As people from across the country search for the next new fashion statement, t-shirts are becoming a great way for people to express themselves. Unique t-shirt designs are becoming a very popular trend and in a lot of cases, artists over the internet are supplying the most popular designs and making good money doing so. This article is intended to help artists get started making some cash while having fun creating new t-shirt designs.

T-shirt design opportunities are provided by a variety of websites including the ones listed below. Each of these websites offers opportunities in which artists can complete designs from anywhere in the world and submit them online. Designs are then judged by various means and eventually selected to be printed by the company. The process contains three basic steps:

  1. Find an opportunity
  2. Submit a design and
  3. Promote it

Each site has a slightly different structure so it helps to check out each one to see which suits your style or goals best. Take a look at some of the best opportunities available below.

Find a Design Opportunity


Threadless Logo

Description: Threadless is an online store with whole galleries full of unique  t-shirts for sale that are entirely created and submitted by artists within their community. Threadless offers both a general submission category and a themed contests in which artists cater the t-shirt design to. When a design is submitted at Threadless, there is a 7-day voting period in which other Threadless members will vote on how cool and how unique the work is. Submissions that receive the highest scores at the end of the voting period are selected to be printed. Every design printed at Threadless is chosen entirely by members of the Threadless community.

Earnings: At Threadless, the earnings for artists operates on a “base fee” system in which artists can select their own prices for their own work sold. Artists will earn the difference between the "base price" chosen by Threadless and the sale price chosen by the artist. For example, the base price for a t-shirt at Threadless is $18. If the artist decides to sell the t-shirt for $25, then the artist will earn the full difference between the sale price and the base fee ($25 - $18 = $7) for every t-shirt sold. Threadless also sells products like iPhone cases and prints in which the artist can also sell and earn money from in the same way. Additionally, Threadless offers themed competitions in which winners can receive up to $2,000 for a winning design.

Design by Humans

Design By Humans Logo

Description: Design By Humans is an online store that holds multiple different themed contests in which artists can submit their designs and earn big money. Currently there are over 20 different open competitions to choose from. Winners from each contest are chosen by members of the Design By Humans community who vote for their favorite designs. The highest scores win.

Earnings: Winners of the individual contests will get cash prizes which vary by contest. Generally, the top three places in a contest will earn a reward which ranges from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars. Additionally, artists with a large portfolio of work can submit their portfolios for a chance to have their own store created within the website, which allows them to make additional royalties on all t-shirts sold.


TeeFury Logo

Description: TeeFury is a one-a-day t-shirt web store, which mean it offers just one (sometimes two) new t-shirt to buy every day. Everyday, TeeFury will rotate out the current t-shirt and bring in a brand new one. Once the day is over, the previous day’s shirt is no longer available to purchase from TeeFury. Designs on this site are chosen by TeeFury staff from submissions by artists.

Earnings: If selected by Teefury to be printed and sold, a t-shirt will have just one full 24-hour day for people to purchase as many as they can. The artist is paid $1 for every t-shirt that is sold that day. This doesn’t seem like much, but once the day is over, the artist can shop the design around to another site which could pick it up for even more earnings potential.

Shirt Woot

Shirt Woot Logo

Description: Shirt Woot is a one-a-day t-shirt web store, similar to TeeFury, but is structured a bit differently. At Shirt Woot, half of the t-shirts selected for print are chosen by staff at the website and half are selected from a weekly design competition. These competitions have a new theme selected weekly and are open to all designers. At Shirt Woot, a t-shirt design is featured for only one full day, but if it is very popular it can stick around in the store long-term and make even more royalties.

Earnings: Artists whose designs are selected will earn $1,000 up front and another $2 per shirt sold every day after the first day the shirt is on sale.

Shirt Punch

Shirt Punch Logo

Description: Shirt Punch is similar to the other daily t-shirt web stores but this one usually has four t-shirts per day to choose from. Everyday, Shirt Punch will swap those four t-shirt designs for four brand new designs. This means more designs are selected but also means that there are three other competing t-shirts for sale everyday. That being said, it is still a great place to get recognition and make a little cash.

Earnings: If an artist's design is chosen, the artist will receive 10% of all sales of their t-shirt for that day. Generally, shirts sell for about $10 on their site which leaves the designer with $1 per shirt....not hateful.

Submit A Design

Once you have selected which website you think will fit your style and goals best, you can start submitting your designs. Each website has a unique format with specific standards in which the design must meet. Before beginning any design project, it is a good idea to read each websites design submission rules to make sure a design does not get rejected for not being up to standard. Generally, the design standards include:

  • Layout size - The sizing of the design layout has restrictions.

  • File size - The size of the file submitted usually has to be smaller than a certain criteria.

  • Color management - There are usually limits on what colors and how many colors can be used.

  • Content - Some sites do not allow certain provocative content to be published.

Now that your designs adhere to all standards and limitations, you are ready to begin submitting them.

Promote Your Work

Once a design is submitted, it is a great time to begin promoting entries so that they have a better chance of being selected by staff and voters.  Promoting designs that have been submitted to sites like Threadless, where designs are voted on by other members, is especially important because it can lead to more votes. Here are some simple techniques to help spread the word:

  • Use social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter to tell your friends and followers when you have submitted new designs that can be voted on. This goes a long way in getting the ball rolling.

  • Create a simple blog where people can easily keep track your designs. Tumblr is very simple for artists to upload new work and keep engaged with fans. 

  • Follow other artists' blogs to see what they are doing to promote their work.

  • Always ask friends and family in person to hop on on a computer and vote for your designs.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a good idea of how to begin making money designing t-shirts, have a blast creating new creative designs. Not every design you create is going to rake in a fortune, but enjoying your work and having fun doing it can be just as satisfying.