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Building a Freelance Career as a T-Shirt Designer

The growth of the T-shirt industry is tremendous. Apart from T-shirt being one of the most popular outfits to be worn today, T-shirts growth has been fueled by other factors such as the spawning of numerous online T-shirt stores, the custom design t-shirt stores where you can customize the detail of any tee to your choice have made shopping for t-shirts a convenient task. Moreover T-shirts are today being used as publicity means by big corporations to small blogs alike. All these factors have only resulted in manifold growth of the t-shirt industry in the recent years.
So, how do you get a tiny winy slice of this? Well, there are various ways to earn a living with t-shirt industry and in this post I will discuss about how you can earn a living by designing T-shirts.
First, decide if it’s for you
It is important to find out if t-shirts designing is really the job for you before you start looking for work. Although technically designing a t shirt may seem just the same as designing any other stuff (and you may even use the same tools) practically, designing a t shirt is very much different from designing a say, website template. You may be very good at designing a web template but trust me, that doesn’t mean you are very good at designing t shirts too. The easiest way to find this out is to browse through the websites that accept public design submissions and look for trendsthere as to what kind of designs are liked by people and which ones get booed. Even better, just try out a couple of your ideas by submitting them and look at the response.
Okay, I know I can design a t-shirt, now what?
Now that you are sure that you are capable of designing professional grade tees, it’s time to get some design jobs. As with any kind of freelance job, your freelance t–shirt designing career would depend highly on how you constantly find new customers and how you convert some of them to your long term loyal customers. But where do you look for such freelance design opportunities?
The first stop will be freelancing job sites like ifreelance, GAF etc. Unlike freelance writing jobs, you won’t find a great many of t-shirt designing jobs on these sites but sometimes you may find a good client.
You can also try our crowdsourcing sites like 99designs.com that have considerable amount of t-shirt design opportunities.
Some t-shirt sites like threadless is an excellent place to get recognized for your work and earn money at the same time. Here’s how threadless work; you submit your design (as per their submission guidelines) and after that, the threadless community will score and comment on your submission. If you can manage to get enough scores and your t-shirt design is selected as the next threadless t-shirt then you win $2,000 in cash and $500 in threadless gift certificates. What’s more you stand to win up to $22,500 if you win a “Bestee” in the Threadless Awards. (There are designers who have earned to the tune of $56000 from threadless). http://www.threadless.com/profile/308998/fatheed/
Now, you know that sites like threadless isn’t a guaranteed source of income. That is, you get paid only if your design is selected by the community. But these type of sites are a great way to get some exposure, meet other designers, build a network (very essential factor in a freelancer’s career), and most importantly to get feedback on your designs and improve them.
A big list of places where you can find freelance t-shirt design jobs is the topic of a future blog post hence this gives just a vague idea of places where you can find such work.
If you are just starting out as a tee designer, I suggest that you spend some time in discovering and trying out new markets to know which ones suits you. Also, it helps if you can develop your own unique style that people recognizes. Take advantage of various forums and platforms where you can meet other designers and clients and gradually try to build a good network. Over some time, you will have some of your work being printed as t-shirts and once you have some items to show off to your clients, build a portfolio. A good portfolio goes a long way in getting you more freelance jobs.
So, if you think there’s a t-shirt designer in you, then go ahead and give it a try today. You may be earning your next six figure income from it very soon.

paint brush

The growth of the T-shirt industry is tremendous. Apart from T-shirt being one of the most popular outfits to be worn today, T-shirts growth has been fueled by other factors such as the spawning of numerous online T-shirt stores, the custom design t-shirt stores where you can customize the detail of any tee to your choice have made shopping for t-shirts a convenient task. Moreover T-shirts are today being used as publicity means by big corporations to small blogs alike. All these factors have only resulted in manifold growth of the t-shirt industry in the recent years.

So, how do you get a tiny winy slice of this? Well, there are various ways to earn a living with t-shirt industry and in this post I will discuss about how you can earn a living by designing T-shirts.

First, decide if it’s for you!

It is important to find out if t-shirts designing is really the job for you before you start looking for work. Although technically designing a t shirt may seem just the same as designing any other stuff (and you may even use the same tools) practically, designing a t shirt is very much different from designing a say, website template. You may be very good at designing a web template but trust me, that doesn’t mean you are very good at designing t shirts too. The easiest way to find this out is to browse through the websites that accept public design submissions and look for trendsthere as to what kind of designs are liked by people and which ones get booed. Even better, just try out a couple of your ideas by submitting them and look at the response.

Okay, I know I can design a t-shirt, now what?

Now that you are sure that you are capable of designing professional grade tees, it’s time to get some design jobs. As with any kind of freelance job, your freelance t–shirt designing career would depend highly on how you constantly find new customers and how you convert some of them to your long term loyal customers. But where do you look for such freelance design opportunities?

The first stop will be freelancing job sites like iFreelance, GAF etc. Unlike freelance writing jobs, you won’t find a great many of t-shirt designing jobs on these sites but sometimes you may find a good client.

You can also try out crowdsourcing sites like 99designs that have considerable amount of t-shirt design opportunities.

Some t-shirt sites like threadless is an excellent place to get recognized for your work and earn money at the same time. Here’s how threadless work; you submit your design (as per their submission guidelines) and after that, the threadless community will score and comment on your submission. If you can manage to get enough scores and your t-shirt design is selected as the next threadless t-shirt then you win $2,000 in cash and $500 in threadless gift certificates. What’s more you stand to win up to $22,500 if you win a “Bestee” in the Threadless Awards. (There are designers who have earned to the tune of $56000 from threadless).

Now, you know that sites like threadless isn’t a guaranteed source of income. That is, you get paid only if your design is selected by the community. But these type of sites are a great way to get some exposure, meet other designers, build a network (very essential factor in a freelancer’s career), and most importantly to get feedback on your designs and improve them. You can also try out any of the online services that let you open an online store with your own design and sell them, like CafePress, Zazzle etc.

A big list of places where you can find freelance t-shirt design jobs is the topic of a future blog post hence this gives just a vague idea of places where you can find such work.

If you are just starting out as a tee designer, I suggest that you spend some time in discovering and trying out new markets to know which ones suits you. Also, it helps if you can develop your own unique style that people recognizes. Take advantage of various forums and platforms where you can meet other designers and clients and gradually try to build a good network. Over some time, you will have some of your work being printed as t-shirts and once you have some items to show off to your clients, build a portfolio. A good portfolio goes a long way in getting you more freelance jobs.

So, if you think there’s a t-shirt designer in you, then go ahead and give it a try today. You may be earning your next six figure income from it very soon.

About the Author

TeeVault.com is a t-shirt search engine and blog. If you have any other questions, please contact us at [email protected]

2 comments on “Building a Freelance Career as a T-Shirt Designer

  1. You wont really find much of a freelance t shirt design job on GAF, ifreelance etc.. But another good way to get some job is to contact t shirt stores directly with ur resume/portfolio and more often than not you’ll have a positive response if you are worth it..

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