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Starting a T-Shirt Printing Business? Here’s What You Need to Know

By: Matt McComic


Starting a T Shirt Printing Business

With the availability of online storefronts, nearly anyone can own a business. If you have an eye for graphic design and want to make a few dollars, you could even open your own t-shirt printing business, whether or not you own vinyl roll cutters or any other equipment.

Sound too good to be true? It might be easier than you think! Read on for six steps to start your own t-shirt printing business.

Figure Out Your Platform

So, you want to sell t-shirts. That’s great! First, you need to choose a platform for your sales. There are many options for online storefronts. Take a look at each and decide which is best for you.

Popular options include:

  • Shopify – Go from zero to up-and-running with Shopify support. Receive orders, ship products, and update your offerings. Plug-ins for social media included.
  • Etsy – Popular digital storefront. Take orders, print shipping labels, issue refunds, and add merchandise.
  • Wix – A popular blog-turned-storefront, this platform features a combination of style and presentation with functional e-storefront capabilities.
  • Squarespace – Build a website from scratch or a template. Feature your products while utilizing e-storefront capabilities.

Decide on Your Niche

What now? Figure out what sets your t-shirts apart from the competition. You don’t want to copy another business. Take your time with this step. Combine your vision for the business with ideas you already love.

If you’re a crazy cat lady who loves puns, create a unique line of punny cat t-shirts. If your passion is the great outdoors and pithy quotes from literature, combine them to craft t-shirts with wildlife icons and quote graphics.

The sky is the limit. Make your product unique.

Start Designing

Do you know what a successful t-shirt business needs? Your designs! Come up with a stunning t-shirt and people will want to purchase from you.

If you can’t craft them yourself, hire someone to help. Popular freelance sites such as Upwork or Fiverr list design artists who work to fit any budget. Whether on your own or with an artist, come up with three or four designs.

Then, test the market.

Post them with a watermark on your Facebook page and ask for honest feedback. Your friends might have suggestions that improve your designs.

Ask for feedback from local consultants or through online forums are excellent ways to gain unbiased feedback. When you have designs ready for the public, then you can tackle the next step.

Choose a Supplier and Business Model

Did you know? You can run a T-shirt business in several ways.

  1. You purchase bulk colors and styles of blank t-shirts, print your designs when orders come in, and ship them out.
  2. You connect with a local printing company that can print your shirts for you.
  3. You use a print-on-demand service that sources blank shirts, prints, and ships for you.

While print-on-demand services cost more, they are a fantastic option when first beginning your business. To test the waters and see whether your design ideas will take off, use a company that will do the hard work for you.

If you’re purchasing blank t-shirts and using a local printer, be sure the fabric and the print jobs are of the highest quality. No one wants to wear a t-shirt design that fades or cracks. Someone might purchase from you once, but they won’t do it again.

Beautiful designs and high-quality prints are your two biggest allies in the t-shirt business. If you want repeat customers, provide t-shirts with fantastic designs and top-notch quality.

Choose Your Printing Technique

If you want t-shirts with a high-quality print, you’ll want to choose one of two printing options: screen printing or direct-to-garment.

Screen Printing

This process produces durable and long-lasting full-color prints. Screen printing is best for large-batch orders. Printers often offer discounts for large batch orders. The cost of this process increases if using intricate designs with more than four or five colors.


This process is best for detailed multi-color designs. DTG is best for small orders and is your best DIY option if you want to take production in-house.

Direct-to-film (DTF) printing is a technique used for printing designs on t-shirts and other garments. In this process, an image is first printed onto a special film and then transferred onto the fabric using heat. The Prestige R2 DTF printer is often used in this method for its precision and quality in printing on the film.

What about heat transfer?

This method gained popularity but quickly faded to the background. While you can produce designs on t-shirts rapidly, the designs will crack, fade, and wear away, creating a low-quality product. Stay away from heat transfer if you want a quality product and repeat customers

What Will You Do?

Starting a t-shirt printing business is an exciting opportunity for the budding entrepreneur. If you take the time to craft top-notch designs, source high-quality t-shirts, and use a business model that works for you.

With the help of online storefronts, you’ll be up and running in no time. Now that you know how to take your concept and make it a reality, what kind of t-shirt business will you run?

Published: December 27, 2019

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Matt McComic

Matt McComic’s knack for the use of inkjet applications including proofing, promotional goods and signage came from the advertising world, where he managed the print and broadcast accounts for several key corporate accounts. Over 15 years at Imaging Spectrum, his experience has broadened in the print industry and now heads up the inkjet team in providing thorough solutions for printing opportunities across several platforms.

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