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· Premium Member
112 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

Happy new year to all and I hope it will be a healthy and prosperous one for you.

To start the new year right, I hope to continue with the "series" about t-shirts and such. This article (if I don't drift off), will talk a bit about designs and customers. When I say T-shirts, this would also include garments such as sweatshirts, aprons, totes, staffshirts, etc... This does not include vinyl items and (maybe) sublimation items. Just the basic products.

In it's simplest form, there are 3 types of t-shirts to sell:
  • Pre-made transfers which you apply to the shirt(s) yourself
  • Stock transfers you either make or have made and apply them to the shirts yourself to sell at retail
  • Custom printing where you either have the transfers made or you make them yourself and sell to your customers.
Pre-Made Transfers - These are stock type transfers that are available from lots of very good heat transfer manufacturers and you would apply them to your own shirts, then sell these types of imprinted shirts at a retail price, either from your store or website.

Stock Transfers - YOU either make or have printed for you - These types of transfers would cover your own designs and artwork that you create and are selling on your shirts. These may be sold retail or wholesale.

Custom Printing - This usually covers transfers that you make specifically for a customer. These can be either printed by you or a heat transfer printer, then you apply them to your own shirts. Your order may be for one shirt or 100 shirts.

I seldom cover the subject about Pre-Made transfers as they seem to be pretty syandard and the usual cars, wildlife, etc... Stock and Custom transfers is what I think I'll talk about here. Please note, printing since 1987, I've tried it all, seen a lot and spent a lot. Of course the economic changes in these past years has changed but...

Stock Transfers - YOU either make or have printed for you. If you have your own artwork and sell them yourself, you will enjoy a higher profit since there is no middleman. As you only would apply your transfers to each shirt, for each order, you will not have any inventory of heat transferred shirts lying around should your design fizzle or the market dries up. The downside to this is, if you have transfers printed and your design does not sell, then you've spent money on a dead design.

Custom Printing - This usually covers transfers that you make specifically for a customer. To me, custom printing the 'onesies' is a pain. If you have a storefront, your customer would spend 15 minutes going through your t-shirts to find the 'right one', spend another 1/2 hour deciding which typestyle to use, etc... All this to make a $10.00 profit.

As I found out in 1988, custom printing commercial accounts offers more $$ per hour. In the 1 1/2 hours to sell one custom t-shirt ( as above), that same 1 1/2 hours I printed and sold 35 shirts with an average profit of $4+ per shirt. To me, make $10 per 1 1/2 hours or $140 for the same amount of time.

As I usually follow a lot of the various groups such as cafepress, HTFDP, the Epson HT group, Signs, etc..., seems a lot of the conversation about selling and what to sell, usually is centered around printers trying to sell their own designs. It looks like their 'niche' is, their artwork.

So, what to do? First, do you want to sell your designs or go after the commercial customers?

This is just food for thought.

I'll try to carry this on some more but have to leave right now.

Hope this helps.


· Registered
1,036 Posts
Hi Fred,

Actually this is Chapter 3. Chapter 2 was about fulfillment services and it, as well as this chapter are very helpful to many here that read the forums.

Thanks, and please submit Chapter 4 when you are ready.
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