Start A T-Shirt Business With CafePress

It is now possible to start a t-shirt business with just a few clicks of the mouse and within 30 minutes have your own online store up and running.

If you want to start a t-shirt business or curious about starting your own a clothing line, there are a number of reputable print-on-demand online vendor to consider:


CafePress has 6.5 million members who each have their own online storefront – a webpage – where people can buy their original designs.

CafePress makes it easy to start a t-shirt business from the comfort of your own home. They are popular because there are no upfront fees or manufacturing costs. Basic membership is free but there is also a premium service option which offers enhanced capabilities.

Each member uploads their own customized design and then selects some, or all, of the stock merchandise for it to be made available on.

There is a very wide range of items that you put your design on, from hats, t-shirts and hoodies, tank tops, clothing for kids, clothing for pets, cards, mugs and more. Browse the site’s catalogue for ideas and to preview a design on any product.

While their wholesale prices may be higher than other t-shirt printing companies, they do use American Apparel brand clothing. The key benefit is that there is no minimum product order.

CafePress makes it possible to design and order fifty t-shirts on behalf of a group (or just one for yourself), but also offers the opportunity to start a t-shirt business just as easily.

Because there is no minimum product order or membership fee, you can upload and offer for sale as many designs as you like without any financial risk. You don’t even have to diligently maintain your store once it’s set up and you can still be making money.

CafePress handles the entire online sales process, ships directly to the customer, and deposits your profits regularly and securely via Paypal.

For a small monthly fee you can open a Premium Shop, which enables you to offer a broader selection of items as well as customize your online store’s page to suit your company’s colors and image.

Making Money

CafePress sets the wholesale prices for each item but you get to determine the retail price and keep the difference. The average profit margin for a reasonably priced t-shirt is around $5.

As with launching any other business, you need to determine how you will generate sales.

Bulk orders offer higher profit margins and can be lucrative, especially if the shirts have been pre-sold to a group or company.

Many people have developed profitable businesses selling corporate promotional items made by print-on-demand companies.

While CafePress does have a searchable online catalogue of all products in its database, there is no guarantee that many people will discover your designs this way.

How will you drive traffic to your site? Publicity and word of mouth are the fastest options, provided people know where to find your designs. Viral marketing (which is basically word of mouth online) is great for online sales because if people like what they see, they can immediately place their order with just a few clicks.

If you anticipate the majority of your sales occurring online, you might want to buy a domain name (for about $10) and then use it to redirect visitors to your online store at CafePress. We recommend the redirect because then you can choose a short, catchy www address that will be easier to publicize and remember.

If it’s appropriate, we recommend letting people know where the shirt came from by incorporating a website address into the graphic. This can help your business gain momentum as more and more people comment on the shirts, some of whom will then visit your online store. Choosing good descriptive keywords for your descriptions will also help the major search engines find you.

In addition to giving you access to everything you need to start a t-shirt business, CafePress also offers online help, tips and tutorials to assist you to more effectively design and sell your products.

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