A t-shirt mockup can be a great ally for an online store. Here we’ll explain what t-shirt mockups are, how you can create them and how they can help you drive more sales.
Everybody loves t-shirts: store owners love to sell them because they can be sourced and shipped easily, and customers love buying them because well, let’s face it: after two years locked inside and working remotely, our wardrobes are mainly just t-shirts. Let them who have no different t-shirts for the gym, for work, for running errands and for sleeping in be the ones to cast the first stone.
The sheer popularity of t-shirts is also what makes them a great product idea for people who want to start an online business. However, opening up a garment store or a store that specializes in t-shirts requires some strategic thinking―after all, the competition can be fierce.
To make sure your store really pops in the vast ocean of t-shirt stores, you’ll need to pay extra attention to the design features of your website―and that’s where a t-shirt mockup tool can really help you out.
What is a t-shirt mockup?
To put it simply, a t-shirt mockup is a photograph of a blank t-shirt that you can edit freely in order to add the design you’re going to sell in your store. You can then upload that edited photo onto your product pages, social media posts and email marketing campaigns.
As we’ll see below, there are plenty of paid and free t-shirt mockup tools that transfer your design onto the photograph, so it’s a really easy process to follow.
If this sounds a bit science-fictiony, or if you think that the results might not come out convincing enough, fear not: there’s a high possibility you’ve already bought a t-shirt online after looking at mockups.
I say there’s a high possibility because t-shirt mockups have been around for a few solid years already, and also because the technology they use is getting better and better with time.
Just think about it. You’ve probably visited a store that had shirts being shown in a similar fashion as these cutesy pajamas from Hatley:
Or maybe you’ve recently purchased a clothing item on Amazon or AliExpress, and on the product page you saw something like this:
Notice how the product images are exactly the same in both examples? The only thing that’s changing is the design or the color. So, yeah: those are all mockups, and they look pretty neat.
👕 If you want to take all this talk about t-shirts one step further, why not check out how to build and grow a fashion ecommerce?
Why use a t-shirt mockup in your store
T-shirt mockups provide a fairly quick and easy way to create beautiful shots of your product, which means they’re perfect for business owners who are just starting out and for those who are working with a strict budget. Here’s why:
- You won’t need to spend on product photography. Taking photos of your products can be hard work, especially if you want them to come out great. The trouble is, working with a professional photographer costs a lot of money because you’ll need to cover a whole lotta aspects of the shoot. You’ll have to pay the photographer, obviously, and rent a space for the photoshoot. You’ll have to call in a couple of models, which also work for a fee, and bring along a huge variety of t-shirts to make sure all of them appear in the shoot.
- You won’t need to spend money on a professional designer. Even if you do decide to forego the photoshoot, you’ll still need to work with a designer to create those images for your online store—that is, if you don’t opt for a readymade t-shirt mockup template. And while working with professionals is always the ideal solution, we all know that scaling a business is tough work that requires you to spend your budget wisely. But with a mockup template, you don’t need to worry about any of that, because you’ll be able to create the designs all by yourself with just a couple of clicks.
Using a t-shirt mockup is also a great way to increase your sales because it helps customers imagine themselves wearing that product.
That might be a given considering the highly visual era we’re living in, where everything is shared on Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok or YouTube, but just think about it: according to Etsy, 90% of their shoppers admitted that the quality of the photos they were looking at was extremely important when deciding whether to buy a product.
It’s not rocket science, really: the more visual your store is, the more likely you are to make sales.
👕 If you want to know more about how to sell on social media, here are some resources you can check out:
- How to Get More Followers on TikTok
- How to Use IG Hashtags for Likes and Traffic
- How to Make Money on Pinterest
- Quick Guide: Get Ready To Sell On Social Media!
👚 What are the best business models for a t-shirt store?
Before we dive in on some more practical stuff, like how to use a t-shirt mockup template to create your own mockups, we should discuss the best business models for opening a t-shirt store.
1. Consider dropshipping
If you’re not ready to invest a lot of money in your business venture and just want to test the waters without having to commit to inventory, warehousing or shipping, you should definitely start a dropshipping business.
Dropshipping is the fastest and easiest way to build an online store, and the best part is that you can start selling with just a few easy steps directly on Shoplazza. You can create your store without any hassle, and after registering, you’ll gain access to a whole repository of great products and suppliers. And when you finally pick out the items you want to sell, you can import it to your store with just one click. Easy-peasy.
If you’re starting a t-shirt dropshipping business, for instance, you would choose the t-shirts you want to sell in your store and then confirm with the supplier if they can make them in different colors (which they usually can).
After you sort that out, you can start ordering the products for yourself so you can assess their quality, and then start working with a free t-shirt mockup tool to generate all of the images that’ll populate your site.
🔥 Quick tip: A lot of dropshipping suppliers already have some mockups available for dropshippers, so be sure to check that out too.
👕 If you want to learn more about dropshipping after you’re done with our guide on t-shirt mockups, these two posts are a must:
- The Best Dropshipping Products to Sell and Make Money in 2023
- Global Product Sourcing: Dropshipping 2.0
2. Go big with a print-on-demand business
If the prospect of dropshipping sounds enticing enough, but the idea of having to work with t-shirt designs made by someone you don’t know isn’t that appealing to you, why not try a print-on-demand business?
This business model is perfect for entrepreneurs who want to have control over the designs of their products and maybe even create t-shirt designs from scratch. Unlike dropshipping, where you work with suppliers that provide readymade products, a print-on-demand business involves working with a supplier that specializes in manufacturing white-label products.
This is a great option if you want to create a store that sells not just t-shirts but other apparel products such as mugs, tote bags, phone cases, wall art prints and many other products.
🔥 Quick tip: Print-on-demand suppliers work with t-shirt mockup templates all the time, so partnering with a seasoned vendor can be a great help.
👕 If you’re considering a different type of business venture altogether, check out how to sell digital products online.
The best t-shirt mockup tools
Okay, it’s really nice to have all that information about what a shirt mockup is and how it can help your online store. But you can’t really do a lot with that if you don’t know where you can create those mockups, right?
When it comes to selecting the best t-shirt mockup template for your store, keep in mind that you're mainly looking at two possible options: online tools and PSD templates.
👚 Free t-shirt mockup tools you can use online
An online mockup tool is the best―and, arguably, the easiest―solution to find a t-shirt mockup template.
There are plenty of options online, and they’re all pretty easy to use: you simply select a mockup that you like, upload your design and edit the photo. When you’re done, you just click download and that’s it.
Renderforest is one of the best free t-shirt mockup tools available online. It boasts a huge collection of mockups in all settings imaginable, and there are tons of shirt models you can choose from: tank tops, hoodies, cropped t-shirts and many more.
Apart from the t-shirt mockup templates, you can also find a lot of other different mockups that might come in handy for your business: there are images that you can edit to use on your brand’s blog and materials for when it’s time to craft your branding.
You’ve probably used Canva at least once: to craft your CV, create a birthday invite, prepare a presentation for possible investors… But did you know that Canva also has a free t-shirt mockup tool built inside its amazing platform?
The whole editing process is pretty intuitive and it takes place on that same blue, purplish and white interface you’re already used to.
Canva has a book mockup tool that’s also free, so be sure to check that out if you have plans of selling digital products too.
Smartmockups is another great website that lets you work with a free t-shirt mockup. While it does have some features that you need to pay for, it currently holds a library of +1,500 free shirt mockups ready for you to use.
The best part of Smartmockups is that the models they work with are pretty diverse, so you’ll be able to bring a sense of belonging and diversity to your brand.
A free t-shirt mockup tool that had to be on this list is Mediamodifier, which lets you create mockups for shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts and baby clothes. It has a pretty extensive catalog of images you can choose from, whether with actual people wearing the t-shirts or some minimalist shots of the clothing item in question.
They’re also experts on a variety of different mockups, so it’s worth checking them out if you’re considering selling products under a print-on-demand business model.
While we’re on the topic of print-on-demand, be sure to check out Placeit: it’s a great place to find free t-shirt mockup templates. They have a wide array of filters to make your search a bit easier, and the whole editing process takes place online.
While they do have paid options available, a free account can do wonders for a small business that’s just looking to showcase its products.
💵 Paid option: Mockup Mark
If your budget can handle a small investment and you want to take your t-shirt mockup template game to the next level, try Mockup Mark. It does have some free options available, but overall it’s just a great tool that lets you edit the mockup online with only a couple of clicks.
They also have some breathtaking images that will certainly bring that wow factor to your store.
👚 PSD templates for mockups
Apart from choosing a free t-shirt mockup tool that works online, you can also choose to download a PSD template and edit it on your computer.
The only problem is that, in this case, you’ll need to use Photoshop to edit it. PSD, in case you don’t know, is the native file format of Adobe Photoshop.
Working with a PSD template usually allows you more control over the t-shirt design you’ve selected because you’ll be able to edit practically every single aspect of the image: background colors, lighting effects, sizing and a whole lot more. When you’re editing online, you’ll focus mainly on placing your design on the t-shirt and selecting its color.
There are some pretty great websites you can go to if you want to work with PSD mockups, and a lot of them also have free options. Be sure to check out the following alternatives:
- If you want to steer away from those squeaky-clean shirts and you’re looking for a t-shirt mockup that has a rugged feel to it, try Pixelbuddha and Behance. They have some great free t-shirt mockups that can work really well for stores going for that urban vibe.
- If you’re working with a minimalist t-shirt design and you want to keep it simple, try Unblast and Mockupworld. Both have free options and some beautiful images for you to use.
How to create a t-shirt mockup
You’re pretty much an expert on t-shirt design by now, but since we like to provide our entrepreneurs with all the answers, let’s check out how to customize a t-shirt mockup using a free image from Mockup Mark.
The video below is pretty straightforward, and it shows just how easy it is to use the online mockup tools we listed earlier.
👚 How to choose the best mockup image for your store
The mockup you saw in the video above is really beautiful, right? The model is stunning, her pose is awesome and the overall vibe the image gives off just feels fresh and full of possibilities. I can almost hear those clicks coming in on your website.
To make sure you recreate this magic when the time comes to edit your own t-shirt mockup template, keep in mind the three pointers below:
- Avoid mockups that look too artificial. You know those awful 3D mockups that show a shirt being “worn” but there’s no model wearing it? Yeah, you don’t want to do that―unless you’re really into making your store look like a The Sims game.
- Check how big the t-shirt looks. The size of the shirt on the mockup is extremely important. If it’s too small, it might not display the details of an intricate design you’re working with.
- Notice how the shirt is being displayed in the photo. If your shirt’s design is located on the back of the shirt, then it’s no use trying out a mockup that shows only the front.
Make those mockups, pop those sales
Now you have all the deets about t-shirt mockups and you’re ready to take the next step: opening your very own t-shirt store.
Remember to conduct a thorough competitive analysis before venturing out into the shirt business. It can’t hurt to conduct market research either, because then you’ll be better equipped to determine what type of brand you want to build.
Launch your online store on Shoplazza today and start working on those t-shirt mockups!