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How To Start An Online T-Shirt Printing Business: The Ultimate Guide

by Alice Jackson Tweet - in Tshirt Design

T-Shirt Printing

Last updated on January 30th, 2023

An online t-shirt printing business is a cost-effective way to start printing and selling your t-shirts quickly. It is easy to establish the online business as there is no requirement of a brick and mortar shop. But just as you take steps to open a physical store, you need to take care of certain aspects of starting the online business.

Many aspiring t-shirt designers dream of starting their own business. But opening a physical designing and printing store is highly expensive for individuals or small businesses. They do not have sufficient budget to buy a lot of printing equipment and to meet many other expenses.

However, there are no such high-costs involved in starting an online tshirt printing business. When starting an online venture, all you need to ensure is a laptop, an Internet connection, and an e-commerce website that has your virtual store. Once you have an online site in place, you are ready to do the business right from your home.

Still, to start the online enterprise, you need to take some wise steps. Right decisions before you take the plunge will keep you on the right path during the long course of the business. Remember that you may take several months, sometimes years, before you establish your company as a brand.

Here Is The Ultimate Guide On How To Start An Online T-Shirt Printing Business

01. Put In Place A Business Plan

Even if it is an online venture, it requires a well-thought-off plan of starting a t-shirt printing business. The plan includes many things such as a projection of profit and loss, creating visual identities such as a logo, maintaining a stock of t-shirt ideas, how to fill and meet shipping orders, running an online store, having sufficient t-shirt design templates, web to print software, and others.

Also, write down some marketing ideas, a source of raw material, your staff members, design samples, and analyze the competition. Most importantly, you must take care of the financial aspect in advance.

Put In Place A Business Plan

When finding out how much the online business will cost at the start, consider some significant expenses. You should calculate the projected costs, revenues, and how much time and volume of orders will it take to break-even.

Other things to consider in the plan include the investment, expected monthly income, and gross margin. Also, do not forget to write down the estimated costs to be incurred toward storing the products and having the shipping boxes.

Looking For Custom T-Shirt Printing?

It is very simple. Choose a t-shirt. Select color and size. Create your own design.
You can also hire a designer to get a design for your t-shirt.
Print Your T-Shirt Now Hire a Designer

02. Know Your Market Niche

T-shirt business is vast as it caters to the varied needs of the customers who come from different age groups and backgrounds. These segments have their demands of designs, styles, fabrics, slogans, branding, etc. Such vastness of the demand from t-shirt and tank tops customers compels a new business to target only a niche market. So, knowing your precise niche is important.

Know Your Market Niche

To see which market niche your custom t-shirt printing business addresses, ask some questions and find their precise answer. Get to know if you want to target teens, adults, infants or toddlers. Will they be designing own t-shirts or will they choose a set of designs from your store? Such questions and their answer will help you find out the market you should be targeting.

03. Build An E-commerce Platform

For online t-shirt printing store, first, you should choose an ecommerce platform. You can either choose a hosted ecommerce platform or have a platform that is self-hosted. An advantage with a hosted platform is that its costs for new businesses are affordable. Just use the friction of amount from your small budget to buy a store and start selling your printed t-shirts. But when selling, you cannot have a design of your own, and you can customize the elements and put them on the store.

Build An E-commerce Platform

When it comes to using the platform that you can self-host, its advantage is in giving you the liberty for creating ecommerce solutions of your own. So, you can edit your funny t shirt design, and you have countless Search Engine Optimization options as well. This flexibility lets you set your prices of print shirts. But this hosting type is little expensive for startups. So, make a wise decision in this matter.

04. Build A Great Website

Since you are doing business on the web, create a user-friendly website that your customers can use to navigate through your t-shirt products and other information. Make sure that the products and other details are showcased on a professionally created web page design. Such a page will help your customers in many ways when they need to search for the information and to make buying decisions.

Build A Great Website

05. Get A Designer Tool

To sell customized print t-shirts, one of the first requirements is to have a product designer tool with advanced features. This tool will help you customize your online store so that it stands out.

Get A Designer Tool

While the store looks unique, the tool also enables your customers to create their own t-shirt designs. Such tools are available with many companies.

They let you have the software in your budget and as per your needs. Start with basic software that meets your customers’ key design requirements. You can then give them an advanced tool when your business grows.

For running a successful online printing t-shirt business, a feature-rich tool for designing t-shirts is essential for your customers. They can experiment with templates, designs, colors, and typefaces, clip arts, graphics, ready-made quotes etc. Several other such features include overlapping, masking effects, and shadows.

06. Choose The Right Printing Method

First get your t-shirt designs done using a t-shirt maker. Now, when it comes to printing your t-shirts, decide on the right printing methods. You will choose from four main methods. These have their advantages and disadvantages. So, think of their pros and cons cleverly depending on your requirements, and the time and money you are willing to invest.

The four printing methods are screen printing, heat transfer printing, direct to garment printing, and embroidered printing. Choose the screen printing method for its lasting and consistent printing and bulk production. But despite mass production of t-shirts prints, this method is expensive for startups and consumes more time.

Choose The Right Printing Method

The heat-printing method allows transferring the printing designs from your PC with iron. In this method, laser printers and photocopy machines are used for heat transfer printing. Choose this method when you can invest a lot of time and investment.

The direct-to-garment printing method is cost-effective for it functions as an inkjet printer. You can print several colored images and the designs on the t-shirts directly. The quality of prints is comparable to screen printing. But it should be avoided for bulk production.

When choosing the embroidered printing, remember that it is an ancient method. But it is still in use for some t-shirts such as polo t-shirts printing and some corporate t-shirts. These designs are created directly on t-shirts using a sewing machine, which makes the designs look unique, original, and elegant. But this technique is labor-intensive, expensive and needs special skills.

07. Find Out The Right Blank T-Shirt Supplier

You will print designs on blank t-shirts. A consistent supply of blank t-shirts from a supplier is, therefore, essential. So, find out the right supplier who can deliver you the t-shirts of the right fabric as per your design needs. The t-shirts should be perfect as you will print the designs in small, medium, and large sizes and they all should fit well to the center of the apparel.

Find Out The Right Blank T-Shirt Supplier

Take some sample orders and production tests to find out which blank t-shirt options fit your requirements. Once everything is right, you can then negotiate the price and other factors with the manufacturer and supplier of t-shirts.

08. Get Services Of Designers

Even if you’re a graphic designer, you may still require the services of a designer to create customized designs. You will hire a freelance graphic designer who assists you in creating the design solutions for t-shirts as per your customers’ needs.

Get Services Of Designers

09. Set Up A Printing Studio

After you are done with the elementary preparations to start your online t shirt printing business, set up your printing infrastructure. At this facility, you can print your designs on blank t-shirts without any hurdles. Such a t-shirt printer facility should be equipped with good quality printers, a coating and finishing unit etc.

Set Up A Printing Studio

Also, the printing studio should enable you to pick the right color schemes of your choice as the ink should not be visible on the final printed design.

10. Set Up A Delivery System

After you have printed the t-shirts, you need to deliver them on time to your customers. So put the delivery infrastructure in place. To ensure this, you can ask your team to take the orders independently. You can also choose to use the drop-shipper services which will take the responsibility of delivering your t-shirts to your customers.

Set Up A Delivery System

Additionally, find out a logistics company that is equipped with a warehousing facility from where it can deliver orders to your customers. With such a reliable delivery system, you can build a brand identity so that your business is easily recognized amid your customers.

Most online t shirt printing business owners prefer packing and shipping their t-shirt orders to customers as this method is flexible and cost-effective as well. After your business grows, you can take the services of a warehousing company to deliver your orders to the customers.

11. Market Your E-commerce Store

After you have put in place everything to start your online tshirt printing business, do not forget to promote it. Reach out to the potential customers by distributing your business flyers, business cards, pamphlets, etc. These methods help in spreading excellent word-of-mouth for your upcoming eCommerce business. Most importantly, create a social media page to promote your company and business on various social channels.

Market Your E-commerce Store

Also, use social media such as Instagram by putting the pictures and text related to your business to make people aware of your new studio. Many other promotional things can bring your business closer to your target audience.

12. Have A Nice Logo

A beautiful and unique logo will be your face of t-shirt design business in your niche market. So, to impress your market and customers, create one such logo by hiring an experienced logo designer. Make sure that the logo speaks about your brand through the strategic use of fonts, colors etc.

Have A Nice Logo

So, these are some of the basic things to consider when starting an online t shirt printing business. Have patience as this entire process takes time to complete before you begin creating the designs and delivering the solutions to your customers.

When thinking of designing your t-shirts and getting various design ideas, think of Designhill, a leading marketplace with hundreds of talented designers. Just send your design brief to this platform and get dozens of new design ideas at one affordable price.

Are You Looking for a New Graphic Designer?If Yes, Call Us on +1-855-699-2851 [times for calling 9am to 6pm EST (US)] or Register for a Free Design Consultation


Online t shirt printing startup is not easy to set up. But with some basics such as knowing your market niche, customers, setting a beautiful design and printing studio, ecommerce studio, delivery system, finance, blank t-shirt supplier, and business promotion you can successfully launch the business.

Print Online T-Shirt Design

Alice Jackson is a business consultant, blogger, social media enthusiast, online market analyst, amateur designer and an avid author at Designhill. She has written on several topics including social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, startup strategies and e-commerce. When she’s not writing, she loves spending her time reading romantic novels, Connect with her on Twitter: @jackson_alice1



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