Whether you have a blog, run a business or if you just prefer to create your own t-shirts for personal use, if you’re a beginner, you might feel a bit lost at t-shirt making.
Questions may run through your mind if you are starting a tshirt business, such as:
- What if I don’t know anything about designing t-shirts?
- Can I do this without spending any money upfront?
- I have no skills whatsoever. How am I supposed to figure this out?
- Where do I sell my t-shirts at low or no cost?
The good news is that regardless of where you’re at in your t-shirt designing journey, you can start doing this right away, even with no skills or budget to start with.
In this post, I’m going to introduce to you free tools and programs you can start using immediately, even as a total beginner making t-shirts.
Table of Contents
Finding Free Fonts and Graphics With A Commercial Use License
Believe it or not, there are plenty of websites that offer freebies when it comes to fonts and graphics. You’ll need to carefully read and follow the licensing terms and conditions, but once you get the hang of this, it’ll come naturally to you.
The websites I recommend for free fonts and graphics are:
- Creative Fabrica
- Creative Market
- Design/Font Bundles
- The Hungry Jpeg
All of these websites come with freebies that include a commercial use license. You may use these to design and sell things like digital art, bookmarks, t-shirts, mugs, framed prints, and so much more.
When you use these sites, it’s important to read through their commercial use licensing terms.
Examples of T-Shirt Making Graphics
So for example, with Creative Fabrica, their freebies can be used for t-shirts, but they come with their “Basic POD” license. This means that while you are permitted to use the graphic, you’ll have to make significant changes to it, like adding in your own elements.
If you don’t know how to make your own graphics, no worries! I have a video tutorial showing you how to take a simple image that you took with your own camera and turn it into a graphic using free programs.
Now Creative Fabrica does have a “Full POD” license in which you are allowed to upload the design to a product and use it as is or make some small modifications, but these won’t be free.
The good news is that even if you prefer this method, they aren’t expensive. You’re usually looking at a few dollars at most. So if you don’t want to get into designing, it may be worth it to go this route.
I’ll share Creative Fabrica’s Single Sales Licensing Terms here. You can scroll through and get a better idea of what’s allowed and what isn’t.
Pixabay, which you may have heard of, offers a wide variety of free images, graphics and even videos. They all come with a commercial use license. You can read more about their license summary here.
Now while Pixabay states that you can use their content for commercial use purposes, things tend to change here and there – and these changes don’t always show up on the licensing page.
I would suggest going through their forum and searching for any specific questions or concerns you have about the graphics you wish to use.
As far as the other sites mentioned above, they all share similarities with Creative Fabrica’s licensing terms. Just make sure to read through them and if you have any questions, contact customer service.
When it comes to using graphic design programs as a beginner, I personally find it helpful to use simple progrms that don’t require a ton of initial learning at first. This way, you can learn some basics and still make beautiful designs without spending a lot of money on education or expensive tools, at least in the beginning.
The sites I like to use are:
- Canva (free version)
There are plenty of other free programs to use like Inkscape and Gimp, but if you’d prefer to avoid downloading and installing programs, you can still use the sites mentioned above since they’re browser based programs.
Canva’s free version comes with a ton of tools you can use to create designs. You just have to be careful when it comes to using their graphics and images for commercial use purposes because they have restrictions.
Your best bet here is to upload graphics you downloaded from places like Creative Fabrica or Design Bundles, etc. and use Canva to make designs out of the graphics you downloaded from these other sites.
Canva also has a pretty impressive library of fonts you can use, but it’s always best to check to see if the particular font you wish to use is permitted for commercial purposes.
Ipiccy.com is another wonderful program that is free to use. It comes with its own library of fonts, but with iPiccy, you are welcome to upload your own fonts – whereas with Canva, you can only upload fonts with the pro version.
Another important benefit to using iPiccy is that you’ll also get to create and download designs with a transparent background. This is important, especially if you create a text only design and don’t want the white background that shows up once you’ve downloaded your image.
Regardless of whether you’re using iPiccy, Canva or any other graphic design program, always check to see if the fonts you’re uploading come with the ability to use them commercially.
Just do a search for the specific font you wish to use and you’ll find out whether they’re permitted for commercial use.
Free Print-On-Demand T-Shirt Companies
Once your design is ready to go, you can start making t-shirts out of them with several free print-on-demand t-shirt companies. Many of these even come with free mockups, which work perfectly if you have an online store or if you use online marketplaces, like Etsy or eBay.
The ones I like to use are:
- Teespring (now Spring)
But there are plenty more. You can browse places like TshirtGang, Zazzle and Printify. Many of these also come with the ability to integrate your own store with them, making it easier to send your products directly to your shop.
Printful allows you to integrate your products to your online store. You can also use their mockups. It’s free and easy to set up.
Teespring and Redbubble have their own marketplaces. You can open a shop for free, upload your designs and add them to multiple products in one listing.
Redbubble also comes with free mockups, so you can see your designs placed on numerous products.
If you’re looking to make t-shirts with your business logo, this can be done easily – IF you already have the design made. If it comes with a transparent background already, simply upload your logo to the POD site you’re using and place them on your products.
You’ll be able to modify your designs, making sure the size, resolution and placement look as you would have them look – all for free.
If your design’s background isn’t transparent, Lunapic, another free graphic design/photo editing program will do the trick.
Check out this video to see how it works.
And if you want to edit your logo and make some additional creative designs out of them, simply upload it to any of the design programs mentioned here and have some fun with them!
Marketing Your T-Shirt Making Designs
When it comes to marketing your t-shirts, you may have to try a few different things out.
If you wish to start marketing your products for free, I would recommend learning about SEO, keywords and social media strategy.
Make sure you engage with your audience to establish relationships based on trust and a genuine interest in them. It also helps to target your specific audience instead of “everyone.”
You may use ads as well, but this is where things can get expensive, so before you start spending money advertising your merch, learn as much as you can about how to best implement the free methods first.
Lastly, Have Fun With T-Shirt Making
I hope the information I’ve shared with you in this post offers you some relief in that you don’t have to be a graphic designer or have a large budget to start your own t-shirt design business (or hobby).
However, you may want to invest in a printing machine if you want to take it up a notch and have your own custom tshirt maker.
But what I find most important is this:
Have fun! Do what you feel passionate about.
Allow yourself to be inspired and create from that place of pure and exciting inspiration.
Sure, you may encounter some challenges, but that’s always part of the process when you’re learning or doing something new. But try not to get too stressed out about any of this.
Just keep your focus on the fact that you CAN do this. And make sure to allow yourself some time to get familiar with the tools and programs you’ll use to make this happen.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. And if you’re interested in learning more about beginner’s t-shirt design using free tools, check out my course on Udemy. Are you ready to start your tshirt business now?
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you start a t-shirt making design business with little or no money?
Yes with some free tools and programs, you can start for almost nothing
What tools can you use for graphic designs?
Creative Fabrica comes with a license for you to make changes. You can use other free tools like Pixabay, Canva, and Ipiccy to name a few.
Can you use free print on demand companies for your t-shirt making business?
Yes, tee-spring now called Spring is probably the most popular one today for producing t-shirts on demand. There are a few others as well.
Can you make t-shirts out of your logo?
Yes, you can make business t-shirts from your local to showcase your business and give to clients as well.
How to market a t-shirt making business?
Engage with your audience where they are and get to know them before selling to them.
Is t-shirt making fun?
Yes, it can be a fun business to be in and a way to make a living.
What is print on demand t-shirts?
It’s when you work with a 3rd party supply that prints your designs, so you don’t need to have your own printing machine for them.