After seeing an online tee shirt store once, it is easy for most people to get swept up into the idea of “I could probably do that!” Many love the idea of launching that a great shirt that everyone loves & that the shop can’t seem to keep in stock. All the while you just keep raking in the money for your designs.
It quickly becomes apparent that you have little to no artistic talent, or you are lacking inspiration. Sometimes the easiest way to do something is to have someone handle it for you, and that is never been as accessible as it is right now. Just about each industry imaginable relies on independent contractors / freelance workers to handle their needs and more often than not, they work better & cheaper than going through traditional firms.
There is a variety of different ways to go about this, every option with its own pros and cons. Not each choice will be the right fit for your needs, while others may find that multiple selections may work. We are going to explore a number of choices, starting with performing the design work.
The One Man Army- Making Designs Yourself
Even though you struggle with drawing a stick figure, programs are available at little to no cost. Although Photoshop is the granddaddy of all image editing software, who has the budget for buying it?
Luckily, many alternative programs with similar layouts & can be found for free; some users even prefer them over Photoshop itself. Whether you are able to sketch it out on the program or merely combine other images & shapes that you have found, digitally designing shirts without a dedicated shop is easy.
Unfortunately, if you do not have experience in digital photography or have not had the time to get acquainted with the software they downloaded. Chances are, you have found yourself putting off developing your design more and more, now you’re worried it’ll never get finished. If you lack the time, money or experience to develop a design on your own, it is probably time to hire a professional.
Outsourcing your design work frees your time & energy to spend on scaling your operation. By decreasing your own labor hours & keeping hiring costs low, you stand to save quite a bit of money and make more!
Calling in the Professionals- Outsourcing Your Designs
1. Crowdsource Your Project
Crowdsourcing is an increasingly popular idea to raise funds for something buyers are interested in, all without the hassle of trying to persuade the local bank to loan you money. Everything from books to full-length movies & even video games have been funded using crowdsourcing techniques.
It is an easy and effective way to generate funding & social media buzz simultaneously. By finding interested investors that like what you’re pitching, you can have a base of buyers putting money up before the final product has been finished. This way you know that the design sells and you already have some sales in place. All that is left to do is use the money wisely & deliver a killer final product.
Not all crowdsourcing sites are made equally. Some force you to do all of the legwork by uploading your initial sketches & plans to help coax buyers to invest. Other sites will allow you to pitch to family and friends and most sites have strict rules to follow. If you are not careful, you may lose all the money you have raised, or worse, have to pay even more back in return.
Some sites, like 99designs, let “designers” to pitch the idea of their shirt. The artists that frequent their site agree to design the shirt for a predetermined agreed upon set price. It works a little like an auction site, you set your price and product description and the artists bid to fulfill the job requirements.
Just know that many sites that follow this solution allow an entire pool of designs to be submitted by various artists, and not all of them have the same price. You could want a more expensive design, but your wallet will force you to take a lesser worth one.
2. Hire a Dedicated Designer
Whether you wanted to build a house, you would go to where the home builders were, right? The same logic applies here. You have the shirt design concepts, now you just need an artist to bring them to life. Many sites are communities of experienced and establish shirt design artists that are ready & willing to work for you.
Though many of these types of sites exist, one of the more popular ones is Dribble. This combines artist portfolios with the selection of hiring freelance labor. Artists are merely there to show off their work, though you may still be able to inquire about them potential working on your project. Others would have an obvious “hire me” button illuminated on their profile page, letting you know that they’re actively looking for design work.
3. Search On Freelancer Sites
While freelancing websites may / may not have available designers, they act as marketplaces for any & all freelance workers. This includes creative professionals, like artists, musicians, and writers and more traditional temp workers for office & business needs. But in our experience, there are always designers and artists hungry to expand their portfolio with freelance.
Simply make a job posting describing your project and set your deadline and price. Many freelancers are eager to find the next available job, and you will probably begin receiving responses faster than you were expecting.
While they are typically much more affordable, selecting cheap labor from another country is a surefire way of winding up with a low-quality final product. Many freelancers sub out their work, when they insist that they do it themselves. Others will talk a big game to get your business, just to wind up failing to deliver in the end. Mediation actions are lengthy, and since most sites require escrow payments up front, the money perhaps out of your hands for a while.
The great news is that freelance workers need good ratings to get work, most are reliable. Freelancing is no longer considered a fad or a trend, it is an industry in its own right. Some of the more common freelance marketplaces include Freelancer.com, Upwork, and Elance. There are many more options out there, and some are better than others. Be sure that, like any job, you get them an interview process, asking for portfolios & previous work samples before agreeing to use them.
4. Try Cheap Options for Quick Designs
People know that you get what you pay for, so using a cheap freelance site, like Fiverr, comes with the inherent risk of your finished project being hit or miss. But this is a reputable discount freelance marketplace, but every user has a dedicated rating, as well as other metrics like how many jobs are completed on time and how quickly they respond to messages.
As long as your design is not too terribly complex, Fiverr can be an effective way to save you some money. Be sure to set realistic deadlines; chances are, no matter how good the artist may be, they will probably need longer than a day to finish your design.
Fiverr gets its name from prices running as low as $5 per job. There’re more expensive options and sellers are encouraged to price every additional option on every job for an additional fee. Be sure to read everything as a $5 job could quickly snowball into a much pricier one. But as long as you seek someone who knows what they are doing and is charging a fair price, you can keep away hiring an expensive digital artist.
They are always worth checking out, even if you find on a budget. You never know where a good deal is going to be lurking, and knowing that you are getting someone with experience is worth each cent. Other sites, like T-Shirt Factory, use templates to easily make a shirt design. The downside is that it becomes easy for multiple users to be selling similar / identical designs.
5. Sell a Second Hand Design
Believe it or not, there’re a ton of designs floating around the Internet that are collecting dust. Others designs have not been made yet, but exist in the form of popular images, TV shows and other entertainment offerings. It is big business now for many companies to sell graphic design shirts and that opportunity exists for you as well. If you find a poster, image, or other design you would like to display, go for it! Be sure to obtain the proper commercial license so as to not accidentally commit copyright & trademark infractions.
If you see a design by an artist that currently is not being sold, send them a message. You can offer to put their design on a shirt on your store in exchange for a cut of the profits. The worst thing that can happen is that they’ll say no, and at best, you found yourself a new design partner.
Designs do not have to be from shirt designers, either. It is not uncommon to see striking designs from budding artists within portfolios. Seeing one of their images come a Eureka moment of how great it would look on a shirt and chances are, depending on what sort of medium they use, it have never been displayed on a shirt before.
6. Find and Hire Local Talent
Conducting business with complete strangers is not for everyone. If it be the fear of getting taken advantage of or simply not being able to properly convey your needs & desires online, it may be best to find out a local designer in your area. This helps you the benefit of speaking face to face with a professional designer, getting you a step closer to being on the same page with your artist.
You can check classified sites and newspaper sections, those artists looking to get started. Craigslist is a mixed bag, but since it’s free to use it is always worth a peek. Other websites Meetup.com, show you local & highly-relevant events. By finding a nearby shirt expo or design club, you will have more designers available to you than you know what to do with.
That you know that you have options, it is time to get to work. Do not have time (or effort) to create your shirt yourself, get professional help. Your imagination, creativity or mental capacity be damned, you will have killer designs in no time!