Running a custom apparel business is like wearing a million hats at once—especially in the first few years of operation.

It’s normal to be the CEO, graphic designer, social media manager, email marketer, and customer service rep all at the same time.

So, what distinguishes successful businesses from the ones that devolve into fiery infernos?

From our experience, we’ve learned that resourcefulness will help you survive even the most cutthroat markets.

One way to be resourceful is to use the tools that are available to you. Thanks to the Internet, you can easily access a slew of online tools and resources that will help you scale your custom apparel business.

Today, we’re excited to share 18 tools that got the Scrappy stamp of approval.

We organized our list into six categories:

  • Designing custom apparel
  • Project management
  • eCommerce
  • Marketing
  • Outsourcing
  • Education

Take it from us—these resources will give you an unfair competitive advantage so you can dominate the custom apparel market. The sky is the limit!

Here’s our list of 18 tools that will make your custom apparel business soar:

Designing custom apparel


1. MyFonts

What it is: A website that searches far and wide to compile the largest section of fonts for professional projects

Why we love it: It has over 130,000 fonts available for free download or purchase. The licensing for each font is straightforward, which will save you from headaches and legal troubles.

We also love MyFonts’ WhatTheFont tool. It allows you to upload an image of an unknown font, and it will work its magic to identify the font for you. Pretty sweet!

How it will help you: MyFonts will help you find the perfect font for your custom apparel project, even if you’re working with an imaginary budget. (There are plenty of free options available.)

Learn more about MyFonts

2. Behance

What it is: A creative network where designers can share their work and get inspiration from others.

Why we love it: With over 10 million members, Behance is one of the best places to discover new ideas for your custom apparel projects. And did we mention it’s free?

How it will help you: Behance gives you a world of creativity at your fingertips. If you’re a custom apparel designer, you can use it to find inspiration for your next project. 

You can also use Behance to find freelancers to hire if you’re interested in outsourcing your apparel designs.

Learn more about Behance

3. Adobe Color

What it is: An online app and community that makes it easy for you to create aesthetically pleasing color palettes for your design projects. (Check out our color theory guide for more info on this!)

Why we love it: First of all, it’s free. (Who doesn’t love free?)

Second, the color wheel under the “Create” tab is highly intuitive. You can create combinations based on various color theory rules to generate a palette that will work best for your custom apparel.

Finally, we love the community aspect of Adobe Color. You can publish your color palettes and browse the creations of other designers. 

How it will help you: You can quit throwing spaghetti at the wall to choose colors for your custom apparel. Adobe Color makes it easy to be strategic with your color choices.

Learn more about Adobe Color

4. Milanote

What it is: A versatile and user-friendly visual organization tool that can be used to create mood boards in a snap!

Why we love it: As designers, we use mood boards to spark inspiration for our projects. Milanote has a wonderful user interface for mood board creation, and they actually wrote a step-by-step article that explains how to make your own using the app.

How it will help you: By building a mood board on Milanote, you can establish the creative direction of your custom apparel project to make sure it aligns with your brand.

Learn more about Milanote

5. Creative Market

What it is: An online marketplace with over 3 million assets you can use for your creative projects.

Why we love it: There’s something for every project on Creative Market. Whether you need an ultra-cool texture or an unpredictable font, you will find it on Creative Market.

All design assets have clear licensing agreements, which is awesome because you should never, ever guess when it comes to the legal stuff. 

You don’t want to be that person who finds a copyright infringement notice in their mailbox. That would be a total buzzkill.

How it will help you: Instead of creating every single element from scratch, you can purchase them from Creative Market. 

If you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, we recommend looking at the bundles available on the site. Many creators will bundle similar graphics, fonts, or textures together into discounted packages.

Learn more about Creative Market

6. Our Scrappy Apparel Design Templates

What they are: Free downloadable templates to help you create and promote your custom apparel.

Why we love them: These templates are our babies, so we might be a little biased. But we promise they are the bomb, and they’re also free… it really can’t get much better.

How they will help you: Our design templates will improve your quality of life. 

Instead of wasting hours of your time creating mockups from scratch, you can just use our templates to get the job done—which means you can use your newfound free time to go to the pool, hang out with your friends, or sit around the house and do nothing. Whatever floats your boat!

Here are the templates we have available for download:
  • Sublimation Templates: For designing custom apparel projects
  • Neck Label Templates: For creating a custom neck label
  • Cut & Sew Hat Templates: For designing a custom hat
  • Finishing Options: For creating custom SKU labels
  • Social Media Templates: For mocking up your designs to promote them on social media

Download our design templates!

Project management

7. ClickUp

What it is: A robust productivity platform with project management, time tracking, and team communication tools.

Why we love it: ClickUp is an all-in-one solution for entrepreneurs that can scale up with you as you reach each new stage of business development.

You can use it as a solopreneur, or you can use it with a team of 50 people. 

How it will help you: If you’re still using a paper to-do list but want to switch to a digital solution, ClickUp is our #1 recommendation for keeping yourself organized in every area of your business.

Learn more about ClickUp

8. Toggl

What it is: An easy-to-use time tracking and reporting tool.

Why we love it: Toggl is simple but effective in helping you visualize what you spend the most time on.

How it will help you: If you’ve never used a time tracker before, we’re willing to bet that there are certain tasks you spend more time on than you realize.

We recommend creating a separate Toggl project for each area of your business (design, accounting, eCommerce, etc.) and make sure you select the corresponding project when you track time. 

Then, at the end of each week, you can create a report to see where your time and energy are going. You might be shocked at what you’re wasting your time on.

Learn more about Toggl



9. Shopify

What it is: One of the largest eCommerce platforms for custom apparel.

Why we love it: You can set up a fully functional online store on Shopify and integrate it into your existing website via the Buy Button sales channel.

How it will help you: If you want to sell your custom apparel online, you can’t go wrong with Shopify. It offers robust analytics and a relatively user-friendly interface (although we recommend watching tutorials to learn best practices for Shopify).

Learn more about Shopify

10. Imagify

What it is: An online service and WordPress plugin for image optimization and compression.

Why we love it: Image optimization is crucial for any website—WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, you name it. If your images are heavy, your site will load more slowly, and you run the risk of your visitors bouncing before they get the chance to make a purchase.

Imagify will optimize and compress your images so they load quickly and integrate seamlessly into your website. Although Imagify has a WordPress plugin, you can use its online app to compress images, download them, and upload them to your site regardless of which CMS you’re using.

How it will help you: You can actually use Imagify to optimize images for both websites and email campaigns.

Learn more about Imagify



11. Google Trends

What it is: A tool that analyzes the popularity of search queries on Google. (In layman’s terms, it is a trend tracker!)

Why we love it: You can type anything into the search bar—your brand name, a relevant keyword, or even your competitor’s name. Google Trends will show you all the buzz around the keyword you search for.

How it will help you: Whether you’re planning a custom apparel design or a marketing campaign, you can use Google Trends to find out what people are interested in so you can position your brand at the forefront of the latest trends in your industry.

google trends

Want more guidance? Here are 5 ways to use Google Trends for your custom apparel business:

  1. Validate your product ideas before you create them.
  2. Identify seasonal trends to leverage in your marketing strategy.
  3. Look at related queries to find in-demand topics to focus your products around.
  4. Discover geotargeted markets to focus on.
  5. Keep a close eye on your competitors.

Learn more about Google Trends

12. SEMrush

What it is: An SEO and online visibility management tool that is excellent for competitive keyword research. 

Why we love it: SEMrush offers an array of tools to help all kinds of businesses—including custom apparel brands. You can perform a site audit on your own site, or you can get sneaky and spy on your competitors. The choice is yours!

How it will help you: If you have an online presence for your custom apparel brand, it’s worthwhile to invest in SEO and optimize your website from the beginning. 

SEMrush will help you rank higher in search results and improve the overall performance of your website so your visitors will fall in love with your brand at first sight.

Learn more about SEMrush

13. Buzzsumo

What it is: An all-in-one content marketing platform that will help you come up with winning content ideas, connect with influencers, and more.

Why we love it: Think of Buzzsumo as a blend of Google Trends and SEMrush. It has many features, including trend tracking and keyword research. 

If content marketing is a crucial strategy for your business, Buzzsumo is well worth the investment.

How it will help you: Buzzsumo will help you be more strategic with your content creation process. Instead of focusing your energy on a piece of content that simply won’t perform, you can use Buzzsumo to harvest industry insights that will guide your content strategy.

Learn more about Buzzsumo

14. Google Analytics

What it is: The best website analytics platform ever.

Why we love it: What’s not to love? Google Analytics has a goldmine of data to inform your marketing strategy.

How it will help you: One misconception people have about Google Analytics is that it’s only important for web developers. This is not the case.

Even if the analytics look like a foreign language to you at first, it’s crucial for you to understand them because they will give you key insights into how people interact with your site—which will ultimately affect whether they purchase your custom apparel or not.

Through Google Analytics, you can view where your web traffic is coming from, how long people spend on your site, which of your pages (and products) are the most interesting to your prospects, and insane details about your website visitors. It’s honestly a little creepy how much data Google will show you.

Learn more about Google Analytics

15. Mention

What it is: A social listening and web monitoring tool that gives you insight into the conversations people are having about your brand online.

Why we love it: No more worrying about people talking bad about your brand behind your back on their social media platforms. (Just kidding—we hope that never happens to you!)

Mention taps into over 1 billion sources to find out who is talking about your brand and what they’re saying. Even if you don’t get tagged on social media, you can still find posts that include your brand name by using Mention. 

How it will help you: Mention is the ultimate tool to help you manage your brand’s online reputation. You can also use it to engage with your customers and fans more.

Learn more about Mention

16. Later

What it is: A visual-friendly social media scheduling tool (sent straight from heaven, we might add).

Why we love it: Its user interface is beginner-friendly. All you have to do is drag and drop your media onto the calendar to schedule it. Social media scheduling literally could not get any easier.

How it will help you: You’ll save hours of time by planning and scheduling your social media content in advance. And more importantly, you’ll have peace of mind so you can take a break from Instagram if you choose to. 

Learn more about Later




17. Freelance Networks

What they are: Platforms like Fiverr and Upwork that allow you to connect with freelancers who can help you with projects for your business.

Why we love them: The top freelance networks make it easy to post jobs and vet candidates so you can find the perfect person for your project. It’s best to hire a freelancer for a specific project or if your business needs a small amount of support that doesn’t call for a full-time employee. 

How they will help you: There’s nothing wrong with asking for a helping hand—especially if it takes the pressure and stress off you.

Whether you’re looking for a social media manager or a graphic designer for your custom apparel project, there’s a freelancer out there who can help you.

Learn more about Fiverr and Upwork



18. Skillshare

What it is: An affordable online education platform that offers creative courses and tutorials.

Why we love it: Skillshare offers thousands of classes that cater to an array of interests. You won’t get bored with it!

How it will help you: If we had to guess, we’d say you probably weren’t born a custom apparel expert. As a baby, you didn’t know how to design and sell t-shirts. That’s something you learned over time, most likely by reading tutorials online and teaching yourself about the business.

Well, Skillshare is an opportunity to continue your education by learning new creative techniques and eCommerce strategies. Skillshare offers a variety of courses, so there’s always something new to watch. You can get access to all the videos at one flat monthly rate.

With Skillshare, you’ll get to be a lifelong learner.

Learn more about Skillshare

All the tools on this list are wonderful, but truth be told—working with Scrappy Apparel is the best way to skyrocket your custom apparel business.

Our team is ready to help you every step of the way. Request your quote today.