Well, a lot of people are finding that they are underemployed and looking at a lot of late night commercials for business opportunities. The Internet is full of get rich quick real estate scams and mystery shopper jobs. All of these, of course, require a hefty fee to the referring company or a purchase of questionable merchandise. The truth is thereâ€™s no free ride, so understand from the gitgo that you will find here something that actually requires you to work to produce the extra income that you seek.
A lot of people look at their hobbies to see what they could do that would generate income. So, hereâ€™s a typical list of hobbies:
Watching TV â€“ uhâ€¦.
Reading â€“ not a promising future there
Stamp/Book/collectible collecting â€“ not very lucrative
Sports â€“ mostly we are watchers
Music â€“ not unless you are a musician
Yard work â€“ maybe for younger folks..
Carpentry â€“ not when it takes forever to make a small bookcase
Fishing/hunting/camping â€“ haha
Computers â€“ hmmmâ€¦.
Okay, so computers are the only things most of us fool with that have any chance of leading to a business. What do we do besides surf the Internet; buy things on ebay, and google and facebook with friends? Some people blog a little, have pages on the social networks and have some great music and videos downloaded. Some of you love to make funny photos with PhotoShop software and email them to friends. I have albums on the web and a great collection of candid shots of my friends, a webcam and so on.
A great idea is to make tee shirts of funny photos and sell them on ebay. Sites like zazzle and some of the other photo gift providers charge fees too high to make a real business, especially when you factor in shipping. So, the next step is to look into making your own shirts. Right away you will think of transfer paper.
Now, transfer paper has come a long way from the iron on variety you used to see in Woolsworth, now they have papers that work on certain fabrics, with specific printers and so on. Plus thereâ€™s screen-printing and now they have really cool Direct-to-garment printers you feed the shirts into and the design is printed right onto it.
You will find the key to producing imprinted items is the heat transfer press. No matter what transfer paper you get, you would need one of the presses to seal the designs onto the shirts.
So, start checking them out on the internet - there are a whole slew of them, they come in different sizes. Plus they make different ones especially for hats and mugs and other specialized shapes. They have really huge ones for making shower curtains and signs. The person who wants to start a small home business will need one that would press the area equal to the front of a shirt, roughly 15â€ x 15â€. So the ideal starter press would be that a little larger that that.
There are a bunch of presses with no brand names or warranties and a little googling tells us the best presses are produced by George KnightÂ®, HixÂ® and HotronixÂ®. There are also a lot of Chinese made presses available. There are also warnings on the tee shirt forums that these presses have short life spans, no warranties and replacement parts are hard to come by. One fellow took his apart, found a compatible heating element and installed it; only to discover the press controls would not work any more.
Conde carries the complete George KnightÂ® press line and they stand by with unlimited support, lifetime warranties on the heat platen, 3 years on the controls and the entire press for a full year. Plus they are completely US made. The owner of the company is so involved, the rumor is he flies to clientâ€™s home to personally troubleshoot their presses.
A really cool process is called dye sublimation transfer. Photos are imaged into shirt material like every individual dot was dyed into every thread. The photo quality was amazing. The Conde website shows you over 5,000 products you can use with dye-sub.
First, you have to get a printer and special dye sublimation ink. It turns out the ink is the key to the whole process. There are several printers that have the special micro piezo printhead needed to spray the ink evenly, most by Epson, some starting as low as $40. I recommend a new one, the Ricoh GX7000. The reason to choose that one is that later on you can get an additional paper tray that expands the paper size, so you could make bigger pictures.
So, to recap, to start a business making photo gifts, you will need a heat press, printer and special inks. Then you can choose what you want to make, get art software to help with the designs and choose items to sell. You will need a venue, a business plan and a focus to find your target clients. Sure beats mystery shoppingâ€¦