Table of Contents
- 1 Choose Your Products
- 1.1 1. Customized Gifts
- 1.2 2. Phone Case</h3 Custom phone cases are in high demand these days. Many people look for their own custom phone casing designs that suit their requirements and personality. You can take advantage of the trend and start a phone casing business now.
- 1.3 3. Canvas Bags
- 1.4 4. Miscellaneous
- 1.5 5. Promotional Products
- 1.6 6. T-shirt Business
- 2 Target Demands
- 3 Business Opportunities
- 4 Make Plans
- 5 Choose Business Type
- 6 Set up your Work Area and Store
- 7 Design Choices
- 8 Some Common Mistakes to Avoid
- 9 Tips
- 10 Conclusion
Heat Printing is the most adopted technology in the modern textile industry. Earlier traditional screen printing was considered the best for business, but with the advancement in technology and new innovations, heat printing has recently become quite popular among business persons, not only because of the ease of setup and use but also because heat printing offers a lot of options.
To set up a heat printing business all you need is a good printer or plotter, a few necessary accessories like transfer paper and ink, and a good heat press machine. If you are planning to start your own heat printing business, first you must have a basic plan so that you can execute it perfectly. Especially if the whole business thing is completely new to you, you may have to face some challenges, and if not done the right way, you may end up with a great loss.
To help you set up your heat printing business I have created this basic guide to get started with printing business using a heat press machine. Given below are some of the most fundamental things that you must consider before getting started.
Choose Your Products
There are several different items that you can imprint on using your heat press machine and you can easily set up a business with your heat press. Here are some business ideas that you can go for:
1. Customized Gifts
Gifting is a tradition embedded in all society. Gift giving is the best way to portray any intention. With a heat press machine, you can create hundreds of gift items. For instance, you can make customized photo racks for your customers, key chains, plates, mugs, puzzles and so much more. In fact, you can open a small gift shop.
2. Phone Case</h3
Custom phone cases are in high demand these days. Many people look for their own custom phone casing designs that suit their requirements and personality. You can take advantage of the trend and start a phone casing business now.
3. Canvas Bags
Canvas bags or tote bags are quite popular among college going girls nowadays. The bags are imprinted with vibrant and colorful images and trendy designs. this is a very good idea for a heat printing business. You can also make custom bags for your clients.
There are many other random DIY products that you can choose for your business like glasses, mugs, caps, flower tiles, wood and so on. If you are a good crafter with lots of designs in your head then you can go with anything that you think buyers may be interested in.
5. Promotional Products
Many companies like to promote their logos on random products. Items such as umbrellas, beach chairs, scrubs, jackets, blankets etc. can be heat printed with the customers’ logos. This can be a great business idea as well.
6. T-shirt Business
Choosing heat printing as a method is the best option if you are planning to line up a T-shirt business. You can make your own personalized and custom t-shirts to generate high income.
Custom T-shirts can be created for sports teams, schools, other organizations and important events. A T-shirt business for small-scale orders may be run from home or from a larger workshop as your business grows.
After you have decided your business products, the next thing you must do is decide what to imprint. You should make sure what you really want to print the items. If the products won’t be personalized and you are going to sell items with random prints, this is a crucial part. You can focus on a particular niche. For instance, you can go for items with logos or images of football teams, legendary alliance games, famous quotes, funny quotes, etc.
Also, you can choose the prints based on a particular group of people like cyclists, men over a specific age group, women over a particular age group, Patriots, surfers, video games, cosplayers, doctors, and nurses. This way you’ll not be confused and be more focused on what you actually want. Movie or TV series quotes are always in high demand among the youths.
A good business doesn’t only need a quality production, but it also requires some basic things so that you can make it grow.
1. Good Location
Location and workspace are something that you would want to consider. A good work-area is necessary as you are going to have a lot of items that you’ll have to accommodate. You can’t work in a congested area as this will not only restrict your freedom to work and move freely but also you may lose your focus. Your work location must also be located in such an area that it’ll be easily accessible for transportation. Also, if you are going to set up your own store at your work location then make sure it’s located in an area whit good crowd.
Having your own store is always better. However, if you aren’t planning to have s store, you’ll have to approach other existing local stores to sell your T-shirts and other products. You must approach as many local stores as possible. Some of the stores that you can target are supply stores, local boutiques, bookstores, bowling alley, florists, shops in malls, etc.
You should propose to them that they can sell your products in their store with some percentage of profit, but you won’t charge them until the items are actually sold to the customers. This will put all risks on you and off the store owners. The idea may not sound so great to you but you are the one who wants to sell your products, so you must be ready to take some risk. If you don’t do that your items are anyways going sit in your house collecting only dust.
3. Create Design and Edit Images
Some customers will provide their own logos and designs for custom prints, but you’ll have to make your own if you are running a business. For heat printing, the designs and images have to be specially edited in your desktop using an image editing software. This is an important part and you must know how to do it right. If you don’t know how to do the editing, you can learn online or take some special classes for a couple of months. If your business is huge, and you can afford an extra hand then maybe you can also hire someone who is expert at this.
4. Business Passion
If you are going to start a particular business, first you must know if you have a passion for that or if you are really interested in making the particular products. If you aren’t, you’re most likely to not put in enough effort to make your heat printing business successful. Choose to make only those products that make you excited about producing and selling. Be it a business or some other task, if you are planning for long-term and you want to make it a big success, you should only go for the things that you are really passionate about.
Before setting up a particular business it’s important to know if you’ll have any benefit from it or not. For example, if you have started a heat printing business of a particular product, but instead of having profit, if you are going through losses then it’s not a good business. You must first make sure that you are going to get advantages from it.
If you are not so sure you can also attend some trade show and connect with and gain as many information as you can from experienced individuals in the heat printing industry. This way you will know how you can get maximum profit with your heat printing business. You must research about each product on your list and calculate the production cost and profit. Look for alternative ways to gain more profit without disappointing your customers.
Once you have identified a stable of products that you are expecting to deliver, it’s time to create a business plan. This could be the most crucial step to ensure business success. A plan outlined with clear goals, models, marketing strategies, sales and other methodical processes for growing the business.
1. Assess how Market Demands
Ask yourself if you have are logistically and financially capable of producing these products. Compared to several other types of digital decoration, setup costs and work-space for heat printing are low. However, you’ll have to invest in a printer, transfer paper, inks, substrates, a heat press, and software. The cost and size of these accessories may differ greatly depending on the product you are planning to produce.
You must also make sure that you have the right resources to effectively sell your products and keep up with the demand of your customers and as well as the nature of market demand. See if the people are driven more by personalization, or fulfillment, or an equal mixture of both.
Selling personalized items require different strategies and resources than selling products with designs for fulfillment. Production setups would also differ. If you are offering print-on-demand services, you can take your business mobile to fairs, events, and festivals where you can create and sell products on-site. For this type of production large heat presses and printers are not practical. You must plan and choose everything accordingly.
2. Compute Competition
It’s obvious that you are not the only person doing a business with a heat press machine. There may already be many who have a successful business. You are surely going to have a tough competition with the others. To make your business better you can do something different or bring better quality products that will attract more customers.
You’ll want to do some analysis about your competitors. If you are going to run an online business, make sure that your website has good contents and enough keywords to acquire a good ranking in the search engine. Finally, you can try to make your price more competitive and have better selling options like offers and sales.
3. Calculate Costs
Track the possible expenses and plan out how much money you’ll want or need to have upfront. You should also plan on your monthly expenses, for instance, if you are planning to have a website of your own, you must calculate your hosting cost.
Plan your business according to the amount of money that you can invest in your business. Some of the basic things that you can keep in mind while calculating the budget are equipment, business registration, website, business cards, web hosting, advertisements, resources, flyers, samples, and phone.
Try your best to detail everything and put aside some extra bucks for any unexpected expense whenever possible. Try to Keep track of your calculations over time. In fact, it’s a great idea to invest in some business accounting software if possible; it’ll help you in keeping track of your money.
When you are investing in your business make sure that capital recovery on the amount you are investing will be recovered as soon as possible. For example, if you are going to invest $50,000 in your business, you won’t get any profit until your $50,000 is recovered.
Break-even point is the point at which the total production cost and total revenue are equivalent. To make a profit from your business, it must surpass the break-even price. To surpass it, the selling price of each product must be higher than what you have paid for producing that particular product or its components so that the initial costs will be covered.
Now that you are at the point where you are ready to make money, this is quite an exciting time for you, but at the beginning, it’s pretty difficult to get customers. This is also the point where fear can take over you, resulting in a failed business. You must not lose hope and be determined. Here are few ways to bring out your business among people and attract customers.
- Talk About Your New Business
This is easy and it will surely work for you. You can talk about it to your friends, family, and neighbors and ask them to spread the word. write a few lines about your new business and what you are offering and memorize it. try to talk about it to strangers as well whenever you any long comfortable chat.
This is also very easy but needs a little more time. Attend as many events as you can. If there is a town hall meeting such as luncheon, dinner, social event, school board meeting, small business association, church group, school event or anything similar, go to it. Meet new people and let them know about your business. This will absolutely work
- Local Advertising
This is where you will be getting into investing money. Find some local areas where you can advertise your heat printing business within your budget. Following are some of the options:
- Local youth sports park
- Become a sponsor at a local charity event
- Small local print papers and publications
- Restroom signs in restaurants, clubs, and bars
- Sponsor a local sports team and a small league, like football, basketball etc
- Local parks and recreations
- Online Advertising
Online advertisement is the most lucrative, but also the most expensive. a lot of money could be spent online without actually getting any business or profit from it. Before choosing this option you must research and learn how the online advertising systems really work. If you are planning to advertise on Google, Facebook, or Bing, just make sure that you have learned how the sites work and remember to test your ads.
5. Financial Plan
This is an important consideration. Whether it’s for short term or long term, after planning your business and calculating your budget, make sure if you have enough capital to execute your plan. If you are in short of capital, the best thing you can do is look for an investor; it can even be your friends or family. You can also share your plan with them and ask them to join you for some percentage of the profit. However, if you find no liable investor, local money lenders are a good option. But if you have a strong business plan, the bank is always a good source for borrowing the capital. Compare the interest rates and go for the one charging the least.
6. DIY or Hire
If you are starting a small business from home or a side business with limited production, you can do everything yourself. From creating and editing designs to operating a heat press, you must be expert at every task.
But, if you have a plan for a large printing business with your own store or online business, may be you would want to consider hiring a couple of individuals to help you with the work, such as sellers, designers, advertisers, and engineers. This also depends on the size of your business and budget. At first, you may not need any, but slowly as the business starts to grow and you start getting orders in bulk, may be then you can hire them according to your requirement.
7. Tools and Supplies
To start a simple heat printing company with a heat press, you’ll need to invest in many machines and learn to operate them, and also some supplies for the project. If you don’t have the equipment and accessories already, here are the basic tools we know you’ll require:
- Heat Press Machine
This is the most important equipment that you’ll be investing in. This machine is used for doing the actual transfer. It works as a heat source for heat printing the design or image from a transfer to the substrate. There are varieties of heat press types that you could choose from.
There are usually three types of heat press models; clamshell, swinger, and draw. And there are also multifunctional models. Apart from the type, you should consider some factors like quality, pressure adjustability, temperature range, ease of use and more. If you are purchasing a heat press for the first time you can go through the Heat Press Machine Buying guide that I have created earlier to help the beginners.
You’ll need a standard desktop computer to create and edit your designs on. Nowadays laptops are also handy. Make sure that your computer has some good image editor software installed in it. Some plotters and printers also come with the software. If not, you’ll have to invest in the software separately.
A good cutter is recommended if you are going to work with vinyl transfers. The cutter helps in cutting out the design on the transfer paper. The cutter should be of professional grade if you desire precise results. Silhouette Cameo is ideal for novices as it’s easy to use and allow for flexibility, versatility, and affordability.
If you prefer sublimation then you would want to invest in a good inkjet, laser or dye-sublimation printer. You must choose according to the type of transfer that you’ll use in your business. Having a good quality printer is very important if you desire high-quality imprints.
The substrate is the item where you’ll imprint the design using a heat press. You’ll have to invest a lot in this as the larger your order, the more substrates you’ll need. You must also consider the quality of the substrate. The substrate must be good and durable for a lasting impression.
- Heat Transfer Papers
Transfer papers are where you’ll print or cut the design on. There are different types of transfers like vinyl transfers, sublimation papers, specialty papers, laser printer paper etc.
You should choose according to your affordability and flexibility.
You’ll need lots and lots of ink if you are planning a heat sublimation printing business. Choose vibrant colors. While choosing a printer, remember to check how many different colors that the printer can offer.
You must have sufficient supply of resources to run a long-term company. Supplies like transfer papers, t-shirts or other substrates will be needed in huge amount, especially if you are planning for set design production. Also, buying the supplies in bulk can be beneficial as you may get discounts. You can tie-up with the manufacturing companies of the supplies. It’ll be a win-win situation for both supplier and your business. Try to look for supplies with low costs but at the same time don’t compromise with the quality.
Choose Business Type
The type of business totally depends on your preference. You can sell your products online or offline or may be both if you can handle the pressure.
You can set up your shop via an eCommerce platform. in eCommerce transactions are mostly done online. This is a great idea if you don’t want more physical work on your side.
In online business, you can either choose to print your designs yourself or send it to printing websites to print your products at a very low cost. In this, you’ll have to focus mostly on sales and designs. a drop-shipper is a good option to ship your end products to your customers. The eCommerce platform will handle the transactions, so there is very less you need to take care of.
Online business setup can cost low less as well. You can set up your online business in as little as $150. The only drawback of an online business is that is that profits taken off from you will be more per sale of your products or merchandise. It is worth it only if you can do plenty of sales.
For this, you need to apply for a business license. You’ll also have to negotiate costs with your substrate wholesalers. You’ll have to get your own heat press as well.
In offline business, you have control over every aspect of your business. Finding wholesalers, creating designs, finding sales, printing the shirts and shipping will have to be done by you. There is a lot of work but you can outsource it by hiring helpers. If you go offline, 100% of the profit is yours.
The disadvantage of going offline is that the startup will need quite a high amount investment. Having both business license and resale license is a must, particularly in the US. My minimum estimation for an offline heat printing startup is about $700. Anything less than that would put you in a really tight spot. If your budget is low and you can’t afford to hire any help, all the tasks will have to be done by you.
Both Online and offline
Choosing both modes is a great way to successful business. You can sell in eCommerce platform and as well as offline. This way your business will go on in one way or the other. You’ll be able to attract more buyers this way. You may have more work to do, but also more profit to gain.
Set up your Work Area and Store
As you have planned for everything, it’s high time to set up your work-place and the store where you are going to sell your products. You’ll need many types of equipment for your business, so make sure that the location you choose has enough room for your machines and also for you to move around freely. If you don’t own such location then you can rent one. There are many commercial building estate agents whom you can contact.
Once you have got your workshop and store, make sure that you organize everything properly. Also, decorate your store to make it look more happening and attract customers.
Whether a T-shirt business or customized gifts shop, if you are starting a printing business, you must have good designs, logos or images. Without a good artwork to imprint, a printing business is a fail. You must be able to edit and alter the images. For this, you can learn how to use some graphic designing and image editing software like CorelDraw, Photoshop, etc.
CorelDraw is a vector graphics editor. It has been designed to create and edit two-dimensional images like logos and posters. CorelDraw is used by many designers and businessmen in creating their logos, banners, and designs. If you are starting a heat printing business, this software can be of great use to you.
Using CorelDraw: Some Basic Steps
- First, you must install the software on your desktop.
- To create a new document you can click File-> new or press ctrl-n or you can simply click the icon in the extreme upper left corner of the CorelDraw window, below the “file” menu.
- A dialog box then appears. In this box, you can put the name of your document and several other things.
- A rectangle with a drop shadow behind it will be there on the screen, which is the document. Pull down the drop-down at the upper left side and select “custom”. Near that pull-down, there will be two boxes with vertical and horizontal dimensions of the page. If laser etcher is used, you should set them to 24×18.
- Remember to “zero” the rulers by clicking on the point where the two rulers meet and dragging it towards the corner of the window.
- To add shapes you can click the box tool or freehand tool or ellipse tool or the polygon tool; on the toolbar.
- You can select the object on the window and edit its shape by clicking on its edge.
- To add any text you need to click the text tool and type the text you desire on the space that occurs.
- You can also add some images that are imported from your computer and converted into bitmaps. The bitmap is a collection of pixels.
- To save a document click on the file-> save as. When you have specified the file name you can click on the disk icon or type ctrl-S, or use File-> save.
You can outsource designs and designers from various websites like Elance, Fiverr, or dribble. For designs, Fiverr is the best option.
Fiverr is an online platform where you can find lots of things in as cheap as $5. there are many designers who sell their designs in Fiverr for a very cheap price. This is definitely a good choice for you if you are not expert in preparing designs.
How to Buy Designs in Fiverr
- First of all, you must create an account in Fiverr and log in using the user id that you have created in Fiverr.
- Once are logged in, you can find a Gig or designs by searching the website, or browsing through the thumbnails over the category or subcategory pages. Anything created in Fiverr is called Gig.
- Click the specific thumbnail of the Gig that you want to order.
- Once Gig page opens, read the description of the service that the seller is offering. Look at the work samples of the seller or customer reviews further down the page.
- If you have any doubt, I would advise contacting the seller before ordering.
- If you are ready to order, click Order Now or Proceed to Order option.
- In case the seller offers any extra service it’s also possible to upgrade your order. You need to click the plus icon to avail an extra service. The number of Gigs you would like can also be selected.
- Before clicking Proceed to Payment button make sure that you have reviewed your order. You can either pay your Fiverr balance or credit card or via PayPal.
- After your payment is complete, you must fill out your requirements so that the seller can start working. You can fill all the details in the given area and also attach files if necessary.
- Finally, the order will be delivered to you within the given time frame.
Some Common Mistakes to Avoid
I have come across many business persons whose businesses have ended with huge losses. Business may fail not only because of one mistake but for several different reasons. Here are some of the mistakes that you can avoid when planning a business with your heat press.
Unreasonable Marketing Strategy
When starting a business, many individuals make wrong planning with no proper strategy for sales and marketing. For example, some are unable to surpass their break-even points and meet their capital recovery. This happens when you fail to make right plans for marketing. So make sure you have a reasonable strategy to meet your business expectations.
Market Survey is Not Proper
When you have researched very less about the market and you have not carefully surveyed the market demands, you may end up choosing the wrong business and niche. If your product has no demand in the market, your business is surely going to a loss like many others.
Lack of Focus
Focus and passion are two things that you must have when you are starting a business. I have seen many lose their focus after a short while, resulting in business failure. even if your business is not gaining much profit, you must stay focus and not give up so soon.
Lack of Knowledge of Investments
Investment is something that you must properly calculate and strategize. Some end up investing more than the requirement on unnecessary aspects due to lack of knowledge of the market. You should be very specific about your budget and what you are going to invest on.
This is the most common mistakes done by many business start-ups. This happens due to lack of research and experience. You must learn about all the necessary equipment and tools and choose the best one for your work. Be it heat press, inks or even transfer papers, with the wrong machines and materials, your business will never be a success.
- Try to learn as much as you can. Talk to your friends and family who are already in some businesses. Seek suggestions from them. You can also join some online heat printing business forums.
- Keep track of everything. You can maintain a personal business diary or database.
- Start small with a few products, colors and simple designs. As your business starts to grow, add more designs, colors, and items.
- Start a business only if you can commit your time and labor.
- Always plan for the future and set goals. This way your business will grow faster.
The more you get involved, the larger your business will grow. The most important thing is to take action and get started. Everything else will start falling into place and you will surely be able to solve your problems along the way.