When Judy posted a previous blog post titled, “Plastisol Transfers … This Surprising Alternative to Screen Printing Allows Anyone to Start a T-shirt Business From Home“, we received a few e-mails from people wanting to know the BIGGEST advantage to using screen printed transfers…
Some people felt that there really was no difference in cost when buying screen printed transfers versus getting the design directly screen printed onto a shirt…
In fact, I got the following question from a guy named Rod…
I don’t really understand how plastisol transfers are better than actual printed shirts. Unless you purchase the plastisol transfers in bulk the price is about the same. The ONLY advantage I’ve seen is that you won’t have a printed garment laying around having not sold.”
Take a look at my response below … you’re in for a surprise!
hi Rod. Thanks for your comment. In my opinion, screen printing trumps all other methods in terms of ‘quality’. For all intended purposes, it’s the best way to get shirts made, especially when buying in bulk. The next best method for getting quality shirts made is gonna be plastisol transfers. No other method outside screen printing trumps ‘plastisol transfers’. This method is the ONLY method that gets you closest to a screen print quality shirt (keep in mind, this method is NOT the same as printing your own transfers from a home computer).
One of the reasons for this post was to make the case that screen printed or plastisol transfers is an affordable option to get into the t-shirt business. All without having to spend over $10,000+ dollars to get started. I just wanted to make that clarification. There isn’t an extensive amount of learning involved with screen printed transfers compared to learning how to screen print. Plus, with transfers, you can do this in a spare bedroom, kitchen table, sunroom or garage.
You are correct in saying that you must purchase plastisol transfers in bulk to get a good price, but the pricing is not exactly the same. Here’s how screen printed transfers work to your advantage…
Take a look at this pricing chart of just one of the many vendors that make screen printed transfers:
In the pricing chart above, the pricing shown are for custom screen printed transfers being put onto large jumbo sheets measuring 25 inches x 38 inches. In the first column, the pricing for 100 sheets is $2.81 for a single color design.
But because these are jumbo sheets, depending on the size of your design, you can get up to 6 standard shirt size designs onto just ONE jumbo sheet. Broken down, each design on one jumbo sheet is only costing you .47 cents each.
But since you get 100 sheets with 6 designs on each sheet, you essentially end up with 600 transfers for just $281 bucks.
But here’s how it gets even better … let’s say you have 6 different designs, and let’s say each of the 6 designs are blue (the same color). Guess what??? You can put each of the 6 designs onto the jumbo sheet and get one hundred sheets made for the same $281 bucks.
Now you have 6 totally different designs and you have 100 each. Now convince me you can get that from a screen printed for $281.00?
You’ll spend more than that getting 100 t-shirts printed up with 1 color through a local screen printer … The shirts would probably be really cheap and they’re all pre-printed onto shirts that might or might not sell. But at least with the screen printed transfer, you 6 totally different designs.
If you get creative and think things through when coming up with your designs, you can get a whole lot more for your dollar, for practically the same money.
Look further down the list and you can get 500 sheets printed up for $1.65 per sheet for a total of $825 bucks. With 6 designs on one sheet, your cost per transfer in this example costs you about .28 cents each. In this scenario, you walk away with 3,000 transfers. If you had 6 different designs on a sheet, you get 500 transfers of each of the 6 designs.
Now tell me how this doesn’t work out in your favor?
$281 bucks is a small price to pay to walk away with 100 of 6 different designs. You just don’t lose at all.
Now if you’re only buying 12 transfers, then the pricing model makes no sense at all… Just like it wouldn’t if all you were buying were 12 transfers from a local screen printer. Their fees would be outrageous for just 12 tees.
Hope this makes sense and thanks for your feedback… It’s questions like yours that help me elaborate more on how this process works and benefits the end user.
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Starting a tshirt company can be challenging if you have limited funds, but it’s not impossible. In future writings, I’ll share some other ways you can get started on a limited budget, but today, I want to address the following question I got from Jerome on our TshirtRiches Facebook page.
QUESTION: I figure you get a lot of messages and I’m not sure if you’ll answer, but I have been watching your t-shirt business videos and it inspired me to take a chance. First off, I’m a single father of 5 and I’ve worked as a call center manager for 10 years.
I recently purchased a t shirt heat press to try to start making t-shirts to make just a little extra money. I’m really working with a small budget and I will for the most part have to start where I am until I make enough to upgrade. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for me. I’m basically out of pocket trying to make this t-shirt business opportunity happen. Your advice would mean a lot.
hi Jerome. Congrats on starting your t-shirt business. This is a question I get often, and my advice is always the same. Most every new t-shirt startup entrepreneur makes the mistake in believing everyone wants to buy their t-shirts, and as a result, they try to sell their shirts to everybody.
My biggest recommendation would be to identify a niche you wish to go after, and do everything you can to learn everything about that space and be everywhere.
For example, we’re in the ‘Christian’ t-shirt niche and everything we do centers around that space. We’re not trying to sell these religious tees to punk rockers, fitness junkies or race car fanatics. By staying in one t-shirt niche, it allows us to design t-shirts around our market.
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We do everything we need to do to get familiar with the conversations and interests happing in that space. We market and advertise in places where Christian folk are likely to be. We wouldn’t advertise in a major newspaper publication like the Atlanta Journal Constitution when there are newspapers exclusively for the Christian market.
When you know your market or niche, you take your tees directly to them. It’s much cheaper and your marketing dollars are very well targeted. Going too broad in the beginning will cost you a fortune and it’s difficult to try and appeal to everybody.
For example, other t-shirt entrepreneurs are making tees exclusively for nurses, teachers, skateboarders, barbers, natural hair, etc… I’m blown away with some of the ideas and concepts people come up with and make money from. For example, there were some college students who made beer t-shirts and earned themselves a small fortune.
So the thing to do is to pick just ONE niche area and go into it and show out. Usually, i’d suggest it be something you’re already interested in, or have knowledge about. Using your call center job for example, there’s millions of people working in a call center and I imagine they have inside jokes for the crazy folks they have to deal with on the phone.
Start there and see if you can identify language that appeals to people who work in call centers. I imagine if you focus and research this out, you’d be surprised at what you might be able to come up with. People working in a call center would get and understand the slogans and jokes and this is what niche marketing is all about — you’re already in the space. Turn it upside down and see what you can come up with.
That’s just a suggestion though, but wanted to give you an example of what you could do if you sit down and think this thing through. Making, designing and selling t-shirts is a fun business, so get creative and have fun with it.
If you’ve come up with some unique t-shirt design ideas or slogans, please share a link in the comments section below — I’d love to see what you’ve come up with (others will also be able to click the link and see your designs too).