How Much Do I Need to Start a DTG T-Shirt Business? A Comprehensive Guide to Funding Your Venture

Starting a DTG T-Shirt business can be a fun and rewarding experience for those who love fashion and entrepreneurship. Whether you’re considering starting your own brand or just want to create custom t-shirts for a family reunion, there’s a market for these products. But before jumping in headfirst, it’s essential to know how much money you need to start a DTG T-Shirt business.

With the increase in demand for custom t-shirts, the DTG T-Shirt printing business is becoming more popular. The digital printing technology used in this business allows you to create high-quality designs with vibrant colors that don’t fade quickly. Starting a DTG T-Shirt business can be done from home or a small storefront. Still, regardless of where you choose to set up shop, the cost to start can add up quickly.

To start a DTG T-Shirt business, the initial investment is dependent on the size of the operation. If you’re starting a home-based business, you can get started for as little as $5,000. However, if you’re looking to open up a storefront, the cost will be significantly higher. You’ll need to factor in the cost of equipment, supplies, marketing, and employees. While it may seem like a hefty investment, the demand for custom t-shirts continues to grow. Investing in a DTG T-Shirt business could be the start of a successful and fulfilling career.

Cost of DTG Printers

One of the most significant expenses of starting a DTG t-shirt business is the cost of the DTG printer. DTG printers are advanced machines that use specialized inkjet technology to print designs onto garments. These printers vary in price depending on several factors, including their features, brand, and printing capabilities.

If you are new to the DTG printing industry, it can be challenging to determine which printer will meet your needs while staying within your budget. Some of the factors that can affect the cost of a DTG printer include:

  • The brand of the printer: Popular brands like Epson, Brother, and Ricoh typically have higher prices than lesser-known brands.
  • The printing capabilities: High-end DTG printers can print up to 100 t-shirts per hour, while entry-level printers may only be capable of printing a few shirts per hour.
  • The number of print heads: The more print heads a printer has, the faster it can print, but the more expensive it tends to be.

Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 for a high-quality DTG printer. However, it is important to note that you should not base your purchase solely on price. Consider the printer’s capabilities and which models will best align with your business goals.

DTG Printer Brand Price Range
Epson SureColor F2000 $15,000-$25,000
Ricoh Ri 6000 $20,000-$25,000
Brother GTX $19,000-$32,000

Investing in a high-quality DTG printer will help ensure that your t-shirt designs look professional and last a long time. However, remember that the cost of the printer is only one aspect of your overall investment. You will also need to factor in expenses like t-shirt blanks, ink, software, and maintenance costs.

DTG Ink Costs

Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing is a popular method for printing t-shirts and other apparel items. Unlike traditional screen printing or heat transfer methods, DTG printing involves printing the design directly onto the fabric using specialized inkjet printers. When starting a DTG t-shirt business, ink costs can be a significant expense to consider. Here are some important things to know about DTG ink costs:

  • DTG ink is typically more expensive than traditional screen printing inks. This is because DTG inks are specially formulated to work with the inkjet printers and to adhere to the fabric in a way that is durable and long-lasting.
  • DTG ink costs can vary depending on the brand and type of ink. Some popular brands of DTG ink include Epson, Dupont, and Image Armor. Each brand may offer different types of ink for various fabric types and colors.
  • DTG ink costs can also depend on the amount of ink used in each print. Depending on the design, the amount of ink required could be more or less, and this will affect the overall cost of each print.

It is essential to budget for DTG ink costs when starting a t-shirt business. To get a better idea of the potential costs, it is a good idea to compare prices from various suppliers and ink brands. And keep in mind that while DTG ink costs may be higher than traditional screen printing inks, the quality and versatility of DTG printing make it a worthwhile investment.

To get an idea of the amount of ink used in each print, here is an example cost breakdown for a basic black t-shirt design:

Ink Cost per Print Amount of Ink Used per Print Total Ink Cost (for 100 prints)
$0.25 15ml $25

While this is just an example, it illustrates the need to factor in DTG ink costs when creating a pricing strategy for your t-shirt business.

Cost of blank T-shirts

When starting a DTG t-shirt business, the cost of blank t-shirts is a crucial aspect to consider. Blank t-shirts are the foundation of your business, and their quality and cost can affect the success of your business.

  • The cost of blank t-shirts varies based on the brand, quality, and quantity purchased.
  • The cost per t-shirt can range from $1.50 to $5.00, depending on the factors mentioned above.
  • It is essential to consider the quality of the t-shirts when purchasing in bulk. A low-quality t-shirt may result in poor prints, which can affect your business’s reputation and revenue.

It is recommended to invest in quality blank t-shirts that are comfortable and durable to ensure customer satisfaction. Also, consider purchasing a variety of sizes and colors to cater to different customer preferences.

T-shirt brand Cost per t-shirt Quality
Gildan $1.50-$3.50 Medium
Bella+Canvas $2.50-$5.00 High
Next Level Apparel $2.00-$4.50 High

Research and compare prices and quality of blank t-shirts from different suppliers before making a purchase. By investing in quality blank t-shirts at a reasonable cost, you can produce high-quality prints, retain customers, and boost revenue.

Shipping and Handling Costs

Shipping and handling costs are a crucial aspect of any business that deals with buying and selling physical products. In a DTG T-shirt business, these costs are also an essential consideration that affects the profitability of the enterprise. Here are some key points to keep in mind when calculating your shipping and handling costs:

  • Shipping costs vary depending on the size and weight of your T-shirts. A typical DTG T-shirt weighs around 200-300 grams, and you can use this as a benchmark for your calculations.
  • The distance between your location and the customer’s location is also a significant factor. Shipping costs increase proportionally with the distance.
  • The shipping method you choose affects your costs. For example, express shipping is more expensive than standard shipping but can be a deciding factor for customers who value speedy delivery.

Another aspect of shipping and handling costs is packaging. You need to use quality materials that can protect your T-shirts during transportation. Along with packaging, there are also handling costs to consider. This includes the time and effort required to prepare and send the product, such as printing labels, scheduling pick-ups, and communicating with the customer.

One way to save on shipping costs is to negotiate with your shipping provider. Many companies offer discounts for bulk shipments or provide flat rates for specific zones or distances. You can also try to consolidate orders and limit the number of shipments to reduce costs.

Factors Costs
T-shirt weight & size Varies depending on each DTG provider
Distance between your location and the customer’s location Differs based on the shipping company used
Shipping method Express shipping is more expensive than standard shipping
Packaging Materials Varies depending on the quality of materials you use
Handling Costs Time and effort required to prepare shipments and communicate with customers

Overall, understanding shipping and handling costs is imperative for developing a profitable DTG T-shirt business. By factoring in all the costs involved, you can provide competitive pricing for your customers and still generate a healthy profit for your business.

Equipment Costs (Heat Press, Pre-Treatment Machine, etc.)

Starting a DTG t-shirt business requires a significant initial investment in equipment. You need to purchase various items to get started and set up your business. The following list outlines equipment costs when starting a DTG t-shirt business.

  • DTG printer – $10,000 to $30,000
  • Heat press – $700 to $3,000
  • Pre-treatment machine – $1,500 to $3,000
  • Computer with design software – $1,000 to $2,000
  • Screens and ink – $1,000 to $3,000

Investing in a DTG printer is the most significant cost when starting a DTG t-shirt business. Printer prices vary depending on the features they offer, with prices ranging from $10,000 to $30,000. The heat press machine is another crucial piece of equipment in a DTG printing business. Prices of heat press machines vary based on their size, features, and quality. For instance, some heat presses will cost you around $700, while others can go up to $3,000.

Pre-treatment machines are also essential in DTG printing. They are responsible for preparing the fabric for the printing process. Prices of pre-treatment machines range from $1,500 to $3,000. You’ll also need a computer equipped with design software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, which costs around $1,000 to $2,000.

Finally, you need high-quality ink and screens to produce vibrant and long-lasting prints. Ink and screen costs vary depending on the brand and quality. Typically, it will cost you around $1,000 to $3,000 to purchase ink and screens.

Equipment Low-end Cost High-end Cost
DTG printer $10,000 $30,000
Heat press $700 $3,000
Pre-treatment machine $1,500 $3,000
Computer with design software $1,000 $2,000
Screens and ink $1,000 $3,000

In conclusion, starting a DTG t-shirt business requires a significant investment in equipment. The cost of equipment varies based on the brand, quality, and features. Investing in high-quality equipment is essential to produce top-notch prints and run a successful business.

Marketing and Advertising Costs

Marketing and advertising are crucial elements of business success, regardless of the industry you are in. However, in a highly competitive market such as the DTG t-shirt printing industry, effective marketing and advertising can make all the difference. In general, the cost of marketing and advertising for a DTG t-shirt business will depend on various factors such as the size of the business, the target market, and the marketing channels used.

  • Social Media Marketing: Social media is a powerful tool for marketing and advertising. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest can be used to showcase products, promote special offers, and engage with customers. Although creating a social media account is free, running ads on these platforms can be costly. On average, a social media campaign can cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000 per month.
  • Print Advertising: Print advertising involves placing ads in newspapers, magazines, and other print media. This type of advertising can be expensive, especially if you choose a well-circulated publication. The cost of print advertising can range from $500 to $20,000 per ad depending on the publication.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO involves optimizing your website to rank higher on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. The cost of SEO can vary depending on the level of competition for the targeted keywords. On average, SEO services can cost anywhere from $500 to $10,000 per month.

In addition to these marketing channels, there are other advertising costs that a DTG t-shirt business may incur. These include billboards, radio ads, television ads, and direct mail advertising. Each of these channels comes with its cost, and it is up to the business to decide which will be the most effective in reaching their target audience.

It is important to note that advertising and marketing costs may change over time. As the business grows and expands its customer base, the need for marketing and advertising may increase. It is crucial to allocate a substantial amount of resources to these efforts to ensure that the business is visible to potential customers.

Cost Item Average Cost
Social Media Marketing $500 – $5,000 per month
Print Advertising $500 – $20,000 per ad
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) $500 – $10,000 per month

Investing in marketing and advertising is crucial for the success of any business, including a DTG t-shirt printing business. The cost of these efforts will depend on several factors, including the marketing channels used, the target market, and the size of the business. It is important to allocate a substantial amount of resources to these efforts to ensure that the business is visible to potential customers.

Business License and Permits

If you are starting a DTG T-shirt business, you need to have a clear understanding of the licenses and permits required to operate legally. Failing to obtain the necessary permits and licenses can result in legal complications, which may ruin your business before it becomes established.

Here are some of the licenses and permits required to start a DTG T-shirt business:

  • Business license: This is the most basic permit required to operate any business. A business license ensures you are legally running your business and complying with local laws and regulations. The cost of obtaining a business license varies depending on the state or locality.
  • Sales tax license: If you plan to sell products, including T-shirts, and collect sales tax, you need to obtain a sales tax license. This permit enables you to collect and remit taxes to state agencies. The tax rates depend on the state or locality where you operate your business.
  • Trademark registration: If you want to use slogans, logos, or images, you need to register for a trademark. This safeguard your business legally from trademark infringement.
  • Federal and state workplace compliance: As an employer, you will also need to comply with federal and state labor laws and obtain the necessary permits required in this regard. These include OSHA permits, wages, toxic substances, etc.

Additionally, it is essential to check with your local authorities on the specific licenses and permits needed to start a DTG T-shirt business. Obtaining the necessary permits can delay operations and increase expenses. Therefore careful research is required for permits and licenses to avoid complications in your business.

Licenses/Permits Costs Validity Period
Business license Varies by location Annual
Sales tax license Varies by location Annual
Trademark registration Starts at $250, up to $2,000 10 years
OSHA permits Varies by company size and industry Varies depending on permit

It is highly recommendable for you to hire a reputable attorney or accountant to ensure that you comply with all applicable regulations when launching a DTG T-shirt businesses. This will ensure you operate your business legally and avoid any legal complications in the future.

Software and Design Costs

When starting a DTG t-shirt business, software and design costs are essential for success. While it is possible to operate without these tools, it is highly recommended to invest in them for better quality designs and higher efficiency. Below are some essential costs to consider in this category:

  • Design Software: The first and most crucial software cost is design software. Programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are standard choices in the industry. A subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud can cost around $20-$50 per month, depending on the plan selected.
  • RIP Software: Another essential software for DTG printing is RIP software, which allows printers to control ink output and color management. Prices for RIP software can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the program’s capabilities.
  • Fonts and Graphics: To create unique and professional designs, it is often necessary to purchase fonts and graphics. Websites like Creative Market and Graphic River offer a variety of options for purchase, with prices ranging from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars.

Design Costs

Design costs are another crucial factor to consider when starting a DTG t-shirt business. It is not uncommon for businesses to outsource their design work, but it can lead to higher costs and less control over the final product. Here are some essential design costs to consider:

  • Staff or Freelancer: The cost of hiring a staff designer or freelance graphic designer will vary depending on the designer’s skill level and experience. You can expect to pay anywhere from $25-$100 per hour or a flat fee per design.
  • Equipment and Supplies: In addition to labor costs, design equipment and supplies also come with a price tag. The costs of printing paper and ink, printing screens, and other supplies can add up over time.

Choosing the Right Software and Design Tools

When selecting software and design tools for your DTG printing business, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Different businesses have different priorities and budgets. Some businesses may opt for more affordable alternatives like GIMP or Inkscape, while others may invest in the full Adobe Suite for total design control. Here are some factors to consider when choosing software and design tools:

  • Cost: Determine how much you are willing to spend on software and design tools.
  • User Interface: Consider the software’s user interface and ease of use.
  • Capabilities: Consider the software’s capabilities and the features you need for your business.


While software and design costs are undoubtedly essential components of starting a DTG t-shirt business, the investment is worth it for high-quality, professional designs. It’s crucial to weigh your budget, business needs, and design goals when selecting the right software and design tools for your business.

Costs Average Price Range
Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription $20-$50/month
RIP Software $500-$6000
Font and Graphics Libraries $5-$500 per product
Staff or Freelance Designer Hourly Rate $25-$100

Table 1: Average prices of software and design costs for a DTG t-shirt business.

Rent for a Commercial Space

When starting a DTG t-shirt business, one of the biggest expenses you will face is the cost of rent for a commercial space. While it can be tempting to work from home, it’s not always practical or legal. To run a successful DTG business, you need a space that is big enough to house your equipment and supplies, and that is accessible to customers

  • The amount of rent you will pay for a commercial space will depend on several factors, including the location, size, and condition of the space. In general, larger spaces in prime locations will cost more than smaller spaces in less desirable areas.
  • Another factor that will affect your rent is whether you choose to lease or buy your space. Leasing your space can be a good option if you don’t have a lot of capital to invest upfront, but it can also be more expensive over the long term.
  • When shopping for a commercial space, it’s important to take the time to research your options and find a space that meets your needs and budget. You may also want to consider working with a commercial real estate agent who can help you find the best possible space at the best possible price.

Before signing a lease or buying a space, it’s also important to carefully review the terms of the agreement and make sure you understand all of the costs associated with renting or owning the space. These may include utilities, property taxes, maintenance fees, and insurance.

Here is a breakdown of the average cost of commercial rent for various locations around the US:

Location Average Rent Cost/Sq. ft. (per year)
New York City $100-$300
Los Angeles $30-$80
Chicago $10-$35
Miami $10-$25
Dallas $15-$25
Atlanta $15-$25

Keep in mind that these are just averages and that the cost of rent may vary based on a number of factors. The key is to do your research and find a space that meets your needs and fits your budget.

Employee Salaries and Benefits

One of the biggest expenses when starting a DTG t-shirt business is employee salaries and benefits. As a business owner, you will need to decide how many employees you need, what roles they will fill, and how much you can afford to pay them.

Here are some key factors to consider when determining employee salaries and benefits:

  • Experience and skill level of employees
  • Location of your business
  • Industry averages for salaries and benefits

When it comes to salaries, you should research industry averages for each position you plan to hire. This will give you a good idea of what you can expect to pay your employees. Keep in mind that experienced employees will generally command higher salaries than those just starting out.

In addition to salaries, you will also need to consider benefits for your employees. Benefits could include health insurance, paid time off, retirement plans, and more. Offering a comprehensive benefits package can help you attract and retain top talent, but it can also be expensive. You’ll need to weigh the cost of benefits against the value they bring to your business.

To help you get started, here is a table outlining industry averages for salaries in the screen printing and embroidery industry:

Position Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Salary
Screen Printer $13.02 $27,060
Embroidery Machine Operator $12.41 $25,800
Graphic Designer $17.14 $35,650

Remember that these are just averages, and salaries can vary widely depending on experience, location, and other factors. It’s always best to do your own research and determine what makes sense for your business.

How Much Do I Need to Start a DTG T-Shirt Business?

1. How much does a DTG printer cost?

DTG printers can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. The cost of the printer will depend on factors such as the size, quality, and features of the machine.

2. What other equipment is needed for a DTG T-Shirt business?

In addition to the printer, you will need a computer with graphic design software, a heat press, and a pretreatment machine. These additional equipment can cost several thousand dollars.

3. Are there any other costs associated with starting a DTG T-Shirt business?

Yes, you will also need to purchase t-shirts, ink cartridges, pretreatment solution, and other supplies. These costs can vary depending on the volume of business you plan to do.

4. How much space do I need for a DTG T-Shirt business?

You will need enough room for the printer, heat press, and other equipment. A small space of at least 100 square feet is recommended to start with.

5. How much money can I make with a DTG T-Shirt business?

The amount of money you can make will depend on the volume of business you generate, the pricing of your t-shirts, and the expenses associated with your business.

6. How long does it take to learn how to use a DTG printer?

Learning how to use a DTG printer can take several months. It is recommended to take a training course or hire someone who is experienced to help you.

7. Is a DTG T-Shirt business a good investment?

Starting a DTG T-Shirt business can be a good investment if you have a strong business plan and marketing strategy. It can also be a fun and rewarding way to express your creativity.

The Bottom Line

Starting a DTG T-Shirt business can be a major investment, but it can also be a rewarding and lucrative venture. Whether you’re looking to start a full-time business or a part-time hobby, it is important to research your options and understand the costs involved. Thanks for reading, and be sure to visit again for more information on starting your own business.