7 Secrets to Design Print on Demand T-Shirts

print on demand t-shirts

Print on demand? What’ that?! This could be the reaction for most of the people who hear it for the first time. A term which is not so commonly heard by many, but it isn’t any Greek and Latin. Print on demand is a process where a designer ties up with a supplier to print their design on any white-label products like mugs, blankets, or t-shirts when someone buys them online.

Print-on-demand t-shirts is a growing market. A 2017 report from a consulting firm Credence Research shows that the custom t-shirt printing market is expected to hike $10 billion by 2025.

This might sound like a cakewalk, but it is impossible to tell which design will click and get viral. A design that might look great for you might not seem so for your customers. Just when you thought you had found a promising design, it might be too late as already many designers would have seen and are copying the trend.

This is what happened when the designers who did print on demand started applying the concept of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts to every niche possible.

This is one biggest mistake. Without even researching the target audience, you waste a lot of time designing print-on-demand t-shirts that don’t sell. This blog will help you figure out the variety of ways to research the designs that will fetch you some profit for different POD niches and will also help you find out the right images and fonts to create those designs.

The 7 secret design ideas that can click on your print-on-demand t-shirts

T-shirts have become a lifestyle for people. Wherever they go, it’s easier to grab a t-shirt and jeans rather than searching for a formal shirt that matches the trousers. So, with merchandise that has got unimaginable love, it must be designed with utmost research on what people will love to wear. It should be a universal design that everyone could relate to. The t-shirt design should attract people from all walks of life, to boost your sales. Make sure to utilize your creativity to its best. With businesses starting to promote their companies through t-shirts, you have a lot of scopes to utilize the opportunity and come up with designs that can be a winner. Here are some top-selling design ideas that can help you start with.


print on demand t-shirts ideas

People are always fond of their pets, and that is why the pet industry is worth $95 billion a year, says a report from American Pet Products Association.

For cool t-shirt designs, you can choose dogs, birds, cats, or even guinea pigs, but don’t forget there is even a bigger market for animals such as lizards, horses, wolves, tigers, and hedgehogs. Placeit is a good place to source your t-shirts, as they have plenty of pet t-shirt templates or cool t-shirt design ideas.


Check out this t-shirt design. Do you know that statement design t-shirts are the best conversation starters? You can design human-related print-on-demand t-shirts that have funny images, nerdy jokes, punchy one-liners, or just memes. If you wish to give your potential buyers a sense of what a shirt would look like when worn, use t-shirt mock-ups from websites like Placeit.


Loving or hating your job is a choice, but there are millions of others who wake up every morning to be proud of what they do. Jobs, as such, is a cool topic to make t-shirt designs. Not all jobs are popular as others- some can have more passionate workers than the others. A funny example is lawyers or accountant won’t get the same love as nurses or firefighters.

Sports, Lifestyle, and Hobbies

Another reason why people buy custom- printed t-shirts is to show off their favorite sports, lifestyle, or hobby. Some best selling t-shirt niches for your business is :


  • Basketball
  • baseball
  • Cricket
  • Hockey
  • Football


  • Gaming
  • Book worms
  • Gardening
  • Anime
  • Car/bikes


  • Digital Nomads
  • Veganism
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Travelers
  • Yoga

Family and Relationships

Have you seen T-shirt quotes that say “World’s #1 brother” and thought, who will wear this? T-shirts like these are the ones which are mostly loved by people. They are popular, especially on special occasions like brother’s day. You can even find similar wordings for single dads/moms, bride-to-be, newlyweds, and even for grandparents. There is also specific designs for friends and co-workers.

For the Wanderers

Wanderers print on demand t-shirt tips

If you go to any tourist destination, be it cool hoodies or t-shirts or any other souvenirs based on their local attraction, you can get them all. On travel-related print-on-demand t-shirts, the most common designs are architecture, local delicacies, maps, and also the name of the place written in creative typography.

Seasonal Designs

Don’t think that your only print on a demand t-shirt design for seasonal can be for Christmas. There are plenty of celebration design which includes Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Graduation, and other important holidays. Even religious holidays like Hanukkah or lesser-known ones like National Coffee also have their importance in the market, but only if you time your promotions well.

Where to design?

The best-case scenario is you are a designer and or you know someone you can work well with. But don’t get scared if you don’t have immediate access to a designer. This is when outsourcing comes to play.

You can find designers on Behance, 99 designs, All Time Design, or any other freelance sites which can give you usable designs as long you give them clear instructions. Here is how you can add clarity and context to your design project:

Share insights into your audience: Tell them what it is for and who the audience is. Show them your website if you have one, which can also help.

Clearly explain what you want: Use the initial pitches and subsequent revisions to over-communicate what you want and the guidelines to follow and try to provide solid feedback every time.

Show examples for inspiration: Offer them references to base the design on or point out the past work you have liked.

There are plenty of talented designers out there, so you will definitely be able to find someone to bring your ideas to life. The trickiest part is getting to know what you want to design in the first place.

This will depend on the target audience of the product; you can find inspiration on:

  • Facebook Pages
  • Pinterest
  • Subreddits
  • Wherever you find your potential customers

You can look for messaging, content, or styles that already resonates with your target audience to brainstorm ideas worth pursuing. Just make sure that you don’t infringe on anyone else’s work.

Social media is the best place to test your ideas; if you want to convert the internet into your focus group, try the below:

  • Post it to your personal network on Facebook or in groups
  • Use Instagram’s questions polls to solicit feedback
  • Share a rough version of your idea with a relevant subreddit

Print-on-demand services are the most accessible inventory source for any new entrepreneurs or for anyone who wants to test their idea before they invest in it. If you are someone who wants to test it out with t-shirts, try incorporating the design ideas discussed above with your own twist of creative energies. You can also check out the color combinations for t-shirts.

March 1, 2021
10 min read
18 reads

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