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!
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.
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.