UberPrints vs Zazzle vs CustomInk: Custom T-Shirt Shops Compared

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There are more and better options for on-line custom t-shirt design where the would-be-designer and entrepreneur can upload and sell their products to the public. Some of these companies are better for selling, some are better for shopping and some are be

UberPrints

About

UberPrints has been in the on-line custom apparel business since 2005 and is based in Atlanta, Georgia. They make the claim that they are the t-shirt experts with the best printing technology in the business.

Shop

Browse the product page to get an idea of what product you'd like to place your design on. Unlike Zazzle and CustomInk custom t-shirt companies, UberPrints only offers printing on apparel at this point. The following main product categories are available:

  • Men's and Unisex
  • Women's
  • Kids and Babies
  • Other Cool Stuff (hats and apparel for pets)

Create

Uberprints offers a few choices in different brands. Keep in mind that the better quality of t-shirt you chose, the better quality of print you'll get. Your printed design will last longer and look better after multiple washes with a better quality shirt. Hanes, American Apparel, Anvil and Gildan are a few of the brands on offer through Uberprints. Chose your style, pick your color and add images and text. UberPrints design studio is similar to that of CustomInk, they're both very basic and easy to use. Upload your graphic, tweak it, add text if you like, save it and you're ready to order. You can also chose from a variety of clip art images and add your own text. You'll need to sign up for an account to do this.

Sell

Unlike Zazzle, UberPrints does not have the option of setting up and managing your own online store. Like Zazzle, and unlike CustomInk, you can join the UberPrints Affiliate program to earn commissions on sales.

Affilaite Program

UberPrints offers 15-18% commission of every sale made through their affiliate program. It's easy to sign up and they have all the tools you'll need to get started right there on their website. The basic idea is, you add the text or images they provide to your own website(s) or e-mails and you promote them and earn money when those links generate a sale.

Get Help/FAQs

Should you have a problem or question about UberPrints products or services, there are several ways you can contact them. You can use their on-line e-mail form (or e-mail them directly at service@uberprints.com) to ask your question or to leave a comment, or suggestion. You can also contact them at their toll-free number, (1-800-440-8237). They even list their snail mail address which is fairly rare these dates for a dot com business. Also located on the Help Center page is a list of frequently asked questions and information on various topics from account information to Uberprints privacy policies and security measures.

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A satisfied UberPrint Customer inspects his custom made t-shirt:

ZAZZLE

About

Launched in 2005, Zazzle bills itself as "The Make Engine™".  It is their mission "To Enable Every Custom, On-Demand Product in the World On Our Platform." Given the range of products they offer, that seems entirely possible. Zazzle offers a lot of products on which designers can place their designs and logos. It's a great outlet if you have multiple designs that you want to market to as wide an audience as possible. Their website is easy to use and navigate and Zazzle allows you to build links and widgets to promote your products. They also offer a program for affiliates, so you can earn a percentage of the sales generated when you direct customers to the Zazzle website. Of course, if you just have that one great idea, or you want to create a custom t-shirt to commemorate a special occassion, you can certainly do that too.

The three basic functions of the Zazzle site are:

  • Shop
  • Create
  • Sell

Shop

If you don't have your own designs to upload, that's OK. Zazzle has shopping options for an unlimited amount of greeting cards, calendars, accessories and apparel, keychains, baby pacifiers, office products, posters and bumper stickers—everything you could possibly think of. You can also customize the design. You must register with Zazzle to use their secure website.

If you want to browse for clever or cool designs for greeting cards, t-shirts and dozens of other products, Zazzle is easy enough to navigate and features hundreds of designs to chose from. Zazzle also allows customers (if the designer consents) the option of customizing the products they want to purchase. Different colors, sizes and styles are available for almost every product.

Create

With Zazzle you can place your design, slogan, catchphrase or company logo on a wide array of products. The current product categories are:

  • Clothing
  • Accessories
  • Cards and Postage
  • Office Products
  • Posters
  • Home & Pets
  • Other Products*

*"Other Products" includes skateboards and bumper stickers.

Creating your custom made product is easy. First, register for a Zazzle account then click on the "Create" link. Chose a particular product from the product list that you'd like to place your design on. If you want to put your design on a mousepad, for example, select "Mousepads" from the Office Products category. You'll have two options to chose from. The basic mousepad has a base price of $10.95 and the gel mousepad is $12.95. Choose the basic pad and you're instructed to "add an image". You can upload your image from your computer, Google Drive or even Instagram. Select the image and add it to the pad. You can edit the image by clicking and dragging to resize or reposition it. You can add text to the image as well. Then you can Save it, Post it for Sale (more on that below) or E-mail it to a friend.

Sell

Zazzle not only allows you the chance to create single products to purchase for yourself, but also the opportunity to sell these items to the public through their on-line store. If you'd like to sell your product, select the "Post for Sale" option and you'll be prompted to choose a title and write a short description.

From the Zazzle website:

  • Set your own royalty rate on every product
  • Hundreds of retail-quality products to design
  • Reach more than 25 million monthly shoppers
  • Open a store for free
  • Tons of tutorials and guides

Next you must choose at least one of the following categories to place your item:

  • Category (from animals and animation to vintage & historical)
  • Events & Occasions (Birthdays and Holidays)
  • Recipient (for him or her)

Next, choose your tags. Zazzle offers these tips.

Tips for Tagging (from the Zazzle website):

  • Tags help shoppers find your product
  • Use descriptive words relating to the subject, theme, color, style, etc. of the design
  • Aim for 5-10 tags per product
  • Use spaces between single word tags and quotes for phrases like "cute dog"
  • Do NOT spam as Zazzle follows a strict no-spam policy
  • For more tips and suggestions, visit our tagging page

Select a Product Rating and Royalty Rate

You'll need to select a rating of either G, PG-13 or R, depending on your design's suitability for customers of a young age. You can allow others to customize your design and choose whether the product will be visible to the public or just to the people you choose to share it with.

Now comes the tricky part: deciding what to charge. You'll need to select a royalty rate. The base price for the mousepad is $10.95, so if you select a 10% royalty, that bumps up the retail price to $11.95 meaning, you will make one dollar off the sale of your product. There is a royalty calculator available that will allow you to see what your earnings would be based on different royalty rates. Zazzle recommends between 10 and 15%.

Lastly, accept the Zazzle User Agreement, then post it and you're in business. Zazzle will generate code for you to use to promote your products on your website or in e-mails to friends.

Promoting Your Products

You can use Zazzle's store builder as an easy way to promote yourself on the web while earning referral fees on the products you link to. Zazzle provides  a 15% payment on referrals plus as much as 17% in volume bonuses.

Affiliate Program

You can earn money on referrals to your own store, or someone else's, by becoming a Zazzle associate. You need not have a business or even be a designer with your own products for sale. If you are good at marketing and have a strong on-line presence, you can incorporate Zazzle stores into your social media sites and promote to your heart's content. You can sign up to be an affiliate through the Zazzle website.

Get Help/FAQs

Zazzle has many ways to find out additional information with FAQs on how to sell and promote your products and various tutorials. The Zazzle Community section has links to the Zazzle blog and Zazzle on Twitter. There are tips on creating products and finding out what content is acceptable for the site. There are easy-to-use guides on creating your store and, if all else fails, you can fill out the online e-mail form and ask the Zazzle your specific question.

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CUSTOM INK

About

The CustonInk company has roots going back to 1999 when three former college classmates decided to start a business together. They put in the hard work in developing their concept of an on-line, custom t-shirt printing company and were taking orders later the next year. CustomInk's core values are Golden Rule, Ownership, Innovation. CustomInk makes the claim, based on their own customer feedback surveys, that 99% of their customers were satisfied enough with their service and product that they would order again. While initially dealing with t-shirts, CustomInk has expanded the products they offer to now include outerwear such as windbreakers and fleece jackets, tote bags and backpacks, glassware and water bottles and hats.

Shop

Unlike the other two custom t-shirt companies in this guide, CustomInk does not offer an online store where you can shop for t-shirts from other designers. The purpose of CustomInk is for you to design and create your own individual products.

Create

Get started right from the home page by clicking on "Get Started"—easy enough. This will take you to the Product page where you can chose the item you'd like to place your design on, let's say short sleeved t-shirt. There are a variety of styles available from apparel companies including:

  • Hanes
  • American Apparel
  • Gildan
  • Anvil
  • Jerzees
  • Fruit of the Loom
  • District Neon

We'll choose the Gildan Ultra Cotton. There are many different colors to chose from, but we'll keep it simple and chose white. Now we're ready to start designing the t-shirt. You can upload your own design, but CustomInk also has a variety of images in their gallery for you to place on the shirt. Categories include: shapes/symbols, mascots, sports and religion. We'll choose shapes and symbols and the subcategory of America. There are a variety of flags and eagles and other symbols of America. We'll choose an American flag image. You can re-size the image, move it around on the t-shirt to see where it looks best, then save it. You'll be asked to name the design and provide your e-mail address. Now you can get a quote on how much your t-shirt will cost. Enter the size and amount you'd like printed and the zip code to calculate the shipping cost. The more you order the more you save, so you can adjust the amount and shipping time thereby adjusting the price. You can also add text to your design or numbers and your name for a sports team t-shirt or jersey.

Design Ideas

The Design Ideas page is just that, it has design templates to help you get started. You can choose from these basic categories with many subcategories under each one:

  • Sports/Teams
  • K-12
  • Parties/Events
  • College
  • Business
  • Charity/Fundraiser
  • Religious
  • Military
  • First Responders
  • Holidays

SELL

Booster

Unlike other custom made t-shirt companies, with CustomInk you don't have the option of setting up a store to sell your product. However, you can start a fundraising or booster campaign to raise money for your school, church or little league team. You can use it to fund a charity or help a small business earn some capital. You design your product as you would if you were going to buy it yourself, then you set a goal of how much you want to earn in your campaing, then you promote it. You'll be asked to create a booster page where you tell the story of why you're raising money and what it will be used for. Once you've reached your goal, CustomInk will send you the shirts in bulk or mail them individually within two weeks of the campaign's closing.

Get Help/FAQs

For customer service options you can conduct a live chat with a customer service representative or call their toll free number 1-800-293-4232 and talk with a real person. You may also use their on-line e-mail form to ask a specific question. Additionally, there is a FAQ page with various topics, if you need to narrow down the question.

CustomInk also has a series of helpful and instructional videos on the following design-related subjects:

  • Design ideas and techniques
  • Graphics and images
  • Texts and fonts
  • Lab tutorials
  • Inker tips

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Conclusion

This consumer guide was designed to help you narrow your focus and determine which custom t-shirt printing company best suits the needs of you or your small business. They all offer choices in different clothing brands, but some companies offer products well beyond the realm of apparel. Some offer more options to promote your product as well as the opportunity to earn money on referrals. All are priced competitively and have easy to use websites with multiple ways to get help and contact customer service.

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