Deepening Your Dive
By now, you should have identified your niche. Excellent. The fact that you’ve even thought about this means you’re way ahead of the game. With this information, you can now start thinking about your potential design in a new light—and hopefully design and promote a shirt that your audience loves.
But we’ve only scratched the surface of understanding tee creation and design. And the more you know, the further you’ll understand your audience and your niche—and score potential gain down the line.
The next step will be to learn more about your niche members through research, engagement and genuine interest. The community you discover will not only provide you with deep insight into what these individuals would love to buy and wear—but they can also become potential connections that will help give you feedback, provide social shares and ultimately build your brand (if that’s what you want).
where the niche lives
So how do you get to know and understand the people within your niche?
First, let’s think about exactly where our niche hangs out. This is the first step in understanding where we can reach out to them in our quest to ultimately learn from, engage with and promote to them.
your niche members: who they are
We’ve found the main “watering holes” of our niche: where we can find our niche members and where they like to spend their time. Awesome. If you’ve come this far, it is clear that you really care about creating a meaningful design for these individuals.
So who are these people? The next step in delving deeper is reaching out. Take time to follow, interact with and befriend individual members of your target niche via their online profiles.
Remember: If you really want to contribute something to your customers’ community—or if you want to bring together a mass of interconnected but unconnected individuals (for example: Chihuahua Lovers in Texas)—then reaching out isn’t necessarily intimidating. Be friendly. Be respectful. If you express your intentions in a positive way, people are often happy to positively respond back.
As you research, it'll be helpful to ask yourself key questions like: What excites my niche? What makes them laugh? What would they proudly wear on a t-shirt?
Macro scale insights into your niche
Use Facebook’s Audience Insights tool to give you a better sense of big trends in the niche: What is the ratio of men to women? The average age? Average household income? Popular shared interests? A search for Californians who like EMTs and Paramedics tells us that men are more outwardly interested in the subject.
Keep insights like this one in mind as you design and promote your tee. For example, if you know that 45% of your niche’s members are women, you’ll want to offer some women’s styles.
Micro scale insights
Like digital photographs and Photoshop documents, raster graphics are made up of thousands of tiny squares, or pixels. Typically found in .JPGs, .PNGs, .GIFs, .PSDs, and .TIFFs, these graphics look great at their original size, but become grainy and “pixelated” if that size changes. On a shirt, those pixels can print with rough edges, so try to use vector graphics when possible.
Contribute to the niche, pitch your idea
To reiterate: Engage with your audience as genuinely as possible to create the best possible design. For example, if you want to know if people are even interested in a tee for Emergency Medical Responders, you could ask a few niche members on Twitter by @replying them. If they’re interested, note that interest and tell them you’ll get back to them when the design is finished.
locating past designs
To further inform how your design will be received, take some time to search and see if any similar t-shirts have previously been designed for your audience, and note whether they were successful or not. Start with a basic Google search, then expand to sites like Zazzle and Amazon if you wish. This is a great way to potentially get inspiration, but also to figure out what to avoid doing. You don’t want to recreate a t-shirt that has already been done before. This way, you’ll stay original, avoid copyright infringement and skip the embarrassment of recreating a tee that has already been thoroughly sold to your audience before.
Identify three places where you can reach members of your niche, then rank these places based on member engagement level. Save this list for when you begin to promote your design.
List 5 audiences that you’d want to design a t-shirt for. Come up with at least one for each of these categories: those with a shared interest, people talking about a controversy, a group that you’re a part of.