Screen printing makes an attractive option for people who would like to own and operate their own businesses. Screen printing is fun and creative, it offers many marketing opportunities, it can be run as a one-man operation and the equipment is small enough to set up in a garage, basement or spare room.
For that reason, a lot of people jump into screen printing with little to no previous experience, setting up shops in the extra space in their home. In a few steps, you can have your own home-based screen printing business up and running.
Step 1: Find the right space
If you know you want to operate your screen printing business out of your home, you first have to find the right space within your home. Depending on the equipment you choose to purchase, it’ll take about a 20-foot-by-20-foot space (minimum) to comfortably set up a small screen printing layout. The room needs adequate electrical hookups; water for washing out screens; storage space for ink, supplies and in-coming and out-going products; and ventilation. Your printing space also needs to be clean and dry, as moisture, dust and debris can interfere with the screen printing and curing process.
Step 2: Research your equipment
There are a lot of equipment options available to screen printers. For many printers, it comes down to personal preference. To determine what’s right for you, you will have to research all of your equipment options to see what features and elements you like, as well as what will fit within your space.
You will need a press, of course, as well as screens in a variety of mesh counts, inks, cleaning chemicals and a conveyor dryer for curing your prints. You’ll also need an exposure unit for creating screens, screen-drying racks and a washout booth. For creating or processing artwork, you will need a computer outfitted with the photo software of your choice and a printer for printing film positives.
Step 3: Take the time to learn your craft
With your equipment purchased and set up in your home-based work space, you need to take the time to hone your skills. Your first press run shouldn’t be product for a paying client. You may be able to find screen printing workshops in your area, and you can certainly find a host of screen printing tutorials and classes online through trade organizations and screen printing supply companies.
While you polish your screen printing skills, you can try printing on different substrates — and with a few different types of inks — from different manufacturers so you can start to get a feel for which products you prefer to work with. Before you’re ready to sell your prints, you need to be sure that you’re consistently laying down crisp prints without flaws that withstand several cycles through your washing machine.
Step 4: Identify your niche
Once your prints are up to professional standards and you’re ready to sell, it’s time to identify your customers. One of the most common mistakes new screen printers make is trying to appeal to any customer who will pay them to print. This might work in the short term, but to successfully develop and grow a business you need a niche. Identify who you will target with your screen printing products:
- Will you sell your own unique designs online or in local boutiques?
- Will you specialize in helping others to create their own designs?
- Will you produce shirts for local sports teams and schools?
- Or will you provide corporate branding products for local businesses?
Identifying your niche will help you select the types of merchandise you’ll market, the printing techniques you’ll master, the types of inks you’ll work with, and who in the community you’ll reach out to.
Step 5: Create a marketing plan
A big part of starting your own screen printing business involves selling your product. You’ll need to create a marketing plan that’s consistent with your niche and your target market. You should have a logo, along with a webpage and marketing materials, that present an image that will appeal to your target customer demographic. Once you’ve outlined your brand image, create a plan for marketing your business, through both online and traditional marketing channels, and work that plan to build up your customer base.
Your marketing plan might involve social media marketing, knocking on the doors of local businesses, sending informational packets to local schools and organizations, and printing samples to show potential customers what you can do for them. Don’t forget to include retaining customers and encouraging customer referrals as part of your business plan. You want to attract customers who will use your business time and time again, and who will encourage their friends to do the same.
Getting any new business up and running takes time and hard work, and a home-based screen printing business is no exception. You will have to do your research, work to fine-tune your skills, create a viable business plan and work hard to market your new business. The work you put in to starting your own home-based screen printing business will be well worth it: With screen printing, can create a fun and lucrative business right in your home.