How to Print T-Shirts for Profit

By Laura Gee

These days, it's tough to print t-shirts for profit, since there are so many high-tech companies offering custom shirts at relatively reasonable rates. However, many people prefer to support a local business, and it's certainly possible to print t-shirts in numbers as small as you want. With these factors in mind, it's still possible to print t-shirts for profit with the right approach.

Research your market. Most t-shirt business tips involve buying and printing in bulk, but this is only a good strategy if you're pretty sure you're going to sell shirts. Figure out your intended audience, how you will sell your shirts, and a rough estimate of how many you think you can sell. Otherwise, start small, make less profit at first, and try to expand your business later as demand grows.

Source your t-shirts correctly. In order to print t-shirts for a profit, you'll need to buy t-shirts at significantly less cost than you plan to sell them at. Consider buying your shirts in bulk, especially if you're looking for special qualities like organic or made-in-America shirts. Almost all types of blank t-shirts can be purchased more cheaply if you're willing to make a significant initial investment.

Print your shirts using the screen-printing process. This isn't strictly necessary, but it is a printing process that usually produces crisp, professional results that your customers will like. It's also relatively easy to transfer a design supplied by a customer to a screen.

Print t-shirts for profit in bulk batches. A lot of the effort of hand-printing t-shirts goes into creating the designs and setting up the process, so the more shirts you can make (and sell) in a single style, the less overhead your business will have in terms of time and money. Consider whether you will require a minimum order for custom designs.

Streamline your process. Using a t-shirt press (a setup that allows the printing screen to move up and down in a specific alignment with a well-marked place to put the shirt) can really increase your production speed and decrease mistakes. Whether you use a press or not, use an assembly line process to work more efficiently. For example, finishing printing one color before moving on to the next.

About the Author

Laura Gee has a B.A. in history and anthropology, but now spends more time blogging and producing web content. She has worked and/or trained as an illustrator, crafter, caterer, yoga teacher, child-care provider and massage therapist, and she loves to travel when she gets a chance.