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T-Shirt Printing - Make A Fortune from Cafepress and Zazzle

Updated on July 14, 2012

Open a Free Store

At Cafepress or Zazzle, it's completely free to open a store that sells Print On Demand T-shirts. There is no upfront cost required except you have to invest your time. Cafepress and Zazzle are located in USA, one of the largest markets for T-shirts.

Invest Only A Few Hours per Day

At CafePress, Zazzle, or any other on demand printing, they will give you an online shop where you upload your creatively designed images which are printed on merchandise. You are then given a base price and you add your fee. You just then sit, relax and wait as the merchandise sell through the internet. At the end of the month you will be sent a check of your monthly earnings on Cafepress or Zazzle. This sounds like a very good model to make money at home where your only investment is a few hours per day.

Make a Fortune on Cafepress and Zazzle

I set out to search the internet about how people are making a fortune on Cafepress and Zazzle or how people are making a killing selling T-shirts on Cafepress or Zazzle. Unfortunately, nothing of a substance came up. I was expecting to get something like: “last month I made a total of say $2700 on Zazzle and a total of say $2100 on Cafepress. But what I got is a few guys who state that for the past one year he’s made say $137 on Zazzle and an addition say $54 on Cafepress.  That is not a lot of money to be referred to as making a fortune on a business for a whole year. Good success stories about selling print on-demand merchandise are rare and scarce on the internet and this set me wondering why. Could it be that people are making a fortune on cafepress and zazzle but prefer to keep mum for fear of their businesses being copied by others?

Your Fee is a Good Profit

So, what happens? You are given a base price X and then you add your fee Y making the selling price to be X+Y. If you are given a base price of $13 for a T-shirt and you add your fee of $10, the selling price for that t-shirt becomes $23. $10 as your fee is a good profit for an item with a base price of $13. But that is a whopping 77% price increase. The truth of the matter is that the T-shirts and other merchandise that you buy in Cafepress and Zazzle may have a higher markup than the equivalent merchandise at the trusted Amazon stores.

Break-Even Point

In business, the break-even point is the point at which the cost of producing an item is equal to revenue received from selling the item. The cost of producing the first item is usually very high but the unit cost of production reduces in subsequent items that follow thereafter. An economy of scale is a concept where the unit cost of production reduces as the size of a production and the usage levels of other inputs is increased. Print On Demand offers the opportunity where the buyers of these products get a unique item which is specifically printed for them – chances are very high it may be the only design of its kind the world over. It is because of this that the print on-demand items have high prices. Are the consumers of these products aware that they are buying unique items? Not everyone seems to take that in consideration but rather compare the prices to other prices of similar items that are mass printed. It is because of this that the selling of print on demand items maybe very difficult.

Alternatives to Cafepress and Zazzle

You can make a living by selling printed T-shirts on Cafepress and Zazzle but it’s a very difficult job that may take several years. There are alternatives to Cafepress and Zazzle businesses. And that is setting up a real printing business at home. You will need to invest real money - you get out of business what you put into it. If you don’t put much in a business, do not expect to get much out of that business at the end of the year.

There are two options on how to go about it.

1. Buy From Zazzle And Cafepress At Quantity Discount

You proceed as follows.

1. Spend a reasonable amount of time at Zazzle/Cafepress websites studying and designing the best design that can sell well in your area.

2. Ask the management of zazzle/cafepress for all possible quantity discounts

3. Buy at least 1000 pieces of the same design to qualify for the maximum discounts and lowest prices possible.

4. Sell your merchandise to all your acquaintances in your home area.

Textile Digital Printer for home based T-shirt printing business. Very easy to operate for you to Make A Fortune from in T-shirt printing. Image credit:
Textile Digital Printer for home based T-shirt printing business. Very easy to operate for you to Make A Fortune from in T-shirt printing. Image credit: | Source

2. Secure A Textile Digital Printer

  1. Buy a small digital printer for textile printing. IEHK of Singapore has their smallest digital printer at US$2300 plus DHL shipping cost of $500. Printing cost for this machine varies from $0.1 to $0.2 per print. You can get similar textile printers in your area.
  2. Buy plain T-shirts in bulk from a unit price of $1.70 to a unit price of $5.00. Check companies such as for best offers in bulk orders.
  3. Learn from the manuals and videos how to operate the textile printing machine. It is very simple to operate the machine and just normal workers can operate it well after brief training.
  4. You will need a computer which you may already have.
  5. Run the T-shirts printing from your garage or wherever.
  6. If you get a T-shirt at $1.7 and you run one print at $0.2, your total cost of having one printed T-shirt will be $1.9. Compare this with the $20 they are asking at print on demand stores. Can they compete with you?

If you follow either one of these two options, your profit at the end of the year will not be $137 but several thousands of dollars which is more than enough to make a living.

Changing Goal Posts

Following the recent change of search ranking algorithm popularly known as Panda slap, someone was not happy with the frequent changing of goal posts and she wrote this: “my future online presence will now have to include only those sites where I am included in writing rules”. It is indeed very worrying when you invest two or three years of your time value online and all of a sudden a few guys sited on reclining chairs decides to change goal posts without reference to you.

Doing Online Businesses without Investing Any Money

There is a growing trend of people wanting to do online businesses without investing any money but only a ‘few hours’ per day. They say it’s only a few hours you will spend per day but the truth is that the whole thing can be addicting and you will end up coiling yourself around your computer days-in days-out only to make $137 per year. If you are not careful, this may destroy your social life in the hope that the business will become big in the future.  And even when the business has started to do well, the rules are changed and you have to start all over again.

Get Your Own Money Any Way You Can, but Get It

Get your own money, say $5000, and start a small but a real business. If you don’t have money, you can explain your situation to your parents or your elder brothers and sisters and since blood is thicker than water, they will lend you some money. If they can’t give you the money, talk to your bank manager who will be more than happy to advance you all the money that you need for your small business.

Take Care of Your Time Value

In six months after starting your real offline business, you will have known whether your business will succeed or not. If it fails, then abandon it and move on and do something else. The idea of setting up free online businesses on other people’s websites needs to be taken with a lot of care. It can take two years, three years, five years, seven years, ten years, and a time will come when you will ask yourself, “Exactly what did I do with my life for the last ten years?” This is not meant to discourage you in your online business but you should take care with the value of time, repeat, value of time.

Internet Crowd Keeps On Telling Me All Is Well

On the internet regarding online home based businesses, people are sharing how they made $45 online last month, and others will share how they are making enough to go out for drinks once a week. In developing countries, a fisherman who doesn’t know how to read and write will make a profit of twenty dollars per day fishing. Here in the developed world where people knows how to use high tech skills of computers, someone is expecting you to make $137 per year, and the internet crowd just keeps on telling me all is well. Certainly, something is terribly wrong with that model of doing business - the online businesses where you don’t need to invest any money but only a few hours of your time per day.

A good business is any business where at least 5 out of every 10 people who start such a business can genuinely make a living out of it. And true, free things are very expensive in the long run.

The Author’s page is designed to help beginners and average readers make some money as an extra income to supplement what they may be earning elsewhere - details of which you can find in My Page.


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    • Blackspaniel1 profile image


      4 years ago

      I am on both Zazzle and CafePress, and they do work for small profit. Just remember the money is all profit.

    • profile image

      Rakesh Mandal 

      4 years ago

      Very, very nice information. Thanks a lot. I also found this page about this topic t-shirt-printing-machine-home

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      The title of this hub was misleading. Did you do that to get visitors? I am personally looking into selling on these 2 sites so thought this would be a positive hub about success stories.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very good advice! I love zazzle, but am always looking for ideas that are similar. As you said, its tough to make a ton of money, but I have gotten to a point where I make about $100 a month - and I'm certainly hoping for more! I have documented the most important things I do, if you want to check it out: . Good luck to you!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I want to say he is correct regarding those making GOOD money will not advertise or proclaim via such public formats, it is very rare. This is similar to currency/commodity traders.

      I have to say in like 2007 I birthed a Spreadshirt shop and sold a few shirts, just over 50 in jus over 30 days. Even moved some units in Europe (France, Spain based upon local data). My designs were really artsy for i'm a pen & ink guy who just discovered a love for Illustrator and hate for PS (lol), thus the spreadshirt requirements were a dream for me. My shop was even featured on there website or sample store section. Long story short, I didn't even market the shop or designs thus with more marketing knowledge that could have been 1000 tees in 30 days...BUT my now Ex-Wife didn't like the idea of 50 tees in 30 days. The time I spent just didn't equate. She wanted, NOW, the 1000 tees in 30 days...

    • shin_rocka04 profile image


      6 years ago from Maryland

      Good post. I need to get out there and actively promote my Zazzle products

    • MsLofton profile image


      6 years ago from IL

      These are definitely some great tips, I have been struggling with this topic. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Food for thought. I've been on Zazzle for almost two years and had been on CafePress several years before that. The point you made about it getting addictive made me stop and think. Since being laid off from work I've been at my computer a lot!(LOL)

    • PaulPd0 profile image


      7 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Have you made any money through Zazzle or the other T-shirt print on demand website? I am curious.

    • sarovai profile image


      7 years ago

      Textile digital printer is one of the best option. Even though , I am not in this field, Still , I can see youngsters crazy about the printed t-shirt. There is potential for this type of work. Thank u for sharing this information.

    • sarovai profile image


      7 years ago

      Textile digital printer is one of the best option. Even though , I am not in this field, Still , I can see youngsters crazy about the printed t-shirt. There is potential for this type of work. Thank u for sharing this information.

    • damek profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Interesting hub, helped me a lot, thank you!

    • CJamesIII profile image


      7 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Great hub! Great ideas, thanks. Also great writing!


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