Making Money with CafePress as a Freelance Graphic Designer

Founded in 1999, CafePress has become one of the biggest online retailer of custom t-shirts, personalized gifts, posters & art, mugs, and much more. If you have created artwork on similar sites such as TeePublic and Design by Humans, CafePress is another place for selling them and making money as a freelance graphic designer.

Steps to Making Money on CafePress


Let’s take a look at how you can sell your artwork on CafePress.

CafePress, one of the biggest online retailer of custom t-shirts and much more

It’s easy to sign up for a new account — even easier if you sign up using your Facebook, Google+ or Amazon account. Once done you can edit your profile and set your payment details under Settings.

Your Account Dashboard on CafePress

Go to My Designs and Add Designs to upload the artwork you want to sell. Note that CafePress will filter out any images that do not meet the minimum requirements of 100 dpi and 200 pixels in height and width. Also, CafePress doesn’t accept vector files at this time, so you will need to go with either PNG or JPG. Lastly, make sure your artwork doesn’t infringe any copyrights or it will be removed shortly after.

Next, you will be asked to add some information about the artwork. Besides name and description, tags are keywords that optimize your designs and products so they show up in relevant search results in the marketplace. By making good use of tags you increase your chances of making sales.

Be sure to add information about your artwork in CafePress

CafePress will automatically create products based on your design and start selling them right away. However, the system isn’t foolproof and there will be some products that don’t look as good as you would like. In such cases, you can add or remove products manually under My Designs.

You can manually edit your artwork and products in CafePress

And that’s it, sit back and enjoy the royalties!


All prices are set by CafePress, and the percentage received from a sale is based on your commission score. There are ways to improve your score, such as logging in to CafePress in the last three months and making sure your designer profile is at least 80 percent complete. In short, the more active you are on CafePress the more money you will earn.

You can receive your royalty payment either by check or through PayPal, though there is a minimum amount of $25 that you must reach. Also, all accrued royalties are paid within 60 days of the month they were accrued, since CafePress offers customers a full 30-day money back guarantee and needs time to account for returns and exchanges.

Earning passive income from your designs is about casting your net as wide as possible. And with hundreds of products on CafePress, you have a good chance of making a sale. Furthermore, you just need to upload the design — which usually takes less than 5 minutes — and CafePress will do the rest.

As usual, marketing will help you sell more. Consider making use of social media like Instagram and Pinterest, which allows you to easily share images of your products with a wide audience.

You might not see any sales at first, but realize that it’s basically a numbers game. Keeping uploading designs that are unique and of high quality and the money will start coming in. Also, it’s a good idea to check out some of the best sellers to see what’s popular and trending.


Personally, I’m not earning a lot through CafePress. In fact, it’s my worst performer out of all my print-on-demand sites — I earned nothing there so far the past couple of years.

As mentioned earlier, your artwork won’t look so good on some products. If you are more of a perfectionist like myself, it takes a lot of time to manually add and remove products. It would be great if CafePress updates their interface like what Spreadshirt did, but in the 5 years I’m on CafePress there hasn’t been any major updates.


While you probably won’t hit it rich on CafePress, you can still earn some money by focusing on both quality and quantity of your artwork.

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Ask questions and share your experiences in our Discord group! It’s free to join and a great way to connect with other aspiring freelance graphic designers

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2 responses to “Making Money with CafePress as a Freelance Graphic Designer”

  1. Ram

    How you market your designs on Cotton Bureau? Do they market our designs? Can you please help me

    1. John Poh

      Since Cotton Bureau a relatively new POD site there is less competition, so I’m getting sales even without any marketing.

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