Tips for Starting a DTG Business

A direct-to-garment printer allows entrepreneurs to apply brighter, more durable colors to clothing at a much quicker pace than heat press, vinyl, or sublimation methods can. (And honestly, it sounds pretty magical to literally run a T-shirt through a printer.) Here are a few points to consider if you’re thinking about starting a DTG business of your own.

Write Down a Business Plan

Before you do anything else, write out a business plan. This will help you map out what you’re selling, who’s buying, how much money you’ll make, and what you need to do to get there.

A business plan can be as straightforward or as complicated as the operation it’s outlining, but if you’re just aiming to run a small shop for now, you can keep it pretty streamlined. For a DTG business, consider:

  • Who is your customer? You could target music fans, dads who like funny T-shirts, moms who shop on Etsy, people buying matching shirts for family vacations, businesses, charity events, etc. Knowing who you want to buy your products will empower you to make the best decisions for your customer.
  • Where will you sell your products? Almost 60% of consumers prefer to shop online, and that’s good news for you: it’s possible to reach more customers through platforms like Etsy, Facebook, Shopify, or even your own website. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also sell from a booth at local craft fairs or farmers markets. Whatever you decide, you should set up shop wherever you’re most likely to find your preferred customer.
  • Where can you source designs? Artwork is a big part of the equation for a DTG business—will you make your own custom designs or license content from other designers? There are pros and cons to both paths, depending on your skillset and your customer. If you begin designing your own work, look into free platforms like GIMP,, or Paintshop Pro before spending money on an Adobe subscription. If you plan to purchase designs, you can look to stock image sites or design platforms like Canva. Whatever you do, be careful to avoid costly image licensing hassles and plagiarism.
  • How much money do you need to make? This is where it starts to get technical. Seek out the materials you’ll need (garments, ink, equipment, designs, and so on), and compile a rough estimate of how much it will cost to make each shirt. Then, compare that number against what your competition charges per shirt. That should give you an idea of how much you’ll need for operating expenses (cost per shirt) and how much gross profit you can expect for each sale. Once that’s done, look into sales tax for your state, county, and city, as well as any required licensing fees, and deduct that from your gross profit. The resulting number will be your net profit. That’s the amount of money you would take home. If it’s enough to be worth your while, great! If not, maybe rebalance what you need to spend on materials or increase your price point.

Get the Right Equipment

Once you’ve determined that your business plan is solid, it’s time to get the most important piece of the plan: a DTG printer. Costs vary widely, with some professional-level printers totaling six figures, but you can expect an entry-level printer to cost around $5,000. That’s a significant investment, but if you plan to print hundreds of objects over several years, it makes more sense.

What if you don’t have several thousand dollars available to spend on a DTG printer? You can always investigate equipment-specific leasing. Because the equipment itself is the collateral, you don’t have to put up a down payment or risk your other assets. Plus, there’s no hard credit pull with Clicklease, which means even credit-challenged entrepreneurs can get approved. And you can pick a monthly payment that works for your business plan.

Ready to take the leap and make a big-ticket equipment purchase without the big-ticket hassle? Contact Clicklease today.

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