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How can I get the most custom made t-shirts for my money?

Last Updated: Mar 27, 2015 01:47PM EDT
We know that band t-shirt designs can get a little crazy, and sometimes that amounts to a pricier product. There are several factors that affect the price of your merchandise.  Here are a few tips for getting the greatest amount of t-shirts for your money.

1. Order your custom made t-shirts in bulk
Have you ever wondered how prices are calculated for ordering shirts? The cost per shirt depends not on how many shirts you order, but how many pieces you're printing of each band t-shirt design. If your band needs 100 shirts and sends us 4 designs, you're paying the max price (for 25 shirts each) instead of getting a price break for ordering 100 shirts. To get the most merch for your money, we recommend ordering in bulk, one design at a time. The higher the quantity per design, the lower the price per unit. The price breaks are at 24, 48, 84, 144, 288.... Don't worry about having too many of the same shirt; you can print the same design on different products and still get the price break. Mix and match sweatshirts, t-shirts, tank tops, in all different colors and sizes (there is no additional cost to mix and match the garment color, however ink colors require a screen wash, which is $9 per color switch).
One side note: bulk ordering doesn't apply only to apparel. You'll notice that getting twice as many stickers, postcards, postcards, etc. never equals twice the price. In many cases with printing, the expense is in setting up all the equipment to print your order, so ordering a higher quantity won't cost you too much more.  We know sometimes it's harder to get more money upfront, but you'll certainly get more merch for your money if you're able to place one large order instead of several small ones.
2. Print your t-shirt designs on white shirts
As a general rule, white shirts are always cheaper than any other color. If you're set on a band t-shirt design with lots of ink colors, or several locations, you can keep the cost per shirt down by ordering white shirts. Why is this? For one reason, the shirts themselves are just cheaper. The second reason has to do with printing. When a light color ink is printed on a colorful shirt, it needs a flash, which is a base layer of ink to be able to see the lighter color ink. This process takes longer and involves more labor and equipment, justifying a higher price.
3. Use fewer ink colors
When designing t-shirts for your band, it is is easy to get hooked on a design concept with lots of colors! However awesome it may look, this can also lead to some pretty expensive merch, but it doesn't have to. The first tip is to make sure you utilize the color of the shirt itself (the same is true for the white vinyl background of a sticker). When screen printing a band t-shirt design, consider the color of the shirt or vinyl as an ink color in itself and save on one color. Secondly, if you have shading in your design, you can often convert it to half tones, which are little dots or lines that vary in size to create an image. The best part of this is that you can print a pretty intricate design with shading in only one color! Consider these shortcuts before printing a full color design!
4. Print in less locations by utilizing your screens
Another factor that heavily influences the cost per shirt is the number of print locations in your design. We understand that sometimes you can't avoid a 2 or 3 location shirt, but sometimes you can! The size of a screen is 14x18. What does this mean? Depending on your design, you may be able to print in 2 locations with the same screen, resulting in much lower prices. For example, you want to put your band logo and website on a shirt, but not next to each other. Try putting the logo on the top of the shirt, with the website at the bottom corner. Or try doing a design that wraps around the side of the shirt. You have 13" x 16" worth of space to print for each location, so be sure to use it!
5. Order your merch in packages
Choose from one of our pre-designed packages or create your own. A general rule of thumb for placing merch orders is: the more you buy upfront, the less you pay for each item. As a band, brand, or business, we know how important it is to get your name out there, so we've created pre-made packages covering everything from t-shirts to stickers, IndieCards to banners, and more. The packages are created specifically for those just starting up, those who've been around for a while, and those who need lots of merch (great for touring). Alternatively, you can create your own packages and ask your sales rep about bulk order discounts!
6. Have your artwork print-ready
One aspect of ordering merch that often holds up the order and adds additional expenses, is artwork. Print-ready artwork has a resolution of 300dpi in photoshop (.psd) or illustrator (.ai) format. When artwork is sent to us that's not print-ready, our designer has to recreate the art, leading to extra charges and more time before the order is complete. Make sure if you have a multi-color design that it's color separated and the layers are not flattened. Here is some additional information for preparing your artwork:
http://www.bandsonabudget.com/articles/7-the-5-minute-guide-on-how-to-prepare-your-artwork-for-screen-printing
7. Ask about sales/specials
Whether you get an extra 10% off all stickers, or a great deal on a new super soft t-shirt we carry, you'll always save big with our monthly specials. Every month we create a new special to give bands a chance to try new products at a great price. These specials are announced in our monthly newsletter, as well as on our Social Media! Not on our mailing list? Contact us to sign up, Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bandsonabudget, or Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bandsonabudget
8. Re-order the same design
With certain products such as t-shirts, it'll cost you less money the second time around. Remember the first time you ordered t-shirts and you had to pay screen charges for every color and location? Well, never again (for that design at least). We keep your old screens, so anytime you want to re-order a specific design, you''ll only be charged for the shirts and printing, no set up/screen charges.
9. Don't wait til the last minute to order
Believe it or not, waiting until the last minute to order merch can be a costly gamble!  If you know you need your merch by a certain day, get in touch with us at least 2 weeks prior.  This way, we can make sure your artwork looks the best it possibly can and that the finished product is everything you want and more.  When doing a rush order, you may need to pay rush fees or ship the order overnight, which can cost significantly more than standard shipping. Plan ahead to avoid unnecessary charges!

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