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Make money with a T-Shirt Business

Updated on July 3, 2011

How to Make Money with a T-Shirt Business

Running a creative T-shirt business is easier than many people would expect. The hardest part is creating designs that people will want to pay money for. The second hardest part is coming up with the start-up capital for the project. However, it is easy to start small with a t-shirt company and allow the business to grow over time.

A t-shirt business makes money by creating unique and originally designed t-shirts and then marketing them for an increased price, usually via the internet. Proper advertising and interesting designs are what will essentially make or break the operation. The t-shirts are purchased blank at wholesale prices and the business owner typically applies the graphics to the shirts using a heat press. This can be performed at home, reducing the initial start-up costs. The shirts can be produced on-demand, which eliminates the need to store merchandise, therefore cutting costs.

Starting a t-shirt business requires a certain amount of start-up capital, because professional grade t-shirts are produced using heat press machines, not just silk –screens. These machines can range in the hundreds of dollars, but it also easy to locate cheaper used models. A heat press is exactly what its name suggests; it uses heat to press a design onto the fabric. Designs for t-shirt graphics can be produced by hand or using a computer program such as Canvas or Adobe Photoshop. Computer programs represent the best choice for making clear, crisp and authentic looking designs. These programs also range in the hundreds of dollars, Adobe Photoshop for example ranges in the $1200 area.

A printer is also required in order to print the designs onto transfer paper, which will then be used in the heat press. Transfer paper comes in a variety of different types; the type is specific to the colors and textures of the designs. Transfer paper can be purchased for pretty cheap but is necessary to a professional t-shirt producer. Transfer papers also require cutters (as cutting out the designs by hand is too time consuming) and special inks designed to withstand the rigors of the heat press.

A t-shirt business will need a business ID number in order to purchase blank t-shirts at wholesale prices. The goal in purchasing blank t-shirts is to get the highest quality shirts within the price range you are looking to sell your shirts for, in order to make a profit. These shirts are then relabeled with your own custom tags to give the business an authentic look. At this point your custom-designed t-shirts are ready to be sold at higher prices to the public. In order to accomplish this task advertising, networking and marketing is required.

Make connections with your T-Shirt Business

Any t-shirt business needs to design a website, as this will be the primary mode of selling. Websites can be designed and purchased for relatively cheap. The website owner should join as many networks as possible and design their website with search engine optimization techniques in order to increase their online presence. Attending trade shows and contributing to t-shirt related blogs will help the t-shirt business establish itself at an authority in the field.

While marketing and advertising are extremely important aspects of running a successful t-shirt business, the most important aspect by far is the creative designs of the t-shirts themselves. These designs are what the customer will be buying, because they can purchase a white Fruit of the Loom shirt anywhere. Unique and interesting designs will ultimately decide whether or not a t-shirt business is successful.

Get your T-Shirt Designs seen

An idea on that one is not anything new and is usually easy to accomplish. It will take a bit of coin out of your pocket but is well worth it. Find a young children's team and offer to supply them team shirts for free as long as you can show your company name somewhere on the shirts.

Provide Team Shirts for Business Promotion

On the plus side if you provide a team with shirts designed by you, be it a children's or adult team you are getting your name out there and your business is being seen. Let the team choose the design with you so that everyone is happy with the end product. You don't have to stop with just t-shirts, you can also provide a few water bottles or ball caps or whatever else the team needs. Put your name on it, but don't make it look tacky with your name plastered all over the place, keep it neat and tidy, it needs to look appealing.


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    • profile image 4 years ago

      Great list of suggestions, but I have one more website for artists to make money online. Hollajack Clothing Company is new on the "block" so artists that decide to submit designs will have prime placement of their work giving them a better chance to earn money. We are asking the online artist community to help us build or selection of art. We hope people will see this as a partnership, and we want to be another outlet for people to share their art with the world.

    • Magdelene profile image

      Magdelene 5 years ago from Okotoks

      Hi Glorgeousmom, thanks for stopping by and the great comment. I think a T-shirt business can really work for someone if they can get in with organizers of events, even going as far as soccer, baseball teams and so on. I hope everything works out in your Niece's business.

    • glorgeousmom profile image

      Glo L Bernadas 5 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you for the valuable information about how to start T-shirt business. My niece just started a T-shirt printing business a few months ago. She buys RTW T-shirts and do the designs, makes samples and post them online. Her business is starting to pick up. Majority of her sales comes from organizers of annual events like school reunions, family reunions, to name a few.