Small Business

All You Need to Know When Starting a T-Shirt Printing Business

TechBullionApril 18, 2024

Selling custom T-shirts may not sound like a safe business idea for a lot of people. There are a lot of entrepreneurs in this niche, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t substantial scope and opportunity yet to be explored.

The truth is, no matter how saturated a field is, there’s always going to be some aspects that are neglected. For new entrepreneurs hoping to break into the industry, ensuring you have a clear foundation and progression path ready will be critical. 

In this article, we will explore some of the different aspects you want to keep in mind if you want your custom T-shirt business to succeed. Let’s dive in. 

1. It’s Okay to Pursue Secondary Goals to Gain a Foothold 

Many entrepreneurs in the custom T-shirt industry start with a certain goal or vision in mind. They have spent months or even years with a clear idea about the kind of designs they want to sell or what the focus of their operations will be.

However, anyone who has started a business will tell you that the initial years can be unpredictable. While it may not always be the case in your situation, there’s a chance that you will need to be flexible during the initial period. 

What do we mean by that? Well, say your goal was to make and sell custom T-shirts for local musicians and artists. It might be that the business you get from those clients isn’t enough to sustain your operations. You might need to target local businesses and market to non-musicians to earn a reliable income. 

This process can feel uncomfortable, as it feels like your business is already failing because you need to target people who weren’t your initial target. Try not to get hung up on this process. You can always come back to your primary vision, but if your business needs to survive, that takes priority. 

Besides, the connections that you make while serving secondary clients will often turn out to be surprisingly helpful in the future. This also brings us to our next point. 

2. Understand How T-Shirt Business Networking and Marketing Works

Networking and marketing are critical skills to have in any business, and the world of custom T-shirts is no different. However, you do want to keep in mind that the process of networking might be a little different from what you expect. 

In other industries and fields, networking often happens at conferences, trade fairs, and similar events. While you can definitely meet clients through these avenues, the most effective networking happens more organically. For a custom T-shirt business, this means creating clients seemingly out of thin air, even if the market seems empty. 

How do you do that? Well, it takes some proactive effort, but it’s possible. The thing with custom T-shirts is that they don’t feel like a priority for some businesses. Your mission will be to demonstrate and provide a persuasive reason for them to give your business a try.

You can start by identifying businesses that actually stand to gain by ordering custom t-shirts. Perhaps they are small businesses trying to make it big and need help getting their name out there. You will need to tailor your pitch in such a way that you use clear case studies. These may include examples of how brands and businesses similar to theirs have found great value through custom T-shirts for their staff. 

You can also emphasize any discounts and promotions that you are willing to give them if they purchase in bulk. Remember, this isn’t the time to make hard bargains. You are essentially in the early stages of creating a client base. Try your best to be flexible while not going overboard to the point of appearing desperate. 

3. Don’t Skimp Out on Equipment

This goes without saying, but if there’s one area where you should be spending your capital, it’s quality equipment. Think about it; your first clients are giving you the benefit of the doubt. They want to see if your products are going to be worth choosing over a more established competitor. 

As such, remember that a T-shirt business is only as successful as the equipment that powers it. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that you need to blow all your money on overpriced tech. There are a number of affordable DTF printer options that offer a great balance between quality and cost. 

DTF printers are always popular because they work well with a wide range of materials. This means if you ever want to branch out to custom products beyond T-shirts like hoodies or caps, it’s possible. 

Investing in good printers and other equipment should be one of your top priorities. It ensures that even if you are having a bit of trouble finding clients, your products aren’t to blame. You can always improve your networking and marketing efforts, but it is far more expensive to buy printing equipment later on because you skimped out in the beginning. 



Learn more about maximizing production and streamlined workflows to achieve
effortless scalability for your custom t-shirt printing business. With Epson DTG and DTF printers,
you can produce professional-quality, one-pass prints at industrial-level speeds.

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4. Ensure Logistics Issues Don’t Ruin Your Operations

The sad reality about a custom T-shirt business is that even if you get everything else right, logistics problems can destroy you. You found great clients, you have a talented team of employees, and you receive regular orders. Sounds great, right? Sadly, that will all mean nothing if you can’t ensure smooth logistics. 

Long delivery times are one of the most common reasons for dissatisfaction among customers. This is a problem you want to address before it gets out of hand. Why? Because the more you put it off, the more orders you have to fulfill with a bad logistics partner.

Logistics issues are particularly dangerous in a business like custom T-shirts, where orders are often placed at the last minute. It’s going to be critical that you foresee these issues and address them quickly.

In conclusion, this is a niche that has several unique considerations to keep track of. It’s easy to underestimate the complexity of selling custom T-shirts, but that’s a rookie mistake — one that you can avoid with a little extra preparation.



This article was written by Umar Awan from TechBullion and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to