passive income, print on demand

Zazzle,Teespring, Red Bubble or Printify earn from home.

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 on Shutterstock, 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 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 everyones 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 –  create an Etsy store.

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

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. 

(Note: You can also pay Printify to join the Premium plan which would give you a 20% discount on the price of products but guys at a whopping $29 month, thats $348 year…another expense…)

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, Printify handle everything. The production, the packaging, the invoicing, the delivery. 

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. Press pause button and suspend my account for the time being. 

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 allows 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.

I simply use their shop.

Phew. No more worrying about Digital tax, postage charges, credit card fraud….this is much easier. Just upload a design, tag, choose multiple products, edit size and voila. It even lets you add text to your design and has some cool backgrounds for you to add too. 

Got my fist sale yesterday! Two facemasks sold to someone in Florida..yippee.

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. 

Personalised Christmas bauble
personalised xmas bauble
Edinburgh gifts zazzle
Edinburgh gifts zazzle

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 other Zazzle designers, potentially taking away customers from your collections…most annoying. 

Zazzle is rather overpriced and constantly do promotions,  20% off or 40% off. Wait a few days and get some fabulous Christmas gifts that are unique at good prices. 


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 Lion head tee
I don’t like losing roaring lion t shirt. Ideal for gamers.

Teespring have an analytics page that let you see if your products are being visited.  As you can see people are looking at my teespring page but no one is buying, perhaps you feel sorry for me??  You can get one by clicking on the text under the lion…….

Teespring let you add your own mark up…don’t be too greedy or you will not be competitive. You can also choose multiple products for one design quickly with good colour choices on products.

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. Check the copyright, it is different on photographs with real people as opposed to vectors that use cartoon or graphic images.  You can get free mockups from printful and place it to make your site more professional. Also BEWARE of popular branded words. My account was suspended both on Zazzle and Red Bubble. I think it was because I used the tag, “Baby Dino”. Someone has possibly copyrighted this term…I will not make that mistake again. I will use the tag “Baby T Rex” next time as Dinosaurs sure are popular. 

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.

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 designs were so awful!

If you want to see my shutterstock which still makes me the most regular income its here. If you want to try uploading photos read my blog or click here. 

WordPress is a great place to start a free blog. You dont need to upgrade till you have the basics worked out but its easy to use and has a good support team. Click here to build your online voice. 

Good Luck and thanks for stopping by. The post above does contain affiliate links, pays for WordPress tools. 

Thanks for your time.












Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s