How to start a t-shirt printing business in 2022

Despite the rapidly changing landscapes of fashion and technology, the humble t-shirt remains the most popular item of clothing in the world. As the popularity of the t-shirt remains high, you can turn your creative interests and side hustles into real money by learning how to start your own t-shirt printing business with this easy process guide for t-shirt printing and getting into the dropshipping game.



How to start a t-shirt printing business:

Understand the basics

  1. Find your niche! What kind of person do you want to serve with your designs? Is there a market you feel is current underserved? Target those people by designing for them. Make sure to do your cultural or community research so your designs represent this niche as authentically as possible.
  2. Decide how you want your t-shirts printed. Fabric quality, t-shirt fit, and the processes of digital printing versus screenprinting should all be taken into consideration based on the budget and timelines you have in place.
  3. How will you be handling your inventory? If printing your own t-shirts, you’ll need space to print, pack, and hold onto unsold inventory. If you go with printing on-demand or dropshipping, you won’t have any inventory on hand.
  4. Define your price point. Based on the cost of individual shirts, the printing process, storage overhead, and marketing budgets, choose the price that customers won’t balk at but that will still enable you to make a profit.

E-commerce options

If you have already registered a domain for your business, you can use site-building platforms like Squarespace or Wix to establish a store within the structural code of your website and sell your items yourself.

If you’re going the print on-demand route, vendor networks and marketplaces like Society6, Printful, or Printify will provide a place to host your designs without handling the printing yourself.

For dropshipping, e-commerce sales can happen through your site — via Shopify, Zazzle, Etsy, or other marketplace sites — but manufacturing and shipping will be handled by your supplier.

Printing on-demand is the process of working with a supplier to custom-make products based on your designs and selling them on a per-order basis under the name of your own brand. You don’t pay for any products until after you’ve sold them, and there’s no wholesale-style requirements for bulk orders ahead of time as you won’t be holding onto any inventory yourself.

The key difference between this process and dropshipping is that with printing on-demand, the manufacturer creates the product according to your specific custom design and so the printing and shipping process will take as long as the manufacturer needs based on your feedback. With dropshipping, your supplier makes zero changes to the product as they generally already have the product printed and ready to ship on-site, and so the process is quick but can be prone to more printing errors.


Dropshipping is a business model that has been gaining massive popularity in recent years due to its ground-level accessibility and simple triangle framework of breaking consumerism down to three parties: the supplier, the retailer, and the customer.

Dropshipping can be a more basic way of giving a sale structure to your t-shirt printing business. The system of dropshipping allows a company to sell products without maintaining an inventory of what they’re selling. The process of dropshipping happens like this:

  1. The customer places an order with a company.
  2. The company notifies their supplier/manufacturer/distributor that an order has been placed.
  3. The manufacturer ships the product directly to the customer on behalf of the company.

Marketing your business

It’s not enough to own your own business — you also must share your products with the world! Utilize the following options to market your t-shirts and let your customer base know what’s up with your company.

Pros and cons of the business

Design your own t-shirts

Get started with the design portion of your business by learning how to put together t-shirt graphics with Adobe Express. You can start a project on the app using our extensive library of free templates. Once you’ve got a couple drafts under your belt or a framework that feels like a good jumping off point, you can then plug-and-play based on your desired products or already established t-shirt design ideas.

T-shirt ideas

Unsure where to begin with your design brainstorm? Get comfortable with these free Adobe Express t-shirt design templates and use these concepts to begin building your design portfolio.


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Family events

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Free Adobe Express shirt design templates

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