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How To Start A Heat Press T-shirt Business at Home

How would you like to start your own t shirt business that doesn’t require any upfront investment, has low overhead, and can make you six figures? It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. With the rise in popularity of t-shirts as gifts for holidays and birthdays, many people are starting their own heat press t-shirt businesses out of their homes or garages.

For starters, you should be aware that there are different types of heat presses. There is a difference between home and commercial use plotting machines, so you’ll need to determine which type of machine you need.

This article will give you all the information you need to start a heat press t-shirt business, from choosing the suitable machine to creating your product line.

Is T-shirt Printing Business Profitable?

In recent years, T-shirt printing has become a popular hobby for both adults and children. A custom t-shirt business is more than just the printing process of producing t shirts and selling them. It can be very profitable, but it does require time, patience, and capital.

A heat press machine is about $300, but you do have to buy attachments that are sold separately if you want to change blanks or screen prints on your shirts.

You can also invest in other equipment like a flash dryer, vinyl cutters, silhouette cameo, steam press, and rolling racks for storing your blanks.

There is no doubt that starting a heat press printing business can be profitable. However, there are some things you need to keep in mind before starting.

  • You need to make sure that your overhead is low because it can be very expensive if there are any mistakes in the process. 
  • You need to ensure that you have a good product line. This means having various print designs and a few colors that people will want to buy. 
  • You need to make sure that you’re pricing your shirts correctly. You don’t want to price them too high or too low because that will hurt your sales.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a T-shirt Printing Business?

How much you spend to own t-shirt business will depend on your needs. You’ll need to ensure you have the equipment necessary to print a garment, design materials, and marketing.

Creating a budget and sticking to it is key when starting any business. To get an accurate budget, make sure you research the cost of items you’ll need for special events.

You can also consider crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe if you want to raise money for your business.

There is no set amount of money to start a t-shirt printing business. It will vary depending on the person. Just make sure you have a solid plan and budget.

Everything Needed to Start Heat Press Business at Home

  • Computer with graphic design software and desktop cutting
  • Heat press machine: to apply the print designs onto the garment
  • Transparency paper: to transfer the design 
  • Flash dryer: to speed up the process of applying the design
  • Steam press: to apply the design on a larger scale
  • Rolling rack: for storing blanks and finished products
  • Business cards: to promote your business
  • Designs: to create your product line

If you’re looking to start a heat press t-shirt printing business, it’s best to start slowly with a small product line.

Don’t spend all of your money on equipment and the first run of the shirts. Cash flow is extremely important when starting this type of business.

Start T-shirt Printing Business in 5 Steps

STEP 1: Choose a Niche, Setup a Company, and Adjust Your Targets

The first step is to choose a niche for your t-shirt printing business. This can be a specific type of t shirts, such as v-necks, tote bags jerseys for sports teams to a particular target market. Whatever you choose, make sure that it’s easy to research and feasible to get into.

After settling on a niche, you need to set up a company to sell t shirts. This will provide you with legal protection and make it easier to do business. There are a few things you need to keep in mind when setting up your company:

  • Choose a business plan and name: make sure the name is catchy and easy to remember
  • Register your company with the government: this can be done online and is relatively easy
  • Create a logo: the logo will be one of the first things people see and will help them remember your company

Once your company is set up, you’ll need to adjust your targets to fit this business. You should create a plan for the first six months and work towards these goals. This should include everything from sales to advertising costs.

STEP 2: Get the Necessary Equipment

Now that you have your niche, your company is set up, and your targets are adjusted, it’s time to buy the necessary equipment. But before you start screen printing, make sure you know what type of machine you want and what kind of design materials will work best for your needs.

Heat press machines are mainly used for heat transfers. As the name suggests, this machine presses the image onto the t shirts.  So how do you choose right t shirt printing machine? This video explains how to find the best tshirt printing machines.

Quick Tips on How to Use a Heat Press Machine

Once you’ve chosen your machine, it’s essential to know how to use it properly.

  • Preheat the machine for around five minutes. If your machine doesn’t have a preheat option, let it run for two minutes with the blank garments in it before you start the transfer
  • Print your designs onto a heat transfer vinyl paper
  • Place the heat transfer vinyl paper on the t shirt and use an iron to heat the designs for around 20-30 seconds
  • Remove the heat transfer vinyl paper and let the t shirt cool
  • Apply a sealant (optional)
  • Wash and dry the t shirt

If you’re having trouble with the designs peeling or the image fading, you can apply a protective coating.

  • Apply a thin layer of Vaseline to the design
  • Let it sit for around 30 minutes
  • Wash and dry the shirt

STEP 3: Design Your Product Line

Now that you have your machine, you need to design your product line. When choosing t shirt designs, it’s essential to consider who your target audience is.

If you’re targeting a specific niche, make sure your designs reflect that. Keep your designs simple and professional. Avoid using too many colors or intricate designs.

Make sure the designs are easy to read and understand. Ensure the image is clearly visible, even on small t-shirts. This enables people in a trade show to easily tell what your product line represents.

There are a few different places you can find designs for your t-shirt printing business:

  1. Online : Several websites like uberprints, Rush order tees, and custom ink offer free or paid design downloads. You can create your designs, find royalty-free designs online, or hire a designer to create custom t shirts designs for you.
  2. Local Printers : Most local laser printers offer a variety of design templates that you can use to ensure your business grows
  3. Custom Designs: You can also have custom designs created for your business. This can be a more expensive option, but it allows a more specifically designed product line for the market.

STEP 4: Choosing the Right T-shirt Supplier

Once you’ve designed your product line, you need to find a supplier to provide you with the shirt sizes you need. There are a few things you need to consider when choosing your supplier:

  1. Price per unit: You want to find a supplier who offers competitive pricing structure and high quality designs.
  2. Quantity discounts: The more print shirts you order, the more you can save per unit.
  3. Quality: The quality of specifically designed garment can affect how long your own designs last. High quality designs will last longer and look better.
  4. Multiple colors and styles: You want to find a supplier who offers multiple colors so you can cater to a wide variety of customers 
  5. Shipping: It is important to know the supplier’s shipping cost, time and the return policy 

When you’re searching for the right supplier, make sure they understand the labor involved in managing a business. Stay away from free listings like Craigslist. These sellers specialize in providing apparel decoration businesses and often offer low-quality products, or worse, they may not even send the t shirts you order.

It’s essential to do your research before choosing a supplier. Several great t-shirt printing suppliers can provide you with everything you need. Some of the most reputable include: The Printing House, Prime-Line and The Shirt Factory.

STEP 5: Selling Your Products

Once you’ve designed your product line, it’s time to sell them. There are a few different ways that you can do this:

Through Print-on-Demand Sites

These sites will print or ship your tshirts for you. You’ll have to pay upfront, and then the website takes care of everything else without any hassle. 

This is an excellent option if you’re starting because it requires little work from your end and gives shoppers convenience when they order. Some of the most popular POD sites include Etsy, Zazzle, Society6, and Storenvy


  • No upfront hard costs
  • Shoppers can order from anywhere in the world
  • Sites like Etsy and Shopify offer an easy to use platform
  • You can design all of your own products 


  • Less control over the printing method and shipping process
  • You may not be able to customize your products as much as you want
  • It can be challenging to stand out from popular brands

Through Local Stores

This is one of the best options for small businesses that want to sell their products in person. You’ll need to make sure that there’s a demand for your products first, and then, once you’ve done that, you can reach out to local shops and potential customers to see if they’re interested in selling your designs.


  • More control over the production and design of your products
  • You’ll have a better idea of what’s selling and what isn’t
  • You can sell t shirts in person
  • It’s a great way to start building a customer base


  • You’ll have to work with a partner or rent out space in their store
  • It can be challenging to get your products in front of the right people
  • You’ll have to manage your inventory

Through Online Marketplaces

You can also sell your products on online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, or Rakuten. These sites offer a large audience and are great for businesses to reach a broader range of customers.


  • Access to a large audience
  • Great way to sell your products internationally
  • You can reach a broader range of customers 


  • You have to compete with a lot of other businesses
  • You’ll have to pay fees for each sale
  • It can be challenging to stand out from the competition from popular brands

Through Your Website or Platform

You can also sell your products on your website or platform. This is an excellent option for many companies that want more performance wear and control over their sales and marketing. It also allows you to provide a better shopping experience for your customers as you control your site’s look, feel, and design.


  • Complete control over the design and content of your site
  • You can reach a larger audience
  • You can customize the very little cutting experience for your customers
  • You can track your sales and marketing data more easily


  • Difficult to stand out from the competition
  • You have to pay for domain and website hosting fees each month
  • Can be challenging to get your website seen by the right people

There are a few different pricing methods that you can use when selling your products. A good rule is to price your products depending on the type of business you have, the quality of your products, and the amount of work you put into them. The most common include:

  • Per unit pricing
  • Per order pricing 
  • Per piece pricing
  • Pure profit pricing
  • Time-based pricing
  • Flat fee pricing
  • Contribution pricing
  • Target return pricing

To Wrap Up

While there are several pricing models for custom T-shirts, you can’t go wrong with either pure profit or flat fee pricing. With the former method, you get to mark up your prices without worrying about additional charges. With the latter approach, you get to set a standard low cost for the entire order, which will make it easier for you to work out how much you should charge.

If you are looking to start a t-shirt business, pay attention to the outlined steps above. When pricing your product, remember to do your homework and factor in all of the associated costs, from printing and shipping to material costs.

Keep reading the Infographic below designed by wunderlabel.com.

t shirt business

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16 thoughts on “How To Start A Heat Press T-shirt Business at Home”

    • You ll also want to take into consideration your level of experience with vinyl cutters and graphic design software. If you are just starting out with very little cutting experience, ensure that you select a heat transfer vinyl cutting machine that is suitable for beginners (the Silhouette CAMEO is a great place to start!). Desktop cutting and plotting machines like the CAMEO are manufactured with the hobbyist and crafter in mind, and they generally include design software that comes with a pre-loaded artwork library for users to play around with.

  1. A business plan is still needed when starting a business, hence this will be a good read to know the core factors when staring a heat press shirt business.

  2. This was really great information, I’m thinking about starting a bling tee-shirt business and didn’t know what heat press machine to get or does all heat machines work alike but this article has given me knowledge on the subject.

  3. Hi i had just click first time on your blog and i am continuing reading your blogs. It’s my 6th blog from Your website.
    Thankyou for the blogs as it’s so helpful but can you help like when we cut dark transfer paper on plotter so that does not cut proper.

    Please help.

  4. More on knowing the business itself, you must never stop learning the new technique also. Business needs to innovate in order to have got what your market wants.

  5. Helpful information and helps a lot for the people who are trying to start their business. Thank you for sharing.

  6. In the sharing video.. what transfer paper you used and where to get it?? Does it works on inkjet printers?? Please help..


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