Screen Printing Business: How to Start Selling Online 🎨

If you're interested to start your own screen printing business online,

I'm going to show you exactly how to get started,

what challenges you need to consider,

what you need to get started with and how you can get yourself set up with

success with success. Hi, my name is, hi,

my name is Mae and I help makers,

artists and designers make a consistent living selling their handmade products


I've been running my own handmade business for over a decade and I make multiple

six figures in sales every year,

but I've also made a ton of mistakes so I know what works and what doesn't and

I'm going to share that with you today. Now, first and foremost,

I think it's a great idea to start a screen printing business.

There are a lot of advantages.

What I think has such great potential with screen printing is the wide range of

product opportunities.

I mean you can screen print on fabric like tote bags and t-shirts or on paper

like reading cards and posters.

While those are the most common mediums you will see,

it's totally up to you to get creative.

You can even screen print on glass to make awesome pint glasses that sell in

breweries or just to make beautiful glassware for the kitchen.

There's really no limit except for what you can do with your equipment.

I also love that in general,

you'll be pricing your products at a comfortable price point.

That is you're not trying to sell a $2,000 ring, right?

That's a lot harder to sell than a $50 art print.

You're looking at items at the double digits,

which means that your items are likely to be accessible to a large audience.

People are always buying t-shirts and tea towels and posters,

so your product is going to have a wide market.

Plus there is the whole world of custom products you can get into if you want,

like remember I mentioned the brewery idea and once you're making a few designs

for restaurants or businesses,

you have repeat customers locked in and because screen printing is in essence

printing lots of copies of the same design. Once you do the upfront setup,

you're in a great position to make large quantities of the same item compared to

say a knit hat business where you'll have to spend hours making each hat with a

screen printing business. You will do a lot of the initial setup for the design,

but once that's done you can continue making posters or t-shirts in relatively

little time.

It's truly a business destined for longterm growth and I'm always a fan of that,

not well. There are some great advantages.

There are also a number of challenges that you need to think about.

The biggest challenge with starting a screen printing business is the upfront

cost of the equipment and the space to do screen printing.

You need at minimum a computer with graphic software and a printing press and

that's just the bare minimum to work at a production level.

You'll need screens for drying and that doesn't just squeeze into the corner of

your living room.

So you'll probably need a separate space like a garage or spare bedroom.

None of that's cheap.

Look to spend about $500 to get started plus whatever space you need.

And be ready to upgrade as you want to include more colors or options.

Screen printing is a really interesting business because it has two separate

facets to it. One is the actual printing, right, which is the production side,

and then the second part is the creation of the artwork.

Almost all successful screen printing businesses create their own artwork for

printing, whether it's working with an artist,

using purchase graphic elements or illustrating your own.

It's the artwork that really distinguishes your product because without

distinctive art, you're just running a production business.

It can definitely take time to develop a unique artistic aesthetic that gains a


I did want to mention that if you're really jazzed about making custom t-shirts,

but you're not sure if the screen printing business is right for you,

it might be worth investigating fabric transfers.

It's a similar business idea that allows you to create custom items,

but without the same upfront cost of screen printing transfers don't force you

into making the same design over and over again to be profitable.

So this may be the path for you if one offs are more in line with your ideas.

Speaking of which print on demand is also something you might start looking


So as I've mentioned with screen printing equipment is a huge deal and I'm not

going to pretend I have the best advice on selecting a printing press,

but t-shirt chick has an amazing series of videos and she tells you everything

you want to know about selecting a press inks and you can even see her screen

setup. So definitely check her out.

Your equipment is the most expensive outlay for your business.

It's worth having a look in your local classifieds like Craigslist to see if

there is used equipment in your area for sale because other printers upgrade,

you may be able to snatch a deal. Okay,

so now let's talk about the products that you're going to stock up in your shop

for a decade. This may sound completely obvious,

but I'm going to say it anyway because I see a lot of businesses go wrong with


You need to offer products that people actually want because if your items

aren't in demand, they aren't going to sell well.

How do you figure out what they want?

I have a secret that I'll share with you in a minute, but first,

let me finish up talking about what you should offer in your shop.

Once you have a few product ideas,

you want to think about what they share in common so that your shop has a

cohesive message for screen printing.

Your niche will most likely be determined by your unique artistic style or it

could be based on a niche or a theme or a trend. Okay,

so how do we find out what is going to be popular?

I'm going to tell you a secret that feels kind of sneaky but really isn't

spy on your competition. Search Etsy and see what's popular.

Of course, you never copy what other people are doing,

but you're doing research to see what's popular right now.

Like our tea towel is going crazy right now. Then maybe that's worth a try,

right? Once your artistic style is set,

you're really fortunate because you can experiment with different products and

see what's working for your audience at sea is an easy place to do your research

because so much of the information is public.

You can see how many sales a shop has, how long they've been in business,

and how many times an item has sold. Anyway.

It's also easy to browse across categories to see what's trending. Okay,

so now that you've narrowed down your product ideas to items that you're able to

make and that you're pretty sure people will want to buy now let's keep pushing

harder to be successful. You want to make sure your product stand out.

I think of this as kind of like adding my own special sauce in my handmade

business. Tiny hands. One of my special sauces is the scent.

If you don't know already, I make handmade scented polymer clay food jewelry,

like the maple syrup center waffle necklace that Leslie Knope wore on parks and

recreation. The scent makes my product stand out from the rest.

You may not believe it, but food shaped jewelry is actually a crowded space,

but very few people do send it jewelry.

So that's my special sauce and it's what my products are known for.

What special sauce can you add to your products? Like,

are you known for a unique color palette?

Or maybe you're really good at your gift wrapping,

or maybe you were just focused on a steam punk theme for your entire shop.

It could be a little thing like adding leather tags to finish off your pieces.

Whatever it is, you want someone to see your products and say, Oh,

that's so and so's, you know, like that's tiny.

You want to be easily recognizable. By the way, if you're enjoying this video,

give it a thumbs up,

subscribe and leave a comment because that tells you too that this was a helpful

video and YouTube will show it to more people. So anyway,

I hope your creative juices are flowing about your new business,

but if you're feeling stuck, don't worry.

Just keep listening and promise yourself. You'll set aside some brainstorm time.

I always get great ideas in the shower or in walks,

so don't be surprised if your best ideas come to you at the craziest times.

I'm going to drill down into the details now because it's the details that will

help your business be a success for your shop to be successful.

You need to be able to earn enough money. Sounds obvious, right?

But it requires some calculations.

There are three things you need to think about when it comes to pricing,

how much you can earn per hour, how much you can earn per week,

and how much the market will bear for how much you can earn per hour.

You'll want to have a look at my pricing video,

which walks you step by step through how you should be pricing your products so

you're earning a solid hourly wage.

I see so many business owners pricing their products too low and not factoring

in profit for their business, so you don't want to make that mistake.

Now let's talk about how much you can earn per week.

Let's say that you've calculated that you can earn at $20 per hour and you're

happy with that, but you have to think about your week as a whole.

Can you really print for eight hours a day for five or six days a week?

Maybe you can.

Do you have the cashflow to keep inventory and supplies in your house and store

it all and when are you going to do your other business stuff?

It's important to think of how many hours you can practically print to produce

your products and decide if that's suitable for your life.

Now the third component,

how much the market can bear that is will people buy your products at the price

you need to sell it for to make a living?

This is where the research you did on your market will come in handy. It's also,

we're having great special sauce ideas is incredibly valuable because it can

help elevate your product from a Soso commodity into a luxury with no


If you've done your research or maybe even experimented in your own shop and you

suspect that you won't be able to sell your printed t-shirts for the money you

need to make it worth it,

it might be time to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm new product

options. We chatted a bit about the equipment, right,

and I pointed you to t-shirt chick who has you covered for equipment

recommendations for your screens.

You can make them yourself or if this isn't her CHAM search screen burning

service in Google and you'll find shops that will make your screens for you and

them printing is one place that does it.

It's a great option if you want to take that component off your plate. Now,

as for the items you're printing on,

these materials will be the largest part of your monthly operating costs.

I sometimes see people go into a big box store like Michaels or Joanns and buy

blind t-shirts or tote bags at retail prices.

That's going to be a very hard way to run a successful business because when you

purchase an item from a retail store,

that shot takes about half the cost of the product.

The wholesale price on many items is about 50% of the retail price.

That's why it's crucial to think about your supply chain.

If you're running a business and using significant quantities of an item,

you might be able to purchase them directly from a supplier and cut out the

retail middleman. You might be buying a tee shirts or pint glasses or tote bags,

so I'm not going to be able to give you specific sources because his business is

so varied, right? But as a starting point, I recommend two things. One,

search wholesale your item and just see what comes up.

Like wholesale t-shirts, wholesale pint glasses.

It's quite likely there's a place near you that has what you're looking for.


I always search Alibaba Ali express and D H gait when I'm looking for box


These sites puts you in direct contact with factories overseas and you won't get

better prices, especially if you're in need of serious quantity.

And I think it's important to mention quality and your secret sauce here.

Your supply chain is the starting point of everything you make.

I hope you don't.

You'll likely find that a crappy t-shirt and a really nice t-shirt are only a

dollar or so apart in price at the wholesale level,

but a customer will happily pay maybe $10 more for a luxury shirt than a crappy

one and you're doing the same work for each.

So think carefully about your quality and pricing when choosing your supplies.

Once you have your products in place and a cohesive shop brand,

you want to start creating a library of marketing materials that you can use in

your shop and in social media.

If you want to hear me go on forever about how much more awesome your own

website is compared to Etsy,

then you'll want to pop over to this video that I'll link here in short at sea

is fine and can even be a good place to start,

but I want you to have your sights set on launching your own site.

You also want a collection of great product photographs of your items,

photos on a white background are great photos to have on your website.

It's also great to get what are called lifestyle photos,

which are your items in real life situations like someone wearing your shirt,

your artwork in a frame on your living room couch or a person carrying a tote


These photos are great for social media and they also help the customer picture

item in real life. You don't need to hire models.

Just asking a neighbor to hold an item in their hands in good lighting is a good

enough starting point to get started with.

If you're struggling over your logo head to somewhere like creative market or

Fiverr, you can get either a template to use yourself or have someone else use a

template to make you a logo.

They're surprisingly custom looking and usually modern and on-trend.

You don't need to spend thousands of dollars on this. In the beginning,

I've been running tiny hands for 14 years now and I've never hired a

professional to do my branding or logo. Once your business is open,

it's time to promote it.

This is a whole topic of its own that we can't really cover here right now,

but I have an entire marketing playlist of videos to get you started with how to

promote your shop. Having said that, I will cover just the absolute basics here.

First you'll want an email list.

You can use something like mailer lights to host a list up to a thousand people

for free.

An email list has the highest conversion rate of any free organic marketing.

That means you'll get the most sales per email and it's one of the only

marketing avenues that you actually own.

Facebook could shut down tomorrow or you know,

change the algorithm and all of your fans are no longer there or they're not

seeing your posts anymore.

So start an email list and put up a sign up box on your site even if you aren't

actively sending emails yet. Second,

you'll want to start reaching out to magazines, influencers, bloggers,

and anyone who has a large audience of your customers and offer to send them

free product in exchange for talking about you in front of their audience.

This is going to be one of the faster ways of getting people to come over to

your new site. Okay, so I've told you everything you need to know,

so it's smooth sailing from here on right? Jewelry business, not really.

Things may go awesome right away, but more often than not,

building a business takes time.

Maybe the products your research indicated would be best sellers aren't sewing

it all. Maybe your suppliers are turning out to be too expensive.

Maybe certain items are taking longer to make than others.

Success is about constantly analyzing what's working and what isn't.

Give things a bit of time, but if they aren't working,

don't be afraid to go back to the drawing board and do some revisions.

I've seen a lot of businesses that took quite a few tweaks over a years to get

things flowing, but they're stronger for it, so stick with it.

It's a longterm game.

Stay on to watch this next video on the screen here for more business tips for

your handmade shop. If you enjoyed this video,

don't forget to like comment and subscribe. That helps.

This video gets seen by more people who are looking for help with their handmade

business. Thanks for watching, and I will see you in that next video.