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During the summer of 2019 we were approached about building a t-shirt company. After a little research we had discovered the print on demand service offered by Printful and decided to give it a test drive before recommending it to our friends. What’s cool about Printful is that products aren’t created until they are ordered. Once something is ordered, Printful creates, packages, and ships it for you! The purchased item arrives to your customer with your branding on it like it came directly from you.

You make your profit from the difference of your retail price and the cost of Printful’s service. Let’s say you create t-shirt and sell it for $50. As an example, Printful will charge $20 to make the t-shirt, thus you make a profit of $30. Easy right?

We found success setting up our online e-commerce store, and the best part is that it is really easy. There are many ways to get going, and a quick online search will get you to the right place.

This is our way using the tools that helped us achieve success. So, here are the steps to getting an online t-shirt store set up with no money, no inventory, and no coding skills required!

Step 01: Get a Domain and Host it

So, you finished setting up everything on Printful, but where are your customers going to find you? You can find an available domain, and host your site using Bluehost. If you need help setting up your own website with Bluehost, you can read this awesome guide to get started.

There are popular free options available like Wix, WebStarts, and Weebly (see that WWW there?). Whatever option you choose is up to you, but keep in mind that your URL can have an impact on how people view your business. When you’re a subdomain, you’re like a visitor’s in someone’s home. Which looks better, MyAwesomeStore.com, or MyAwesomeStore.TheBlareGroup.com? Your choice.

Step 02: Install WordPress

If you followed our recommendation and chose Bluehost to host your store, then you can install WordPress in a few clicks. Just follow this guide to set up up Bluehost and WordPress if you don’t know how.

After installing WordPress, you will want to choose a theme for your store. Select a theme that is made for an e-commerce store so that you can get a checkout page and a shopping cart. WooCommerce has a free theme called StoreFront if you don’t want to search for one. If you do not want the StoreFront theme, you can find other WooCommerce themes here!

Step 03: Choosing the Right Plugin

Nearly 40% of all online stores use WooCommerce. To join the 40%, find where it says “plugins” in the sidebar of WordPress and select Add New. Do a search for WooCommerce and it should be the first option when the results appear. Install and activate WooCommerce. You will then be able to walk through the super easy set up wizard to connect your Printful store to WooCommerce:

  1. Page Setup. WooCommerce will set up all of the necessary pages for you. Such pages include the product, checkout, and shopping cart pages.
  2. Shop Locale. You need to select where you shop is located, choose the appropriate currency, and select the units that will be used for your product weight and dimensions.
  3. Shipping & Tax. Set up how you want to handle shipping and taxes. WooCommerce will also give you suggested tax rates for your location.
  4. Payments. This is how you get paid. We use Stripe, and you can too, but you can also use PayPal, ACH transfers, and more.
  5. Ready! Answer if you want to collect diagnostic data and start creating your first product.

From the WordPress dashboard, you will notice two menu items added to the sidebar: WooCommerce and Products.

You can use products to add items to your store the same way that you add a new post on WordPress. Since we’re talking about creating t-shirts with Printful, we’re going to ignore the products option on WordPress because we’re going to make them with Printful. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Before moving on to Printful, you want to change a few more WooCommerce settings. Go to WooCommerce > Settings > General, and check Enable taxes and tax calculations. This will allow WooCommerce to appropriately calculate taxes for you.

To adjust your store’s payment methods visit the WooCommerce settings. From there, select the Payments tab and toggle the installed payment methods listed. You can sort the order that each method is displayed by dragging them.

Step 04: Get an Account with Printful

Open another tab and visit Printful’s official website. To get started, all you need is your name and a valid email address. Printful will walk you through the steps to get begin designing your threads and connecting your store. We’ll help you design a t-shirt in a minute.

Copy Your API

    1. From your Printful dashboard, click on stores and select your store.
    2. Go to settings and select API
    3. Copy the long API key
    4. Go back to your website and integrate Printful

Step 05: Integrate Printful

    1. From your WordPress dashboard, click WooCommerce then select Settings in the sidebar. The last tab in settings will be advanced. Select it and under the “Legacy API” tab, “Enable the legacy REST API”. Save changes.
    2. That REST API only works when permalinks are enabled. In the sidebar, select settings, choose permalinks, and use anything except Plain. Save changes.
    3. Add a new WordPress plugin. Search for Printful, it should be the first one. Install it and activate it.
    4. Click on the newly added Printful option in the sidebar and click on connect, then click on approve.
    5. Click on the settings tab at the top. Make sure the API key is filled, if not, paste the API key you got from Printful here. That’s it!

Step 06: Adding Products

You can add products from WordPress under the Printful tab, or you can add products on Printful.com (our preferred method). Let’s add a simple t-shirt after logging in.

    1. From the dashboard, select Stores in the sidebar.
    2. Find you store and click on Add.
    3. On the left you are going to see a list of available products. Click on the t-shirt that you want to design.
    4. You will be presented with two tabs: Product and Design. Use product to choose the color of the t-shirt. Design will be where you add your logo, text, clip art, and patterns. Depending on the product, you can add your designs to the front, back, sleeves, and labels of the shirt.
    5. After designing, you can click on Proceed to Mockups on the bottom of the page. Here you choose your mockup style, which mockups will be pushed to your store, and what format will be displayed in your store. We choose PNG because we wanted a clear background.
    6. Next, you select Proceed to Description. Change the title of your product, add a description, and edit the size guide.
    7. Now, you want to get paid. Click Proceed to Pricing. Here you will be presented with the sizes of your t-shirts along with the Printful price (cost to produce the product), the retail price (the amount you charge everyone), and the profit (the amount you will make off of one sale of the product). You can change the retail price of each item manually, or you can increase/decrease them all use the drop-down options below the profit label. Check product visibility to make sure customers can see the item you created. Finally, select the categories the t-shirt will be sold under.
    8. Click Submit to Store. The t-shirt is then synced to your store, and you’re all done. You can add more products, or sit back and wait for the orders to come in.

Step 07: Get Paid

That’s it! You now have an online t-shirt business . Let us know where to find your store so that we can buy something. Don’t forget to tell the world about your new store so you can start getting paid!