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Custom Screen Printed Transfers & More

Side Hustle Idea for Graphic Designers: Custom T-Shirt Printing

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Hey friends, Dave here with Transfer Express and today I want to talk about one of the easiest and profitable side hustles for graphic designers- printing t-shirts!

Now whether you’ve got some great art sitting around, or maybe you get asked by your clients if you offer t-shirts, either way, I’ll show you an easy way that you can say “yes!” and put some extra profit in your pocket printing apparel. Ready? Let’s get to it!

So, as a designer myself, I know some of the crazy requests we get from our clients- quick turns, sticker shock on design costs, out of the box ideas and well, the list can go on and on.

Which is why a profitable side-hustle could really be a huge benefit to your wallet while still being a familiar creative outlet- maybe even adding value to your services for your customers.

Now, you may have had some experience with printing t-shirts in the past- graphic design introduced me to screen printing many years ago back in art school, but those big press setups, inks, emulsions, darkrooms, squeegees and clean up aren’t necessarily a quick and easy side-hustle to start. Not to mention the learning curve of figuring it all out.

No need to worry, because that’s where screen printed heat transfers come in. Equipped with just a heat press- you can print custom t-shirts on demand when needed, in virtually any quantity. From printing and fulfilling orders from online stores or even bulk runs, it’s all possible.

Heat presses are fairly affordable to pick up and can pretty much print money for you. Even if you don't have one, you can visit a local library in your area. Odds are they have a makerspace that’s got a heat press in it.

As you can see here, this heat press takes up maybe 4 square feet tops, perfect for fitting in the garage, apartments, your basement or spare bedroom. With screen printed heat transfers, like the (Goof Proof® transfers we’ll be using today) you get the benefits of screen printing without doing the work. Seriously, it’s plastisol ink, so it looks, feels and wears just like a real screen print. Don’t believe me? You can request free samples right here you can try for yourself. These transfers can print on any color of tees, tote bags, hoodies, sweatshirts and pretty much anything you can fit on a heat press as long as its cotton, polyester or a cotton/poly blend.

Essentially, all you have to do is upload artwork, as a vector pdf, svg or ai file, or even raster artwork, too! Here you can see we have two sizes of transfers here at Transfer Express, 11.25 x 14” or a jumbo 12.5 x 17.5” sheet. Now anything that fits on these sheets is included in the price, allowing you to fit different artwork, inside tag prints or maybe even some left chest prints here on your sheet. Maybe you’re printing for a client- they’re paying for the print, but you can sneak your own logos on there too for some free printing!

Keep in mind, it’s screen printing, so the more colors you add in your artwork, the more expensive it gets- no need to worry though, there’s full color transfers like our UltraColor Max™ direct to film prints that keep costs low, regardless of the colors in your designs.

All you have to do is upload your art. With just a minimum quantity of 6 for Goof Proof screen printed transfers, so you don’t need high quantities to start. Even if you need lower than that those, UltraColor Max™ full color transfers I mentioned have no minimum quantities, so you can order just 1!

After you upload and order, the transfers arrive ready to print- no weeding or cutting like with heat transfer vinyl.

Now we can print. All you’ll need is some blank garments. You can buy wholesale at a ton of places on the internet, but many require a business license or resellers certificate… no worries! At, you can pick up blanks at wholesale pricing without the need for all that- with free shipping once you hit a certain dollar amount, too!

Next, we put our shirt on the press, prepress to remove moisture and wrinkles, align our transfer and print.

It’s easy to get spot on placements with some simple tips. In easy-to-follow YouTube videos, just like this one. There’s no days, weeks or months learning to master it.

With just 4-6 seconds of pressing, our t-shirt is printed! How easy is that?!

Now let’s say this t-shirt we have here, is around $3.50 blank, and our transfer cost- divided by the 3 main pieces of art on our gang sheet comes out to around $2 per print, with only ordering 12 sheets. That’s $5.50 for a printed t-shirt that we’re going to turn around and sell for $20. That’s $14.50 in profit on just one shirt! With this one order, 12 quantity, with 3 main graphics (two of these as left chests) we can print 36 shirts. 36 times $14.50 in profit is over $500 in our wallet!

Whether you’re selling online or selling wholesale custom orders to your clients, printing t-shirts with a heat press is a great way to expand your services and profits, all with just a couple minutes of your time.

Now, after 17 years of designing, I’ve seen some things, and one of those is clients saying “I'm not sure what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it”- does that sound familiar? Well, graphic design isn’t Netflix here, working up some concepts shouldn’t be done for free. With having to research, whip up some quick drafts and send them over, just to have the client send a Google image saying, “I was thinking something more along these lines...”

That’s where our Idea Book™ and online designer comes in. Having a catalog of artwork you can use as examples, then just easily edit them with a couple clicks can really help take some of those simpler designs off your plate quickly, allowing you to spend more time doing what you do best.

Be sure to subscribe to the Transfer Express YouTube page to stay up to date on all of the helpful t-shirt printing tips, tricks, inspiration and education that we’re dropping every single week. Until next time, I’m Dave, happy pressing!

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