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How to Set up Your T-shirt Printing Business with a Heat Press Machine

How to Set up Your T-shirt Printing Business with a Heat Press Machine

Custom t-shirts are hot items in the web marketplace. However, many people, even talented designers, find it hard to start and run a t-shirt business and quit quickly. Others have the idea but don’t start the business, out of fears like, “I don’t know how to start a t-shirt printing business”, “I don’t know where to sell them”, and so on.

That stops today. Here is the ultimate guide to setting up your t-shirt printing business. We shall look into how to get t-shirt design ideas, and how and where to sell t-shirts.

How to Sell T-Shirts

Forget about the worries; starting a t-shirt printing business is pretty simple. There are only 3 things you totally need to sell your products, and they’re easy to come by.

A website/online store

The good news is that nowadays, you don’t have to be a programming expert to create a great website. There are lots of website building sites on the internet with drag and drop features to help you customize your website. The best ones include, wix, weebly, and squarespace. These sites offer you an opportunity to start a great site or online store at a low budget.

After creating your site/online store, be sure to update it with all the information you’d like your customers to have. That includes the best displays of your t-shirts, the prices, and so on. Don’t forget to create great content to complement your items and draw buyers.

How Designs a Shirts

You’ll definitely need designs to print on your t-shirts. Now assuming that you don’t have any design skills, here are a few tips on how to get design ideas:

  • Brainstorming with your friends – ask them what words or images they think are cool when printed on t-shirts.
  • Google – there’s a reason as to why Google is termed as the best search engine. There’s nothing you’ll lack there, especially when it comes to research. After brainstorming with friends, you might, let’s say, be fascinated with messages about flying. Head on to Google, type “t-shirts with flying messages” and search. Be sure to search images only. A whole lot of t-shirt images will get displayed, with all sorts of flying messages printed on them. You could get inspiration from these and come up with your own designs. If you, for example, come across a message saying, “I heart flying”, you could change it into “I heart drones”. See how easy that is?
  • – this is another great place to find t-shirt design ideas. So, just head there and type “t-shirt designs”. Check out the results and learn from what other t-shirt designers have uploaded.
  • – this happens to be one of the best t-shirt platforms on the internet where designers get to sell their custom t-shirts. What basically happens is that folks create custom t-shirts and sell the them here. You can examine what designs are selling on the site and get inspiration from them.

A payment plan

With people all over the world increasingly preferring PayPal as a money-transfer platform, it’s important that you enable payment s via PayPal. If you don’t have an account, now is the time to get one. Just go to and create a seller account. The process is virtually effortless; all you need is an email address and a bank account.

Another useful payment getaway would be credit card transfers.  However, payment options vary by country, and it would be good to include the most popular options in your country.

Where to Sell Design T-Shirts

Of course, you can sell your t-shirts from home, but if you’re looking to capture a wider audience, the web would be the best place to sell your t-shirts. There are lots of internet marketplaces that can help you sell. These include:

  • Ebay
  • Amazon
  • Storenvy
  • Etsy

These sites let you sell your t-shirts to their audience and customer base. All you will have to do is print your orders. Amazon, which is arguably the biggest online store in the world, makes things much easier for you as they can fulfill your orders and make your dealings with customers more professional.

Most of these websites charge a fee monthly, as a fraction of the sales or a combination of both, and so it’d be good to do your research on the fee structures first.

Here are the advantages of selling on marketplaces

  • Huge traffic – big marketplace sites like Amazon, Etsy and eBay receive millions of visitors every day. That means exposure for your products and a big opportunity to sell. The good thing about this traffic is that it’s not only large but also ready to buy.
  • Positive association – these sites are strong brands that customers trust a lot. Therefore, when selling on these sites, you don’t require as much effort as you’d require while selling on Facebook or on your blog. That means lower marketing costs and higher profits.
  • Control of profits – there are print-on-demand sites that print t-shirts for designers but then, they’re normally in charge of pricing and collection of payments. However, while selling on marketplaces and printing the t-shirts yourself, you’re in total control of the profits, and you’re free to set your preferred prices. Nonetheless, it’s good that you consider how other sellers are charging so your prices can be competitive.

Here is a short list of steps you need to take to maximize your earnings and ensure that your sales keep rolling in:

Spread the word on social media

Whether your following is a small one that includes your friends and family only or it’s a huge one, you ought to promote your custom t-shirts on the social networks including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. Upload pictures of your t-shirts regularly and create an advertising plan to give your products a wide exposure.

Have a target audience

Who are you thinking of as your ideal customer? A college student, an old country boy or a mom maybe? Having a specific target market can really boost your sales, particularly because it becomes easy to market your products when you know who you’re marketing them to.

For instance, if you’re making designs that feature cat-related messages, you can create Facebook ads that target people who are interested in cats.

Come up with quality designs

If you totally don’t have design skills and don’t have the time to learn, consider hiring a good designer. There are lots of these on Fiverr and Upwork.

Printing Your T-Shirts with A Heat Press Machine

So, you’re looking to start a heat transfer printing business and have just purchased a heat press?

Great! Now that you have the most important machine for the business at hand, it’s time to take the next step – to actually use it. With this post, I will guide you through the process of setting up your new heat press for the excellent t-shirt printing. I will use the Hotronix Auto Clam for this illustration.

Many people shy away from the t-shirt printing business because they’re afraid of the allegedly-hard process of setting up a heat press machine. However, you’ll be surprised how simple it is to set it up. The first you want to do is lift the machine out of the box and place it on a table or a heat press caddie. Note, you may need help lifting the heavy equipment.

Now, follow the following steps to set it up:

  • Plug one end of the power cord into the electric socket and the other end into the back of the machine.
  • Take off the shipping bolt on top of the machine.
  • Open the machine and then turn it on. The power switch is positioned at the side of the machine’s control panel. After that, the control panel should glimmer.

Setting the Time, Pressure, and Temperature

Timing and the application of the right temperature and pressure are key to successful t-shirt printing using a heat press. The Mode button allows you to set your preferred temperature. You can adjust it using the +/- buttons to increase or reduce the temperature.

Push the Mode button once more to set your first timer. Select the time and push the button again to set the second timer. Push it yet again to set your controls.

To set the pressure, first lock down the machine and observe the pressure reading. Now, turn the knob clockwise or anticlockwise to increase or decrease the pressure respectively. Be sure the pressure you set is suitable for the transfer type. You may need to adjust the pressure on the fly depending on the kind of t-shirt you’re printing.

Start Printing

You may begin printing your apparel as soon as the press heats up to the set temperature. However, before you start pressing, lock down the machine for half a minute to ensure the lower plate heats up properly. You’ll only have to do this before you start pressing each day or after leaving your machine long periods such that the lower plate has cooled down.

That, folks, is how to set up your heat press for t-shirt printing. Don’t forget to share with us the tricks you will discover while setting up your heat press machine.

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James M. Rai has been screen printing T-shirts and other textiles professionally and as a hobby for more than 15 years. During that time, he owned and operated a small screen printing shop in northern California for more than 7 years. More recently, James has gotten involved with Cricut and other cutting machines.


  1. before using the heat machine where and what do will use to print the design before placing it for heat press

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