How To Start A Profitable T-shirt Printing Business

How To Start A Profitable T-shirt Printing Business

T-shirt printing is fast catching up in Nigeria and there are many who are providing this service. It has a bright future in the country owing to the fact that all big organisations and enterprises need t-shirts, hoodies etc in bulk. Little bit of customization in each of the t-shirts based on the kind of event and organisation can work wonders.

Starting a t-shirt printing business is exciting and can be rewarding; it offers a chance to be creative and to create products that people will wear out in public. However, like any business, starting a t-shirt printing business is challenging.

It can be tough attempting to compete with the many other online options people now have at their fingertips.

In this article, we look at the ins and outs of starting a t-shirt printing business and how to give yourself the best chance of making it a success.

Today, the T-shirt printing business is one of the few businesses that can be started with a small capital and promises large returns in many countries around the world. All it requires is little money and a lot of dedication and hard work.

If you have an interest in fashion and are willing to make a career out of it, the T-shirt printing business is a great bet, and there are a lot of resources on the internet for you to learn from.



Why The T-shirt Printing Business?
Well, this is an obvious question that anyone can come up with; so I’ll answer this for you:

For a general idea, look around you. So many people are wearing a T-shirt, and by far, it is the most modern casual wear globally; from kids to adults everyone loves wearing them.

The demand for T-Shirts are widespread, and so, many people around the world prefer running this venture. Some other reasons include:

  • It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and is hardly affected by other markets.
  • T-shirts have been accepted by everyone; from men to women, everyone needs casual wears.
  • It is quite inexpensive to start and requires very less capital and space.
  • With a large number of e-commerce sites worldwide, the products are easy to sell.
  • And for the most important point, it provides a better profit margin than many other fashion items.


What Is T-shirt Printing All About?
The T-shirt printing business requires you to have a careful planning and understanding of your targeted customers. You need to identify their likes and the current trend in the market, and then with the help of a designer or yourself, create your designs and transfer them on the plain T-shirts via a suitable method. Once the product is ready, you can market to the target customers via different channels like the internet or various physical stores.

Although the T-shirt printing business is mainly focused on creating custom printed T-shirts, you could extend it to include a service where you produce “custom printed gifts” for corporate organisations. The gift business is complementary for those who use heat presses to print T-shirts. With a quality heat press, you can print on number plates, glassworks, blankets, wood or any other flat surface.



Business Opportunities And Scope
Talking about the scope of this business, it’s a relatively new idea, and youngsters, especially in Europe and America, love to wear custom designed t-shirts that suit their personalities.

Some opportunities to explore are:

Students: If you approach schools and colleges, you’d realise that every single one of them has a separately designed T-shirt for their specific departments and sections. This shows a potential opportunity for you to exploit.

Sports Clubs And Associations: Also, you can approach your local sports clubs, offices, associations, and more, as they also use custom-made t-shirts.



Facts About The T-shirt Printing Business
Around 4 billion t-shirts were sold in 2015, compared to 2 billion in 2010, 1 billion in 2005, and 500 million in 1985
The very first promotional t-shirt was printed in 1939 for a movie.
They have become a popular promotion option because of the ease in which they can be printed. Thus, they are ideal for corporate advertising and promotions.
The most expensive custom made t-shirt is designed by Superlative Luxury which costs about $405,000.
In the 19th century, t-shirts were not as popular as now, and were considered as undershirts.
Today you can get anything you like printed on your t-shirt, and still, it would be much cheaper than other garments.


How To Setup Your T-Shirt Printing Business
Before you start a t-shirt printing business, there are a few things you need to take care of. You can check out the infographic here for a step by step process at a glance. Some of these steps are:

1. Market analysis:
The first step is to carry out a market analysis. This can be achieved by private survey companies, government offices, or talking to other entrepreneurs in the business. Try to get a good insight about the industry, and identify things like; what kinds of t-shirts are the most popular and high in demand.

Also, try to know your potential customers, their choice patterns, and the current trends. Look for the competition in the market, what prices they’re selling the same goods, and how you can compete for market share.

2. Write a good business plan:
The first step is to write a good business plan. This business plan will contain all the valuable information like your market analysis which would show where to purchase plain T-shirts, how to get it printed, where you intend to sell the finished products, your target customers, and much more. If you have a good business plan, you’d have a road map to follow.

3. Execute an advertising plan:
Now let us consider a scenario where you wrote a good business plan, had an excellent market analysis, and now have the finished product. The t-shirts won’t sell themselves; you need to make sure your target customers know about your product and brand.

Map out a strategy to spread the word about your brand as it has a significant impact on the business growth.

When you target the local market, business cards and flyers can be a great way to advertise your business in various local organizations, shops, schools and other firms.

Use your satisfied customers for word-of-mouth advertising, as it is free of charge and people tend to trust the experience of someone who has the product.

If you are planning to sell on an e-commerce site, look to use paid promotion like Facebook ads, Google Adwords, and others to get the attention of many prospects.

Also, exploit free promotional channels such Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for advertising your business, as the more people know your business, the better for your brand.

Connect with some fashion bloggers, as they have a large following and can easily get you a lot of orders.

4. Have great set of designs
Well, design is what separates regular t-shirts from the custom printed t-shirt. Everyone is looking for the latest and better models, which connect with their personality. Thus, it becomes the sole reason that makes the sale.

Always try to get the latest designs that connect with your clients and stand out from rest, as no one wants to see old designs. Always refresh and update to stay ahead of the competition, for this, you can develop on your own or hire freelancers.

Your designs need to be simple rather than being complex.

5. Quality of the blank t-shirts
If you want your clients to always return, the quality of the substrate t-shirt is a critical deciding factor. A satisfied customer will always return and also bring you more clients. If you use poor quality t-shirts, they will degrade your brand reputation. Moreover, a client can be tricked to use this once, but not twice.

Also if you use high-quality t-shirts, the prints will be better and vibrant. Quality products ensures loyal consumers who can advertise your product to others.

6. Get the proper printing equipment
You should try to fetch the printing equipment according to your business needs.

A screen printer for a cheaper design can be used over and over again. So they are excellent for large orders. The shortcoming of this process is it takes a bit more time to learn and get used to.
For small orders, you can have a Heat press or digital ink-jet printers. They are slow and require less training time. The advantage for heat presses is that besides t-shirts, you can work with a large number of other materials, thus expanding your domain manifold.


Challenges In The T-Shirt Printing Business
In every business, entrepreneurs face a whole lot of challenges which makes it difficult for their businesses to scale. To make your venture a successful one, you need to tackle these challenges skill-fully. Some of the most prominent problems are mentioned below:

Client Dependence: If a single client makes up for half of your income, then you are an independent contractor rather than a full-blown entrepreneur. What if your primary client suddenly pulls out? It will have a significant impact on your business. So always try to diversify your customer base.

Balancing growth and quality: As businesses grow, the quality of their products starts to get affected, which in turn affects business’s reputation.

Competition in the market: This is the major factor every business will eventually have to face. Before entering the market, have an in-depth analysis about your rivals, what they are offering, and at what price.
Less than expected sales: It could largely happen that your sales volume may never reach your initial projections.
Besides these, there are some other smaller challenges you may face. You’d need to tackle them smartly to ensure your business succeeds.



Starting your own t-shirt printing business can be a great bet. It can provide you with the right economic support you need for a full-time business. It’s a business anyone can start with a low budget and space to work with.


If you follow all the steps mentioned above and do careful planning, you will surely make progress soon. Take care of the various constraints like pricing your products against competitors, getting the paperwork cleared if required, and others.

Finally, don’t get discouraged if the sales are not up to your projected mark for the first few weeks. It takes time, so put in the effort and be patient; you will taste success soon.



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Are there other businesses you think that should also be on this site? If yes, let me know using the comment section below.

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