Starting a Sublimation Business in 2015

startWe all know that the beginning of the year is a time when many people embark on new adventures.   If you’ve been thinking that 2015 is the year you should start that sublimation business you’ve been contemplating,  EnMart can help.

The first place to start is in the sublimation category on the EnMart website.  There you can see the printers available,  a selection of the blanks that can be sublimated,  and get an idea how much things like ink and paper will cost.     You can also download the 2011 edition of the Dye Sublimation Bible.   Although this book is now a few years old,   it still provides a good basic overview of sublimation and how to sublimate various blank items.

Another helpful resource is this blog.   From time to time,  I write a series of posts that deal with a particular aspect of sublimation.  It might be how to get started with sublimation,  it might be how to sublimate a particular item,  or it could be a discussion about paper or ink.     The posts are designed to help you gain more knowledge about sublimation and how to successfully make it part of your business.

There are also a variety of magazines and trade organizations that deal with sublimation.  Most magazines will have archives of back issues so you can find sublimation related articles you may have missed.    The organizations all deal with sublimation in some form.   In addition to those mentioned,  you may also want to check out the Advertising Specialties Institute,  which may be a useful resource when you’re working to find markets for your sublimated goods.

Sawgrass Technologies,  the manufacturer of sublimation ink,  provides a wide variety of helpful resources on their website.   They offer webinarsvideos and a library of articles about sublimation.    They also offer technical support and advice should you have issues getting started with sublimation.

Keep in mind,  the biggest resource for sublimation is the willingness to try something new and a comfort with the idea that you’ll probably mess things up once or twice.   Sublimation is not hard to learn,  but there are tricks and tips that can help you successfully sublimate almost any substrate suitable for sublimation.   The resources listed above will help you learn what you need to know to make your sublimation business a success.

5 Useful Sublimation Resources

5 reasons filmEvery once in a while I like to do a sort of list or round-up post where I compile some information or industry resources I think are helpful.   On the Embroidery Talk Blog,  it’s called the Friday Blog Round-Up.    I’m not sure if the same sort of post will be as regular here, or will get its own name,  but I thought it might be useful to include some links to helpful information I’ve found.

First up,  for those who are interested in sublimation for schools,  you may want to download Sawgrass Ink’s “Making Money in the School Market“.    This marketing plan can give you tips on how to grow your school sales.  Schools can be a fertile ground for all kinds of decoration,  so it’s definitely worth downloading this book.

Second on the docket is a video,  also from Sawgrass,  about how to download and use Unisub templates.   For those who don’t know,  Unisub makes a number of products for sublimation,  and the templates they provide are very useful.    If you just want access to the templates themselves,  you can find them on Unisub’s website.

Third on the docket,  we have what we call the “Dye Sublimators Bible“,   which can be downloaded from EnMart’s website.   This comprehensive guide covers all aspects of sublimation,  and gives you information on sublimating various kinds of materials and products.   It’s a very useful basic primer on the art of sublimation.

Fourth at bat,  if you’ve ever purchased any of our Mates products – you may find this helpful.   It’s some sublimation tips from Rowmark,  the maker of the Mates products.     You can download basic sublimation tips for Mates or troubleshooting Mates printing.

Fifth,  some tips for startup sublimation from Printwear Magazine.  I have to confess I wrote these,  and my favorite is the first one,  since it addresses a concern I hear often.    The reality is that you will screw up while sublimating at some point.   Make your peace with that and don’t let it put you off trying sublimation entirely.


Sublimation Resources

I got a call from a customer today who was just starting out with her sublimation system and was feeling as though she was lacking instructions.   That call started me thinking that there must be other people out there, just starting out with sublimation,  who are unaware of  some of the resources that are available to help beginning sublimators.   While it stands to reason that those unaware of sublimation resources might also be unaware of this blog,  I still figured a post which points out some of the main resources available could be helpful.

One great resource is the Dye Sublimation Guide.   This walks you through how to get started,  gives you tips and instructions on sublimating specific items, and provides lots of helpful pictures.   If you learn best through the written word,  this is a great resource,  and something that, at 62 pages, is not to large and could be printed out and kept on your desk or work bench for instant reference.

Another terrific resource are the how -to videos that Sawgrass Ink creates.   These videos give you step by step instructions for sublimating many common items.   Sawgrass also has installation and set-up videos for each printer on their website.  These videos will help ensure that your printer is set-up properly and all the necessary software is installed.   You can also access a selection of the Sawgrass videos at the EnMart YouTube channel.

For those who like feedback or who want to ask a specific question,  a forum can be a great resource.   Two very useful forums are T-Shirt Forums and the Apparel Decorators Forum.   Either forum will provide a database of knowledge and a lot of helpful people who are happy to answer questions.    If you’re looking for tips or advice,  the forums are a great place to ask questions.

Finally, Sawgrass webinars are another great sublimation resource.   These webinars cover a variety of topics,  everything from how to make money in a particular market to how to sublimate a particular item.  Most webinars are also recorded so they can be viewed later as webcasts on the Sawgrass website if you can’t view the webinar live.

4 Ways to Combat Sublimation Anxiety

I’ve seen it happen more than once.    We talk to someone at a trade show or work through the purchase process with them over the phone,  and a new system makes its way to a new home and a very excited new owner.  Once the system arrives, however,  the person who purchased it decides that maybe sublimation might be more complicated than they first thought,  and suddenly it’s been a couple months and the system still hasn’t been put through it’s paces.  We know that trying anything new can be intimidating,  but we also know that sublimation can be another great profit center for almost any business, and that a printer and ink that are sitting unused aren’t generating money for anyone.

There are several causes of sublimation anxiety and writing a post about all of them would result in a very long post.  Today I thought I’d address the 4 types of sublimation anxiety that I’ve seen most often,  and offer some suggestions for combating each type.

Sublimation Anxiety #1: I’m Going to Mess Up – This is the type of anxiety that keeps people from doing test prints or sometimes even starting up the system.  Blanks and paper and ink cost money and no one likes to lose money.  By the same token,  if you don’t ever print anything,  you will be losing money because you won’t be producing anything you can sell.  Making a mistake and misprinting or smudging a print or having something come out a funny color will happen,  but that’s all part of the process.  The key to minimizing this issue is to learn all you can.  Attend seminars and webinars,  watch videos, ask questions and most of all practice.    The best way to ensure you don’t mess up is to become expert and the only way to become expert is to practice.

Sublimation Anxiety #2: I Don’t Know Where to Sell What I Make – Many people who sublimate also do other types of decoration work.    If you can sell embroidery or screen printing or vinyl or rhinestones,  you can sell sublimation.   Even if you don’t do any other type of decoration look,  just spending a day going through local stores or simply walking down the street and looking around you will help to point out several potential markets for your work.  Sublimation offers a wide variety of options,  and this opens up a wide variety of markets.

Sublimation Anxiety #3:  I Don’t Know How to Sublimate – You have ink and paper and a printer and a heat press and some sublimation blanks,  but you’re not quite sure how to put those things all together to get saleable product.  Luckily for you,  there are a lot of resources out there.  Sawgrass has webinars,  EnMart has a YouTube Channel and there is also this blog.   The great thing about not knowing how to do something is that you can always learn and the even better thing is that there are a lot of resources available to help you do just that.

Sublimation Anxiety #4:  I Don’t Have Time – Time is a resource,  just like money.   You already spent money to get all the supplies and equipment you need,  but those supplies and equipment aren’t worth anything if you don’t spend the time using them to create goods you can sell.  As you get more and more expert,  sublimating items for sale will take less time,  but you may have to make some time in the beginning as you’re learning.  The nice part about your investment of time, however,  is that it will most likely pay off in increased sales for your company, and investments that pay off are the best kind to make.

In the end,  anxiety is just a way of letting you know you’re trying something new.  If you’re new to sublimation,  don’t let anxiety stop you from making the most of your new equipment and enjoying the fruits of your labor.  If nothing else,  you can always give EnMart a call and ask for help.  We’ll be glad to assist.

Sublimation Resources

Earlier in the week  I asked you all what videos you would like to see us make first,  and I’m still hoping for answers to that question.   Our goal is to build up a library of video and written resources that will educate and inform our customers and help them make the most of the sublimation and ChromaBlast products.   The reality of the situation,  however,  is that we can’t cover every subject and every project,  even if we worked 24 hours a day for the rest of our lives.  For one thing,  there are simply too many subjects to cover.  For another,  we can only shoot one video at a time.   That’s why I’ve been searching the web to find some alternative sources that can help answer some of your questions.

If you’re interested in creating a tile mural,  there are a couple of tutorials that could prove very useful.  The first tutorial features  Hanes SublimationMaker 2.0.   The second tutorial covers the same subject,  but using Corel Draw.   These tutorials feature 6 x 6 tiles.

Another option for learning about sublimation and how to be successful with it is the Sawgrass webinar series.  These webinars cover everything from publicizing your business to managing color and working with Corel Draw.   You can  attend a webinar the day it is offered,  or you can view archived webinars at your own convenience.

If you have a lot of specific questions for which you need answers,  or if you’re looking for information on a particular product,  your best resource could be a forum.  EnMart participates in two that I find especially helpful.  One is T-Shirt Forums and the other is the Apparel Decorators Forum.  Both forums are populated by helpful, knowledgeable people who are always happy to give assistance and share knowledge.

The companies that make the sublimation blanks are also typically a good resource if you’re having a problem with a particular product.  EnMart is a distributor for Rowmark,  and the company provides an extensive technical help section.   If you’re having an issue sublimating a particular blank correctly,  it would be worth checking out their information.

You should also check out magazines like Awards & Engraving and Printwear for sublimation tips.   Both have offered great articles with sublimation tips in the past and I’m sure they’ll continue to do so in the future.

Sublimation and ChromaBlast resources

EnMart gets to introduce a lot of people to sublimation and ChromaBlast who have never encountered either of these disciplines before.  It is a privilege to be able to help people set up another profit center for their businesses, but it is also a responsibility.  We don’t believe in selling something and then abandoning our customers and leaving them on their own to figure out how to use what they’ve just purchased.   EnMart wants customers for life, not just for one sale, so we are always available to answer questions and offer support.

One of our goals for 2010 is to create a sublimation and ChromaBlast resource section on our web site.   If all goes as I am hoping it will, EnMart will offer white papers, tips, instruction sheets on how to sublimate the blanks we offer and perhaps even instructional videos.  We will also, of course, continue updating this blog, as well as answering questions on Twitter and Facebook.

Today I wanted to do two things that I think will help us get closer to our goal.  The first one is to ask those who read this blog what they would like to see in our sublimation and ChromaBlast resource section.  What would be most helpful?  Do you want step by step instructions on how to sublimate a certain blank?   Would you prefer video demonstrations?  Are you most interested in learning more about why sublimation is right for you?   Any and all suggestions will be taken into consideration, so if you have something you would like to see included in our resource section, please let me know.  You can leave a comment here, talk to me on Facebook or Twitter, or e-mail me with your suggestion.

The second thing I wanted to do is point out a few resources that could be of help while we’re building our reference pages.  The first is the Sawgrass website.  They have a variety of resources available, from webinars to FAQs to technical support if you have a question.  You are, of course, always welcome to call us, but there may be times when we’ll refer you to Sawgrass as well.  If you have a question or an issue, their web site is a great place to look for an answer.

Another great resource is T-Shirt   There are a large number of people who sublimate on this forum and there is a wide variety of information available.  EnMart is a sponsor of this forum, and we do have a presence there under the screen name EnMartian.   This is a great place to ask questions and share information with others who are also doing sublimation.

I will keep you update on the progress of our own resource section and, as I said above, would appreciate any and all suggestions about what we should include.   As always, if you have any questions about sublimation in general, need assistance with sublimating a specific item, or need more information on a particular product, please contact us.  We’ll be glad to help.