When I started blogging and getting ready to design and print tees, a little over a year ago, one of the things I kept hearing is: start small.
Being over a year into this, I am by no means an expert but, I think I have a perspective worth sharing. While I don't agree with all the advice that was given to me early on, "starting small" is one thing I can co-sign.
What does that mean exactly? It means printing minimum amount orders on tees, doing one color prints, finding the best deal on stickers, interacting with as many people as possible and taking advantage of free store hosting sites.
The number one question people ask is: how much did you pay per tee. My answer is always the same; with so many variables involved with t-shirts, the price is always changing. I've paid as little as $4 a tee, with a hook up, to as much as $17 a tee. One thing that can keep your cost down in the beginning is the amount of colors on your design. Depending on your design, adding half tones to your designs is a great way to create the illusion of multiple colors. Talk to your printer about half tones options. I am not saying to compromise your designs, just saying to keep this in mind when adding colors.
Stickers are and absolute must for start up brands. If I had to do it all over, I would spend my first dollar on stickers. With so many options online and so many sales on sizes and amounts, this may take some creative designing and patient researching. When you find the right deal, create a classic design, likely your logo, and print up as many as you can afford. Pass them out at every event you hit and slap them on every wall you see. Stickers are the best way to stay on peoples mind.
The absolute cheapest thing you can do for your brand is talk about it. It is very likely that your friends and family want to hear about what you are doing. Getting them involved early on is a great way to create loyal supporters. I try not to start the conversations about my brand, but if anyone asks about it, its on! I would also spend hours and hours online, talking to anyone who would listen, about ideas and strategies. Be smart about your promoting, don't be annoying and take the time to check out other peoples brands. There are so many people doing the exact same thing as you are. Blogging is a great way network and grow your brand. You don't always have to blog about yourself. Find interesting topics to attract people to your site.
With sites like Storenvy and Big Cartel, its easy to get a store started online. Starting small means taking advantage of every free option possible. Both sites offer hosting for free. I started off with Big Cartel, but I currently use Storenvy and love it. Check them both out and see which one works for you.
Just my view on starting small, I hope it helps.