Homeschooling parents are often in a position where they work from a home office or would like to work from home to bring in income with a more flexible schedule. Fortunately, there are many creative business ideas that you can do right from your own home office that you can start in 2017. Believe it or not, t-shirt design is one that is becoming extremely popular.
In short, starting an online t-shirt business is becoming popular in the e-commerce world as well as the homeschooling-world and has become a popular choice for both artists and entrepreneurs alike! Below outlines 7 steps to start an online t-shirt business in the New Year:
1.     Setting up Your E-commerce Site
Nowadays setting up a website is incredibly easy, and there are a lot of options for ecommerce sites and apps available, you just need to do a little research! Setting up your website is really step one, because you can’t start selling, advertising, and promoting until this is up and fully functioning. Visit here to learn how to get started.
2. Figure Out Designing, Printing and Shipping
Once you have a good site that is ready to launch products, you are going to want to figure out how you will design shirts (more on that in step 3), how you are going to get your product printed, and what kind of shipping you can offer. This will involve calling different vendors in your area who can offer these services, so although it’s a straightforward process, you will definitely have to make some decisions. Most importantly you want these decisions to be made and your system to be established before you start promoting your company or products to make for smooth sailing, so the sooner you can lock this down and understand the costs associated, the better.
3. Establish Branding and Voice
Who is your target audience? What is unique about your t-shirt business compared to the rest? How do you want to brand yourself? What will be your niche or specialty? These questions are going to help you out specific aspects, such as the quality material you are going to offer (more on that in 4). Ultimately deciding who your consumer base is going to be and how you are going to reach out to them specifically with your branding and voice is a critical aspect of starting a t-shirt business.
4. Determine Material Quality
It is always tempting to go with the cheapest material to have the highest profit margin possible, but remember that quality is especially important in this business. Depending on who your target audience is (kids, high-end retail, hipsters, etc.), you will want to determine what quality is necessary to not only target the audience with designs, but also give you repeat customers. For example, if you are printing children’s shirts (for camps, schools, clubs, etc.) it might be key to go with a slightly lower quality material because you know they are going to want to order in bulk and get the most for their money.
5. Figure Out Your Printing Method
There are really three methods for t-shirt printing, and they all have their own unique pros and cons. We will go over them briefly here, but you will want to do some additional research to figure out what the best option really is for the cost/outcome that you want to have:

Screen Printing. Probably one of the most well known techniques that is favorable for t-shit company start ups, as it is cost-effective for printing in bulk. However, it can be challenging to print multiple colors and complex designs. Screen printers have a difficult initial set up, but after it is ready to go, it could be a really good starting point if your designs are pretty simple in color and graphics.
Heat Transfer. Advanced heat transfer systems that are business/industrial quality are called “plastisol transfers” which allow you to print on to special heat transferring paper (to then transfer to the material). Basically you can order large quantities of heat-transfer ready prints and then transfer at home with an industrial heat press as you receive orders. The downside? Heat transfer machines can be costly and the quality is inferior to both screen-printing and direct-to-garment methods.
Direct-To-Garment. This option basically works like a regular printer as it transfers ink directly to the shirt and can handle complex designs and multiple colors. The set up costs are low because it functions like a printer, and the quality is on par with screen printing (and better than heat-transfer). This is great for small orders, but unfortunately, does not really have any cost benefits for printing in bulk.
6. Determining and Sourcing the T-Shirt Designs
So, what if you are not an artist? There are several ways that you can get designs for your t-shirts without having to be crafty yourself. For one, you can always reach out to art forums and communities and see if any artists would like to contribute art for exposure (you can also offer them a percentage of the sales as an incentive to work with you). You can also hire a graphic designer to work on certain designs as a freelancer, or try tapping into your own skills as an artist with the many tools and resources out there, such as the Shopify T-Shirt design tool. You, of course, can also offer to print company logos or anything custom that people want printed. Once you source and determine how you are going to get your t-shirt designs you will want to do some mock up shirts, and have professional photos taken for your website and social media accounts.
7. Promote, Market, and Get Selling!
Once you are all set up, you can get to the digital marketing. Promoting and advertising on social media platforms, email, Google AdWords, and other digital channels is a great way to drive business and orders to your site. Pay attention to the feedback you get on these channels from returning and prospective clients so that you can be sure to adjust your business plan and approach as need be. There is of course quite a bit that goes into marketing, so I recommend this article for beginners.
The Takeaway

This is a simple breakdown of how you might go about starting a t-shirt printing business as a homeschooling mom. Remember to do a little more research into each step, especially the materials and design sourcing aspects, before you firmly commit to anything. There are a lot of forums and articles available for you to learn more, so don’t miss out on the knowledge others have learned by rushing into it. Starting a t-shit site can be a great way to make money in the coming year as you work from home, and can be fantastic for flexible work hours as you homeschool kids or otherwise structure your days!

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Our Experience with Family Audio Adventures

Does your family love audio books?

I wasn't so sure how audio books would go over in my home. I have to admit that I was never much of a fan. My appreciation grew when my daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia. Since her listening comprehension far surpassed her reading level so she found great enjoyment in audio books. Now, my 7-year-old never stops talking and would prefer to play a game or watch TV. I wasn't so sure an audio book would capture her attention. I guess now was the time to find out and there was no better way than with Family Audio Adventures.

Our first experience was on the way to the grocery store. It was short drive but it would give us a taste. I showed my 10-year-old daughter the CDs and let her pick which one to play.  Her eyes lit up just seeing the fantastic artwork on the CDs. The choice was made and it was The Dragon and The Raven. As soon as the CD was put in, my 7-year-old protested and wanted to hear some music instead. My other daughter and I looked at each other and instead of saying anything we ignored the request and continued.

Within the first few seconds, I was impressed by the sound quality. As the story began, my daughter and I listened intently. The voice actors were engaging and quite frankly flawless. The story was enthralling and we felt like we could "see" everything going on. Before I knew it, we were in the parking lot. It was at that point I realized two things; 1) We would have been quite content to sit in the parking lot listening longer. 2) My 7-year-old had not uttered a word the entire drive. In fact, it was her who now protested we turn it off to go into the store.  Now, keeping that chatterbox quiet and listening is worth the entire Family Audio Adventure set.

What Makes Family Audio Adventure So Fantastic?

Let's start off by saying these CDs were created by former Adventures in Odyssey producers.  Most of us are already familiar with the quality of Adventures in Odyssey so we already have a fantastic start. Now add in engaging characters, thrilling adventure, a Christian worldview, and real history lessons. Yes, it is THAT GOOD.

Now check this out from the site:

""Studies show that “listening and learning” with audio actually improves how a child’s brain works. It’s true. With audio learning, the left hemisphere of the brain gets stimulated in a way that no other learning method can stimulate. This is an education breakthrough!""

Read all about that and more here

WHAT?  To think I have not employed the use of many audio books. My kids loved every second of these CDs. We still have a few to go but I could not be more excited about adding this into my homeschool.

The next day we listened to Under Drake's Flag. We spent time doing our own research and learning more and before we knew it the school day was over. My daughter looked up and said, "School's over? We didn't even do school." Yes, my lovely daughter, that is exactly what education is about. It is about being truly curious and engaged while broadening your horizons, learning lessons, and appreciating history, within your heart and not just your brain. Real learning becomes a part of you and not a robotic report that you can check off on your "to-do" list. 

I thought I was the only one until one day a group of moms opened up to one another. We discussed the frustration, exhaustion, pain, and wasted money associated with pencil sharpeners. What started out as a homeschool co-op meeting quickly turned into a support group for moms who have had it with pencil sharpening. We all had been burned by sharpeners that did not live up to potential or created more broken pencils than sharp points. We purchased everything from dollar store brands to high-end electric ones and the end result was always the same; frustration. Some of us confessed to coming close to allowing the use of pens math. Mechanical pencils seemed like a solution but sadly broke more often than our poorly sharpened ones.  Then one wise mom stood up after staring into her phone and said, "Here it is...the sharpener that finally worked for us!"  Could it be true? Could there be a sharpener that would stand the test of the homeschool life?

This hope was found on the Classroom Friendly Supplies.  The site said it was the best sharpener in the world. Well, all of us moms have heard that before. More research would have to be done on this intriguing product. Soon many of us learned that this was the best-kept secret in the homeschool world. Moms came forward to say they owned this sharpener and since owning it never had another pencil issue again. So, I decided to give this pencil sharpener a run for its money.

The day finally arrived when the mailman dropped off a box of hope for the pencils in my home. I know it sounds silly to be so excited over a pencil sharpener but if this pencil sharpener lived up to the hype then it would change my world.  Okay, maybe not my world, but it would revolutionize pencil sharpening in my homeschool.  No, I don't think "revolutionize" is too strong a word. We were ready to test it out with old and new pencils alike. The kids and I had a little bit too much fun using this sharpener. It was easy and a bit fun to use. The pencils never looked so sharp...literally. No breaks, no uneven edges, no fuss, no batteries, and no swearing off pencils forever.  It is by far my favorite school supply.

Again, I know how crazy it must sound to love a pencil sharpener so much.  However, if you, like me, have wasted money on every pencil sharpener on the market even battery operated ones, you would understand. The kids love to sharpen pencils now.  No more broken pencil tips and wonky edges.  Anything to make your homeschool day a bit easier is a gift.  So gift this to yourself!

I loved it so much I had the opportunity to gift it to a lucky homeschool mom. She said she is forever in my debt. Homeschool moms are not easily impressed but I have yet to find one who has had the pleasure of using the Classroom Friendly Supplies sharpener and not loved it.

Peanuts Word Cards

Anyone who knows anything about me knows I love Snoopy. It was with great sadness that my first three children were not impressed by Joe Cool and Charlie Brown. Then finally it happened, my fourth and final child became a Snoopy fan. Either she loves Snoopy and the rest of the Peanut gang on their own merit or she is trying to get on my good side. Either way, she is the inspiration behind the Peanuts Word Cards.

Each page contains four cards with an image and a word that describes the image that can be traced. You can either print it off and use a pencil or laminate the pages and use wet erase markers. I highly recommend Expo Vis-a-Vis Wet Erase markers. Dry erase markers can prove difficult to remove and make messy streaks. The wet erase come off beautifully for laminated sheets you want to use over and over again.

Here is what you will need to make your own set of Peanuts Word Cards for your child.
Once you print off your sheets, simply laminate, cut, punch a hole and fill your book ring up. I let my daughter use her cards at night before going to bed. In no time at all, she is able to read and spell the words! 

Ready to get your sheets?  Just sign up below!

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