Tips For Creating Winning Shirt Designs That Sell Part 2

Jul 04, 2022

Welcome to Part Two of tips for creating winning shirt designs that sell!

I'm going to share with you how you can spy on your competitors to find their best selling designs to use as inspiration and my top three platforms for doing design research.

I do just want to quickly preface everything I'm going to teach you by saying two things:

One, there's a lot of different platforms that you can do design research on I'm just gonna share my personal favorite three.

Two, is please do NOT steal other brands designs. It's not only highly unethical, but it can also get you in legal trouble. There's a big difference between using a design as inspiration and outright just stealing it.

So with that said, let's jump right in...

#1 - ETSY (my personal favorite for doing design research)

What you can do in Etsy is you can actually just go to the home page and search by a t-shirt category.

So I recommend just selecting the drop down menu option that says "clothing and shoes", then choosing a subcategory. This could be "women's" or it could be "men's"...totally depends on you but I would just go to "women's"...Select that and then you can choose another subcategory, let's say "tops and tees".

Now by searching this, what it's going to do is it will bring up the most recent sold designs in the search results. Note that some of these are one-off sales. Usually they'll be really popular designs, but if they are a one-off sale then you can easily tell by going to the store of the design and looking at the reviews. If you see a high number of recent reviews on that particular design, then there's a very good chance that it's one of the best sellers.


So I actually use a really cool free tool called "merch informer" where I can just search by popular items by category. I might go in and type something like "funny dog t-shirts" and what it's gonna do is it will pull up a whole bunch of the most popular t-shirts that match that criteria.


Now there's a lot of different ways that you can use Instagram for research. You can search by popular hashtags in the niche or you can search "funny dog shirts" in the search category and see what brands come up, but my personal favorite is to find some competitors and go through their feed and look for their most popular designs.

How you can do this is look for the posts with their designs that have abnormally high amounts of engagement in the form of likes and comments. That's a very good indicator that it's one of their best sellers. You can even cross-reference this by going on their website and searching things like t-shirts and they'll often have a filter where you can search by best seller.

A pro tip here is that you don't even have to be niche specific when you're doing your design research.

For example, let's say you're in the cat niche and you know a really popular store in the dog niche. What you can do is find their most popular designs and see if there is a way to borrow from the idea to make a design for cat lovers.

Let's say one of their best sellers is a shirt that says "dogs make me happy, you not so much" you can just change that out to say "cats make me happy, you not so much". Now I'm pretty sure that specific example is already taken but you can use this for any niche. If you're in the turtle niche, you can say "turtles make me happy you not so much". All you have to do is change out that one word to make it niche specific and you've created a completely new design.


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