Contract screen printing can be demanding, but if you’re prepared for the challenge it can really pay off!

Whatever you decide to offer, you have to deliver on time. It’s important that you’re comfortable in the areas of service you plan to offer.

As a contract screen printer, the very first question to consider is pricing. Some screen printers prefer to quote jobs on an individual basis, while others do things differently and publish their prices on the web for everyone. There are good reasons for either approach. Individual quotes are often the choice of those just starting out, or those who enjoy the perceived flexibility it offers. Some jobs may be priced differently depending on work flow and demand, and while adaptive pricing lets you maximize profits, be careful that your prospects and customers don’t end up feeling like you’re squeezing them for as much money as possible.

Other companies have a standard price list and publish it on their website. This method lets you calculate a specific profit margin and allows the customer to know up front the expense of their screen printing order. So what kinds of costs and considerations do you need to evaluate? Here are some major areas to assess when you receive an order:

Art Guidelines

  • What types of programs, file formats and platforms are acceptable?
  • What will you charge for art creation or manipulation?
  • What is your process for obtaining your customer’s approval for artwork? Including design size, color (and amount of colors), print location, and the garments to be printed.

Apparel Considerations

As a contract printer, most items you’ll print will probably be drop-shipped to you, and when completed you’ll likely blind drop-ship them to their customers. Given this process, there are certain particulars you should address:

  • Receive, count and verify item quantity to ensure you have the correct type of apparel in the right sizes and colors. If incorrect, immediately notify your customer that the order is being held until they decide whether to move forward with printing or not.
  • Include labor cost for receipt and verification in print cost.
  • Specify that your services are available to resellers only and that proper documentation must be provided, like an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or any resale certificates/documents required by law.

Variables, Services Available and Pricing

Lots of other variables affect your screen printing cost – here are some of them:

  • What type of ink will you use for your screen printing? Plastisol, water-based, discharge?
  • What size print is standard (example: 14″x14″) and what is oversized? How will you price oversized jobs?
  • What is the additional expense of printing with specialty inks, like metallic and gel inks or inks using stretch/bonding additives?
  • Will you price jobs differently for potentially difficult garments, like nylon, polyester, rayon, etc?
  • How will you price jobs involving print locations other than the front or back of a shirt, like pockets, sleeves and legs?
  • What will you charge for finishing services like labeling, folding or bagging if you choose to offer them?


Payment can be handled in a variety of ways. Some printers require a credit application, others ask for a current credit card to be on file. Will you require an initial order to be paid in full when it’s shipped?

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to contract printing, so starting out small may be the way to test the procedures and policies you have in place. When it comes to contracts, remember to seek out the advice of a professional!

Some other considerations

  • Shipping and receiving expenses – do you ship on their carrier or your carrier? What about insurance?
  • Spoilage allowance – aim for 2% or 1 item (whichever is greater) per order and communicate this to your customers. If your customer needs an exact amount of garments but hasn’t provided extras, how will you price fill-in items to make up the difference caused by spoilage?

Still deciding whether you should make a go of contract screen printing? Check out our blog post:

Is Contract Screen Printing Right for You? 6 Questions to Help You Decide