Launching A Side Hustle T-Shirt Business

Have you ever thought about starting a t-shirt business?    Starting a side hustle t-shirt business is a great way to tap into your creativity and earn extra income.  We recently visited several large t-shirt businesses in our Heat Press Transformation series and learned they all started their business as a side hustle.   With a little planning and determination, you too can turn your passion and connections into a lucrative sideline.

Let’s take a look at the steps to start your own business as a side hustle.

Define Your Niche and Audience

This step is crucial for creating designs and marketing your products.   Consider your interests, hobbies, and identify a niche that resonates with you.  One of our customers started their side hustle t-shirt business when one of their kids started travel baseball.   She saw the need for spirit wear for the parents and players of her own team.    She created the designs and sold to her own team first.   Soon, other teams were asking her to do the same for their team.

Market Research

Once you have chosen your niche do a little research to see who else is doing the same.   Take a look at what they offer, the prices, and their customers.    Is there room for you to do the same or do you need to define your own niche a little better.  Use online tools such as google trends, and social media.  Talk to friends and family members to see what they think.

Design Your Shirts

Here at Transfer Express, we have made this step easy fo you.   Our online designer, Easy View, is free to use.    You can customize templates our design team has created or use the clip art and fonts to design your own.   The best part is that no experience is needed.    You can create some great looking designs in a matter of minutes.    Share them on your own social media to see what others think.    If you are a designer, you can also upload your own art into Easy View, when you are ready to order.    You can start taking orders before you have made any type of purchase.

Source Your Supplies

The first thing you need Is a heat press.   This will be the cornerstone of your success.   Since this is your only expense to really get started get the best your budget allows right from the start.    A good heat press will last you years.

Decide where you will order your wholesale apparel and transfers.   It is relatively easy to get a tax id number from your local government so you can make these purchases without paying sales tax.    But if you have not got that far, no problem, you can buy blank wholesale apparel and transfers at

Print On Demand

Your business model will most likely use a combination of print on demand service and bulk printing.    If you are doing team Spiritwear, you may set a deadline that orders need placed.   This will give you a bulk printing starting point.   Round up to the next price break and utilize gang sheets to increase your offerings and profit.   This way you will have extras to print on demand as others see your finished product.  In most cases your initial order will have paid for the printed transfers and these additional print on demand items will be even more profitable.

Build An Online Presence

Most likely you will need some sort of online tool to sell your items.   Use a platform like spirit sale so that customers can safely and securely place orders.    Or your business model might be event sales and social media might be a tool to get purchasers to your event.    Our mom that started selling spirit wear to the travel team, started with an old school order form.

Monitor and Adapt

Your business will change as you gain more experience and finds out what works best for you.    Track sales and gather feedback from customers.   Stay updated on industry trends and adapt to a changing market.    Both Stahls’ and Transfer Express offer tons of education on their YouTube channels and hold monthly online classes called webinars.   These are not only great learning tools but gives you a chance to hear from other side hustles.

With a small investment in a heat press and a little research you will be ready to start your side hustle t-shirt business.   Who knows, maybe it will quickly grow into a full time career!

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