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Screen Printers Should Find Their Lane and Stay in It

Take it from an industry pro who learned it doesn’t pay to do it all.




Screen Printers Should Find Their Lane and Stay in It

IN THE DECORATED apparel industry, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone. Believe me, I know. I was that person. As a business owner, I felt like I needed to meet the wishes of every client, all the time. The only thing we achieved by trying this method was mediocrity in many categories. We could never provide the perfect experience for our clients because we were doing things we didn’t know how to do, or they weren’t profitable. It’s important to find your lane and focus.

1. Your Time and Resources Are Limited

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You get a call from a customer who needs 24 T-shirts printed; you process the order. They also need signs, business cards, stickers, embroidered hats, and a magic glow wand for an event. The problem here is you have only a screen-printing press and no equipment or processes to handle the other items. So, you spend hours researching where to buy these other items, you make multiple art changes because they don’t like the look, and finally, you send the order to the vendor. The time it took to process what you’re best at was 10 percent of the time it took you to process everything else. Instead of trying to offer a wide range of products and services, make the most of your time by focusing on what you do best and what sets you apart from the competition.

2. Niches Are More Profitable

Now that you know what services to offer, whom you offer them to is the next important factor to consider. Focusing on a niche can be more profitable than trying to appeal to a broad customer base. When you focus on a niche, you can become an expert in that area and develop a reputation for excellence. This can lead to increased demand for your products and higher profit margins. If you want your niche to be classic car clubs, printing cheap T-shirts for the local baseball team for a 10-percent margin (and a bunch of headaches from parents) isn’t a wise business decision. Creating a program for car clubs within a 100-mile radius of your shop is!

3. It’s Easier to Market to a Specific Audience

Now that you know your passion is cars and the lifestyle that comes with it, creating a targeted marketing strategy is much easier. You can tailor your marketing to speak directly to that audience, which can lead to a more effective campaign and a higher return on your investment. For example, research could reveal that most members of these car clubs are 40- to 70-year-old men who use Facebook to find out about meets and car shows. You can join these groups and focus directly on this market instead of advertising to new moms watching baby videos on TikTok.

Screen Printers Should Find Their Lane and Stay in It

4. Enjoy a More Fulfilled Life

Working in a niche ensures you always speak the same language as your customer. In the case of the car club, you can relate by telling them about the time you had to redo your car’s interior. Now that they know you’re one of “them,” they are more likely to want to work with you. You can be the go-to person for every club in your area. Now that you’ve found your lane, you can own it!


Trying to be everything to everyone is a recipe for mediocrity. Focus on your niche and hone your skills in that area. By doing so, you will be able to manage your time better, increase profitability, market more effectively, and achieve greater personal fulfillment.



Let’s Talk About It

Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Screen Printing Industry

LET’S TALK About It: Part 3 discusses how four screen printers have employed people with disabilities, why you should consider doing the same, the resources that are available, and more. Watch the live webinar, held August 16, moderated by Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief, Screen Printing magazine, with panelists Ali Banholzer, Amber Massey, Ryan Moor, and Jed Seifert. The multi-part series is hosted exclusively by ROQ.US and U.N.I.T.E Together. Let’s Talk About It: Part 1 focused on Black, female screen printers and can be watched here; Part 2 focused on the LGBTQ+ community and can be watched here.

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