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How to Build a $40,202 Monthly Income With AI Designed Mugs

Unleashing Creativity with AI Designed Mugs

In just over one year of being open for business, this Etsy shop has made over $600,000 and roughly $117,000 per month in profit from selling mugs.

I’m of course talking about the side hustle that made me my first $100,000 online, and that’s the world of Etsy print-on-demand, which is just drop shipping mugs.

Nine months ago, I talked about a very similar side hustle, but since then, a lot has changed.

Not only do we have dozens of new mug listings that are making five and six figures, but now, nearly a year later, with brand new AI tools that can make designs specifically for mugs, and the automation tools that I’ve built to automatically upload and title products for us, combined with the fact that still hardly anyone has tapped into this business model, means that the new year is the perfect time to go over exactly how to start up a print-on-demand mug business from the comfort of your home.

We strongly recommend that you check out our guide on how to take advantage of AI in today’s passive income economy.

The Potential of AI Designed Mugs: A Case Study

It took me about 8 months to hit my first 100k with my own mug business back in 2019, but if I had the tools and knowledge that I’m sharing with you today, it would have happened a lot sooner.

Now, for you to really see the potential here and understand how all of this works, take a look at this listing here on Etsy.

This is a custom camper mug, so the customers get to come in here and then choose which character they want on their mug, as well as submit a name to be printed right below it.

Even though this is a super simple graphic, it does extremely well.

You can see that it sells anywhere from around 150 up to 500 times per month.

By the end of the article, you’ll see how we can make mugs just like these, look at this one, for example, which is just a funny take on this kind of definition style mug where the customer is just changing out their name as the customization.

If we look at the stats, you can see that this mug has brought in over $160,000 since it was posted around 9 months ago.

They’re selling hundreds to thousands of mugs each month, that would be a lot of mugs to buy, hold inventory for, print the design on, and ship out to the customers, and that’s where the print-on-demand business model comes into play.

The Print-on-Demand Model: A Game-Changer for AI Designed Mugs

It’s similar to traditional Drop Shipping, except that you’ll work with a supplier like Printify.

They offer a ton of different blank mug options that you can sell, like these standard white mugs, multicolor mugs, black mugs, camper mugs, or even latte mugs, and they’re all very affordable, leaving you with a good profit.

Printify integrates directly with Etsy, where we’ll be selling our mugs, making the entire process super easy.

Your job is simply to pick one of the mugs to sell and then upload some kind of design to it, whether that’s a custom design, a pre-made text design, or even an A.I. generated design, and then list it for sale with a nice-looking mockup of course.

Assuming that you sign up using my links from down below, you’ll be able to post to your Etsy store completely for free.

Then, when one of Etsy’s over 470 million monthly visitors finds your item and decides to buy it, the order will go straight to Printify, the design that you uploaded will be printed on the mug, and shipped directly to the customer without you ever having to open a website or run any ads, open a physical store, or hold any inventory or anything besides just making the listing.

Proof of Concept: Real-World Success with AI Designed Mugs

But just for more proof on how well this can actually work, this shop that’s selling this mug that we just looked at is selling a lot of items, and they have some other items like ornaments as well, but they have a big catalog of mugs.

We already know that their cheapest mug sells for around $22.

When you add up the price plus the shipping cost for their cheapest standard 11 oz white mug, that means that after we have it printed and shipped with Printify for around $10, we’re left with a $12.20 profit.

So with this shop’s 21,000 orders, that’s about $259,000 of profit earned over the last 15 months, which comes out to about $177,000 per month of take-home profit.

See, I didn’t even clickbait as hard as I could have.

I’ll leave more examples down below.

Now that you see how well this can work, there’s only three components that we need to run a successful shop like this:

First is a shop on Etsy to sell our mugs in.

Second, our designs for the mugs, and we’ll cover four different strategies for how to get good designs, including AI designed mugs.

Third is marketing to get the mugs to sell.

Setting Up Your Shop: The First Step to Selling AI Designed Mugs

But the very first step is setting up a shop.

To save us both time, I built out this free guide that walks you through everything that you need to do, from coming up with a business name, setting up a business email, to opening a Printify account and connecting it to Etsy with 40 free listings.

This guide will get you ready to sell and jump-start your business in 10 minutes or less, completely for free, with the best discounts and coupon codes already included, so you can download the guide below the article.

But with the shop set up, we can move on to the most important component, which is the designs.

These are the images that go on the mugs, and there’s four different methods that we can use to get these images, but we also have to do a little bit of market research so that we don’t waste our time making a bunch of designs that never sell.

Unlocking the Power of AI Designed Mugs: Four Strategies

I mentioned this mug last year, and as you can see over the last 12 months, it’s continued selling quite well, bringing in about $22,000, and all it is is a simple flower wraparound design on a white mug.

Now this design could easily be made using AI.

Here’s another example of this kind of broken wall design with a bookshelf behind it, and to be completely honest, I have no idea who’s buying this, but you can see that over the past two months, really this mug has brought in around $3,000.

If you can generate designs like these in just a few seconds using AI, then even if it’s not a six-figure mug, it’s probably still worth doing.

To do this, we could use an AI like Midjourney or Leonardo AI.

Now I’m going to be using Midjourney today, and since I’ve already covered the setup many times before and because it’s super easy to use, we’ll just jump right into it.

To make a wraparound design image, we need to come in and change some of the settings.

First, we want to change the aspect ratio to 15×7, that’ll make a perfect wraparound design for most mugs.

Then we can leave the stylization kind of low, I like leaving weirdness and variety off, I’ll do fast mode with stealth on, and we’re obviously going to be using Journey version 6, which just came out a few weeks ago.

From here, I just have to describe the type of design that I want to make, so I could just come in and say something like “a broken wall revealing a bookshelf behind it,” and then I just have to hit enter.

Then I can come over into the create Tab and just wait a few seconds for it to generate our image.

So now you can see that we have four versions of this image that don’t look too bad for a start.

Now we could obviously come back in and create something new, so we could say “a broken hole in the wall revealing a bookshelf on the other side, a dimly lit scene.”

Now this is just a similar prompt, but it’s a little bit different, so we’ll get a similar but different result.

Even with that small modification to the prompt, I think these came out a lot better, and personally, I think that they look a lot closer to this design that was already proven to get sales.

Mastering Midjourney for AI Designed Mugs

Obviously, we could keep playing around with the prompt and dialing it in to get even better images, but the wraparound designs aren’t even the best thing we can make.

Some designs like this one that we looked at earlier do super well with this little cute clip art watercolor graphic as the main appeal, and just by having the right prompt, which in this case did take me several tries, we can get very comparable Graphics that we can use on our own mugs.

Again, we don’t want to copy their designs and their listings, but we want to use the elements that are already proven to work, like cute little watercolor Graphics.

Midjourney is super capable; the key is just crafting a great prompt, which mostly comes down to describing in detail the type of design or image that you’re trying to create.

Our bookshelves came out quite nicely, these flower designs look good as well. I made clip art for this bear, the giraffe, and the fox, and I even recreated this retro style frog.

If you guys want to read the article on how to make designs with Midjourney, be sure to subscribe and let me know in the comment section below.

But with our clip art designs and wraparound designs made, we can save them to a file on our computer to upload to the mugs that we’re selling.

Buying Proven Designs for AI Designed Mugs

Besides using AI, the second easiest method for getting designs is to simply buy them. You’re just paying for someone else’s artwork that’s already been proven to work.

For example, this shop is selling mugs with this saying on it that just says “it’s fine, I’m fine, everything’s fine,” and they’re really not doing too bad. This single mug has generated over $10,000.

Now, instead of trying to handmake this design for yourself, we can just come and search for it on Etsy. If we just make a search for “it’s fine I’m fine everything’s fine SVG,” we should see some results.

Here’s the original design that they’re selling, as well as that other second design that they’re selling for $1 and $2 each.

A huge bonus here is if you decide to buy these designs later on down the line once your mug shop starts to take off, you can repurpose these same designs onto a different product like a t-shirt. This one right here has brought in around $30,000, and here’s that other design that was also selling that’s just now starting to pick up some good traction.

You might be spending a couple of dollars per design, but let’s say you even bought 100 designs for $200. That could be saving you days or even weeks worth of work.

Some people think that because anyone can buy the design and sell it for themselves, that it won’t work if they try to buy it and sell it in their own shop. But the thing is that everybody has that same thought, so nobody actually ends up doing it.

And for perspective, even if your version of the product only sells 10 times a year, you’re still making your investment back passively every single time it sells for years to come.

Handmade Designs for AI Designed Mugs

The third option for getting designs is by far the hardest, and that’s by making handmade designs.

Here’s a handmade design in action. Now this is a super simple single word design that probably didn’t take too much effort to make, and honestly, for what it is, it isn’t performing too bad.

Text designs can be very simple, but here’s one that’s a little bit different.

Excuse the profanity, but this is just a funny saying for someone who’s retiring. It’s a very basic font and just a funny kind of gag retirement gift.

But what makes this listing super interesting is if we look at the sales history, you can see within the last 12 months, it’s done $76,000. But if we look at the all-time sales history, you can see that since it was posted in June of 2021, it’s done about $86,000, but it took over a year and a half before it started picking up any kind of traction.

Now even though this did take an unusual amount of time to start selling, I bet they’re pretty glad that they did post it back in June of 2021.

The goal of pre-made text designs is to get them to sell passively. This is a bit more difficult since you have to anticipate what customers want, get an idea, and then make and stylize the design for them.

What I first do is see what ideas are selling, for example, like this retirement mug, so I can use the idea for my own mug.

Then I’m just going to use ChatGPT and come in and ask it to give me a list of funny, trademark-free retirement sayings that I can put on mugs.

Then I’m just going to wait to see what it comes up with. You might have to rerun it several times to get some good results, but out of the ones that it’s made, I already like this one: “I’m retired, every hour is happy hour.”

Then all I have to do is assemble the design. So I could just come over into Canva, which is probably the easiest design tool to use, and I’ll just make a custom canvas.

From here, I just have to paste in my design, then I just have to resize it and choose a fun-looking font. That took about 30 seconds, and it really doesn’t look too bad.

And from here, all I have to do is download it so that I can use it on my mug. Again, just remember that none of our designs are going to look super good until it’s a finished product packaged into a sellable listing; the design by itself probably doesn’t look that good.

Making handmade text designs that sell passively is a challenge, but if you do it correctly, it will definitely pay off in the long term, even though a lot of the shops that we’ve looked at have had fast success. This is a long-term game that makes long-term money.

Custom AI Designed Mugs: The Beginner’s Goldmine

The fourth and arguably best option for beginners is to sell Custom Designs. Almost every six-figure listing that we’ve looked at today is a custom listing, that means that you’re just offering some kind of template that the customer can modify, and then upon ordering, the customer will give you the details that they want filled in on their own mug.

So for this one, a customer sends you a photo of their pet, and you cut it out and put it on the mug, and it’s made around $91,000 this year.

This one is just kind of a favorite child gag gift where the customer is just sending over a list of names, and they fill it in on the mug, and this one’s done $77,000 this year.

This one’s definitely the simplest of them all, where the customer just sends a photo and some text for the mug, and you can see that it’s done about $103,000 this year.

Making custom designs is super easy, so all I have to do is just create a new board, just do a 4,000 by 4,000, and then we have to get some kind of image to use.

So here, maybe we’ll look for a family photo. Now what we can do is we can just filter by photos and look at all of the different options here, so maybe we like this one. Okay, doesn’t look too bad.

Now we just have to add some text explaining what it is, so we can add some text to the top that says “your photo here,” and then we could duplicate it and move some text to the bottom that says “your text here,” and essentially this is a finished design. It took me about 10 seconds to make, and this is a custom product.

Obviously, there are a lot of ways that we could make this look more visually appealing and probably get more sales, but as a start, this is not bad.

From here, I could even duplicate this page and then search for something like a pet photo, and here you can just look through all of the different pet photos that we could use to just Target our mug a little bit differently.

So instead, maybe we want to use this dog. So now we’re targeting pet owners instead of people who want a family photo on their mug.

Again, we can use this process to keep creating a bunch of different custom designs to Target all different kinds of interests that might want to buy our products.

Even just a simple font change makes a world of difference and makes this a lot more likely to sell.

If you wanted to get crazy with this, you could even Target more specific people with your custom products, so for example, you could Target specific dog breeds, or you could even Target cat people instead of dog people.

Advanced Tactics for AI Designed Mugs

Now I told you earlier that we’d be able to make mug designs like this one that are already proven to sell super well, which is just a cutout of a pet’s face.

So for example, if we had a design like this, we can just select the photo right inside of Canva, hit edit photo, and then use the background remover tool. You can see that it cuts out the background, and so now this is what would be printed on the mug.

Of course, you could use a website like PhotoPea, which is a free Photoshop alternative, to get better cutouts of the pets and even apply some cool stylization and effects to them, but this is all you would need to get started.

Automating the Listing Process for AI Designed Mugs

Now I haven’t mentioned this up until this point, but one of the things that all bestselling shops on Etsy have in common is a lot of listings. The thing is that getting the design, uploading it to the products, posting it for sale, it’s all a time-consuming process.

That’s why I invested $20,000 to build the Product Uploader program. This allows us to select the mug that we’re selling and bulk upload designs without any additional user input. This takes a process that would normally take hours and reduces it to an automated task. Once it’s done, all you have to do is hit publish.

As for the price, even though it was expensive for me to build, I’m giving it to you for free. You’ll find a link for it at the end of the article.

Optimizing Listings for AI Designed Mugs

So, you’ve generated a collection of stunning AI Designed Mugs. They’re creative, eye-catching, and perfectly capture the essence of your brand. But how do you translate that brilliance into sales? The answer lies in presentation.

In order to actually get sales, we have to get our AI Designed Mugs in front of the shopping customer and then get them to click. First of all, customers are never going to swarm to buy our products if they don’t look appealing. We need to elevate our listings to showcase the quality and premium feel of your AI Designed Mugs.

One proven strategy is using high-quality mockups. A great mockup can transform a flat design into a realistic, three-dimensional product that customers can envision holding and using. Since this is a proven to work mockup that’s generated hundreds of sales for this design, we want to see if we can find a similar mockup or the exact same one to display our own AI Designed Mugs on to generate sales. So we can come to Etsy and make a search for “mug mockups” and see what the results are.

Putting the designs that you’ve made on top of the mockup is another extremely time-consuming process. So instead of doing it manually and wasting hours creating the product images, I’ve got two tutorials on my channel as well as a mockup script which allows you to automatically generate mockups for the products you’re posting for sale again without any user interaction required.

Now the mockups are only one part of the process because we still have to get our products in front of customers. To do that, we have two options:

First is to pay for Etsy ads. You could run a $5 or so budget per day and try driving some traffic that way. The good thing about running Etsy ads is you only pay for the ad after a user has clicked on it and interacted with your listing. This means if you have good designs, then running ads could be profitable.

But I’ve found a much more effective method for me. See, instead of paying for ads on a platform that’s driving their own traffic, why not just utilize their search algorithm?

Leveraging Etsy’s Search Algorithm for AI Designed Mugs

The popularity of custom mugs has exploded, but how can you make your designs stand out from the countless options flooding the market? AI Designed Mugs offer a unique solution. By leveraging artificial intelligence to create fresh and eye-catching designs, you can capture customer attention and boost your sales.

Now, I know what you might be thinking: “There’s no way AI can create mug designs as good as a human!” While AI Designed Mugs are still a relatively new concept, the results can be truly impressive. These AI tools can generate unique and creative designs based on your specifications, giving you a head start and a broader design pool to choose from.

It’s important to remember that AI is a tool, not a replacement for human creativity. Once you have your AI Designed Mugs , you can still personalize them further, tweak the design, or add your own creative touches. This combination of AI and human input allows you to create truly unique and high-quality mugs that will resonate with your target audience.


Creating a personalized mug is a fun and thoughtful way to express yourself. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions to get you started:

How do you keep designs on a mug?

The longevity of your mug design depends on the method you use to put it on. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Permanent methods:
    • Sublimation: High heat permanently dyes the design onto the mug’s surface. These mugs are dishwasher and microwave safe.
    • Enamel coating: Similar to sublimation, this method uses heat to fuse a design onto a coated mug. These mugs are also dishwasher and microwave safe.
  • Temporary methods:
    • Decals: These pre-made designs are applied with water and pressure. They are generally dishwasher safe but not microwave safe due to potential heat warping.
    • Paint pens: While allowing for creative freedom, paint pens often require curing and may not be dishwasher or microwave safe.

Where should the design go on a mug?

The placement of your design depends on personal preference and the mug’s shape. Here are some common areas:

  • Classic center placement: This is a popular choice for showcasing a single image or text.
  • Wrap-around design: Utilize the entire mug for a panoramic design or a message that flows around the whole body.
  • Handle placement: Add a small design element or text near the handle for a subtle touch.

How do you make a good mug design?

  • Consider your audience: Is it a funny gift for a friend, a motivational quote for yourself, or a team logo for a group?
  • Keep it simple: Complex designs might not translate well on a curved surface. Bold lines and clear fonts work best.
  • Use high-quality images: Blurry or pixelated images will look poor on the final product.
  • Choose contrasting colors: Ensure your design elements are easy to see against the mug’s background color.

How do you put art on a mug?

There are two main approaches:

  • DIY methods:
    • Decals: Purchase pre-designed decals and follow the application instructions for water transfer.
    • Paint pens: Use special paint pens designed for ceramic mugs and follow curing instructions for dishwasher and microwave safety.
  • Printing services: Many online and local print shops offer mug customization services. Upload your artwork and choose your mug style and size. They will handle the printing and ensure a professional, long-lasting finish.

We strongly recommend that you check out our guide on how to take advantage of AI in today’s passive income economy.