s really valuable but you can also see what other topics are closely related to the term and the trending data on it to zero in even more tightly on a niche idea.
Trend Hunter is an additional research resource that can provide ideas on what’s hot now to either reinforce your niche target idea or expand upon on it.
While trends are a great way to capitalize on emerging interests, some trends do not have the promise of a long life. Without seeing into the future, there is no way to know if your time and creative investment will pay off. If it’s something `that excites you and you feel you can develop relatable designs pertaining to it then forge ahead. Who knew the hipster trend would stick around as long as it has although it is finally declining. Even with decline it’s been ground zero for many other offshoots of hipster style like Yuccies.
Hyper targeting a niche inside of a niche might sound meta but it has great potential to inspire you to design very original ideas. Micro niche designs also have less probability of getting ripped off because there is less mass potential. People that are just splattering the Internet with design after design aren’t going to have the marketing knowledge of your niche to gain a foothold or even understand the meaning behind a niche slogan.
With so many possibilities we’d like to share some niche ideas for t-shirt artists to spark your creativity and get you thinking about the potential this type of market offers.
Generational- Every generation has characteristics they are proud to relate to. When designing generational t-shirt themes consider societal norms and standards, economic and political influences, pertinent technologies of the day, and how music and fashion have had an impact.
Retro- What is considered retro will be forever changing as time progresses. Retro designs for t-shirts can include slang from an era, illustration style, or themes that dominated the time.
Nostalgia– Similar to retro but referring to what was popular when a generation was youthful. Nostalgic themes can be linked to toys, foods, and electronics as examples.
Robotics– This is an interesting niche that is gaining a lot of momentum as the study of robots increases as technology evolves.
Artificial Intelligence– Not the same as robotics, AI is algorithm based learning that can be applied to robots.
Organic– People that are into the organic movement are pretty passionate about it and it can be drilled to a micro niche level by adding the layer of locally sourced organics.
eGaming– This is a competitive gaming niche and whole world of people that pay to watch expert gamers fight it out online.
Tribes- Seapunks, Steampunks, Rockabillies, Mermaids, Wastelanders, these are just a few modern urban tribes that have a passionate following. Creating designs that speak to these niche audiences have a high likelihood of being shared in social circles.
Alcohol- Some people just love alcohol but others have very specific tastes and develop a rich understanding of their favorite beverage and everything it stands for. Some alcohol niches to explore are martinis and mojitos. You can also focus more broadly on vodka or rum drinkers. Everybody’s got a story to tell about drinking.
Specific field of study- While this is a niche, it does offer much broader potential if you research fields that have a large number of active students like English, history, and accounting.
Specific jobs– This niche offers the potential of longevity since careers are more likely to last a lifetime. Broad niches to target are medical and finance.
Locations– City and state pride designs can be a very effective niche to target. Also specific neighborhoods and even streets can warrant their own designs.
Foods- Beloved niches like tacos, donuts, or BBQ are pretty hot but you can also capitalize on trendy niches such as avocado toast or all things quinoa.
Vegan– The vegan movement is huge and predicted to be really big in 2018. It is particularly popular with Millennials.
Exercise Regime– CrossFit is one of the largest exercise niches with an almost cult like following. Other areas that are unusual but trending are hot yoga and goat yoga.
Authors– The author niche should be approached with quite a few authors in mind. Think of it more as a literary focus.
These are just a few unusual niche ideas that we hope will help you think outside the normal approaches to t-shirt design and marketing. When you’re ready to have your t-shirts professionally printed, check out our prices and customer testimonials.