One of the questions that we get asked most often is, “How much money can you make with DTG?” and “Is direct-to-garment printing profitable?” The short answer is: Yes, you can definitely make money with DTG! We created a simple infographic to help you understand how much money you can make printing custom t-shirts.
Understand how DTG printing is profitable
At its most simple, Profit = Your Costs – Your Selling Price. If it costs $3.00 to print a custom t-shirt that you then sell for $13, your profit that you pocket is $10.00.
For simplicity’s sake, we used some easy numbers as examples but be aware that there will be some variation depending on factors like your market, location, t-shirt design, and your brand. To be on the safe side, these are conservative estimates based on averages commonly seen in the industry.
For example, the cost of ink per t-shirt will vary depending on the image that you’re printing. Printing a small chest logo on a light-colored t-shirt can cost as little as $0.25 while a 16″ x 20″ image that is heavily saturated and printed on a dark shirt (which requires the addition of white ink) can cost upwards of $1.50.
Similarly, the cost of t-shirts varies, depending on the t-shirt’s brand, quality, and style. On average, a t-shirt costs about $2.50 to $4.00 per shirt when purchased wholesale.
When it comes to setting a retail price for your printed t-shirt, you have a lot of leeway, but you must develop a strong understanding of what your customer base is willing to pay for your products. The price of a t-shirt can range from $10 for a simple shirt to upwards of $50 for designer t-shirts. Be sure to do some research — what do your competitors charge? What do local stores and popular websites charge? Then set your prices accordingly.
Is making money with DTG really this easy?
Yes and no. As you can see from our example, the concept of making money with DTG is pretty simple. Design a t-shirt, print it, and sell it for a profit. As with any business, however, you need to put in the work to build up your customer base and increase your sales.
The good news is that direct-to-garment printing offers plenty of opportunities for increasing revenue and building a scalable home business — meaning you can start small selling t-shirts to local schools and businesses and then even expand your business into a full-time enterprise.
So how do I sell 500 or even 1,000 t-shirts?
So you now understand the potential profits you can make with DTG, but how do you actually start selling t-shirts? And how many will you be able to sell? It’s all about building your customer base and one of the easiest ways to get started is to sell to your friends and family. Do you or someone you know have kids in grade school, high school, or college? Tell everyone you know that you can print great-looking custom t-shirts at an excellent price (be sure to plaster your awesome designs on your social media!) — and for every order that you get, remember to ALWAYS ask for referrals.
Some of our most successful customers ramped up their businesses simply through word of mouth. For example, Andre Howard, the owner of Design 2 Ink, purchased a Ricoh DTG printer and started his side business printing t-shirts while he continued to work full time. By focusing on networking and providing exceptional customer service, Andre found himself doing so much business that he quit his day job to focus on his DTG business full time — all only two months after financing his first printer.
Tonya and Troy Ferguson of Honeybee Print & Apparel have a very similar story. By selling t-shirts to their network of friends and family, they were able to build up so much business that they had to purchase a SECOND Ricoh DTG printer to keep up with demand only one month after purchasing their first machine.
The power of free samples
One of the best, tried-and-true tips for drumming up business is to give away a free t-shirt. When first starting out, many of our customers found this to be a highly effective method for building an initial customer base.
Come up with a design with your business name, contact information, and a message saying that you can print in unlimited color with no minimum order and no setup fees. Make sure to leave space for including an additional large logo. Target your local schools and businesses then proactively send or hand-deliver them a custom sample with their logo or mascot on it.
Because the shirt features their logo, they are likely to want to actually wear the t-shirt — and because you included your business name and short sales pitch on the t-shirt, they will know exactly who to contact when they’re ready to purchase custom t-shirts.
Speaking of FREE samples…
So now that you know the basics of how to make money with DTG, you probably have a lot of questions. Ricoh DTG not only specializes in manufacturing and supporting the best direct-to-garment printers in the industry; our team also prides itself on partnering with our customers. We are committed to ensuring that you hit the ground running in DTG and we’ll be at your side to support you as you grow your business.
Give our team a call at 1-877-381-9546 or contact us using the form below to request a deluxe sample print pack as well as information on pricing, eligibility for special discounts, and more advice on how to run your own successful t-shirt business using an award-winning Ricoh DTG printer.