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I’d love to be able to say that the secrets to hitting a winning print on demand product on your first attempt is written in the article below, but alas it is not.
What I have written however is the formula that all but guarantees your success, if you commit to taking action and don’t give up at the first sign of failure.
It might be your first design that sells thousands, but chances are it won’t be. You’ll shortcut the process quite a lot though if you follow what I teach.
It’s like lifting weights or distance running. You can read all about the techniques, theory, and you can follow all the YouTube videos available to man but until you start taking action, you won’t make any progress.
The reason people don’t make those gains or hit that personal best 10 mile run is because they give up far too soon. Everyone knows what it takes, but very few do the work that they know needs to be done.
The same can be said for print on demand. I am handing you the formula on a silver platter, sharing everything on my blog, on my social media accounts, and on YouTube so you can hit the ground running, but if you don’t keep at it then your success is unlikely.
So, thanks for coming to Ron’s Ted Talk. Let’s stop the motivational speech and get down to business.
Here’s what we’re going to discuss about print on demand designs:
- 6 step formula to POD design success
- How to create print on demand designs
- Where to sell your print on demand designs
- How much you can make from POD
- What POD companies are best
The Formula to Creating Winning Print on Demand Designs
When it comes to creating print on demand (POD) designs that sell, there is most definitely a secret formula to getting it right and launching a winner. While it's still important you test new designs often, following a proven strategy will help improve your chances of finding a winner.
One crucial error I see a lot of sellers making is going too broad with their products. Don’t target an entire niche like dog lovers. Niche down and target specific dog breeds. If outdoors is your niche, hit those fly fishing fans with something super specific to their passion instead of targeting fishing on a broad scale.
In say that, don't go so deep that you won't be able to target on Facebook or TikTok! You need to be able to get your products in front of your audience!
You know I love selling print on demand jewelry but this rule runs true with any form of slogan or saying that you’re printing on a product. Avoid “over-designing” and overly complicated designs. I always remind myself that “the confused mind always says no”, so if your design is difficult to read or understand then you will lose more sales than you’ll gain.
Just keep it simple, sweetheart. 😉
Pull On Those Heart Strings
…or whatever else gets their engines started. You need to be offering products that are an absolute must-have for your customers. The majority of our advertising is done on platforms like Facebook and TikTok where customers are interrupted from whatever they are doing when they see our ads.
If our products don’t stop them in their tracks and make them say “I must have this” then we’ve failed. Whether it’s an emotional heartfelt trigger or something hilarious that resonates with them (like the two jewelry designs above), it needs to be remarkable enough for them to go out of their way to make a purchase.
Same Same, But Different
I’m all for being innovative, but you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Take popular sayings and improve on them or tweak them slightly for your niche.
Healthy Profit Margins
Whilst not necessarily related to designs, it is important that you are running ads to high-margin print on demand products. Coffee mugs and t-shirts just don’t cut it any more if you’re running Facebook ads for example. Don’t get me wrong, they are still great to sell via email but if you are going for front-end cold sales and you want to make a buck, you need to be selling something like jewelry, metal wall-art or all over print products with good profit margins.
Persistence & Consistence
I always tell my students that you need to be patient, trust the process and don’t give up until you hit a winner.
You’ve all seen this great little cartoon showing two people digging for diamonds right? Well it’s 100% true when it comes to print on demand.
How Can I Create Print on Demand Designs?
Alright, now it's time to get into the nitty gritty of designing your actual POD designs. Let’s explore some of the best options when it comes to designing.
Hire a Designer from Fiverr, FB or Upwork
When your budget allows for it, it’s worth finding a good designer that you can keep on your team long-term. Eventually you’ll be busy researching new design ideas and focussing on the bigger picture of scaling your business so you won’t have time to design everything yourself.
It can take some trial and error, and a bit of money, finding the right designer but platforms like Fiverr, Upwork or Facebook groups are all great places to find and hire designers.
When hiring designers make sure you see their portfolio of previous works first.
My #1 Recommendation for DIY Designs 👇👇
Design Yourself with Canva Pro
Because we’re designing simple text artwork, it’s very possible to use a solution like Canva for your print on demand designs.
Now for starters, I highly recommend you use Canva Pro which will set you back $14.99 a month. This gives you the license to use all the little graphic vectors on the platform, very important! Otherwise you need to pay individually for these graphics and it gets expensive.
I've actually done a tutorial on my YouTube channel about how to design a t-shirt from scratch with Canva Pro. Check it out!
This video goes through the entire process of t-shirt design with Canva Pro, from start to finish.
If you want to step it up one level then here's what I would do in addition to using Canva Pro.
Buy Designs from Creative Fabrica or Etsy
Searching for “[niche] svg” or “[niche] png” on Etsy will return a heap of affordable designs, but just make sure you check the usage rights for them. Not all of them allow commercial use as POD designs.
Buying designs from Etsy is good for one-off purchases, but if you are following this tutorial and committing to this long term then the best option is to get the POD subscription on Creative Fabrica.
When you use Creative Fabrica, you will find thousands of niche-related designs with new ones uploaded every single day.
Even if you buy the Creative Fabrica designs individually they are very affordable, but the monthly subscription allows you to use unlimited designs for your print on demand business.
Use Creative Fabrica in conjunction with Canva Pro and you have all the tools you need to create killer designs for a fraction of the cost of hiring a designer.
Can I Use Stock Images for Print on Demand?
Generally speaking, it depends on the type of license offered by the stock website. If you are using a premium service like Shutterstock for example, you will need to buy the extended license for each piece of stock artwork if you want to use it on your POD products.
Freepik.com is a good stock image and vector resource with a flexible license that allows commercial use, so they are worth looking at.
Where Can I Sell Print on Demand Products?
There’s no shortage of places on the internet to sell your print on demand products, but they aren't all built the same. I truly believe that if you stick to one platform long enough you will master it but there are some differences that you need to know about.
Traditionally reserved for hand-made crafts and the like, Etsy is now home to some of the biggest print on demand sellers on the planet. You can integrate most of the big POD apps with Etsy and sell your wares there.
One of the great things about Etsy is that it’s a marketplace where people go to buy things. Customers search for products and if you have something that appeals and is shown to customers when they search, you can make organic sales without spending anything on ads.
There’s some skill required when it comes to Etsy SEO, but it’s not rocket science and it is easy to master once you spend some time learning. I have an entire Etsy course inside my POD Hacks mentor program so my students know exactly what to do here.
Technically speaking, you are not “selling on Shopify” because it’s a website building software that helps you build and host your own branded ecommerce store. So what you are really doing is selling products via your own website with your own custom domain etc.
Some of the world’s biggest brands use Shopify and it is the best in the world when it comes to ecommerce hosting solutions.
I love Shopify and I highly encourage anyone with the desire to build a long-term ecommerce brand to get started on Shopify.
Redbubble is another marketplace that started out as a way to support independent artists that wanted to sell their artwork on various products.
The main difference between Redbubble and a marketplace like Etsy is that Redbubble handles all of the printing, so you just upload your artwork onto the products they offer.
Merch by Amazon
You can integrate your favorite print on demand apps with Amazon, but that is different to Merch by Amazon (MBA). MBA is similar to Redbubble in that you just upload artwork and Amazon will print on ship the products. You don’t need to integrate a third party printing partner.
The one major frustration with Merch by Amazon is that you need to apply and more often than not, you get rejected. Don’t ask me why, but it seems almost impossible to get approved nowadays!
The payouts you get are very low too but it’s still a nice passive income if you can load up a few thousand designs and make a few sales a day.
Spring (formerly Teespring)
Spring is one of the old school t-shirt platforms where many of the big names in POD cut their teeth in the early days. I even managed to sell a heap on the platform back when it was still called Teespring.
Here's a design i created with Canva and sold on Spring back in the day. Take a peek at those sales!
Spring prints and ships all your products just like Redbubble, so it's a nice little hands-off platform if you are just getting started.
How Much Can You Realistically Make with Print on Demand?
You can make more than a brain surgeon or a lawyer. Seriously. Consistency is key, but 100k+ months are a reality and totally achievable with a solid structure and the right mindset.
I’ve written about various successes I’ve had in the past with print-on-demand, like when I sold over 61k worth of metal wall art in my first month.
The sky's the limit when it comes to any form of ecommerce business, especially POD. But what a lot of gurus don’t tell you is that you need some startup money.
Here are some of the costs you need to take into account when starting your print on demand business:
Shopify subscription – $29 per month.
Facebook Ads – at least $20 per day (you will spend more as you scale, but you only scale when you are making money).
Money to pay for goods once you sell them (you don’t get the customer’s money for a few days).
Graphic Design – expect to pay anywhere from $10-$50 for decent POD designs if you don't go with the option below.
Canva Pro & Creative Fabrica – anywhere from $14.99 to $43.99 per month depending on what you choose to purchase. This is crazy cheap and allows you to create unlimited designs for your print on demand business.
Coaching – If you choose to go down this path, allow approx. $3-5k for a decent mentor.
One of your biggest investments will be time. Time to learn, test, fail, learn, test and fail some more and keep going until you hit a winner.
Best Print On Demand Companies
Without launching into a massive sub-article about the best print on demand companies, I just wanted to give you a quick refresher on my first choice when it comes to suppliers for specific POD products.
Print on Demand Jewelry
Shineon are the OG’s when it comes to print on demand jewelry. I’ve written about them extensively. They are located in New Jersey, Florida, and Amsterdam in the Netherlands for European fulfillment.
Print on Demand Metal Wall Art
Teelaunch is one of the many POD companies in the US and they have a beautiful range of canvas wall art and metal wall art. I highly recommend installing their app and taking a look at the features they have.
Shineon gets another mention here for metal wall art. They do a great job at it, like they always do.
All Over Print
If you’re looking for the best quality cut & sew sublimated products, Sublimninator is the only option in my opinion. Check out the Subliminator review I did here.
Our friends over at AOP+, based in London, also have a few cut & sew products that are worth a look.
Regular T-Shirts & Apparel
Printify is one of the big guys in the pod game, but they do a great job when it comes to regular apparel, homewares and accessories. Their prices are quite affordable and their quality is decent.
AOP+ Easy Print on Demand is by far the best quality printer I have experienced when it comes to tees, hoodies, singlets and other staple direct-to-garment apparel. If you’re selling in the UK or Europe then look no further than AOP+. They also ship to the US but you’ll need to check costs and see if it makes sense for your business.
Conclusion – Your Next Steps to POD Success
Now you’ve got the formula, you know how to get started and you know what steps to take in order to create winning print on demand designs.
But will you take action and keep going until you hit the big time? I sure hope so.
This is as much of a mental game as it is anything else and it takes you need to develop some solid success habits to make it work, that’s why throughout my entire career I’ve always had some sort of coach or mentor in my corner.
If you would love to work with me personally and get that helping hand then I offer limited spots in my PODHacks™ Coaching program. I welcome you to review it and apply for a chat on the phone to see if we’re a good fit.