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How to Create Your Own T-Shirt Online? Easy!

Custom Merchandise, Video Gaming Merchandise
How to Create Your Own T-Shirt Online? Easy!

Have you designed a great fan art of your favorite video game and think it would look great on something like a t-shirt, hoodie, mug or perhaps a tote bag? Thanks to the internet now you don’t have to search for a printing service in your city. Instead, you can create your own t-shirt online very easily from the comfort of your own home (and maybe earn a few dollars)!

I’ve picked a selection of several print on demand (POD) services which I have used in the past. I’ve listed pros and cons of each service from my perspective. The list is in no particular order.

Zazzle

Zazzle (founded in 2005) is one of the first services that I have ever used. Back then there were no online printing services like this in my country with so many product options. My first purchases were a couple of t-shirts designed by other people. It wasn’t until later that I thought that maybe I, as a graphic designer, could make some designs and put them up for other people to enjoy.

With Zazzle you can make your own product just for yourself or you can set up your own store for free. Zazzle is also international and has 15 country specific domains, so if you want to buy/sell locally, you can do that.

Product Creation

zazzle1The product creation on Zazzle is pretty straightforward and user-friendly. You have the option to choose from thousands of products. Since I shopped there last, they have expanded their range enormously. Now you can order stationery, aprons, plates and even bath mats and many more. It seems as long as an item is printable, Zazzle can and will print it for you. 🙂

Every product has a description by Zazzle (quality, material, sizing, brand, etc.) and customer reviews.

If you are intending to create a product for sale, you only need to put in Title and Description, choose categories and tags that apply and set your royalty percentage. If you are unsure about something, there are helpful hints throughout the process.

If a person buys your product, you get the royalties and Zazzle takes care of the rest – printing, packaging and shipping.

Referral system

You can sign up as an associate (no website needed) and you can promote products or entire stores and get 15% per sale without having an actual shop. If you have a blog or website, you can insert any product via the provided widgets or banners.

Pros:

  • free account
  • frequent coupons and sales
  • item quality
  • private orders
  • variety of products
  • easy product creation
  • associate program
  • 15 international stores
  • US shipping can be prepaid yearly with Zazzle Black
  • (for sellers) multiple stores under one account
  • (for sellers) volume bonuses
  • (for sellers) setting own profit margin (royalties)

Cons:

  • shipping costs may be large
  • quite high base prices of products
  • choice of products can be overwhelming
  • some designs are sub-par
  • (for sellers) too high profit margin can mean customers will go to the competitor for cheaper products
  • (for sellers) creating products individually
  • (for sellers / associates) no automatic payout
  • (for sellers / associates) your earning balance has to be min. $50 to withdraw via Paypal, $100 via cheque
  • (for sellers /associates) long payment schedule (earnings in February are cleared in March and sent within first 15 days of April, so it can be 30-60 days of waiting time IF your balance is over $50)

In association with Zazzle.com

Society6

I have found Society6 (founded in 2009) only pretty recently. It is a print on demand service as well but there is a difference between Society6 and Zazzle. You cannot design a product privately just for yourself and buy it; your design is shared with the community. Users of this website would be graphic artists who’d like to sell their designs on various products.

Product Creation

society61I have to admit, I quite struggled to make sense of the page product creation when I first decided to try it out in November 2015. I thought that it would be much like Zazzle, that I could upload a design and then choose which products I want to put the design on. That is not the case. Every design you upload is uploaded as a buyable art print. Only after creating this art print, you can create more products. The products have specific image requirements, so you need to upload different resolutions of the same design. You cannot further customize the products.

The product range is not as extensive as Zazzle but Society6 can boast with a fairly large selection of products (with new ones being added).

You cannot set your own profit except for the art prints and framed art prints. You earn a fixed price for the other products.

Referral System

Society6 doesn’t have an affiliate system per se, instead it’s called a Curator Program. Instead of promoting  stores or the site as a whole, Curators can only refer to individual products. Curators get 10% of the base price of the product.

Pros:

  • frequent coupons, sales and free worldwide shipping offers
  • item quality
  • variety of products
  • curator program
  • reasonable shipping charges (even international)
  • quality designs
  • (for sellers / curators) automatic payouts
  • (for sellers / curators) no payout limit

Cons:

  • (for sellers) $1 one-time sign-up fee
  • no private product order capability
  • product creation logic
  • can’t edit individual products (for example cannot choose one product from Throw Pillows / Tote Bags / Shower Curtains / Duvet Covers category, your design will be used on all of those products)
  • (for sellers) fixed 10% profit margin except for art prints
  • (for sellers / curators) 30 day payment clearance (ie. item is sold on 15th January, payment is cleared on 15th February, payout sent to PayPal on 1st March)

society6

Redbubble

Redbubble is very similar to Society6, although overall it has more products to choose from. You can also upload your own design as private and buy an item only for yourself.

Product Creation

Product creation is way better on Redbubble. You upload one design and can choose which products you want to show them on. Each product can be edited manually (background color, size design, position, etc.), so I think that gives an advantage over Society6.

Referral System

Redbubble doesn’t have an ‘on site’ referral system like Zazzle and Society6 do. Instead, it is a part of the ShareaSale affiliate network. You can earn 10% commission from every sale. The disadvantage is that you need to have a separate account and there is an application process.

Pros:

  • free account
  • user-friendly product creation
  • private uploads
  • variety of products
  • quality designs
  • artist groups
  • reasonable shipping charges (even international)
  • (for sellers) profit margin is 20% by default but can be changed
  • (for sellers) automatic payouts every month for shipped orders if you reach $20 threshold (via PayPal and bank transfer)
  • (for sellers) analytics
  • (for affiliates) 10% commission rate

Cons:

  • (for sellers)  $20 payout threshold for PayPal and bank transfer, $100 for cheque
  • (for sellers)  no promotional tools unless you’re an affiliate

redbubble

Shirtinator (EU)

As the last print on demand service I have chosen one which is country specific. It operates only in European Union for now and it has several localised stores. Shirtinator is much like Zazzle, only offers less products. Therefore you can only make a product for yourself. Unlike Zazzle, Shirtinator doesn’t host users shops. You can set up a shop but it will be only displayed on your website.

Product Creation

Product creator is very user-friendly and simple. I appreciate the ability to choose where I can have my design. Usually it’s rather straightforward (ie. on the front) but on Shirtinator you can shirtinatoralso print on the back and/or the sleeves. There’s plenty of info on printing technologies and also pictures that illustrate how various sizes look on various body types.

On the other hand, some t-shirts have little color/size variations and some only allow to use pre-designed artwork. Quality of the prints on t-shirts is really great. Shirtinator has also a budget t-shirt, but I found it is a good quality, even though there’s only black or white variation.

Own store

As I mentioned above, Shirtinator doesn’t offer promotion of stores. It only offers tools to create a shop on your own website for free. You can earn 20% commission from each sale.

Referral Program

Shirtinator offers an affiliate program through the Commission Junction affiliate network by promoting their store/products. You can earn from 3,5€ to 6€ per sale, depending on the volume of sales each month. Just like with Redbubble, you need a separate account at CJ and there is an application process.

Pros:

  • free account
  • print qualityshirtinator1
  • private orders
  • frequent vouchers
  • user-friendly product creation
  • multiple places on a shirt to print on
  • reasonable shipping charges
  • (for sellers) tools to create own store for free
  • (for sellers) 20% commission rate from own store

Cons:

  • color/size/design limitations on some products
  • only ships within European Union
  • less variety of products
  • (for sellers) need to have own website to set up a store

Conclusion

I have shown you a few ways on how to create your own t-shirt online. No service can be 100% perfect but I feel that even with the cons listed, these print on demand services are very good at what they do. Ultimately I think it comes down to what your needs and preferences are, but I encourage you to give them a try sometimes.

There are many more services like this and maybe I will revisit this topic in the future, so stay tuned to my blog or follow me on social media so you don’t miss any updates!

What is your favorite print on demand service? Have you tried any of the above? Let me know in the comments!

8 Comments

  1. I love customized T-shirt. especially like ones that i can send a personal message with. I didn’t realize there were so many options to help with this. Thanks for gathering and putting all this info in one place, I’m a gamer too and love to put my stats on my t-shirts.
    cheers

    Reply
    1. Dana Author

      Thank you for your comment, Cavan! I have to say I hardly scratched the surface with these four services but at the same time I tried to choose those that are best known.

      I’m glad you enjoyed my article!

      Reply
  2. Hi Dana,
    thanks for overview. It`s amazing what is possible today and what different priorities these companies have.
    I love the costumized T-shirts, which express the personal style. Your comparison will help me to choose the right one.
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Dana Author

      Hi Bernd,
      I have to agree, internet has opened up a whole lot of possibilites in terms of what you can buy or sell. I love custom t-shirts because they’re unique and you won’t find 10 different people wearing the same thing in one place.

      Plus it gives the artists a platform to be creative and maybe start their own business.

      Thank you for your comment!

      Reply
  3. Dana,

    Great reviews! Who knew there were so many opportunities for creating custom art!

    I’m no artist, but I have friends who are, so I’m going to share this post with them so they can decide if they want to start making money online with their artwork.

    I also like all the options to simply go and purchase these kinds of products.

    Thanks for the thorough research and in-depth reporting.

    Reply
    1. Dana Author

      Hi Roger,
      thank you very much for your comment! The internet is a crazy place sometimes, and I have barely scratched the surface of print on demand services. I might revisit this topic in the future.

      I’d maybe recommend to your artsy friends to not just settle for one. Different people have different success with each services and I feel like it’s good to have options.

      Reply
  4. Hi Dana! This was an awesome post! Thank you for such thorough information. I’ve been curious about Zazzle for awhile. Which do you think would be the best paying for promoting specific items (like t-shirts, etc.) on a website?
    I’m also curious whether it’s worth putting a design on Zazzle from the designers persepective. Do you think the compensation ends up being enough?
    Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. Dana Author

      Hi Sarah, I think it largely depends on your personal preference. If you don’t mind waiting until your balance reaches $50 and all your earnings to be cleared, I’d go for Zazzle.

      As from the designers point of view, I’ve had a shop set up for 3 years now and I’ve made about $350 over that timeframe. I was not promoting my store or products in any way, because I was more focusing on my full time job. I think it’s worth to try since it doesn’t cost anything but a bit of your time. 🙂

      Reply

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