Congratulations, I made my three sales on Red Bubble and a few sales of cards and a t shirt on Zazzle after 5 weeks, pretty pleased with myself..its been one heck of a learning curve. I was only paid a small commission but it’s a start.

As a former contributor of photographs onShutterstock, istock, Alamy and Pond 5, I feel that I have a reasonable idea of different online platforms. However the world of T shirts is a whole new ball game and Covid 19 threw up a few interesting challenges. Postal deliveries being the biggest problem of all. No air freight, factories closing down, staff sent home, deliveries taking up to 5 weeks..

Undeterred I still ploughed on creating my first online store.

I decided to set up an Etsy store, wasting oodles of time creating a store front, banners, designing logo etc. I used Canva pro trial for creating banners and logo, its an amazing site and great fun to play around with. I particularly like the way you can easily resize designs, great for uploading to print on demand and it allows you to have transparent backgrounds.

Before stepping into the world of creating an online store, read as much as you can. Understand the fees systems, they can be confusing.

Etsy is an online platform that allows you to set up online stores and list your products. You pay Etsy fees and they promote everyone products under the Etsy Banner. It is a well established company that started in 2005. BMR business statistics says that in 2019 Etsy had 2.69 million sellers, pretty impressive. This was the formula I was following or attempting to follow. It looked so simple in my diagram. I decided on Option 1. To create an Etsy store.

As a UK resident the more I looked into the fee costs, the more alarmed I became. Why?

Tax and postage – In America any tax on clothes is very low, some USA states say that clothes are essential and have no tax.  In the UK and Europe the sales tax is known as Value Added Tax, VAT for short. 20% is the current vat on clothes, which you have to factor into your equations. Let me show you:

I order a t shirt from Printify. It costs me £9.97. The Vat is £2.62, the shipping is £3.15. Total is £15.74. It may not sound like much but my £2.62 vat is not going to help me be competitive against USA sellers.  However that was the least of my problems. I first had to set up a “shop” to sell my super cool, desirable t shirts, clocks and mugs. 

Print Demand
Print on demand products Clocks, mugs and t shirts. promoted on Pinterest.


I confidently bought a domain name and then set up an Etsy store only to discover that someone was already using that name. I could not use the same name, even though I have the website.. my first disaster. $$$$$$$$$

After using my YouTube name, I started again on Etsy and listed my photograph prints via Printify. Etsy wanted me to offer customers free postage but I hadn’t sold anything yet and wasn’t 100% sure what I was doing, even after watching all their online tutorials and loads of you tube videos.

The one thing I did learn was that the fees and charges from Etsy were going to massively impact on my profit margin. After spending hours designing shop banners, I then choose Printify as my print on demand company.

They will integrate with your Etsy store. What does that mean?

Integration means  I create a product online, post the product in an online store and when someone orders, Printful handle everything. The production, the packaging, the invoicing, the delivery. The downside to this is that Printful get all the customer details, contacts and emails. 

My Etsy store looks okay. However, Etsy want to charge a fee to list a product, a fee to renew the listing, a transaction fee of 5% of product price. A shipping transaction fee, and a credit card transaction fee charge. Whoa, does anyone make much money after all those fees. 

 My shop looked distinctly uncomfortable. Even If I had 2000 followers on instagram, could I persuade 1/3 of them to buy a t shirt and make this profitable…..No.. what about convincing my YouTube followers to buy one of my T shirts…This is a lot of work for not much return…put on pause button. 

Step forward Print on Demand with their own market place.

Red Bubble, Zazzle and Teespring. What’s different?

Red Bubble is a global Australian company, set up in 2006 and Zazzle is a American based global company set up in 2005. Red Bubble allow you to put your designs on t shirts, shower curtains, posters, stationery, baby clothes. I get to mark up a commission of my choosing on anything I design but I don’t need a shop.

On a Roll. I sign up for multiple sites. 

Zazzle, this is the queen of stationery stores for weddings, graduations, thank you cards. It’s unique aspect is that you can personalise anything. Want to put a photo of wee Fraser on a Christmas bauble, no problem. Zazzle is for you. Want to put a photo of the bride to be on her hen party t shirts, no problem Zazzle is for you. Click here to start making christmas gifts. 




The Negatives of Zazzle…

As a designer, it’s time consuming and very competitive. The % mark up on cards is low for designers and their interface is not the simplest. RedBubble is much easier. Also once you get someone to land on your Zazzle page they are immediately shown banners for EBAY and other zazzle designers, potentially taking away customers from your collections…most annoying. Zazzle is rather overpriced and constantly do promotions. Never pay full price, wait a few days you will no doubt get a 20% off whole site or 40% off cards.


Teespring I love. I go mad on Teespring and make crazy demonic t shirts and hoodies, I blame the hormones and lockdown. I am still waiting on a sale even though I spent £7 on Pinterest ads and got 67 clicks to the products I had made.

Teespring is the only print on demand I have found that does dog coats, I just love designing these too..probably as my big black Labrador will never let me put her in one … If you have enough followers on Youtube and your site is monetised, Teespring let you have a product listings on your YouTube page.

dog coat teespring
Cute blue dog coat from Teespring

If like me, you are a bit lazy and don’t want to spend loads of money upfront, then the Print on Demand with their own market place is for you. There are plenty more places like Fine Art America, Gooten, Spreadshirt. Once you work out one platform they are all pretty similar to navigate. 

If you have lots of followers, some good design ideas and do have a starting pot of $200 then I would say go create your own online stores with Printful, Printify, Shopify, Amazon etc.  Start by creating a design and creating an instagram or Facebook page relating to that. eg. cute dogs, teenage boy gear, wedding cards. This gives you platforms to promote and sell your online products. Get photo from many of the free sites. Eg. Pixabay. You can get free mockups from printful and printing to make your site more professional. What is a mockup? see below.

As I bask in the glory of my $8 commission, my daughter has just announced she sold one of her old pair jeans on DEPOP, (teenage girls clothes platform) and made $50. My best friend text to say that she just sold her coat on Versaitaire and made £80, I can only dream. Might just see what’s in my wardrobe too!

After thought: The algorithms and web links take time to link together, I found on shutterstock it took around 3/4 months to get a steady income. Learn from MY mistakes and if you can’t design for peanuts, then pay someone on Fivver. I had a positive experience with a designer who attempted to make me some fairies. We were not on the same wavelength and after showing me 2 designs we agreed to go our separate ways, I paid nothing. If you want to try out my TIKTOK beginners channel or YouTube. click here. Scotlady

Do not start initialising google ads on Etsy unless you have a clear understanding of fees. It can rack up quickly and cost more than the sales.

I will make a YouTube video  of what products are like and you can see quality goods and postage. Canva also do print products and they arrived the quickest during lockdown. Shame my design was so awful! 

Good Luck.