How To Start A T-Shirt Printing Business

How To Start A T-Shirt Printing Business
Heat Press

Are you thinking about starting a T-Shirt printing business? It’s not an easy feat by any means, so you must follow the right steps towards creating your business venture. However, that’s not to say that it can’t be very profitable.

A trend that’s looking to rise throughout this year and the next, there’s seemingly no better time than now to get started within this industry.


Why Should You Start a T-Shirt Printing Business?


There’s many reasons why you might want to start a t-shirt printing business. Not only does it help to improve customer loyalty, but it’s also a great marketing tool and is a clever branding device for you to utilise. Drawing attention to your business and communicating its brand message, your efforts won’t go unnoticed.

The popularity of film merchandise has rapidly increased throughout the last few years. And because of this, more and more people are searching for t-shirts with their favourite character or scene on. Enabling you to select the colour, as well as the graphics and fonts, it’s definitely a fun business to go into.


Advice for Beginners Looking to Start a T-Shirt Printing Business


Although everyone’s journey to creating their t-shirt printing business might be different, there are certain steps that you’ll want to consider when establishing your organisation. These are, but aren’t limited to:


  • Create a Business Plan

All businesses require a comprehensive business plan. For a t-shirt printing business this will include what logo you will have, your website or app design, your budget, how you will fulfill orders, your marketing techniques, how many staff members you’ll require, how you will source the materials, etc. 

It’s vital that this is created at the start of the process and that you’ve fully researched and considered everything that needs to be within it. The first step towards establishing your business, it will put you in a much better starting position.


  • Know The Printing Market

Fortunately, almost everyone wears t-shirts, which means that your market could extend across genres and ages. However, you must keep in mind that different demographics will have different preferences in terms of style and perhaps budget. Therefore, you need to decide exactly who you will cater for and target. 

To do this effectively, it’s a good idea to complete market research and investigate before starting to design your t-shirts. 


  • Build a Website

Whether you want to sell your own t-shirts or you’re setting a business up to print other people’s designs, you’ll want to build a website. You need to make this not only attractive, but also user-friendly and compatible across many devices (so that you’re not limiting how people can use it).

On your website, you will also want to integrate a designer tool that will help customers to choose what design, font, type of t-shirt and colour that they will want. A built-in e-commerce platform is also essential, as it will allow you to manage the sales on your website.


  • Create a Design 

You’ll want a t-shirt design that stands out amongst the crowd. Which is why it’s worth sitting down and deciding on the design/designs you want to offer customers before thinking about which printing method you’ll use.


  • Decide on a Printing Method

One of the most important steps in creating your t-shirt printing business is deciding on the printing method. Thankfully, there are lots of techniques that you can use, from heat press printing to direct to garment and screen printing. The type that you choose, will depend on what equipment you buy, your budget and your personal preferences. 


  • Choose a T-Shirt Supplier

As a beginner within the industry, you might not realise that printing quality can vary depending on the fabric – not all t-shirts might come out the same. Which is why it’s worth finding a good supplier for your t-shirts at the beginning. 

However, material quality isn’t the only thing that’s key – it’s also finding a supplier that will deliver to you on time and that’s consistently reliable. 


  • Set Up a Studio!

When you’ve done the above, it’s time to set up your own design and printing studio. Although you can rent out spaces for this, there are many benefits of owning your own space – including storing your own equipment in the long term.


  • Decide on a Delivery System 

You then need to decide how you’ll deliver the t-shirts to your customers. Even if you have a physical store, you’ll undoubtedly have an online one too. Therefore, you’ll need a reliable way of sending the t-shirts to them. You can either opt to invest in a warehouse that simply stores your products and a separate delivery service or a logistics company that offers you a complete solution. 


  • Make Your T-Shirt Printing Business Legal

Of course, the permits and licenses that you require will depend on where you’re located, but it’s vital that you’re aware of which ones are appropriate when setting up your business. You don’t want to face any headaches down the road, so ensure that you complete the correct paperwork, register your business name and decide on the type of business entity you’ll be.


  • Be Ahead of The Curve

Lastly, make sure that you remain inspired by all of the latest trends that arise within the industry! But when doing so, you keep creating unique designs that are unlike anything currently available. This way, you’ll stand out to customers and be ahead of the curve.


Key Tips for Beginners


Alongside the above advice, here are some useful tips that you should keep in mind as a t-shirt printing beginner:


  • Find a Graphic Designer

If you’re creating your own t-shirts and you aren’t a graphic designer or have the artistic vision, you might want to hire a designer to create your t-shirt design for you. 


  • Choose Colours Carefully

When creating your business, you’ll want to think about what colours you use. Even though a design might look good initially on screen, it might not come out as well once it’s printed. Choose complementary colours in the design process. To do this effectively, you could use software such as Adobe Illustrator that has a feature called Global colours. 


  • Create a Proof First

Before printing the designs and packaging them up for customers, it’s critical that you create a proof first. This way, you’ll be able to see how the design has taken to the fabric, including how effective the colours are and how the fabric complements it.


The Most Common Types of Heat Press (and Any Other Equipment You’ll Need)


There are four main types of heat press commonly found within the industry – The Clamshell Heat Press Machine, the Swing Away Heat Press Machine, The Draw Heat Press and the Sublimation T-Shirt Heat Press. 


  • The Clamshell Heat Press 

With this type of heat press, the top platen (flat platform) directly opens up allowing you to place the application design and substrate on the bottom platen. Once you’ve closed the top platen, the machine will begin to print the design using heat and pressure. 

There are numerous benefits with these types of heat presses. Not only are they very easy to use meaning that they are great presses for beginners, but they are simple (saving you time) and portable so that you can move them to wherever you need. 

There are, however, a few things to keep in mind with this option. Firstly, they tend to not be suitable for thicker fabrics,  aren’t the most precise and can create uneven pressure. 

Further Reviews: 


  • The Swing Away Heat Press

Also referred to as a swinger heating press, this machine has a sleek design that’s popular with many t-shirt printing businesses. To use it, the top platen swings away from the lower one with one swift movement. By giving you access to the lower platen, you’ll be able to adjust your design or the substrate as needed. Although this is a bigger machine, it tends to give a more even design and more pressure. 

However, keep in mind that it does require a muti-step process and can be more complex for beginners. 

Further Reviews: 


  • The Draw Heat Press Machine

A combination of the above two heat press machines, the draw heat press machine is the ultimate in-between choice. Opening like a clamshell, the designs and substrate can be laid on the lower plate allowing you to clearly see the garment area. It also means that the heating platen is kept away from you, providing a safer environment for you to work in.

They can, however, be quite expensive and aren’t the ideal choice for those looking to print designs on thicker fabrics.


  • Sublimation Heat Press 

If you want to effectively and efficiently transfer digital designs onto t-shirts, then this could be the best choice for you. A sublimation heat press machine is unique in the fact that it prevents dye that’s on the transfer paper from staining your t-shirt. Featuring a large surface, it’s a multi-purpose machine.


  • Other Equipment You Might Need

As well as your heat press machine, you’ll also want to invest in the following equipment:

  1. A high-quality printer – either an inkjet, laser solvent or sublimation printer.
  2. A computer with the latest graphics program and all of the inventory, ordering and payment functions you require.
  3. Transfer paper
  4. A cutter program – to create the stencils for the prints.



Hopefully this guide has been a helpful insight into how you can realistically get started with your new t-shirt printing business. Be sure to check out some more of our other guides and reviews of the best heat presses available on the market today.