Print Your Designs

By Reginald the Cat -04/20/2020 12:03AM

Print Your Designs

Do you enjoy being creative and designing graphics? Print on Demand (POD) might be the perfect new side hustle for you.

What is Print on Demand?

Print on demand companies provide the service to print and distribute your designs on different items such as mugs, t-shirts, totes, etc and you receive a royalty on each item sold.

What if you're not a designer, can you still be successful with Print on Demand?

There are some amazing apps that you can use which provide fonts and graphics that you can use on the shirts. If you aren't great a designing but have great ideas for funny sayings, check out these apps to help with the design.

I have used all 3 apps suggested below. Make sure to set your canvas to custom size and use 4500 x 5400 px as the size. This is the size that Amazon Merch requires for designs.

Over App

Over is available for iPhone & Android and lets you overlay text on designs. They have a free and pro version. The pro version comes with a ton of fonts and graphics that you are able to use. You still need to verify trade marks and make sure not to use any licensed material in your designs.

Get Over

Vintage Logo App

Vintage logo is available on the apple store and is one of my favorites. There is a free and pro version. The free version comes with a ton of vintage style designs and fonts.

Get Vintage Logo

Vintage logo is available on the apple store and is one of my favorites. There is a free and pro version. The free version comes with a ton of vintage style designs and fonts.

Photo Distress App

Photo distress is $2.99 on the apple store, but is amazingly simple to use. There are different filter options to distress your design or logo. I usually create designs in Vintage Logo and import them into photo distress before placing them on a shirt.

Get Photo Distress

Can you use any character or quote in your design?

No. A lot of characters and phrases are licensed or trade marked. You cannot use licensed characters such as Disney characters in your design and should always produce your own original content.

You should always err on the side of caution and run a check of the US trademark database. Search on for potential copyright infringements. Specifically, you are looking for active trademarks with trademark class 25 (clothing). If one exists for your word or phrase, you cannot use it on your clothing design.

If you want to create your own designs, what software should you use?

If you are interested in creating your own graphics, you should use one or multiple graphic editing software options such as Photoshop or Illustrator. If you are just getting started and don't have Photoshop or Illustrator in the budget, check out these free software options:

GIMP (resembles the functionality of Photoshop)
Inkscape (resembles the functionality of Illustrator).

If you are designing your own graphics, you want to take into consideration the resolution or DPI/PPI. A good goal for print is at least 300 DPI. If you are using Inkscape, you can set this up by going to File -> Document Properties. This will pop up a side box. Change the units in "Custom Size" to Inches and enter 15 by 18 inches.

When you export your design as a PNG, there will be a box that says DPI. It is defaulted to 200 DPI. Change this number to 300 DPI when you export and select "Page" as the export option. This will result in the 4500 x 5400 px image that Amazon Merch requires.

Where can you start selling?

Merch by Amazon

Amazon has a print on demand program called "Merch by Amazon". You need to request an invitation and get approved by Amazon before you can start selling. I have heard that it can take months from when you request an invitation to get approved. From my personal experience, my account was approved within 3 business days.

Sell on Merch


Printify pairs you with local manufacturers and links to a selling platform such as Etsy or Shopify. It has a larger selection of materials to print on than Amazon and you have a larger opportunity to make higher profits on the sales if you are interested in putting more effort into marketing your shirts. The great thing about linking to Etsy is that you can take advantage of Etsy's large seller platform however you need to pay listing fees regardless of whether your item sells.

Sell on Printify


Tee Spring is another print on demand site. It is completely free to get started and the great thing is that marketing is handled within the site similar to Etsy, but without the listing fee.

Sell on Teespring

When will you start making money? How Much?

While there are people that will brag about making $4000+ a month, creating novelty shirts has become very competitive within the past few years. Many of the people at the top of the market now have the money and resources to put into hiring designers and securing top spots for popular keywords.

Realistically, it seems that many people are able to consistently make a few hundred dollars a month. Designers seem to agree that sales are vary seasonally and that you can expect your largest amount of sales during holidays, particularly father's day.

As much as you may want it to be with your creativity and design, boosting your sales has a lot to do with marketing and keyword targeting. It is possibly a significant amount more than the design itself! However, with the increasing competition of POD, you also need to make sure your designs are stellar.

Research Trends and Keywords

I use the Keywords Everywhere plugin for Google Chrome. This plugin allows me to see keyword rankings when I type searches in Google, Etsy, and Amazon. A common strategy is to target long tail keywords (or specific searches) and make sure you have an amazing design in a top spot for a specific shirt. For example instead of targeting the keyword 'dance', you might want to target 'funny dance shirts for women'. You then want to use the full phrase in the title of your shirt and the description. Instead of competing with a broad category where your shirt will get lost in the tens of thousands, you are able to target your audience and have a better chance of showing up higher in the search results.