- Last Updated May 6, 2023
Interested in starting your own business career? A t-shirt printing business is where you may want to go. All businesses start small – even Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook did. If you start your small business in the early-mid 2020s (now) by buying a t-shirt printing machine, your business career can go a long way.
It’s easy to work for others; you’re told what to do when to do it, and how to do it. As an entrepreneur, you get to decide those things – or let’s say you “have” to. If you’re the one in charge, you have the power (or chore) to make your own schedule, create your own products and services, and build a business that you’re passionate about.
But out of many other small business options, t-shirt printing is a great option to consider, here’s why:
Low Cost of Entry
The cost of entry to start a t-shirt printing business is relatively low. You don’t need to rent out a storefront or office space. You can even start your business from your home. All you need is a decent quality t-shirt printing machine.
You Can Start Small
You can start your t-shirt printing business with just a few shirts. No need to print hundreds or thousands of shirts right away. This is helpful because it gives you time to perfect your design and printing process.
There is a Growing Market
The market for t-shirt printing is growing rapidly. More and more people are interested in wearing custom-printed shirts. This is especially true for millennials. In 2021, the global custom t-shirt printing market size was valued at USD 3.9 billion. The market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.9% from 2022 to 2030. The T-shirts segment in the US is valued $4.69 Billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a rate of 5.25% annually till 2027.
You Can Be Creative
With a t-shirt printing business, you can be as creative as you want. You can design your own shirts or you can design shirts for other people. There are endless possibilities when it comes to t-shirt design.
Is Digital T-shirt printing online worth it?
Online digital t-shirt printing is creating custom t-shirts for personal or business usage using software like printify. Online custom t-shirt printing is the easiest and worthiest non-machine way around. T-shirt customizers may exist nearby, but they are not as convenient as customizing online. In fact, overcharging, bad printing quality, and longer turnaround times are common among them. For example, some t-shirt customizers would overprice their services by up to 50% with several excuses. The excuses are often like, “the design is too complicated” or “the fabric is hard to print on.” On the other hand, online t-shirt printing sites/apps do not have these problems. In general, they provide a better customer service too. The best part, as always, is that they are usually cheaper than offline customizers.
Without further ado, here is a step-by-step guide to online custom t-shirt printing:
Step 1 – Find an online t-shirt customizer.
The first step is to find a reputable online t-shirt customizer. The basis of a great custom t-shirt is a good quality print. While there are many t-shirt customizers out there. However, not all of them offer high-quality printing and a broad ability to customize. In fact, some t-shirt customizers don’t even print the shirts, only allowing you to create them for fun. So, before spending any time creating your shirt, make sure the website firstly allows it to print at all, and that they have good reviews regarding the print quality. The rest is about customization, which you can pretty much explore on your own. For example, I created this one using Customink.
As I am familiar with customink, I know they have a variety of styles, colors, and sizes to choose from. Just look at all these features:
For more free and paid t-shirt customizers, refer to this post.
Step 2 – Choose the right T-shirt
Once you know the printing capabilities of the website you’re using, it’s time to choose the right t-shirt. Choose the right fabric, color, size, and style. Make sure to read all the details so that you know what to expect. Some websites may offer additional customization options, such as collars, pockets, and so on. So, make sure to check those out as well.
Step 3 – Design your T-shirt
This is the fun part! Now that you have chosen the right t-shirt, it’s time to design it. You can either use the website’s design tool or upload your own design. Most websites have an easy-to-use design tool with a drag-and-drop interface. For example, you can upload your own images, add text, and adjust the colors, size, and orientation of the elements. This is the best way to create a unique t-shirt.
Here are some creative ideas for custom t-shirts:
- Use a slogan or catchphrase to make a statement.
- Add a photo or image that represents your brand or personality.
- Use bright, bold colors to make your t-shirt stand out.
- Use a unique font or text style to make your t-shirt one-of-a-kind.
Here’s one I created:
One good thing about using online tools for custom t-shirt printing is that you always have an exact preview in front. This way, you can make necessary changes to the design before you place your order.
Step 4 – Place your order
Once you’re satisfied with your design, it’s time to place the order. That’s it! Your order should arrive within a few days.
Is online t-shirt printing for you?
Yes, there indeed are a lot of cons to this type of printing. For one thing, the quality of the t-shirts is not monitored by you, but rather, monitored by the company you’re printing from. If you’re not careful with the selection of the website, you could end up with a lower-quality product than what you were hoping for. Additionally, this type of printing can be more expensive than other methods, like screen printing. People who are looking for a more personal touch to their t-shirt printing may not find it with online digital t-shirt printing. Also, the printing and shipping process can take 5-7 business days, and sometimes even longer. This method is only suitable if you’re looking for mass production, and not looking for customization in terms of tiny, important printing details.
Now that you know some of the reasons why starting a t-shirt printing business is a great idea, and why online digital t-shirt printing may not be the ideal option for most, let’s talk about how to get started (yes, how to start a t-shirt printing business.)
To get started, you’ll need a reliable t-shirt printing machine.
What is a t-shirt printing machine?
A t-shirt printing machine is a device that allows you to print designs or text on t-shirts. These machines come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small desktop printers to large format machines. The type of machine you need will depend on the volume of t-shirts you plan to print and the size of your designs.
If you’re just starting out, a small desktop printer may be all you need. These printers are relatively inexpensive and can print small designs. However, if you plan to print larger designs or more t-shirts, you’ll need a larger machine.
There are two main types of t-shirt printing machines: direct-to-garment (DTG) printers and screen printing machines.
- DTG printers are the newer technology and print directly onto the t-shirt. Screen printing machines use a stencil to apply ink to the t-shirt.
- DTG printers are typically more expensive than screen printing machines, but they are also faster and easier to use.
- If you’re just starting out, a screen printing machine may be a better option. However, if you plan to print large quantities of t-shirts, a DTG printer will be a better investment.
No other garment quite has the same appeal as a personalized t-shirt. People love to show off their personalities, styles, interests, and sense of humor through the shirts they wear. And what better way to do that than with a custom t-shirt that you designed yourself? Even if you are not intending to start a business, a t-shirt printing machine can be a great way to make some extra money on the side or to simply make a one-of-a-kind shirt for a friend or family member.
T-Shirt Printing Business Plan (Step-wise)
Of course, if you are going to start a t-shirt printing business, you will need more than just a machine. You will need a high-quality printer, some transfer paper, and some blank t-shirts. But the machine is the first step, and it is an important one. You need to choose the right machine for the job, and that means understanding the different types of machines that are available and what they can do.
There are two methods to use t-shirt printing machines for your business; one way is to use heat transfer paper and iron to print the designs onto the t-shirts. This method is quite simple, but the quality is not the best and the design is not very durable. The other way to print t-shirts is to use a digital t-shirt printing machine. These are more expensive, but they give you the option of printing your designs onto the t-shirt using a digital printer. This method gives you a much higher quality product and is also more durable.
There are many ways to start with t-shirt printing business. For example, you may want to open a digital t-shirt printing machine business. Or create t-shirts in bulk and sell them online or in brick-and-mortar stores. Or maybe get contracts from a company to print their logo on t-shirts for their employees. Whatever avenue you decide to go down, there are a few key things you need to remember, and steps to take, when starting a t-shirt printing business.
Step 1: Choose a T-Shirt Printing Machine
When choosing a t-shirt printing machine, it’s important to consider the quality of the machine and the customer service of the manufacturer. There are many different machines on the market, so it’s important to do your research. There are several factors you should consider when choosing a machine, such as:
a. Print Quality – Any machine you choose should be able to produce high-quality prints.
b. Speed – If you plan on printing a lot of shirts, you’ll need a machine that can work quickly.
c. Price – There are machines available at a variety of price points. It’s important to find one that fits your budget.
d. Correct brand – There are a lot of different brands and models of machines, so it’s important to do your research before making a purchase.
When you’re ready to buy a t-shirt printing machine, be sure to compare prices from different retailers. You may be able to find a better deal online than you would in a brick-and-mortar store.
There are different steps for different t-shirt printing machines.
1. Screen printing machines
- Step 1: Prepare the screen.
- Step 2: Prepare the artwork.
- Step 3: Place the screen onto the t-shirt.
- Step 4: Apply the ink to the screen.
- Step 5: Pass the t-shirt through the conveyor oven.
2. Heat transfer printing machines
- Step 1: Prepare the artwork.
- Step 2: Print the artwork onto transfer paper.
- Step 3: Place the transfer paper onto the t-shirt.
- Step 4: Heat press the transfer paper onto the t-shirt.
- Step 5: Peel off the transfer paper after the image has cooled.
The best way to find a reputable manufacturer is to ask other t-shirt printers in your area. They’ll be able to tell you which brands and models they recommend. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s a good idea to read online reviews of the machines you’re considering. Who would you ask? Ask us! Here are the best T-shirt printing machines for each group of new business starters:
Slendor 5 in 1 Heat Press Machine (for small budget)
Slendor 5-in-1 Heat Press Machine is a versatile machine that can be used for a variety of purposes, including pressing T-shirts, caps, ceramic plates, ceramic tiles, mugs, coasters, mouse pads, jigsaw puzzles, lettering, and other misc. fabrics and materials. It comes with a 12×15-inch heating plate, a hat press, a mug press, and two plate presses. It has a full 360-degree rotation and swing-away design, making it easy and safe to use. The digital control box of this t-shirt printing machine lets you set the temperature and time according to your needs. The detachable lower platform makes it easy to exchange for other elements, as well as a removable silicone pad and cotton pad.
- People with lower budget – For $160, this t-shirt printing machine is a great start. It is good for those who are on a tight budget but still want a decent-quality machine.
- For light fabric printing – It is also good for people who wants to do some light fabric printing.
It is easy to use and is relatively inexpensive.
Mophorn Heat Press Machine (Ideal HPM for just-starting businesses)
This t-shirt printing machine is a great addition to any business, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in the game for awhile. The $450 product includes a 5-in-1 heat press machine that comes with a vinyl cutter and a 14-inch plotter machine. The two products are sent separately, but they will arrive quickly. The vinyl cutter has a pressure of 10-500g and is adjustable. The plotter machine also has two rollers that are fully adjustable. This allows you to use a wide range of materials. Like the Slendor, this machine also has a swing-away design, great for safety, and the lower platform is easily interchangeable. The Teflon-coated platen press element is non-stick and perfect for everyday use or long production runs.
- Mid-budget shoppers
- Ideal for small t-shirt printing businesses that are just starting
DigitalHeat FX i560 (for professional garment businesses)
DigitalHeat FX i560 is an all-in-one machine that can do it all. This is the printer you need if you’re looking to do any kind of garment printing, from t-shirts to banners. It’s not for those just starting out, as the price is quite high. But if you’re serious about garment printing, this is the machine for you. It comes with a one year warranty, which is always reassuring. Especially given the high price, a warranty makes you feel safe. One thing I like about them are their online training courses. They are a great perk, and will teach you everything you need to know about running a garment printing business.
What makes the printer unique is its ability to change from one type of printing to another. This is extremely helpful, as you won’t need to purchase different machines to achieve different results.
Overall, we would highly recommend this machine to anyone who is looking to get into the garment printing business with a big amount, or those who are well-established in it.
HRM Automatic DTG Printer (for automation in t-shirt printing)
The HRM Automatic DTG Printer is a great machine for any established t-shirt printing business. The machine is easy to use and automatically adjusts the t-shirt height and position. The machine is also compatible with PC devices. The price $5,700 is a bit expensive but worth the money for anyone who wants to print on t-shirts professionally. For a t-shirt printing machine, any automatic form of printing is a big plus.
This machine is best for those who prefer automation due to the high volume of t-shirts they need to print. But it is not a good price to pay as a beginner.
Kornit Breeze (for small-medium t-shirt printing businesses)
The Kornit Breeze is a great machine for small to mid-sized commercial digital t-shirt businesses. The machine is very affordable and has many features that are usually found in more expensive machines. It is easy to operate and can be connected to any computer with a USB port. This machine is also very efficient, printing on dark garments in one pass. The price-to-performance ratio is still good, despite the machine’s huge pricing. Uniquely enough, its process is environmentally friendly as well. The t-shirt printing machine uses biodegradable inks to meet industry standards. You can expect high reliability and maximum system availability from this machine.
The Kornit Breeze is a $14,000 machine for well-established small or medium t-shirt printing businesses. Starters may want to choose budget-friendly options like Mophorn Heat Press Machine.
Step 2: Get the Right Supplies
Once you’ve chosen a machine, you’ll need to get the supplies. This includes things like:
a. T-Shirts – You’ll need t-shirts to print on. You can either buy them in bulk or have them custom made with a t-shirt printing machine.
b. Inks – There are a variety of inks available for t-shirt printing. You’ll need to experiment to find the right one for your needs.
c. T-shirt transfer paper – This paper is the one you’ll print your design on. The transfer paper is then placed on the t-shirt and heated so the design transfers to the shirt. This is a critical part of the process so don’t skimp on quality. You’ll want to get the best quality transfer paper you can find. They cost around $0.25-$0.50 each.
d. Cutter – You’ll need a cutter to create your designs. There are a variety of cutters available. Some are better than others. You’ll need to experiment to find the right one for your needs.
e. Dryer – A dryer is used to set the ink on the t-shirt. You can use a regular clothes dryer or a commercial dryer.
f. Other Supplies – You’ll also need other supplies like needles, thread, scissors, etc.
The good news is that you can find most of these things online or at your local office supply store. The software may be the most expensive item on the list, but there are free programs available that will work just fine.
Step 3: Find a Design
After choosing a machine and getting the right supplies, the next step is to find a design. You can either create your own or find someone to create one for you. Once you have your design, you’ll need to transfer it to your computer.
This is the most most important step for your t-shirt printing business. One of the main reasons businesses fail is because they don’t take the time to create a quality design. For example, if you’re going to be printing on black shirts, your design needs to be created in a vector format so it will be crisp and clear when printed. If you use a raster image, it will likely be blurry.
Buying t-shirts is not a life-changing investment for any individual. Therefore, they mostly buy them with split-second decisions. To adapt to the t-shirt buyer’s psychology, your design must be able to communicate its message within a few seconds. The text should be big and easily readable, and the overall design should be simple and not too busy.
Step 4: Print Your T-Shirts
Once you have your design, you’re ready to print your t-shirts. Simply load your t-shirts into the machine and follow the instructions. Take your time and don’t rush the process. T-shirt printing is not an exact science, so it’s important to be patient and take your time to get the best results.
Creativity is the key here. Not only should your design be creative, but also your approach to printing. Be sure to experiment with different techniques and colors. The type of machine you use will also play a big role in the quality of your prints. As there are many different types of machines available on the market, it’s important to do your research before making a purchase in the first place.
Step 5: Start Selling
Now that you have your t-shirts, it’s time to start selling them. You can sell them online, at local events, or wholesail/retail stores.
You need to start to learn about marketing your business. One of the best ways to do this is to create a website and social media accounts. Be sure to include plenty of photos of your work, as well as information about your prices and turnaround times.
You can also market your business by setting up a booth at local events or by doing pop-up shops at local businesses. You can also offer to do custom work for people who want something unique.
Offer discounts and promotions
When you first start your t-shirt printing business, offer discounts and promotions to attract customers. You can offer a discount for first-time customers, or for customers who order a certain number of t-shirts. You can also offer a promotion where customers can get a free t-shirt if they refer a friend to your business.
Create a website
In today’s world, it is essential to have an online presence. Create a website for your t-shirt printing business, and make sure to include a portfolio of your work, testimonials from satisfied customers, and a way for customers to contact you. You can also use your website to sell t-shirts online.
Use social media
Social media is a great way to promote your t-shirt printing business. Create a Facebook page and a Twitter account for your business, and make sure to post regularly. Use social media to share photos of your work, offer discounts and promotions, and to let people know about events you will be attending.
Offer a wholesale option
This is a great way to increase your sales, and reach a larger audience. When you offer a wholesale option, you’re essentially selling your t-shirt printing services to other businesses, who will then resell your products to their customers. This is a great way to reach a larger market, and make more sales. To get started, you’ll need to create a wholesale price list, and reach out to businesses that you think would be interested in reselling your products.
Learn about the importance of t-shirt sizing
T-shirt sizing requires a lot of attention to detail. From youth sizes to adult sizes, finding the right fit is essential for a successful print job. For starters, it’s important to know your t-shirt size chart. This will help you determine the correct size for your t-shirt. Popular types of fit t-shirts include Dri Fit, Relaxed Fit, and Agile Fit. Each type has its own fit and styling, so it’s important to choose the right one for your project. Understanding t-shirt sizes helps you create eye-catching t-shirt designs, and ensures graphics fit, look neat. As majority of t-shirt shoppers select their size before design, you also need to understand the size that is good for most.
How dress shirt sizes work.
Dress shirt sizes are usually labeled with letters, with each letter indicating a different size. For example, size XL is for extra-large, size L is for large, and size M is for medium. Knowing how to read shirt sizes is an important part of printing dress shirts with the right fit.
Youth sizes typically range from Small to XL, while adult sizes can range from Small to 3XL. Here is the general sizing guide for t-shirts:
Now, to measure your body’s size accurately for a t-shirt, you’ll need a flexible measuring tape. Here’s how to use a measuring tape:
Once you have these two pieces of equipment, you can start to print the t-shirt with proper sizing. But the most important part is yet to be announced; the printing machine and how you use it.
The role of machine’s features for proper t-shirt sizing
A good t-shirt printing machine is best for proper sizing of t-shirts. With an accurate machine, manufacturers can create garments that fit customers properly. This reduces returns and complaints. A good t-shirt machine is often consist with the intended sizing. Some bad machines can produce shirts with uneven shape and size, causing customer dissatisfaction.
One important feature for proper sizing of t-shirts is adjustable arms. This not only allows for flexibility of garment sizes but also makes it easier for operators to position the garment and press it. The advantages of adjustable arms include a greater range of motion, improved garment size accuracy and greater efficiency.
TECHTONGDA Silk Screen Printing Machine
Easy to use, versatile, adjustable stand. Great for proper t-shirt sizing due to adjustable pallet and screen frame size. Additionally, it features a locating device to ensure stable operation and adjustable stand height (23-29,26-32,30-36,33-39,37-43inch). Magnet fixed frame post-printing avoids substrate pollution.
Pressure adjustment plays an important role in proper sizing of t-shirts. It allows the operator to adjust the pressure of the machine to the garment size. This ensures that the press is able to create a perfect fit with no wrinkles or puckering.
AL Heat Press
This press machine boosts efficiency with its digital control system, high precision, and adjustable pressure. High-temperature resistant and uniform heat ensures superior results, making it perfect for t-shirt sizing.
Temperature control is essential in order to ensure proper sizing of t-shirts. The operator needs to be able to adjust the temperature of the heat press to ensure that the garment is not damaged by the heat. This is especially important as a small damage can destroy the structure of the t-shirt.
Cricut EasyPress 2
Cricut EasyPress 2 is the perfect heat press for t-shirt design. It quickly heats up in under two minutes, has precise temperature control up to 400°F. Safety certifications such as UL, CSA, FCC, & IEC standards make every heat transfer project worry-free. Plus, its advanced heat plate design with a ceramic-coated surface works wonders on intricate prints. For proper t-shirt sizing, Cricut EasyPress 2 is an ideal choice because of its adjustable time and temperature settings.
Pressure pads play their role in ensuring proper sizing of t-shirts. These pads help to evenly distribute the pressure of the machine to the garment, making sure that it is not damaged during the pressing process.
Heat Press 15×15 Auto Open
The Heat Press 15×15 Auto Open comes with an auto pressure exertion pad to ensure proper t-shirt sizing. The pressure pad helps to apply even pressure to the entire transfer area, ensuring a professional-looking t-shirt.
Clamping systems are important for proper sizing of t-shirts. They are used to help the operator position the garment accurately on the platen and to make sure that the garment is evenly pressed. The Heat Press 15×15 example we showed above already has the system. The size of the platen is also important for proper sizing of t-shirts. The platen needs to be large enough to accommodate the garment size, but small enough to ensure that the garment is not stretched or distorted during the pressing process.
A 24×20 platen size like this one is ideal for most:
Grow your t-shirt printing business over time
As your business grows, you may want to consider hiring additional staff or expanding your product line to include items such as tote bags, mugs, or even hats.
Starting a t-shirt printing business is a great way to take the first step on the ladder of entrepreneurship. With the right machine and supplies, you can create high-quality prints that will sell like hotcakes. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!
A good example is this:
“I started my t-shirt printing business with just a small, used t-shirt printing machine. I was able to grow my business slowly over time by reinvesting my profits and adding new machines and supplies as needed. Today, my business has expanded over t-shirt printing, and is doing very well, and I’m able to support my family and myself with it.”T-shirt printing business owner
Starting a business is easy. But how to grow your t-shirt printing business over time, and expand to other products? Here are some tips.
1. Stay up to date with the latest trends
Keep up with the latest trends in t-shirt printing, such as new printing techniques, new types of inks, trends, and more. You do not want to print t-shirts that worked in the 80s.
For example, in 2020, we’d seen a resurgence in tie-dye due to the hippie and peace movement. This had created a new opportunity for t-shirt printers to create tie-dye designs.
However, in 2022, people have become more interested in minimalist designs, so you’ll need to change your designs accordingly. In 2022, you may want to focus on one-color designs or very simple designs.
In 2023, it’s predicted that people will become more interested in environmentally friendly and sustainable products, so you may want to consider using eco-friendly inks and materials for your t-shirt printing business. Digital Lavender is the color that will rock and roll in 2023. Fashion trends tend to change every year, and with each new fashion season comes new t-shirt printing opportunities/requirements.
2. Create something related to t-shirt printing, also related to your special ability
You have to find that overlap. For example, if your ability is in design, you can offer design services to customers who need help with their t-shirt printing projects. If you’re good at marketing, you can offer to help customers promote their t-shirt printing businesses. This is the best way to expand your business empire.
Remember Mark Zuckerberg who started Facebook for Harvard students – who later expanded his business empire to other colleges, and the world subsequently. However, do not try to get it all at once. Don’t try to be a one-stop shop for t-shirt printing, design, and marketing from day one. That is too much, and you will be overwhelmed. Better to focus on one thing, do it well, and then expand to related products or services over time.
3. Diversify your printing products
Don’t just stick to t-shirt printing. Look for other products that you can print on, such as mugs, tote bags, and more. This will help you expand your customer base, and make more sales.
Just like for investors, diversification is key for businesses as well. Other ways to diversify your printing products include:
– Offering different types of t-shirt printing, such as digital, screen, or heat transfer printing.
– Offering different materials for t-shirt printing, such as 100% cotton, polyester, or a mix.
One thing not to do while attempting to diversify your t-shirt printing products is to forget about your original business. Do not get too carried away that you start selling 3D printing courses online.
Why the t-shirt printing business is good for a teenager
One important thing about a t-shirt printing business is that even teenagers can start it and do pretty well. Unlike many other businesses, t-shirt printing business is:
1. Low-cost – As a teenager, you likely have limited funds available to invest in a business. Starting a t-shirt printing business requires little upfront investment. All you need is a computer, a printer, and some t-shirt transfer paper.
2. A flexible business – You can run your t-shirt printing business from anywhere, including your home. This flexibility is ideal for a teenager, who likely has other commitments such as school and extracurricular activities.
3. Good to draw your future business career – A t-shirt printing business is a great way to get started in the business world. You can learn important skills such as marketing, customer service, and financial management. These skills will be valuable in any future business career you pursue.
4. Fun – A t-shirt printing business can be a lot of fun. You get to be creative in designing t-shirts, and you get to see your customers wear your products.
Also Read: Is Whole Foods Market Career Worth it in 2023?
As you can see, there is much to consider and expect when starting a t-shirt printing business. But with the right planning and execution, you can find success in this rewarding industry. Not only is it a good way to start your business career, but it is also a great way to make a difference in your community. Do try to make some smart moves like choosing the right location, building a good rapport with the customers, and most importantly, keeping your prices reasonable. With a little effort, you can turn your t-shirt printing business into a thriving enterprise.