Michael Wong Academy

T-Shirt Design Contests

Do you know how to make money online with t-shirt design contests? What are t-shirt design contests? Are all t-shirt design contests scams? How much money can you make with t-shirt design contests? Read on for all the answers.

Quick links

T-shirt design contests quick facts

Available
Work where?
Time?
Pay
Pay by
Status
Experience
Qualifications
Joining fee?
Minimum age
Gender
Worldwide
Online
Paid-per-hour/project
$100-2,200 and/or $1-5/shirt sold
PayPal, check, bank deposit
Independent contractor
None required
None required
No
No minimum age
Male/female

What are t-shirt design contests?

T-shirt design contests allow anyone to submit original t-shirt designs to win cash prizes.

The original concept of crowdsourcing t-shirt designs was pioneered by Threadless.com back in 2000.

Here's how it works:

  1. Invite the online community to submit original t-shirt designs.
  2. The online community vote and comment on the designs.
  3. The website owners award the best designs with prizes, typically cash and/or royalty payments.
  4. The websites print the winning designs on t-shirts, hoodies, polo shirts, etc., and sell them back to the online community.

The contests fall into two categories:

Copyright

You may wonder who owns the rights to your t-shirt design.

If your t-shirt design isn't picked to go into production, you keep the rights to your design.

If a website decides to print your t-shirt design, then you give up some or all of your rights to the design. How much you give up varies from site to site.

Here are three examples:

What this means: with Threadless you only give them rights to use the design on apparel like t-shirts and hoodies. You're free to use your design for all other products. And they make sure you're compensated when they use your design.

laFraise goes further requiring the rights to your design for 5 years.

Springlead is the other extreme, requiring you to give up all rights to your design.

You can read about how each site treats your rights to your design further down this page.

Are all t-shirt design contests scams?

I did a lot of research on this topic. And here's the conclusion I came to...

T-shirt design contests are a legitimate way to make money online.

Companies offering t-shirt design contests don't charge for entries. If you come across a t-shirt design contest website that requires payment for entering or more information, run the other way! :-)

If you have any opinions or experiences with t-shirt design contests, please post your comments at the bottom of this page.

How much money can I make with t-shirt design contests?

How much money you make with t-shirt design contests depends on your talent for designing t-shirts and how many t-shirt design contests you enter.

How you make money with t-shirt design contests

Winning t-shirt designs pay in 1 of 3 ways:

  1. Cash prize: from $100 to over $2,200.
  2. Royalty payments: $1 to $5 per t-shirt sold.
  3. Cash prize + royalty payments per t-shirt sold.

To give you an idea of how much money you can make with t-shirt desgin contests, here are some examples of what t-shirt designers have earned.

Threadless

Threadless is a very popular t-shirt design contest website.

Threadless gives you the chance to make as much as $25,000+ with one winning t-shirt design.

Winning designs receive:

Here are two examples of how much Threadless t-shirt designers have earned:

Source: Threadless.com/artists

TeeFury

Here are TeeFury.com's top 3 t-shirt designers and their earnings:

  1. WinterArtwork: $39,536 (23 designs)
  2. Ian Leino: $31,879 (14 designs)
  3. Zerobriant: $30,441

Source: Teefury.com/submit.php

DesignCrowd

Here are DesignCrowd.com's top 3 t-shirt designers and their earnings:

  1. ArtSamurai: $47,415
  2. Elisha Leo: $29,980
  3. redcrackers: $28,463

Source: Tshirt.designcrowd.com

As you can see, you can make some pretty decent money winning logo design contests. I'd definitely suggest giving it a go if you've ever fancied yourself as a t-shirt designer.

T-shirt design contests availability table

Here's a table of the top 11 t-shirt design contests, along with their prize money, and how long each contests run for.

Prizes with a "+" sign indicate additional rewards on top of the cash prize or royalty payment.

You'll find further information about the rewards for each t-shirt design contest further down this page.

INR = Indian Rupees, "~" = approximately, O = Ongoing, W = Weekly, M = Monthly

Prize
$2,200+
€1,000+ (~$1,250)
$1,000+
$500/2,000+
$500/1,000+
$300/500+
$1+/t-shirt
$2+/t-shirt
$1/t-shirt
£100+ (~$150)
5,000 INR (~$90)
Schedule
Bi-weekly
Weekly
Daily
Bi-weekly
Weekly
O, W, M
Every 3 weeks
Ongoing
Daily
Monthly
Monthly

Top 11 t-shirt design contests that pay cash prizes

Here are my top 11 t-shirt design contests, ranked by the cash prizes on offer.

  1. Threadless: hosts a popular bi-weekly t-shirt design contest. They accept entries from t-shirt designers aged 13+ worldwide.

    Threadless has a vibrant community of an estimate 1.8 million members. In 2008 Inc. magazine estimated that Threadless sold over $30 million of t-shirts that year. They probably sell lot a more now.

    Threadless accepts designs for:

    • t-shirts, girly styles, kids styles.
    • hoodies, crew sweatshirts, polos, tank tops, scarves.
    • backpacks, messenger bags, laptop cases, pencil cases, totes, wallets.
    • wall patterns, freakers.

    The community rates and comments on the designs over a period of seven days.

    Every couple of weeks Threadless select designs to print partly based on the design's score, comments, and the number of "I'd Buy It!" scores.

    Ultimately the decision of which designs to print is up to Threadless. The scoring system mrely helps give Threadless an idea of which designs customers want.

    The winning designs are printed on t-shirts, clothing and other products. They're sold on the online store and at the Threadless retail store in Chicago.

    Threadless prizes

    If your design is selected as a Threadless t-shirt, you'll receive:

    • $2,000 cash.
    • $500 Threadless Gift Certificate (can be redeemed for $200 cash).
    • $500 cash each time your design is reprinted.
    • Alumni Club membership including a Medal of Honor and other goodies.
    • Entry into the annual Bestees Awards with prizes up to $20,000.

    Payments vary for other product lines.

    Threadless requests the rights to the design on clothing only. Designers keep the rights to their designs on all other media.

    Threadless Bestees awards

    The Bestees is the Threadless monthly design award. The community are invited to vote on their favorite print of the month. The winning designer receives $2,500 and the winning design is reprinted.

  2. laFraise: is a popular European t-shirt online store which hosts a weekly t-shirt design competition. They accept entries from t-shirt designers of all ages worldwide.

    Every week laFraise select new t-shirt designs to be printed in a limited edition of 500 t-shirts.

    Each winning designer receives:

    • €1,000 cash and two t-shirts.
    • €2.46 (about $3 USD) commission for every t-shirt sold beyond the initial print run of 500.

    laFraise get the rights of the design for 5 years.

  3. DesignByHumans: host a daily t-shirt design contest. They accept entries from t-shirt designers of all ages from anywhere in the world.

    DesignByHumans hosts two types of contests:

    • The DesignByHumans daily contest.
    • Special contests.
    The DesignByHumans daily contest

    The daily contest consists of two awards, "Shirt of the Day" or "Rock Star Awards".

    The daily contest are where t-shirt designers submit designs to be voted on by the DesignByHumans community.

    The winning design is printed and made available for purchase through the DesignByHumans online store.

    Special contests

    DesignByHumans also occasionally partner with companies in the entertainment, apparel, and lifestyle industry to run special contests.

    Special contests typically have a theme and run alongside the DesignByHumans daily contest.

    Special contest prizes vary from contest to contest and may include cash, concert tickets, apparel, and other prizes.

    The Dark Knight Rises special contest

    In March 2012 DesignByHumans ran an official Dark Knight Rises contest.

    Over $13,000 in cash and prizes were on offer, with $3,500 going to the winner.

    Director/Writer/Producer Christopher Nolan and Producer Emma Thomas chose the top 3 winning designs. Cool!

    Check out these impressive contest stats:

    • 1727 artists.
    • 3305 submissions.
    • 84 countries.
    • 51,800 votes.
    • 26,644 voters.
    • 15,970 comments.
    Daily contest prizes

    The Shirt of the Day winning designer receives $1,000 and six t-shirts with the winning design. Shirt of the Day is awarded Mondays to Thursdays.

    Rock Star awards

    In addition to the daily prizes, designers are paid an additional cash award as their winning design reaches certain sales targets.

    • Silver award: sell 1,000 t-shirts, receive $500.
    • Gold award: sell 2,000 t-shirts, receive an additional $500.
    • Platinum award: sell 3,000 t-shirts, receive another $500.
    • Multi-platinum award: sell 5,000 t-shirts, receive another $1,000.
    • Diamond award: sell 10,000 t-shirts, receive another $2,500.
  4. Springlead: is a South African based website that hosts t-shirt design contests. They accept entries from t-shirt designers of all ages worldwide.

    Springleap offer two types of t-shirt design contests:

    • Bi-weekly open theme contests: where you can design anything you like.

      Every 2 weeks, a winning design is selected from the top 15 voted designs. The winning designer wins a cash prize of $500 plus royalties.

    • Brand contests designing to a brief: the winning design wins $2,000+ cash plus royalties.
    Royalties

    Winners of both open theme and brand contests also receive the following royalties in addition to the cash prize:

    • $0.30 USD per t-shirt sold.
    • 3% of the selling price on other products that use your design. For example, posters and canvases.

    Royalties are calculated every three months. Accounts with over $20 are paid out.

  5. Shirt.Woot: host a weekly t-shirt design contest, known as "The Derby". They accept entries from t-shirt designers aged 18+ worldwide.

    Shirt.Woot are part of Woot, the pioneers of the "one day, one deal" concept.

    Did you know... Amazon acquired Woot for $110 million in 2010? Woot! Woot! :-)

    Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday Shirt.Woot sell the top 3 most popular t-shirts from their weekly t-shirt design contest.

    T-shirts sold on other days are designed by Shirt.Woot's staff and other t-shirt designers.

    Shirt.Woot are hiring

    If you're an experienced t-shirt designer, contact Shirt.Woot at artists@woot.com about joining their team.

    T-shirt design contest prizes

    Winning designers are paid depending on their choice of two contracts:

    • Exclusive contract: if you give Shirt.Woot permanent exclusive rights to your design, you'll earn:
      • $1,000 for the first day your t-shirt goes on sale.
      • $2 per apparel or garment sold by Woot after the first day.
      • a separate agreed fee, if Woot uses or licenses your design in a form or media other than apparel or garments.
    • Less exclusive contract: if you give Shirt.Woot exclusive rights to your design for one year only, you'll earn:
      • $500 for the first day your t-shirt goes on sale.
      • $1 per apparel or garment sold by Woot after the first day.
      • a separate agreed fee, if Woot uses or licenses your design in a form or media other than apparel or garments.

    You retain the copyright on the design with both contracts.

  6. Goodjoe: host ongoing, weekly and monthly t-shirt design contests. They accept entries from t-shirt designers of all ages worldwide.

    If you are younger than 18 years old, you must get your parent or legal guardian to submit your design on your behalf.

    Ongoing t-shirt design contests

    Submit positive t-shirt designs for the up and coming caused-motivated generation. Goodjoe periodically review submissions and pick a design with 50+ votes to print.

    Weekly t-shirt design themed contests

    The weekly t-shirt design contest accept designs that have a positive, inspirational, or humorous message. Every Monday Goodjoe staff select the winners.

    The winning designer of the ongoing and weekly t-shirt design contests receive:

    • $300 cash + an additional cash prize of $200 towards your education if you're a student.
    • 6% royalty per product sold.
    • $100 store credit.

    Monthly t-shirt design contests

    Every month Goodjoe run a Design for a Greater Good contest based on the mission statement of a nonprofit organization.

    At the end of the contest, the nonprofit selects the winning design and earns up to 50% of proceeds from each t-shirt sold.

    Goodjoe selects 2 winning designs and the winning designers receive:

    • $300 cash + an additional cash prize of $200 towards your education if you're a student.
    • 6% royalty per product sold.
    • $100 store credit.
    Rights to your designs

    Goodjoe requires a worldwide license to use your design for any product, including but not limited to Goodjoe products, for 18 months.

  7. Canvas: host an ongoing t-shirt design contest. They accept entries from t-shirt designers of all ages worldwide.

    Winning designers receive:

    • $1 per t-shirt sold on C28.com.
    • cash bonus based on number of units sold in the first 30 days:
      • 30 units sold: $100 bonus.
      • 60 units sold: $250 bonus.
      • 100 units sold: $500 bonus.
      • 250 units sold: $1,000 bonus.
      • 500 units sold: $2,500 bonus.
    • $250 bonus if C28 decides to sell your t-shirt in the stores.
  8. CoveredntheWord: is a Christian t-shirt website that host an ongoing t-shirt design contest. They accept entries from t-shirt designers of all ages worldwide.

    Christian t-shirt designs must be inspired by the Bible in some way and include one of the following:

    • A specific scripture reference (example, John:316).
    • An entire Bible scripture or symbolism that relates directly to a Bible scripture.

    Winning designers receive:

    • $2 per item sold.
    • bonus of $300 when 60 t-shirts of an individual design has been sold.
  9. Teefury: host a daily t-shirt design contest. They accept entries from t-shirt designers of all ages worldwide.
    Daily deal business model

    Teefury offer a similar model to popular daily deal sites. They sell one new t-shirt everyday. The sale starts at midnight eastern time. The sale ends when the t-shirt sells out, or after 24 hours, whichever comes first.

    If your t-shirt is selected to go on sale, you'll receive $1 per t-shirt sold.

    You keep full rights to you design. After your t-shirt stops selling on Teefury, you're free to do what you like with it, such as submit it to other t-shirt design contests. Cool!

    Top 5 t-shirt designer earnings

    Teefury don't say how much you can make having your t-shirt sold for a 24 hour period. But here's how much TeeFury's top 5 t-shirt designers have earned:

    1. WinterArtwork: $39,536 (23 designs)
    2. Ian Leino: $31,879 (14 designs)
    3. Zerobriant: $30,441
    4. Bisqueets: $28,995 (16 designs)
    5. Captain RibMan: $27,942

    Source: Teefury.com/submit.php

  10. Teetonic: is a UK based t-shirt website that host a monthly t-shirt design contest. They accept entries from t-shirt designers aged 16 or over worldwide.

    The winning designer receives:

    • £100 cash.
    • 50p for every t-shirt sold.
    • t-shirt with your design.
  11. Inkfruit: is an India based t-shirt website that host a monthly t-shirt design contest. They accept entries from t-shirt designers of all ages worldwide.

    Inkfruit host two ongoing t-shirt design contests:

    1. Always On.
    2. Tee Story (based on current events).

    Winning designers receive:

    • 5,000 Indian Rupees (approximately $90 USD at the time of writing).
    • t-shirt with your design.
    • Hall of Fame certificate.
    Rights to your designs

    Inkfruit retain all rights to winning designs.

Other t-shirt design contests

Here are some t-shirt websites that no longer run t-shirt design contests:

Submit your t-shirt design ideas

Top 2 online marketplaces offering t-shirt design contests

Here are my top 2 online marketplaces offering t-shirt design contests. I've ranked them by the number of open t-shirt design contests at the time of writing.

  • 99designs: is by far the most popular crowdsourcing online marketplace hosting all types of graphic design contests.

    They have over 45 open t-shirt design contests at the time of writing.

    99designs offer cash prizes ranging from $149 to $499.

  • DesignCrowd: is an online marketplace with over 15 open t-shirt design contests at the time of writing.

    The cash prizes on offer ranged from $100 to $330.

  • T-shirt design contests forum

    Post questions/comments below. Remember the house rules.

    Similar online contests

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