Pros and Cons of Starting a T Shirt Business 

By  Cartess Ross

My goal at Tshirt Riches is to provide you with both the pros and cons of starting your own t-shirt business.

With that said, let’s get all of the negatives out of the way first and then I’ll redeem myself with all of the positives!

You’ll find a lot of sites that’ll convince you that the t-shirt business is the easiest biz in the world. I’m here to tell you the exact OPPOSITE.

It’s WORK, WORK and more WORK… Truth be told, it’ll likely be the most challenging thing you’ll ever get involved with. It’ll require your consistent time and dedication. It still requires WORK.

If you’ve spent most of your time working for someone else, this will most definitely surprise you. Don’t get it twisted, my 12 year old daughter can make and sell t-shirts, so it’s not an all boys club. In fact, females tend to do better with their start-ups, even without wearing wet t-shirts…

But in order to be successful in this business, you gotta conquer the start-up obstacles many will run into when getting started.

Starting a t-shirt business will require licensing, permits, insurance, finding a wholesale supplier… You’ll require some inventory and the services of graphic designers, you’ll need a website, some money for marketing and advertising. A lot of people don’t think they need to market and promote their designs, but it’s an necessary evil if you wish to be successful in the business.

Relying on a number one position on Google’s front page ain’t gonna ensure you success.

You must be willing to work around the clock to build your business…Especially during the start-up phase. If you already work a full-time job, then you’ll need to be willing to stay up late to get things done!

I’ve had a car repossessed a time or two… I’ve been evicted. I’ve eaten pinto beans and cornbread for weeks at a time, all in an effort to get my business going. I didn’t have anyone to show me the ropes like you do now.

Some of the obstacles you’ll deal with when getting started can be a bit overwhelming at times. Like — how to get your shirts selling and what not… We cover that in some other videos on the site, so don’t give up just yet. I just want you to know that there will be some challenges once you get started, but that’s all the ‘bad’ in a nutshell. That’s it…

If you’re a self-motivated person, you can make this work. SELF-MOTIVATED is the keyword here.

When you’re in business by yourself, no one will toss you out of bed each morning. There’s no one standing over your back telling you when and how to do something. So you MUST be self-motivated.

Now let’s talk about all of the positives to starting your own t-shirt business.

Can you make good money selling t-shirts? Absolutely! And how much is good money?

For some of you, $200 per week would be great. For some, $200 per day would be a wonderful day. And for others, an additional $55,000.00 per year would be amazing.

Truth be told, all of the figures mentioned are achievable goals for anyone willing to put in the time, effort and energy required to build a successful t-shirt business.

Will it be easy?

Absolutely NOT… But it’s doable.

Having a t-shirt business allows you to make your own schedule. You can work 3 days a week or you can work 9 days a week ?

You can take any week off that you want… Remember, you’re the boss. You’ve officially become ‘The Man’. And for many people, this can be a dangerous thing, so I must warn you now… If you’re not self-motivated, then don’t even bother getting into this business.

You’ll end up with a lot of equipment that’ll sit in your basement or garage collecting dust.

Another positive is that you can start this business with very little money. I use a heat press machine and custom screen printed transfers and this will allow you to get started in the t-shirt business with much less capital that would be required if you went the screen printing route. Plus the learning curve required to do screen printing can be a NIGHTMARE. Not to mention the costs, space and equipment required to get this going.

My method requires a heat press machine and you can buy these new or used from sites like Craigslist.com or eBay. I give lots of tips on this in my FREE T-shirt Start-up Mini Course on my website at TshirtRiches.com

So… Here’s what we have so far:

There’s FREEDOM that comes with owning your own t-shirt business and it can be financially rewarding for you and your family.

This isn’t one of those things where you have to be lucky to cash in. If you put in the effort and have the determination, you too can succeed in this business.

I’ve easily sold tens of thousands of t-shirts all over the world. I have customers in countries I can’t even spell or pronounce. And there are plenty of customers who are willing to buy your t-shirt designs as well. Let me show you how!

There are many who’ve struggled for months and years trying to build a successful t shirt business. But yet, there are others who were able to walk away from their jobs their first year in the business.

Bottom line: although challenging, the t-shirt business will allow you to create your own job security, while allowing you to write your own check…

I don’t know if the t-shirt business is for you… But I want you to make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision before getting started in the business.

I’ve put together a FREE quick-start course that’ll answer most of your questions about the heat press machine, custom screen printed transfers and I even explain and show the machine in action.

If you want to jump right in and get the full step-by-step t-shirt business startup course, click here!



Cartess Ross

I will guide you through this process and provide you with proven strategies to help you build a t-shirt company. As one of the original pioneers to start selling t-shirts online 20 years ago, I've sold millions of dollars in t shirts to people all over the world. I founded TshirtRiches in 2007 to teach others how to turn their t-shirt ideas into a business. So if you're ready, hop onboard and let's make this money!

Cartess Ross

  • Thanks Mr Ross as you have inspired me to grab this tshirt biz by the reigns and run. I have been designing tshirts for my wife’s natural hair biz for the past year and sending them off to get screen printed which has been very costly. I knew nothing of a heat press or transfer until I ran across your site while looking for cheaper yet quality alternatives to screen printing. I hav bought my press opened a store on etsy and am getting designs togetther little by little. I haven’t had a boom in business yet but I know my time will come with persistence. Thanks for the emails and advise!!


    • Hi Mike,
      Glad to know hear of your progress! Thanks for taking time to share with us!

  • Vicki Tuttle says:

    Hi cartess,
    It seems like I know you already, and haven’t even met you personally, just on these emails,and I wanted to say that you have inspired me. Let me explain myself when I say that, what I mean is that one night I was googling the t-shirt business and your site came up and right from the start you captivated me with your video’s. I see so many people trying to sell information on how to earn money on the internet with out really telling you what it is that you are purchasing. They seem to hype you right up with all the glorious pay checks and make it seem so easy to achieve these large paychecks that they suck you right in. After you have had the time to check them out you find out that it takes alot of skill and money to get things off the ground to the point that it leaves you bankrupt. I have to say that I have mistakenly been suck in as some of the other people I know. But I came to realize that what ever you decide to do, you need to love it. Yes, it is hard work, but usually what you love to do becomes a big profit to you one day.
    With that said, I found that I love to create, do graphic design, or what ever I can put my hands to do. You so inspired me that I have purchased a heat press, a plotter, and all I need now is the right printer, ink and transfer supplies. I have very limited income, none, and I have been purchasing things as God provides the money. My business will start with baby items, such as Onesies, blankets and other items and build into T-shirt business. I will share with you through email my website when I get it online. It will be called ” Onesie Line Design.com”. Keep up the great work, your are reaching people out there through all your hard work. If I would have had the money I would have purchased your information, but I am a researcher and self taught learner, I dig and dig till I get the rigt answers to get it done. I am determined to be consistant with my business and get it off the ground. Most of all I will love what I am doing because I am working for myself with my own goals in mind not someone else’s.
    You are welcome to email me back if you choose, vltuttle@cox.net.

    • Hi Vicki,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! It’s the emails like yours that keep us going! Thank you for taking the time to post on here! 🙂 Best of Blessings to you!

    • Hi Cartess,

      Well it has been a long road to get to this point but I finally made it. I have my Website up, check it out, http://www.onesielinedesign.com, I am really proud of it, kind of like becoming a new parent with a new baby. We have lots of cute, and funny onesies for newborns to eighteen months as well as those for twins. Our multiple shop is coming soon with wonderful designs for those with triplets, and quads. Thanks for all the inspiration.

      • Hi Vicki,

        That’s great! Keep moving forward! Thank you so much for taking the time out to contact us!

  • hey what’s up? cartess thanks so much for your inspiration @motivation for helpiing people wanting to get started
    in the t-shirt business.I do have a heat transfer machine i was wandering if it would be cheaper to buy the custom transfers or do them through a printer PLEASE HELP ME?

    • Hi Gary,
      It would be cheaper to print your own, but it’s not the best option for quality wise for creating a returning customer base. Your biggest volume in business will consist of returning customers. People who buy from you over and over again, and refer others to you. Printing from a printer will not provide you that. However, I know…I said “HOWEVER.” We recently introduced some transfers videos in regards to printing from a printer. These are much better than the ones you can purchase at local stores. In fact, these transfers can not be purchased at any store. Yes, these transfers hold up a lot better than the ones you can purchase from a local store and they will last a longer!

      However, if you want quality and want long lasting shirts have the designs screen printed onto the special release paper. We continue to stand by having your designs screen printed onto the release paper. I have many shirts that are over 3+ years old minus some bleach stains here and there but the shirts have held up well and they still look good!

      We decided to look in this route for individuals that are not able to have their designs screen printed onto the special release paper. Simply due to the start up phases they are in and the cost that is involved. Again, we do recommend as soon as your business is able to pay to have your designs screen printed onto the special release paper, do it!

      See here, the link below….and watch all 3 videos

      This is a great way for folks to get started with their tshirt business and provide descent shirts to their customers verses selling shirts that were made by transfers purchased at an local store. You see, what happens when you use the transfers that are purchased at local stores. The customer only get a few wears out of the shirt and decides not to do business with you again because of the poor quality you offer.

      I can’t stress this enough this is a great way to get started for those we can not afford to have their designs screen printed. The over all best result would be; have the designs screen printed onto the special release paper instead of using a printer.

      What we understand the laser will be the better printer.

      • Marco deOliveira says:

        Hi Cartess,
        I really like how you are upfront, honest and tell it like it is.
        Just had a few questions:
        I’m looking into working for myself doing hand applied rhinestones to many different items like cell phones, lap tops, tables, shoes, car emblems, car decals, etc. and t shirts will be one part of my business, but I really would like to get into the rhinestones and vinyl end of the t shirt business not heat transfers just yet.
        I know your course can’t help me with equipment, tips, instructions, suppliers and such when it comes to vinyl and rhinestones, that I’ll figure out on my own.
        But I was wondering if your course will still be helpful in regards to the business side of it like marketing and such and if I’ll still benefit a lot from your course.
        I just don’t want to pay for a full course and only be able to use a small part of it.
        Second question:
        When I succeed with stone and vinyl transfer and are ready to get into heat transfers, I was wondering what you think of the ChromaBlast system.
        ChromaBlast inks become part of the shirt, that solves the inkjet transfers lack of durability and it solves my hangup on using silk screen transfers.
        What I don’t like about the silk screen transfers is that I am relying on someone else to do my designs, it’s costing me more, I have to wait and I can’t do on the spot custom work.

        • Hi Marco,

          Course will definitely help with the marketing side of things, yes.

          I’m not familiar with the Chromablast, so I can’t offer much advice there… It sounds like a decent system — If you have those concerns as indicated in your post, it’s something worth exploring.

          Keep us posted on your success!

  • Hi caertess,thankyou! I had just about given up, now UI feel inspired……keep encouraging people, the world needs people like you!
    kind regards
    annie mcqueen

  • Tahnaya Green says:

    Hey Cartess,

    I am very interested in my own Christian-based t-shirt business, but what do you do when you don’t have any money??? I was laid off 1 1/2 years old and I’m ready to start my own business. I already have a name, a t-shirt wholesaler, my own graphic designer, my own designs for males and females (rhinestone tees), a facebook fan page, and people willing to buy the shirts. What do you do??? Some say I should take pre-orders and get the money that way which I feel uneasy about. What do you suggest? Thank you.

    • Hi Tahnaya,
      I have to agree with the advice you’ve already been provided. If you do not have the money to purchase an inventory to start your business. The only way you’ll be able to make this work is set a system in place for pre-orders. 🙂

  • Hello Cartess! Just wanted you to know that I feel so blessed that I ran across you YouTube videos a little over a week ago and I must say, you were quite inspiring to me. Since that time, I’ve talked to one of my sons (whose grown and has his own family) about starting a T-shirt business and we’ve already bought a Heat Press (HT 600D HIX Digital) from a guy selling it on Craig’s List. He wanted $575 for it but I got him down to $500. After watching your videos and researching the brand, I feel we got a super deal. Please let me know if I didn’t…LOL Too late now though…LOL Your videos online have been invaluable to me so far. I’ve also signed up for you training videos and feel they are certainly worth my while and the money. One other thing… I understand that you sell the Transfer Paper for Heating presses through your site. What paper do you recommend I get from you for screenprinting T-Shirts, etc? Please let me know ASAP so that I can order it from you as opposed to going through someone else. Thank again…Blessings and Peace!

    • Hi Glenn,
      So happy to hear about you moving forward and making the step to purchase your first heat press machine, congrats! We stand by the screen printed designs onto the release paper for better quality. However, if you can’t afford that process right now, the best thing is to purchase the transfers we have available on our website. These transfers are much better than the ones you purchase from local stores. Here’s the link below to purchase the transfers from us.

      • Thanks for replying back to me Kim,
        Do you sell the Transfer Paper I can screen print on to it myself, using my YUDU Screen Printing machine and then use in my heat press to transfer it to the t-shirt?

  • hi cartess, is spiritual wear tee part of you guys?

    • Yes it is… It’s currently being phased out for a new site that should go live in a few days.

  • Is it illegal to sell clipart used from softwares or websites like Microsoft or Transferexpress?

    • Hi K,

      It is if it does not belong to you and you do have have copyrights to the clipart.

  • Jamar Blackwell says:

    Hi Mr. Ross,

    Do I Need A Business License To Sell Custom Made Shirts From My Home Or Website And If So, How Do I Go About Aqquiring One? Does It Cost Anything, Can I Get One From Online, Do I Have To Go Somewhere And Get It In Person? Please Help…

    • Hi Jamar,

      Yes, it best to have a business license. The price will depend on the area you live, etc. You may contact your City hall for more information in regards to requirements, cost, etc. Each state, county, city varies on requirements, cost, etc.

  • Priyanka Mulik says:

    Its fantastic.. and it inspired me to get into the right business. Thank You.

    • Kimberly Ross says:

      That’s awesome, Priyanka!! Good luck with your business. Let us know if we can help along the way!

  • Hi I would like to start screen printing business.
    Please give me good idea

    • Here’s some more information you may find useful!

      Your biggest expense getting started will be the heat press machine 16×20 in size. The brand of machines we recommend is Hotronix.

      The machine starts at $995 and up.

      We recommend screen printed transfers. We do not recommend printing from a printer just for the sake of quality. You want to be in business selling products that will allow people to buy from you over and over again; as well as refer others to you. Sadly, printing from a printer will not allow you to do so.

      Once you have your designs created; you can send the digital files of the designs to transfer companies. They can take your design and screen printed directly onto the special release paper. There are no printers involved in this process. All the designs are printed by screen printing equipment. Once the designs have been screen printed onto the special release paper instead of directly on shirts. They’ll send you the transfers; which you’ll press directly onto the shirts using the heat press machine you’ve purchased.

      The cost of having designs printed will vary; it depends on the amount of colors you have in the design. The more colors you have in the design the more it will cost. If you’re starting with a limited budget; we recommend no more than 2.
      Another fact in cost of getting the designs screen printed will be determined by the amount of transfers you have printed. The less you have printed the more you’ll pay. The more you have printed the cost to have the transfers printed, cost drops.

      We have a source list available for purchase. The source list includes various companies to purchase custom, and pre-made transfers from a list of transfer vendors as well as vendors to purchase blank shirts.

      The price for custom transfers will be determined by the amount of colors you have in your design. If you are on a tight budget then I would recommend no more than 2 colors in the design. The more colors in the design the more it will cost to have the designs screen printed onto the release paper.

      If you would, please click the link below to purchase the source list https://www.tshirtriches.com/where-to-get-custom-t-shirt-transfers/.

      Or you can locate a local screen printer in your area to screen printed directly onto blank shirts you supply the screen printer to print on. It’s actually cheaper to purchase your own shirts and give to the screen printer. The price once again will be determined by the amount of colors in the design and how many shirts you have printed. You’ll need to locate a local screen printer in your area to determine prices.

      We have created a training course that will walk you through the entire process from beginning to end. There’s no reason in trying to figure all this out on your own, cut your learning curb in half! We’ve done all the hard work for you. All you have to do is take advantage of the blueprint we’ll provide, learn the material and apply it towards your business. This isn’t an easy task, this isn’t some get rich quick scam and it will require a lot of hard work if you expect to receive any type of results. Honestly, your results depend on you.

      Please click the link to check out the program we have created along with the pricing information.


  • Lundoka Nikki UNENE says:

    Kindly asking for as much Intel was possible.

  • Mayra Calix Lopez says:

    I have never been pushed to do anything in my life. So this scares me, but I am determined to start tshirt business 🙂

    • Cartess Ross says:

      You can do this Mayra … I believe in ya!

  • MulTeeTude says:

    Hi Kimross,

    How are you? I am planning to open tshirt printing business and I came across with your website. I wonder if you can give me an idea and comparison of buying DTG printer versus getting the heat press machine which is widely discuss in here. Thanks in advance!

    • Cartess Ross says:

      We’ve never used DTG equipment. Unable to provide advice in this area.

  • Harvey Lee says:

    Very nice! I really like this article. Very informative article and helpful for me. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • I don’t understand why someone would buy a screen printing press and all that. There are companies now that do the screen printing for you and drop ship so you aren’t buying the product outright and storing it at your home. Is this article from 2018? If so, could you please explain the advantage of all that (what seems like) unnecessary overhead? Thanks.

    • Cartess Ross says:

      It’s soooo expensive. Your profit is very small. By the time you factor in your advertising/marketing costs, you’ll barely have enough left to make it worth while. You need more profit margin so you can effectively scale and grow your biz…

      What you think will be profit will be eaten up by your costs/expenses. Things are never as simple as they appear.

      Why pay printful $13+ for a shirt when you can probably make the same shirt for $2.95? You’ll likely sell less shirts through printful because now gotta sell the shirt for $25 bucks to make a decent profit after they take their fees… And because you’re selling them for $25 bucks, you’ll likely get way less sales because most folks are paying $25 + shipping for shirts.

      So you really lose out… In my humble opinion, lol.

  • Opening a business is a huge deal. Proper business research is a must. It is basically the foundation of every business. Not because you have the money to spend is enough. A study is still the key.

  • Lu Martin says:

    hello, I wanted to know if you can have iridescent holograph on a screen print transfer?

    • Cartess Ross says:

      That I do not know. Best thing to do is contact the company that make transfers and ask

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