This is one of those great questions that never seems to have one simple and consistent answer. Consider this. If an extra-terrestrial beamed down and asked, “How much do humans weigh?” your answer would probably start with, “Well, it depends…”
Then again, if an extra-terrestrial asks you how much humans weigh, I would be seriously worried about motive.
Getting back to reality, how much do t-shirts cost? Well, it depends, and I write about this in more detail in my book, Amazing T-shirts on a Small Budget. Some of the variables involved are:
- What style and brand of t-shirt?
- How many?
- How many colors in the design?
- How many locations do you need printed (front, back, sleeve…)?
That’s just for starters. This is the main reason it’s so much better to explain what you want in detail so your printer can figure out the best value for your needs. It’s a little more work for all of us, true. If you want to save work, you can go to one of those internet sites where you just choose a style, punch in your numbers and get a price right away. That’s cool. Easy. But is it the best price you could get? Are the shirts the best style for your design? Will your crew be comfortable wearing those shirts in the hot sun all day long?
Those are more variables that an online pricing calculator won’t consider or help you understand. Pssh, robots. They’re worse than extra-terrestrials with a hidden agenda.
Rock Bottom Prices
Here’s something to think about, a little scenario that happens to many of our clients before they come to us. Let’s say you get 50 shirts for your event marketing team at the cheapest, rock-bottomest price anywhere. It’s almost like they’re paying you to get your shirts printed. Yay!
Then… your staff hates them. They’re too tight (or too baggy, too itchy, too blue, too…whatever). They’re hot (polyester doesn’t breathe well, and now you know). Your boss says you have to order 50 new shirts for your staff. In the long run, how much did you save on your rock-bottom pricing?
Seriously, my heart aches when I hear stories like this. I feel for the people who have to make these decisions for their entire crew, or even an apparel line. It’s not as easy as it sounds!
Jeez Louise. Just ballpark it for me, Sparky.
Okay, maybe you just need a rough estimate of how much your printed shirts will cost. The boss wants to know. Your husband/partner/committee wants to know. Are we spending $500 or $2,000? In that case, most print shops will be able to give you quick costs for a sample shirt, broken down by quantity. Of course, the more details you can give about your potential order, the more accurate the pricing will be.
If it sounds too good to be true…
Be careful about those shops that advertise insanely cheap prices on a sign. I drive all around L.A. and notice those “$1.99 tees!” signs. They can be so tempting. When you dig deeper, you usually find that means $1.99 for all-white Hanes tees (Mens sizes only), printed in one color, minimum 500. Then there are screen fees added on. Then graphic design fees, and so on. And you don’t need 500 tees, you only need 150. Pretty soon your per shirt price is up to $8.00, which is about the same as anywhere else – for better quality shirts, no less.
Pricing Secrets Revealed – Tonight at 11!
Want the lowest price possible on tees? Of course you do! It’s actually pretty easy to get.
- Don’t be stingy with your info. Tell your printer as much as you can about what you need right up front.
- Don’t just compare cost, look at the whole package. Is it apples to apples?
- Is the cost too high for your budget? Be honest! Ask your printer what they recommend. A good screen printer will be happy to help you figure it out.
T-shirt pricing is more art than science. There are some formulas, but the best pricing comes when you ask lots of questions and stay open to suggestions. And remember, a good printer will never ask how much humans weigh.
Want to learn more about getting apparel printed? Get our Amazing T-shirt Guide!