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7 Low-Cost Steps on How To Start A Design Printing Business

A design printing business can serve as either a primary or secondary source of income. You have a choice of participating in the design and printing design yourself or to outsource these services through dropshipping. Manual participation will increase your start-up costs. Purchase and setup costs often range around $1,000. 

However, you can start an online design printing store and the start-up costs are a lot lower than the ones in the traditional business model. You will not incur any inventory costs, rent or machinery, and equipment. The dropshipping model in a design printing business lets you open your own online store and you have ready suppliers who will provide the product, for example, a t-shirt, then print it, and ship it to the customer under your name. 

You will only pay the supplier once the customer makes the payment. The supplier will charge you a wholesale rate on the products and services. You will set your price as you see fit and earn from the margin between price and supplier costs. Furthermore, you will pay for subscription packages when you sign up on dropshipping websites. 

Design Printing

The following guide has 7 detailed steps to help you start a design printing business with low start-up costs. 

1. Select A Platform To Start Your Design Printing Business

The main reason you should create a design printing business in the digital market space is to cut on inventory costs. Thus, as you assess the various platforms, ensure you settle on one that has dropshipping services. 

Some platforms are owned by a supplier and other platforms could host multiple suppliers. Select a supplier based on the following factors:

  • The t-shirt or item variety from the supplier 
  • Item quality
  • The unit price
  • Cost of printing
  • Print quality
  • Shipping charges

Supplier platforms to consider

We recommend that before you settle on one given platform, you should identify your needs and complete this guide. 

  1. Shopify

Shopify is one of the most established dropshipping platforms. You can start a design printing business and expand into dropshipping many other items. Shopify has multiple integrations that help you optimize the performance of your store. You can also integrate other suppliers like Amazon into your store. 

  • TeeSpring

TeeSpring is a platform that offers in-house supplier services including dropshipping. It limits you to the products they offer and you cannot sell under your own brand. There are a lot of platforms that have adopted this model. 

  • TeeChip

TeeChip offers multiple products and dropships them to your customers. You can use their designs or import your own on mugs, t-shirts, books, hoods and more. It has a print on demand drop shipping model

  • Printful

Printful is a platform that deals with apparel like t-shirts. You can also sell canvas and bags. It has products of reputable quality. Furthermore, your store has an app version that provides a wider market reach as most people make purchases using mobile devices. 

2. Choose A Market Niche

Who is your target market? For example, our target audience here at amabusinessguy.com is investors, entrepreneurs, and business students. Having a target audience will give your brand a strategic position and a competitive edge over other design printing entrepreneurs.  

You can select a target market based on factors like:

  • Culture
  • Age
  • Religion
  • Current events
  • Demography

3. Make Your Designs Simple And Unique

A large number of customers buying design printing merchandise prefer simple and unique designs.there are a few who prefer intricate designs but your design process should mainly focus on making simple and unique designs. Rely on color schemes and texts to create unique designs with a message.

The design process includes: 

  • Research

You can rely on the following research questions to help you understand your audience and come up with relevant designs. What is your audience interested in? What are some of their current events? What are they amused by?

  • Sources of inspiration 

You can modify existing designs to come up with new as part of an innovation process. However, make sure you do not pry on copyrighted designs or otherwise plagiarize them. Remember, your designs are part of intellectual property You can also analyze market trends on various online tools, for example, Google Trends or TeeView

Design Printing
  • Get a graphic designer

You can purchase designs for as low as $5. Ensure the graphic designer presents mock designs or previous samples before you decide to work with him or her. If you have a graphic design background you could save on these costs. You can source for graphic designers on freelance platforms like Upwork, Guru, and Fivver among others. 

Read Further: How To Make Money Online

  • Test mock designs

Mock designs represent how the design will appear on the final product. You can print the design on a product or use digital mock-ups. You can create digital mockups using software like Adobe Photoshop, Shopify Mockup Generator, or Creative Market. Each of these software has a free trial which helps save startup costs.

Design Printing

4. Use High-quality Products

Quality is a major pillar in the design printing business. Customers want designs and items that are long-lasting and maintain their aesthetic value for a long time. Quality will result is customer satisfaction, repeat sales, and the growth of your store in terms of customer reach and revenue. For example, you can tell the quality of apparel like t-shirts through their wight, stitching and material.

5. Integrate Dropshipping Supplier And Test Your Products

Once you have decided on what to print and sell, it is time to complete the set up of your store. You will integrate the product descriptions and product images in your store so that your customers can preview them. Platforms like Shopify and Printful let you run test orders to assess the order process and the performance of a specific product. 

6. Brand Your Store

Brand your store once you are done. Your brand can be defined as how your customers perceive your products. You can influence your customer perception through research on both your potential customers and competitors. The information is available on social media or competitor websites. You will also need a logo, slogan or theme colors as part of branding. 

7. Market Your Business

Marketing is the last step mostly because it is a continuous process. You will need to create awareness to increase your product turnover and revenue. Some popular and effective marketing strategies include:

Research and make use of market trends. 

You will be able to relate well with your target market and address their needs. Open various communication channels especially in social media so as to learn the latest trends.

Facebook Ads

Facebook has a powerful target advertising tool. It will target your audience using the following criteria:

  1. Interests
  2. Location
  3. Gender
  4. Age
  5. Job titles and more

Google Ads

Google Ads uses texts or images to display your ads. Text ads are mainly availed in search results while picture ads appear in both search results and websites.


Over half a billion people are active users on Instagram. You can rely on hashtags or social media influencers to reach your target audience. 

Also Read: Instagram Influencer Pricing – How To charge Brands as an Instagram Influencer


Women with expendable income are major users of Pinterest. You can advertise your products here if you intend to target them. You should know that the wedding industry has thrived through Pinterest among other media platforms. 

Design Printing

Final Thoughts

The process of starting a design printing business on a shoestring budget is easy. It includes:

  1. Select A Platform To Start Your Design Printing Business
  2. Choose A Market Niche
  3. Make Your Designs Simple And Unique
  4. Use High-quality Products
  5. Integrate Dropshipping Supplier And Test Your Products
  6. Brand your store.
  7. Market your business

This process has some key takeaways which are like the best practices in a design printing business. They are:

  • Thorough research is needed
  • Customer needs should influence the products you sell
  • Make sure your design printing process and products are unique.
  • Social media is a great place to market your products. 

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