How Much Does It Cost To Start A T-Shirt Business?


Do you know how much it costs to start a t-shirt business? Well, the most suitable answer for this would be that “It depends”. If someone is telling you that it will cost $500, $600 or maybe $700, then, they’re telling you from their point of view, or they don’t even know what they’re talking about.

Hi there, and welcome to!

My name is Gary. I have been working as a brand graphic designer for over 20 years now, and I am here to share my wealth of knowledge with you. I teach people to design, market, promote their t-shirt business.

One of the most common questions people ask me is: “Hey Gary, how much does it really cost to start a t-shirt business?”

I get this question a lot. So here I am writing this blog to help you with all questions regarding the cost of starting a t-shirt business.

Let’s get started!

In general, there are three ways in which you can put this:

1. ) Is your t-shirt business going to be one-stop shop?

This is the biggest and the most expensive way to look at this. It means that you are going to create a one-stop shop that takes care of everything such as designing, manufacturing, packaging and shipping.

For this, you need to ask yourself, are you going to manufacture it yourself?

If the answer is yes, then the manufacturing costs are going to be higher side, such as $20,000-$30,000 for a quality DTG machine. You can come down to about $1500-$2000 for an excellent screen-printing machine. Or, you can go one step further by getting an automatic screen-printing machine, heat press or vinyl cutter.

These are all options that come from the higher to the lower side of the machine’s cost, so decide how you are going to manufacture.

Also, when you manufacture, you are going to get your labels, tags, and boxes. So, you have to take all of these things into account as well.

I suggest that you get good quality equipment such as a vinyl cutter, heat press, screen printer or you can get yourself a used DTG machine for $7000-$10000.

But I suggest that you go for a new one for $18000 – $20,000+ from OmniPrint.

Also, remember that when it comes to manufacturing, you will have to manufacture your cuts and t-shirt bundles.

But I don’t SUGGEST…I RECOMMEND that you buy them wholesale. I highly suggest that you get them from Bella canvas; because they are one of the best.

Remember, this is the cost when you decide to go all in. Also, here you would be able to do your stuff and redesign everything using your creativity.

2.) Print on Demand

The second method is print on demand, and It means that you will outsource to someone who is going to manufacture and ship all t-shirts to the customer on your behalf.

Whenever an order comes, the manufacturer gets paid, and you receive your cut along with the profit on the sale. Many people start like this, and it’s a great way.

The main advantage is that virtually you don’t have to do anything. It is very little to no upfront cost. You have to put a credit card, and when a sale comes, you get your cut, and they get their cut.

However, one downside to this is that you don’t get to do the special stuff, i.e. you’re limited to their print quality. You cannot do things like specialty boxes, special tissues; you cannot put labels on special places, etc.

While choosing print on demand, you’re subject to be limited to whatever quality they offer. Overall, however, it’s a great way to start.

One more thing that can increase the costs are the “designs”, and you should never cut any corners on this.

Too many times, I see people do some cheesy designs, and then they’re like “Oh my god, what’s happening? I am not getting any sales!”

The reason is that you don’t go with a Professional. Now, a professional can cost you around a few dollars, where you get what you pay for.

Also, you can go to a website like where you can spend from $70-$80 bucks to $300 for a good quality design.

This is an added cost; you need to decide whether you will design yourself or you will hire professionals.

Great places to start Print On Demand are Printful and Printify.

3.) Pay for Exposure 

This is the expense that nobody talks about, i.e. Cost for Exposure.

You can have the best of designs, and high-quality material. But, if nobody knows about you, nobody is going to buy.

With that being said, you need to decide where your exposure will come from?

You can sell your t-shirts very easily if you’re a famous person with a lot of followers on social media or you own a popular gym or club.

However, most of us are ordinary people.

To maximize your exposure, you need to pay for advertisements. For advertising, you need to pay for Facebook ads, including Instagram ads as well because Facebook owns Instagram.

You can also go for Google advertising, where you pay keywords such as “TreeHugger T-shirts” and your store shows up on the first page.

There’s another method known as “re-targeting”, where you put up a pixel on your website when a customer searches for a particular design on your store. Then they see your product on the ad space across the internet.

Advertising can cost around from $5-10/ every day to $5000/ a day. It all depends on your budget. You can start advertising according to your budget, and you’re good to go.

Another way to increase your exposure is through social media. Now, many people go out and hire social media managers that help them get more exposure on social media.

This can cost you an additional $100-150/ month for a decent social media manager.

You can find an inexpensive social media manager here

Summing up

I hope that now you’ll understand that the actual cost for starting a t-shirt business depends on how YOU want to start it.

You can do it the way you want, and it’s perfectly fine! I hope this helps you to start your t-shirt business.

If you still have any questions, please let me know in the comments section down below.

Thanks for stopping by!