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…
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.
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.
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 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.
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!