Make money uploading images for T-shirt designs to Teespring, Zazzle, etc

; Date: Thu Feb 07 2019

Tags: Make Money Online

Just by uploading images to certain websites, it's possible to make a fair amount of money. But it's not to any old website, the images must be uploaded to specific sites. Some websites offer the opportunity to design products, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and the like. Your role is uploading a picture to put on the product, and then promoting the resulting product. Their role is to manufacture and ship the product.

Several companies have a mission of allowing you, me, everyone, to become product designers. These custom product sales companies let folks upload product designs and handle manufacturing and selling those products.

The attraction to an online entrepeneur is a simple business. You simply create designs, and the custom product service company handles order fulfillment (sales, shipping and customer returns).

This is an excellent way to make money from creating artwork. For example:

Blue Blush Pink Pastel Floral Chic Modern Flowers Throw Pillow
( Blue Blush Pink Pastel Floral Chic Modern Flowers Throw Pillow
by ( printabledigidesigns

This is clearly a water color painting someone created. To make money from that painting or any other piece of art is as simple as

  1. Come up with a design
  2. Make a PNG of the design
  3. Upload to the selected service
  4. Promote somewhere
  5. Make commissions on every sale

In some cases there is a second route to making money - affiliate sales. Namely, some of these services let you create an affiliate link to any product page so that you don't have to create your own design, but can make money promoting someone elses design.

Creating a design

The first step is to develop something which might be sellable. Create that piece of art somehow. Typically the custom product sales companies let you upload images to their service, and that image is directly used on the product.

Some of the services have an online design mode letting you pick out some text, maybe upload a partial image, and otherwise compose the product design on the website. This way you don't need graphics design software, because you can use their online design tool. While that's an easy approach, your design is trapped in their system. That artwork is your creation, so shouldn't it be kept on your computer?

The Zazzle online product designer tool

A recommended tool for graphic design is Canva. This is a simple-to-use online graphics design tool that makes it easy to create great looking graphics. There is a huge selection of clipart available, plus a ton of designs to start from. Once the design is finished, you download a PNG or JPG file that can be uploaded to the product design service.

The Canva online graphics designer tool


You want to avoid running into legal trouble, yes? Do not screen capture a picture of Mickey Mouse, because the Disney Corporation will take a dim view. It's best to understand enough copyright law to avoid getting cease and desist letters (or worse) from angry copyright holders.

It's best to use your work in your designs, rather than to rip off images others have created. Yes in todays age it is trivial to screen capture some image, but copyright holders will exercise their rights.

Think about that word "copyright" and you'll see it is about the right to make copies of a given thing. The principle comes from our forefathers when it was difficult and expensive to create books or other works of art. To ensure the artist was properly paid, the concept of copyright was developed so that the artist could designate who was allowed to make copies.

Uploading the design to the service

Whether you've used the online design tool of the service, or your own graphics software, you will have come up with a design you want to promote.

There is a long list of possible services through which to sell product designs. Most of them offer a wide range of products, not just T-Shirts but mouse pads or coffee cups or underwear or posters or pillows and much more. The commonality is that each company has machinery available to print custom designs on a variety of products, at scale.

Each of the services has a help area describing how to create a successful design. If you've used your own software, it's necessary to use a clean graphics format with good quality images. It's better to make a large graphics file to scale down, rather than use a small file that has to be scaled up.

Promote somewhere

If the design just sits on their website, it may not sell very well. As in any endeavor, it's useful to promote your work so others know about it.

On the other hand, you don't want to be a spammer shoving your product designs in front of your friends. That's a good way to lose friends.

A trick that might work is to find a busy Facebook group, and to toss in a design that's more-or-less in line with discussions in that group. The idea is to try and blend in with a design that looks like images already going through that group. Again, don't do this too much or you'll be spammy.

If you have a website with traffic, your audience may want to buy stuff you've designed.


In every case I've looked at, the service will have a price for the underlying product, and then a price for it with your design. Often you set your own price but in some cases the service defines a given price.

Services for selling custom product designs

Teespring ( Most known for T-Shirts, this site now supports a wide range of product types. A core attribute is that each design lasts on the site only for a given time period, and that's supposed to produce a pressure to buy now.

Cafe Press ( Lets folks set up "shops" within the Cafe Press website with which to promote products. This company was one of the first to support selling custom designed products.

Spreadshirt ( They primarily support T-shirts, but now covers a larger range of products. Sellers can set up a customized shop on the SpreadShirt website, and can now integrate the Spreadshirt service with a Shopify store.

Logo Sportswear ( The origin story here seems to be supplying shirts and other accessories with logos of sports teams or businesses, e.g. for employees of a company. They have broadened to other types of products, and allow anyone to sell custom designs.

Zazzle ( Offers a huge range of products on which to sell your custom designs. The product design tool is powerful and easy to use. However the user interface for managing products in customized stores is more than difficult.

SunFrog ( They primarily focus on T-Shirts.

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About the Author(s)

( David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.