Make extra money with Print on Demand (POD) companies


Can you explain how those t-shirt printing websites work? I’m an artist and have some designs but I’m not sure how that all works. Thanks!

Sometime around 2003, my brother-in-law told me about a company, Cafepress, that would allow him to create his own t-shirts. He runs a political commentary website, and was looking for ways to earn revenue. My sister would help create designs and they would upload the images to the Cafepress site. They chose where they wanted to “sell” the image: t-shirts, bags, or bumper stickers. Cafepress had a base price for the item, and my brother-in-law set the retail price. The difference between the prices was what he would earn in commission.

When someone saw an image that they liked, they ordered it directly from Cafepress, who handled the creation of the item…screenprinting it only when ordered and then they handled payment processing, packaging, and shipping. Every month, my brother-in-law would get a commission check.

My brother-in-law didn’t have inventory, he didn’t have to handle complaints, order mix-ups, payment processing screen printing, or any of the hassle. That’s what Cafepress was for! As long as he promoted his shop and got visitors, he would have an extra stream of income.

This process is called “Print on Demand” or POD. And has increased in popularity over the years. Now, it’s not just t-shirts, but baby onesies, messenger bags, dog shirts, shoes, clocks, posters, calendars, lampshades, and so much more. I sell both of my books through Amazon KDP (formerly Createspace,) a POD company for media (books, music, etc).

It’s a great idea if you have design skills, and also works really well with school fundraisers. Parents will buy anything their kids make, and you can have the children create designs and then sell them to raise money for your school or program! It’s also a unique gift idea for the holidays or beyond.

Over time, my brother-in-law has migrated from Cafepress to Zazzle, which offers sweat-shop free t-shirts.

Below is a list of other POD companies. Commissions and terms vary from company to company as well, so do some due diligence to find the right fit for you.

But once you do, go forth and create!

Skreened (no longer active as of March 2019)


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