Making Money with Threadless as a Freelance Graphic Designer

Threadless was created in 2000 as ‘a way for all the creative minds in the world to make great art.’ It’s great if you are a freelance graphic designer who is interested in creating designs and making money in the process.

Since then Threadless has expanded from t-shirts to many other products, while introducing many features along the way to help designers and artists earn recognition and money for their work.

Steps to Making Money on Threadless


For sites like Redbubble you can simply upload your designs and start earning money. However, Threadless has a scoring system where users score designs from 1 to 5 and give comments. Only the best of the best are printed and sold every week. If any submission gets too low a score (usually below 1) it will be removed by Threadless, so you really need to submit your best work. Competition is certainly tough, with hundreds of quality submissions being submitted every day.

Threadless, a way for all the creative minds in the world to make great art
A look at Threadless' Scoring System

On the other hand, the rewards are great if your submission does get selected for print. You will earn up to $7 for every product sold and a $250 gift code. Threadless will also promote the design on their website and social media. In addition, many people shop at Threadless due to the quality of their products. As such, you will likely earn more money per design on Threadless compared to other sites such as Redbubble or Design by Humans.

Shop for amazing men's tees at Threadless

If you are in need of inspiration, Threadless has themed design challenges to get your creative juices flowing. You can always find a few challenges to participate in at any given time. The best part about these challenges is that you will receive a big cash prize if your submission wins.

Make sure that the designs you submit are of exceptional quality to increase the chances of getting selected for print. If you want to learn some helpful tips and tricks to getting a good score, do check out the forums there. In addition, Threadless has a challenge called ‘Design Critiques’, where you can get feedback for your submission from other designers and artists.

Threadless has forums where you can interact and connect with the community
Design Critiques allows you to get feedback on your design

You will be able to participate in challenges and send in submissions after creating an account. Threadless requires a JPG image that is 1,200 pixels wide x 1,200 pixels tall. You can use the submission kit provided by Threadless or create your own. If it’s the latter, consider taking a look at submissions from other designers and artists as reference. Most of them have a main graphic along with mockups showing how it would look like on a shirt.

Design Challenges on Threadless

To submit a design, go to Create and Submit A Design. Here, you can submit your design to either the open-ended design challenge or themed challenges.

You can easily participate in any one of Threadless' challenges

After uploading your image and filling in some basic information, your design is ready for submission.

Submitting your design to Threadless

Once the design is submitted Threadless will review and approve it for scoring within a few days. The scoring period is around ten days, during which you can check the comments on your submission. After the ten days are up, Threadless will tally the scores and show you the final score.

If your submission receives a good score and gets selected by Threadless, you will be required to submit the source files (if you are working in vector) or hi-res images for print purposes.


In the past you couldn’t do much else on Threadless if your submission doesn’t get selected. However, that has changed now that Threadless has introduced Artist Shops. It’s 100% free and Threadless takes care of printing and inventory for you. In addition, you can fully control the profit margin for each product. In short, you make money each time a product is sold without the time and hassle of having to ship it out.

Artist Shops on Threadless

You can sign up for Artist Shops with your Threadless account. Once done you will gain access to the shop dashboard, where you can create a product, manage your products, and change your shop settings.

Create and edit products through the Artist Dashboard

When creating a product, your design has to be at least 2,000 pixels wide x 2,000 pixels tall, in either JPG or PNG format, and at 300 pixels per inch. After the initial upload, you may upload additional files to customize the design by product. Wall Art requires the biggest files at around 12,000 pixels wide x 10,000 pixels tall.

Threadless also provides you with a few selected layouts and fonts to customize your shop’s appearance. All layouts are responsive, so your shop will look good on any device.

You can customize your Artist Shop's appearance on Threadless

Artist Shops is perfect if you are looking to build an apparel brand in the easiest way possible. On the other hand, all the marketing is left entirely up to you, so you will need put in quite a lot of work to generate passive income from your shop. The rewards are well worth it though, especially if you are able to build up a sizable following for your designs.


My first ever submission to Threadless was for the ‘Power Rangers’ design challenge. I was just starting out as a graphic designer, so imagine my surprise when I was informed that my design has been chosen as one of the winners.

My design was printed and promoted on Threadless, earning me close to $300 during that period. However, since then I haven’t been active there at all due to the uncertainty of not getting selected for print. Artist Shops look promising, and I will explore this potential source of passive income some time soon.


It can be hard for your submissions to get selected for print, and success of Artist Shops depends on how well you market your shop. That said, Threadless is definitely a good choice for a graphic designer looking to make some passive income if you put in the work and focus on creating quality designs.

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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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3 responses to “Making Money with Threadless as a Freelance Graphic Designer”

  1. Very good information. Lucky me I came across your website by chance (stumbleupon). I have bookmarked it for later!

  2. I have a Artist Shop on Threadless.. They finally gave me some links.. for promoting my shop! I need some help to make this work.. Who is familiar with the whole process??.. Who could I contact??.. Jim Sloane

    1. John Poh

      Hey Jim, have you tried social media such as Instagram and Pinterest? Apparently a lot of shop owners have success promoting their shops there.

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