Finding the next elusive trend for Print on Demand can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. Most use the Bubble Trends tool to get a snapshot of the day’s trends on Redbubble then start making shirts if the demand versus availability is reasonable. The thinking (and what most YouTubers will tell you) is that if the phrase “Big Cow” is trending and there are only a few hundred designs showing available on bubble trends, you should drop everything and make shirts with “Big Cow” because that is where the money is. The problem comes when you make your shirts and upload them and the sales just don’t come. What is happening? And if the trends sites aren’t the best place to look for trends then where do you go? Let’s talk about it…

A moment in time

Most of the Redbubble trends tools are a snapshot of what was being searched for at that time. The numbers of available shirts are a bit misleading. You must realize that just like you, everyone else is searching for that next elusive trend to jump on. When the trends tool took the snapshot there may have been only a few hundred designs available, but unless you are there to jump on the new design trends when the next snapshot happens you are going to be behind. By the time you get your design done, how many others will already be available?

The tough truth

Chasing trends is a rough game, especially if you are not a graphic designer. If you use Canva or another service that offers pre-made templates for your Print on Demand designs, the truth is that they all look like the designs everyone else using those services are making. Someone who knows graphic design and does Print on Demand likely has a catalog of originally created assets ready to go. I would venture that they have a few different kinds of cows, maybe funny maybe serious that they can use right away. This designer likely has their own custom templates ready to drop their cow drawing into and all they need to do is add the text and a bit of polish and they will end up with an original custom design that is light years better than the one you created on Canva or on your smartphone. When the customer comes across a design that looks like 20 other people’s or the custom original cow, guess which one is going to sell.

Making sense of it all

The reason you aren’t getting sales from your trend chasing makes total sense if you take a step back. First, you must ask yourself if your designs can stand shoulder to shoulder with the other people that are making the same themed design. When I chase trends, I always make original content (not stolen from google images and not from Canva) instead of just making a text design. Text designs especially for trends are the low-hanging fruit that everyone goes for right away. Second, you need to ask yourself if the trend you are chasing or creating designs for is going to still be a thing by the time your design launches on the sites. If you are jumping on trends too late this could also be why you aren’t seeing the sales you want. If the YouTuber you watch does a weekly trends video on Monday but you don’t watch it until Wednesday night, how many designs are already available for that trend, and will the one you create on Canva be better than the ones being created by graphic designers? Think of trends like a crowded pool, if the pool is going to be open on Sunday and you arrive way later in the afternoon it is going to be very crowded and difficult to be able to swim and enjoy yourself. If you wait until everyone goes home for the day, you are going to get some time to yourself in the pool but it will be closing before you get a good swim in. Does that make sense?

Finding good trends

The harder something is to do, the more rewarding it can be. Using the Bubble Trends tool will give you a snapshot of trends from Redbubble, but something like Google Trends will give you more granular data that you can use to look at trends on Google, which will translate into trends for Print on Demand – but it will be more work than going to one website and having the information spoon-fed to you.  A good source of trend data is Merch Titans or just looking around on Amazon. Keeping a close eye on trending topics on social media services like Twitter is also a good place to start, but again, it will be more work than just clicking a trends tool. Soon we will have a full review of Merch Titans and Google Trend for Print on Demand users, so stay tuned!

Conclusion

Did you find the information in this article useful? Support us by sharing this and other articles on this site to your Print on Demand forums. We can’t monetize our content because we use copyrighted words, so we rely on our readers to share our content to support us.

Get out and get designing!

Getting those first sales can be difficult. If you frequent Facebook or Reddit forums geared towards sharing your work, you might be saddened by everyone boasting about all the sales they are getting, but you are seeing very few if any. Do visitor numbers matter? Do you get traffic on your Print on Demand shop but no sales? Do you have hundreds upon hundreds of people favoriting your art but no sales? Traffic, visitors, and favorites can be difficult to understand so let’s talk about it…

Traffic

There are three distinct sources for traffic headed to your Print on Demand store. In the case of Redbubble, or Teepublic, they will start promoting your work right away. If you are using Teespring then you have to fulfill the requirement s of their trust score (by getting a few sales via direct promotion or direct marketing) before they will start promoting your work. Traffic types include:

Site traffic

Redbubble, Teepublic, or Teespring market your work more as it sells better. The more you sell the higher your work will rank in the pages when a customer searches the site. Your work can appear in their email advertisements, blog posts, or direct ad sales on sites like Facebook. This one is pretty simple – the more you sell the more they promote you and the more you sell.

Direct customer engagement

This is where you promote your work on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, or direct email. The user clicks the link you provide with your advertising material and is taken to your shop. This is where you are going to get your biggest number of sales right away. The more you promote your work the more you will drive direct customers to your shop. Finding good places, good hashtags and niche forums to advertise your work should be a good portion of your time spent on marketing your products. Do remember that there is a fine line between advertising and spamming. Putting an ad for a cool new design in your favorite yoga forum is good, but flooding the forums with all the products that your cool new yoga design is available on is spammy and will make most people tune you out or worse cause them to complain to the forum admins about your poor advertising practices. Good engagement, and mentioning your wares when you can will go a longer way than carpet bombing the forums with images and links to the same or similar products that you are selling.  

Organic Traffic

When you fill out those description boxes or add tags to your work, the search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing crawl it and use that information to generate results that a user can click on when they search for a specific topic. Remember that the bigger the niche you are in, the less likely a user is to see your designs. If a user searches for funny yoga shirts how many results will come up and how likely are you to be in the top few pages? A lot and not likely. This is where specific descriptions are going to pay off. If a user searches for funny yoga shirts with cats meditating, and you have those keywords in your description or tags then you are much more likely to get a successful search result. Just make sure you are using truthful and relevant tags for your work. You can get more traffic to your designs by adding tags that are copyrighted but Redbubble and other sites will quickly delete your design for inaccurate tags or remove the offending tags from your listing. Be responsible with your tags and not spammy. 

Consider the source

Now you know where you are getting your traffic, let’s talk about the kinds of traffic. If you are targeting people interested in yoga and you are a member of a yoga forum, that is a great place to talk about and share your work.  As mentioned earlier, engagement with the community, talking with people and answering questions, etc. can give you opportunities to mention or show your work which feels a lot less spammy than flooding the forum with photos of your cool new design.

If you frequent Facebook and Reddit sharing groups, where artists talk about and share their work, you can get a lot of sharing traffic but not buying traffic. I have talked to so many people struggling with their shops that have hundreds or thousands of likes and followers but only a few sales. This means that that person is doing a good job of marketing, but not a good job of directing that marketing effort. If you are in sharing groups with other artists, I hate to be the one to break the bad news to you, but most of those people are trying to sell their work too, not buy yours. Favorites don’t go a long way to getting sales if they are just from people who are looking to get you to favorite their work too.  You can have a million followers, but if they are all followers that are looking o get sales not people who are interested in your work then you might be starting to realize where your problem lies.

Data Matters

If you are relying on the website (like Redbubble) to give you the data you need to figure out why you aren’t seeing sales, you are missing out on part of the equation. You will see where the traffic came from and how that translated to sales, but what if you could see what the user was searching for when they found your designs? What if you knew how many times the user was shown your content before they clicked on it (impressions versus clicks) This is where Google Analytics comes in. Now, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here, there are a million and one tutorials to get Google Analytics setup with your Print on Demand shop, so just do a Google or Youtube search. It is very easy, takes only a few minutes, and the data you will get will be much more interesting and informative than the culled data you get from the Print on Demand sites. Most sites like Redbubble just need the tracking ID that Google gives you when you go to www.google.com/analytics (it looks like UA-733458177-1) Once you have your analytics account setup and make a property you just need to paste it into the tracking section of your account on Redbubble. Its super easy.

Losing Traffic

If you had good traffic and sales but have recently noticed a drop off in customers, where you are sharing your work might be the culprit. If you spend a lot of time in the Redbubble and other print on demand sharing sites on Facebook people might be “borrowing” your ideas. Thievery in Print on Demand is rampant and there are no safeguards other than copyrighting all of your work before you post it. Many times that can be expensive ($65.00 per copyright submission of 750 images), and even then most of the stealing happens with sellers that are not in the United States and therefore not applicable to our copyright laws. If you have found your traffic taking a hit, consider doing a reverse google image lookup on some of your more popular designs. Just right-click the image on your proint on demand site and choose look up image on google (in the Chrome browser). Google will find instances of your shirt design and you can see if people have pilfered your work.   

Conclusion

Make sure you are focusing your marketing efforts on the right place online, and make sure you have all the data you can get to make informed decisions about the work you are putting into marketing your work online. At the end of the day, you can have a million followers and likes, but if they all come from people who aren’t going to buy your stuff it is useless. Most customers don’t look at likes and followers before they buy, they see a shirt or product they like with your design and they buy it.

Did you find this information useful? Drop me a message and let me know. Because of the trademarked names in many of my articles, I can’t use ads or monetize it so sharing this content with other print on demand artists help me to keep this site going and provide content like this.

Get out there and get designing!

The short answer is: it depends. Before we get to the good bits here, let me state that I am not a lawyer, and nothing in this article is intended to replace the advice of legal counsel. If you have specific questions about using images downloaded from the internet in your print on demand designs, I always suggest contacting a copyright attorney. Ok, now the rest of the answer: The long answer to this question lies in the source of the image you procured from google. There are stock photography websites like Shutterstock and Adobe Stock which allow you to license their images for personal or commercial use, and the price you pay will be significantly more for commercial use (and the restrictions of how it can be used are more stringent.). So, at this point, you might be asking yourself can I or can’t I use the images I find on google for my designs?

It is complicated

Before you use an image downloaded off google in your design you need to be aware of the legal rights of the image holder, the person who actually took the photo or made the image you want to use. Has this person released the content into creative commons where anyone can use it as they see fit? Have they released it to stock sites so they can make a per-image fee from its use? If you are not 100% sure of the source of the image and how it can be used, then don’t use it. Artists have rights, and their images come with inherent copyright just lie your print on demand designs do. If you create a cool design and upload it and someone steals it right away, how do you feel that they are making money off the design you made? Is this starting to make a little more sense now?

Long term considerations  

If you download an image from a stock website and use it in one of your designs do you know your rights? If the stock site goes out of business does the license you are using the image under still apply? Or are you required to take your design down? If you get dinged for copyright on one of your print on demand sites do you have a copy of the image license on file that you can access if you need it? If you get sued would you be able to produce a verifiable license agreement (even if the website was out of business) for the image you used and made money from?  

Pexels

If the source of the image you are using is a website like pexels.com then according to their license agreement, you can (as of this writing) use images downloaded from their site for commercial applications like blogs, websites, commercials, and even print on demand designs. I would of course refer you to their site for the most current restrictions in their license agreement.

Here is a link to the Terms and Conditions for Pelxels:

https://www.pexels.com/terms-of-service

Is it worth the trouble?

This all sounds like a lot to keep track of. If I download an image from Pexels I have to keep a copy of the license agreement and I have to actually read the agreement to ensure that my application is not voiding my license for that image? I also must keep track of the sources I have used in my designs and ensure that the licensing has not changed for the materials I am using in my designs? Yes. The alternative is that you get sued and lose your car, house dog, etc. Again, I will state that I’m not a legal scholar but I have a lot of experience with licensed properties, and believe me if you are being taken to court over copyright infringement you should be concerned. Most lawyers won’t take a case unless there are clear and current materials representing the copyright claim. You do have an LLC (limited liability corporation) that you run your design business through just in case, right?

Everyone is in the same boat

So what if you are like the many out there who are doing print on demand designs with no graphic design background or skills? You don’t have the ability to make cool designs yourself so you scour the internet for clipart and images you can use for your designs. Well, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but there are a lot in the print on demand industry who do exactly the same thing you do. When you use images from Pexels, yes, they are useable in commercial designs, but realize that everyone else is also using the images from Pexels in their designs as well. Print on demand is a very saturated market to be in and when you are working in a saturated market, you need to figure out what you can do to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Set yourself apart

If a customer comes to Redbubble and searches for “I love coffee” shirts, and five results come up, two with just words, two with the same coffee cup image from google images and the words and one with a cool character holding coffee which one do you think is going to sell? Generally, depending on the design the more unique offering will be the one that sells. So how do you get to be the guy selling the unique design instead of the cookie-cutter design everyone else is doing? Take some classes, get real software like photoshop and illustrator and learn to use them. If you are using the free options, pre-made templates or just text designs your work is not going to stand out from the crowd. Learning to make (good) unique designs can be a long road to take, but you will sell more in the long run, and what is even cooler is that once you make your fortune from your designs you can release them to stock sites for others to license and make you even more money from. Cool huh?

Conclusion

Is stealing images from the internet for your designs worth it? No. at best, your images will get copyright flagged and taken down, at worst you will get sued and the money you made from that design will have to go to the rightful owner (the creator of the design) and your lawyer. Take your own pictures, make your own designs, create your own illustrations and overall you will get a financial win and a moral one because you didn’t steal other artist’s work to make money.

Get out there and get designing!

Have you setup your Redbubble or Teespring store and now you are waiting for the cash to start rolling in, but so far it hasn’t? What are some strategies you can use to get your first few sales in your Print on Demand storefront? Let’s talk about it…

The basics

There are a ton of print on demand providers but the two biggest players in the market are Redbubble and Teespring. They are tied for our choice as the best print on demand service in 2020. Once you setup your shop on Redbubble, they will begin adding your designs to their system right away. As an example, when a customer searches for “cute cats”, your choice of keywords, store sales, store standing, and a few other variables go into determining which page your design lands on in that customer’s search. Teespring has a bit of a different approach to showing your work to potential customers. When you first start your Teespring store, you have a trust score you must overcome before your designs start showing up on their service. The trust score is in place to ensure that you are not selling copyrighted works.  It is up to you to get the first few sales then they will begin adding your designs to the listings. Each time you sell a design, your trust score will go up, and each time a design is taken down for copyright infringement or other infraction, your trust score will go down. The more you sell, the higher your trust score and the higher you will rank in their system. This reason alone is why so many new designers get frustrated with Teespring and have a lower opinion of them over other print on demand services.

Getting your first few sales

To get the ball rolling, you can always buy some of your own designs, in most cases (like Teespring) it is not financially beneficial to buy enough shirts to get your trust score up, so it is better to start promoting your work to get those coveted first sales.

Facebook

This is a good place to start. Most of us have a Facebook account and it is not uncommon for friends to be willing to buy your designs. Remember that spam posting multiple times a day about your cool shirt designs will wear out your welcome with your friends and make it less likely they will buy your work. Unless you feel really confident about your designs at this point, I would not recommend buying into paid Facebook ads. Most often the sales you will get from paid ads on Facebook will not be worth your time, again this depends on the quality of your designs.

Twitter

Starting a Twitter account can be daunting. You only have 240 characters to get your point across to your audience so be focused and clear with your words.  Twitter users (I have found) do not react well to hard sell tactics. The all caps LIMITED TIME OFFER or ON SALE THROUGH THE END OF THE MONTH tactics generally get your advertisements scrolled past.  I also don’t recommend using lines and lines of funny glyphs and emojis since from a distance this sort of advertisement just looks like spam. Be clear and concise, say something like “Fun new Cute Cat Christmas Tree Holiday Design now available, get yours today: (link)” Sometimes adding in a Starting at only $13.99 can help. Different approaches to wording your ads is something you should experiment with. Keep a diary nothing what you said in your ad and keep track of which wording works best for your audience. Don’t treat Twitter as a one-way street. You have to interact with people and build a following and community around your work. The more you interact with people, the more followers you will get and the more product you will sell. People who aren’t successful on Twitter treat it like a megaphone rather than a conversation.

Instagram

Instagram is similar to Twitter in many respects. You need to be concise with your wording and it helps to interact with others and like their content to build a community of like-minded people. The toughest part of Instagram is finding a good ratio of big and small traffic hashtags to use for your posts. Pro tip: when you post a new design, add the picture with a link and a short description then add a comment with a listing of the appropriate hashtags. This way, the big list of hashtags don’t get in the way when your customer is trying to read about your design, your shop or something you have to say.

Things that might have gone wrong

So, you have your storefront all setup and nobody is shopping and buying, what went wrong? Warning: some of this can be tough to hear.

Choice of designs

If you are not a graphic designer and you are relying on services like Canva to make your designs, remember that everyone else who is starting out in print on demand is also using the same designs from Canva and trying to sell them just like you are. Customers get easily fatigued when they see the same looking designs with one or two word changes. My suggestion here is to take some online classes and learn some basic graphic design techniques which will give you the skills to make your work unique. The best way to ensure sales in any crowded market is to set yourself apart from the competition.

Working in a niche that is too crowded

If you jumped right into Yoga, Alcohol, Cats or Dogs shirt designs, then you are creating work in a niche that is already very crowded and in most cases oversaturated. The designers who are making unique work that looks different than the stuff you are making on Canva are going to sell a lot more than your stuff and you need to be aware of that. Find a smaller niche and work your way up to the bigger ones.

Not using the right keywords

Redbubble and other services allow you to add keywords to your designs. If you are too “spammy” or use similar words over and over, your use of these keywords will inherently lose weight in their ranking and importance in your listing compared to using a few targeted and appropriate keywords. There are a million and one tutorials on how many times to use a keyword in a listing and a million debates over using the full amount allowed versus a few heavily targeted keywords. My suggestion to you is not to take anyone’s advice on this, rather, make some listings with a lot of keywords and some with just a few and see how they convert. I would also recommend trying a listing with clearly targeted keywords and some with more general words. I would however steer away from the allure of using non-related keywords in your listings. Don’t make a cat design and use #blacklivesmatter as a keyword because it is trending in the media. Most services will either remove the inappropriate keyword or delete your design.

Final thoughts

There you have it, I hope this information was useful to you. Because of the use of copyrighted words I generally don’t monetize my articles, so if you did find this article useful and would like to see more please like and share on your social media and print on demand forums.

Now get out there and get designing!

One of the best ways to get sales on any print on demand design starts with finding effective keywords. There are two schools of thought on how to use keywords in your listings: 1. Find relevant keywords that will drive buyers to your design and 2. Use popular trending keywords (even when they don’t fit the description of your design). Which is the best approach and are there risks associated with either method?

Where to start

With the margins for print on demand sales so thin, I always prefer free solutions to paid ones, and besides who doesn’t like free right? I recommend two services which are (as of this writing) free to use. They will require an email or free account signup. This can be easily sorted by just making a new Gmail account for your print on demand business if you haven’t already.

Merchtitans

My go-to is the merchtitans.com keyword finder for Redbubble, it can be found here. Merchtitans does a good job of scraping the data from Redbubble listings when you type in your keyword or phrase. Merchtitans will collate a list of words and show you how many times they appear on Redbubble. Click the format and copy tags and it will present you with a list that is ready to be pasted into your listing.

 

 

 KWFinder

This one will require an email as well. You get only a few searches a day and in most cases, you only get the first five or so results. I consider this a decent resource, but to get the most out of this one you need a paid account. I have found that the results from KWFinder are fairly close to the ones that come from Google Adwords (which I will be doing an article on in an upcoming post.)

Relevant keywords

If you have a picture of a bear drinking coffee on the design you are listing, the relevant keywords would be bear, coffee and drinking. From there, consider using descriptors of the items in your design. Coffee cup, coffee mug, grizzly bear, cute bear, teddy bear, blue mug etc. Don’t forget words like cute, adorable and the like.  Clear use of keywords can get you far and most importantly keep your design from being removed from Redbubble and other sites which use keywords. Some of the best-selling products on these sites use a few clear keywords to describe the design instead of a million useless words.

Trending keywords

The other school of thought is to add keywords that are trending in the news and other media. The thinking is that when a buyer searched for these keywords on Google or other search engine, your design will come up and you will get your design in front of more eyes. In practice, adding irrelevant keywords or words containing celebrity names or other properties generally get you listed lower in the rankings when the customer searches for similar keywords to the ones in your listing.  The automatic algorithms are also much more likely to flag or take your design down if you use these type of trending keywords.

Order matters

Algorithms change, and as of this writing, the sites like Redbubble that use keywords give more weight to the keywords that appear first in the listing. Fewer keywords also put more weight or emphasis on the words used. This also goes for Merch by Amazon so use your most important keywords in your first description boxes. 

How many keywords?

Just because sites like Redbubble allow you to use more than 20 keywords doesn’t necessarily mean you should use more than 20 keywords. I generally to keep my word count under 15. Put the relevant ones up front in the listing and then use them in your description. This will add even more weight to these words. Do words like best-selling top-selling and others help? Not as much as you would think. There are a lot of people listing designs every day and how many of those people do you think are using words like best-selling and top-selling? Those words become less weighty when a lot of people use them. You have to come up with words for your design that are unique to your design.

Conclusion

What do you think? did this article help you? then help me out by sharing this article with your print on demand forums and on social media.

Now get out there and get designing!

Print on Demand (or PoD) is considered a passive source of income and is an internet-based business anyone can start. When most people talk about Print on Demand, they are generally referring to a company online which prints T-shirts for you, however today’s print on demand services offer everything from face masks to phone cases and beach towels. Essentially you create a high-resolution design and upload it to a service, depending on the service you choose to partner with, they will promote, print, and ship the order to your customers. You get a percentage for each sale and most services allow you to choose the amount you make on each item sold. This lets you focus your time on creating new sellable designs rather than dealing with business infrastructure. How does it work? Let’s talk about it.

How much does it cost?

Getting started in any business requires startup costs. Depending on the path you take, your startup cost for getting into Print on Demand can be very reasonable. All but a couple of the Print on Demand services are free to join, but you might be required to jump through a few hoops to get your items listed.  Until now, if you wanted to be able to make your own T-shirts to sell, you had to learn screen printing and buy the bulky equipment and all the blank shirts and inks. You had to buy into a credit card service and deal with the hassle of not only promoting your designs, but printing and sending them out to your customers yourself. With Print on Demand services, you just upload a high quality, high resolution file and they handle the rest. But what about the most important part of the equation? The designs?

If you don’t have a background in graphic design, color theory and typography, can you still make designs for Print on Demand? Of course, there are websites like  Canva.com  that allow you to create designs from templates, all you need to do is come up with the text you want to put on the shirt. Here is where most Print on Demand tutorials end – they don’t tell you the truth. You can use these design templates, but there will be many times when you want to make specific changes to a design to fit your needs for a shirt design, and having a background or at least some basic knowledge in graphic design can go a long way.

The most significant cost associated with starting a Print on Demand will be time. No matter how simple all of the other tutorials say it will be, there will be significant time involved in getting your business up and running, then you will spend a ton of time researching new niches for shirt designs, promoting your work and uploading your completed designs to your shop. There are automation services which streamline the process for you but be prepared to pay a monthly charge.

What you need

First and foremost (other than an internet connection) you are going to need a computer or tablet that can create designs for your Print on Demand shop. You will also need software to create your new designs on, there are free options available like GIMP, but I prefer Photoshop over all other programs because there is so much information available online to learn the program. All the best plugins, and content is created with Photoshop in mind, and I can’t see a viable reason to not use Photoshop for creating designs. My thinking is that you can get a free program like GIMP and try to translate tutorials and lessons to that platform, but learning new software can be difficult enough without having to add in a translation errors when you already don’t feel comfortable with the program.

Photoshop used to cost hundreds of dollars and needed to be upgraded each year. These days, you can get photoshop in the photographer bundle for $9.99 a month, less than the price of a cup of coffee. This will give you access to all the cool new features in photoshop and it is constantly updated. In the photographer bundle you also get Lightroom which is a great program to catalog and edit all your photos. We aren’t affiliated with Adobe, and get nothing for recommending photoshop to you, it is just the best program to use for design creation hands down.

You will also want a backup strategy for your designs. You are investing time into your designs, and a computer crash could completely derail your business if you don’t put a plan in place form the outset. 1 Terabyte dries ca be had at any big box store for less than a hundred dollars – often way under a hundred dollars. Back up your work often, believe me the first time you have a computer crash you are going to thank me.

Lastly, you are going to need your tax information. When you sell something online you must pay taxes on it, there is no way around it. Most Print on Demand services will ask for your social security number and will give you itemized comma separated lists of the items you sold over the year so you can claim them on your taxes.

If you are serious about starting your Print on Demand business, I highly recommend that you consider setting up a LLC. I’m not a lawyer and don’t consider this legal advice, but a LLC will protect your personal assets in the event that someone sues you over a design. Whether you are making shirt designs, jewelry or looking at a career in photography a LLC can be a lifesaver (and property saver). Again, I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t legal advice but Legalzoom.com is a great place to get a LLC setup for around $300.

Set yourself apart

Since COVID-19 hit the Print on Demand industry has exploded with new designers. Some have come and gone, others are still hanging on. With the field so crowded, you as a designer need to set yourself apart from the herd. When you use services like Canva.com to create your designs, you must realize that your work is going to look like other’s work. You can’t get around this and no matter how many different templates are available, customers are going to see the same shirt template all over the place. How do you set yourself apart from all the other designers? I am a bit proponent for learning new skills. Rather than just replaying on pre-made templates, why not take the time to learn how to make the designs yourself? This will open all sorts of new avenues for you. Consider this, if you know how to make the templates you could not only create your own designs to sell, but you can also create designs to sell to other designers who don’t have the design skills.

Is it worth it?

The revenue you are going to see (especially at first) from a Print on Demand shop isn’t going to pay the rent, and in most cases, it might not even buy you lunch. Print on Demand is a very crowded market and there is no get rich quick scheme. Just like any business, it is going to take time to research your designs, find new trends to create designs for and upload your designs. The margins you make are razor thin and you will rely on volume to start seeing a reasonable income on a monthly basis. If you have time, and you love to create things that other people can enjoy, then Print on Demand is right for you. I love to make the designs, but even to this day years later I still find myself buying a lot of my designs and wearing them every day. The joy of someone telling you that they love your shirt and you being able to hand them a card and saying I made this is priceless. For me, the time involved in Print on Demand as a business is well worth it.

Copyrighted material

Any “what is Print on Demand” article should include a bit about copyrighted materials. If you have questions about the legality of using the Nike logo, or Baby Yoda in your designs, we have detailed explanations here. For now, the best piece of advice I can give about copyrighted materials is this: If you didn’t create it don’t use it. Drawing Baby Yoda is not creating it. You must produce the design or idea and then implement it to be able to legally use it on your designs. If you venture into the copyrighted materials game be aware that the best thing that can happen to you is your account gets banned or they just take your design down. If you make that shirt with Baby Yoda and it sells well, Disney is going to come after you. Larger companies like this have teams of lawyers that do nothing all day but look for instances of people using their intellectual property and suing them.

Using copyrighted materials in your designs can be a way to get some quick sales, but the hassle and litigation surrounding the use of copyrighted materials is not worth the risk in my eyes.

Print on Demand services

There are a ton of Print on Demand services, but three stand out – Redbubble, Teespring and Merch by Amazon. These three services all use the same base file resolutions 4500X5400 and all three are non-exclusive, meaning when you create a design you can upload it to all three of these services to sell. Let’s break down a quick summary of each of these services:

Redbubble

When you are first starting out, Redbubble is going to be your best source of income. The process of uploading your design and choosing the products it will appear on is quick and easy. You can choose your profit margin and once your design is uploaded it will propagate through Google and the Redbubble service. They will immediately start including you into relevant searches and customers will be able to start finding your designs right away. Redbubble is stringent on enforcement of copyrighted materials, so if you upload something you don’t have the rights to use, they will catch you and remove the design. Multiple infractions will lead to a banned account. If you are going to just choose one Print on Demand service to work with, Redbubble will be the quickest and easiest to get up and running. They are a great way to dip your toe into the Print on Demand game and see if it is right for you.

Merch by Amazon

Did you know Amazon has a Print on Demand service? The shirts are decent quality, and they promote your work on Amazon. This is good and bad, good that it is Amazon and your products will be promoted where everyone is already shopping, but bad in that Amazon is so bug your work can get lost in the myriad of other designs available on the service. You also have to apply for a seller account and prove that your work is good. Once you are in you work your way up through a tier system starting at 10 design slots available. After your designs sell 10 shirts you move to Tier 2 whish has 25 design slots. Getting to the point where you can add a reasonable amount of designs onto your account can take quite a few months depending on your designs.

Teespring

Teespring has a metric called a trust score that you are required to navigate before they begin adding your designs into relevant customer searches. This means if you add 25 designs featuring dogs, your work will not be shown to customers searching for dogs until you have sold a few items and met the first tier of trust score requirements. The royalties are good on Teespring, and at the end of the day it is well worth the hoops you have to jump through to get a few sales to start your account. Use Twitter and Instagram to promote your work and get a few sales and you will be all good.

Big note: Teespring’s trust score is there to keep people from uploading and selling copyrighted materials, Don’t even think about uploading your fan art of Baby Yoda, your design will get taken down,  and your trust score will go into negative territory meaning you have to make even more sales on your own before your work starts showing up in relevant searches on the site.

Will you make a lot of money?

It depends. If you are using pre-made templates, and your work looks like everyone else’s, you might not. If you make create fun designs that people want, then you should do well.  Customers want fun topical and interesting designs.  

Give it a shot

Give Print on Demand a try. Don’t give up until you have at least 100 designs up. Once you reach 100 designs, you can take a step back and breath for a minute. Give it some time, depending on the time of year sales can be slow. Towards the holidays sales are always better, consider this as a long-term passive income source. That doesn’t mean to put up a bunch of designs and walk away, rather take the time for that big initial push to get 100 designs then evaluate where you are. Look at the designs that are selling and the ones that aren’t. Trends change, people’s taste change and your skills improve. Once you hit 100 designs I guarantee that you will look back and wrinkle your nose at some of the early designs you created.

Print on Demand is a fun and rewarding source of passive income. It is cheap to get started as it only costs you time at the outset. Go into it with an open mind and see if what interests you and drives your creation sells.

If you are creating T-shirt designs and you are looking for some inspiration, each week we review the Print on Demand top Niches. Keeping track of what is hot and what is not is a tough process, hopefully this information will help you out.

This week we are transitioning away from Halloween, because regardless of which PoD service you work with your customers will not have time to order shirts or other items and have them arrive before Halloween which is next weekend. By now, you should have your Thanksgiving designs up for sale, and be actively working toward Christmas and New Years designs. Speaking of Christmas and New years, let’s talk about this week niche suggestions.

2020 Sucks

With COVID-19, lots have had a tough year and they are looking to show off their dislike of the year from hell. 2020 sucks shirts are still selling well, you should consider creating some designs which feature 2020 sucks somewhere. Perhaps marrying 2020 sucks with Thanksgiving, New Years or Christmas somehow would yield good results. If this works for you, let us know with a tweet or message!

I may be old but I got to see all the cool bands.

Look it up on Amazon or Redbubble, it’s the words with a guitar. This is a shirt that can seel anytime of the year, so consider this as one of those long-term designs for your shop. Do be careful of the guitars, don’t just go on Google Images and grab a vector or image of a Fender or other guitar, copyright police will come for you and make them take your  design down.

Kayaking gets me wet and SUP

Its strange, but the Kayaking gets me wet design is doing well this week and last. I have also seen Stand Up Paddling gets me wet designs out there quite a bit. This is also called SUP. It seems early for summer sports, but hey, if it is selling why not? Have you tried this niche? How is it working for you?

Merry Quarantine Christmas

Christmas designs are starting to fill up the stores and they are selling well. From what I have seen so far, it los like lots of the larger shops are re-tooling their designs from last year and adding Merry Quarantine Christmas to them.  Many are also incorporating toilet paper rolls into the 2020 zeros. I have also seen lots of elves with 2020 toilet-paper-ized.  

Voting is hot 2020

We are at the end of the election season, you should have your Biden won and Trump won themed shirts in your stores (if you are playing both sides of the fence).  Redbubble is showing trends for Coting is Hot 2020 at the moment, it’s a bit late to jump on this trend but who knows if you have an original design it might be worth it. I still think that designs featuring both candidates for winning the election will be a good seller right after the election. Just put both up and whichever candidate wins the election pull the loser’s shirts down.

Did any of this help you? Did we inspire you? Let us know if you like this series we will keep it going each week. Now get out there and get designing!

Print on demand can be an incredibly rewarding or frustrating business venture. Since COVID-19 struck and people started looking for passive sources of income, the YouTube content creators who educate on Print on Demand saw an explosion of traffic on their sites. They promised the equivalent of get rich quick schemes and many fell for it. They said “All you have to do is follow the current trends, upload shirts and you will make a fortune”. Maybe you were one of those poor souls who fell for the hype? Did you make a bunch of designs and not sell one? Now, are you are here trying to find information about Print on Demand and how to make sales. What went wrong? What can you do to make more sales on your Redbubble, Teespring or Teepublic account? Let’s talk about it!

Busy place

When interest in Print on Demand first exploded earlier this year, the market was well saturated with designs. The market was crowded, but sellers with little or no graphic design skill could easily upload designs utilizing pre-made templates and still see reasonable sales margins for their time spent creating. The pandemic changed the Print on Demand industry just like it did so many others. People were out of work and looking to supplement their income, so many turned to passive income options like Print on Demand to fill the gap.  As the year wore on and quarantines started becoming the norm, layoffs caused even more people to venture into the already overcrowded Print on Demand market. These latecomers were inundated with content from YouTube creators promising a quick buck.

Education not creation

When times change, businesses need to change with them or face failure. Seeing their business change with a huge influx of new creators, those who have been in the Print on Demand game for a while, (yours truly included) saw an already overcrowded market  changing with new creators hungry to be educated about the Print on Demand game so many shifted their focus from creating designs to creating educational content, and their channels and blog traffic exploded. These new educators led new designers toward the path many of these creators took early on, relying on pre-made templates. They partnered with websites that create ready-made solutions like Canva and the market for new creators continued to explode. The problem was that they didn’t realize the biggest flaw with content creat3ed by these sites,

Everyone is doing it

The most common question asked in any Print on Demand forum is how to get more sales. New creators jump on this Canva bandwagon and create a ton of shirt designs, then end up selling one or two and give up. Realize that everyone is in the same boat as you are, whether you are new to Print on Demand or an old grizzled designer, the quest for that next viral shirt design is something we all share. Some use memes as content while others watch TV and keep up with current events in the news looking for subjects for their designs. Let’s look at an example, In late summer President Trump was on a news show where he touted that he has had aced a cognitive test where the test moderators asked him to remember five words, man, woman, person, camera, TV. This led to a rush of designs featuring the five words and quickly became a short-lived Print on Demand trend.  Designs featuring the five words sold very well for a couple weeks and those who had shirts in early to the game did well. Those that jumped on the bandwagon late saw little income from this design because the trend machine had moved on to the election and a myriad of other topics.  The lesson that many learned was that if they kept up on current events, and jumped on the design ideas as they came, it payed off.

Shortcuts

When you are looking for ideas for your next design, it can be very tempting to consider joining sites like Canva. They provide ready made designs, and all you need to do is type your text in, upload it to your Print on Demand account and wait for the money to start rolling in. The problem with this solution is that everyone is doing it.  There may be a lot of templates to choose from, but at the end of the day customers looking for shirts are going to recognize the design you used and pass yours by even if your text is more creative or funny than others. We all like shortcuts and learning graphic design, color theory and typography is a long and boring process and the allure of using templates can be strong.  The truth about the matter is that using pre-made templates is the most common reason for not getting sales in Print on Demand. You need to find a way to stand out from the crowd, especially when it comes to designs in a very crowded market.

Is it worth it?

Print on Demand is awesome. There is nothing more heartwarming than seeing someone you don’t know on the street wearing your design. Print on Demand is an easy an inexpensive business to get into, but it can be extremely frustrating, especially if you have no skill in graphic design. At the end of the day, t-shirt design is art, and there is a market for every type of art. Regardless of your preferred design topic, you will find your market if you look hard enough. Next time we will talk about some techniques you can use to get more sales in your Print on Demand business.

 

Get yours here: Travel Duffel Bag Waterproof Canvas Overnight Bag Leather Weekend Oversized Carryon Handbag Brown

Duffel bags are so great for weekend or overnight travel. Here at Epic Shit we get a ton of travel bags to review and almost never post reviews because they tend to be cheap and fall apart easily. With that im mind, enter the Travel Duffel Bag Waterproof Canvas Overnight bag from NEWHEY. I love a duffel bag that is roomy and has enough space for all my stuff for a weekend getaway, but still has pockets I can place harder to find things like my cellphone charger. How does this 46-dollar Duffel stand up to road trips, plane trips and weekend getaways? Read on…

Size matters

The most important features of a Duffel bag are the size and the construction. I have had Duffels bags that were just too big and once they were filled the handles felt like they were going to rip off. I would put this Duffel Bag squarely in the middle size range with dimensions of 22.83(L) by 11.8(W) and 11.8(H),   the included shoulder strap expands from 27.9”–52′.  When I think about Duffle Bag size, I consider smaller than this bag suitable for the gym, and larger than this more for a week-long trip. This bag holds enough clothing and supplies for a 2-3 day weekend trip or business overnighter. I consider this the perfect size for a grab and go over even a weekend roller suitcase. Before we got this, my wife used a weekend size Samsonite roller. Nice she saw the quality of this bag, she bought one for herself. They are great to stuff with clothes and toiletries and throw in the car for a getaway. The interior pockets keep stuff organized so you don’t have to dig around in the bottom looking for loose items like with other bags.

Construction

This is where I was really shocked. I expected a 46-dollar bag to be cheap, but this feels like a much more expensive bag. This Travel Duffel Bag is made of High-density waterproof canvas and has nicely rounded comfortable to hold leather handles. The stitching all around is top notch and it had four metal feet. The zippers are heavy duty and I have yet to have any issues with them even when my bag was stuffed to capacity. I love that the canvas is waterproof, we tested this on our first outing last year. When we arrived at our hotel, it stated pouring and even after sitting in the rain for a few minutes all the clothing inside was still bone dry. I doubt the bag could handle being submerged of course but for the testing and rain exposure I have thrown at this top rated cheap little bag I am very impressed.

The bags come in a few different colors, brown and grey as well as camo patterns.  

User experience

I have been using this bag for nearly a year now. I have stuffed it full and thrown it in the back of the car, stuffed it full and carried it on top of my suitcase on a cross country flight and left it sitting in the rain while I checked into a hotel in the mountains. With all the wear and tear this bag has endured I would expect to see a lot more fraying on the edges or stitching, but I am so far extremely happy with the quality and build of this Travel Duffel Bag.  I have to say I really love this little bag.

Conclusion

I’m shocked at the quality of this bag for the price. I’m happy to recommend this to anyone looking for a nice medium, size Travel Duffle Bag that can easily hold enough clothing and supplies for a weekend getaway or short business trip. The handles are comfortable, and the shoulder strap doesn’t dig into your neck when you are carrying it fully loaded. This bag really feels like a great alternative to a more expensive piece of luggage. I own two of them and am strongly considering these as Christmas presents this year for friends and family. Great bag, great value.

I love to hear from my readers! If you have questions about this or any review on this site, or If you have a product you would like us to review, drop me a message on Twitter or on the contact form here on the website. Have a great day!

Twitter: @EpicShit9

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