So you want to sell things on the internet? More specifically, you want to sell things on the internet with the least amount of risk possible.
There's always risk when you are starting a business, but one of the benefits of print-on-demand (POD) is the minimal risk involved because you don't have to stock inventory.
So you may be asking yourself: “How do I get started? How do I find the tools and directions I need to get started properly?”
The tools you need are all right here on GearLaunch — customer service, sourcing, and fulfillment. These are three of the biggest pain points when running an ecommerce business, and GearLaunch takes care of all three of them for you so you can focus on growing your company and building your brand.
Now you need to know where to find royalty free designs that your audience can relate to, how you should vet these designs before going through the trouble of selling them, and where to get these designs created.
Finding Winning Designs
Looking for designs to sell on shirts, hats, mugs, etc.? Don’t know what to look for or how to find them? Don’t be alarmed — there are a few readily available places for you to research working designs that are ready to be tweaked and added to your storefront.
First is Google. Yes, Google Images is a gold mine when you're looking for new design and text ideas. Type in a niche followed by the word “quote” and you are on your way.
I’ve personally sold over 7 figures' worth of POD t-shirts, and BY FAR my biggest sellers were text heavy designs with a small design to associate it with whichever niche I was targeting.
I’ve used Google Images since the beginning to search for popular unattributed quotes and designs to inspire my own shirts — I urge you to do the same. Before you use an image be sure to verify that you aren't violating any copyright or trademark guidelines.
Second is Facebook Search. Everybody and their grandma has a Facebook account, and with that comes A LOT of data to work with.
Type into the search bar the niche you are targeting and add the word “t-shirt” or any combination of words often used to promote products e.g. “limited time offer” or “on sale today only.” This tool is amazing for finding current trends and inspiration.
Some niches will rely more on the design than the quotes and text-based shirts that we’ve just discussed. I still recommend looking on Google and Facebook for this type of design inspiration, but I recommend Pinterest above all for design-heavy research.
Pinterest is a gold mine when looking for trending or popular images— whether they are text heavy or just one big animated design. Simply use the Pinterest search bar and type in your keywords.
PLEASE MAKE AN IMPORTANT NOTE: You should never fully copy a design you find or claim a work as your own unless expressly given permission to do so. You should only use this approach as a starting point to create your own original work.
Copying and stealing another artist's work will get you into a lot of trouble.
designs for Personalization
When you are looking for designs you don’t just want to focus on what you can sell to one person. You want to focus on designs you can sell to multiple people over multiple niches.
When you are looking for new designs you are better off looking for a vague concept that you can change multiple times to apply to another niche. This is considered personalization and a popular method many online businesses use to appeal to more audiences.
For an example, I created a shirt design back in 2014 that read “I like horses and like… maybe 3 people” as well as another that read “If you don’t like horses then you won’t like me… and I’m okay with that.”
These designs took off like crazy to the point that everyone else in the POD industry started copying them for their niches and stores.
Did these other guys only target horses? Nope! Hardly any of them. Then how did they make them work for so long? By changing the word “horse” to other niche related words like “dogs” or “fishing."
This design was so diverse that it could be mildly tweaked and appeal to an entirely different industry/niche/interest. One design could be made into 100 different designs with hardly any extra work, but still be appealing enough to become profitable to the majority of them— this is what you want to be doing.
Where To Get These Designs Made
If you want to try your hand at design, you can use any number of free online design tools.
However, there are a few places that I recommend having designs created for you, but the prices will vary. I know spending more isn’t always an option when starting out so I’m going to tell you where to get the most bang for your buck.
Design Crowd: I don’t have very much experience with this site, but I have heard good things.
In a nut shell, you post a brief description of the type of design you want, include some examples and direction if you want, then a ton of designers will create and submit their work. This allows you to choose the one you like the best at your selected price point.
99 Designs: I love 99 designs. It’s one of the more expensive options, but it gives you full control over the direction in which your design is being created.
You start a campaign for a design - this can be for a shirt, business card, flyer, tarp, really anything - then you have a few stages during the process that allows the designers to make changes based on your feedback.
You communicate directly with the designers who opt to take on the job, then at the end you only pay for the winning design. The winning designers get paid for their work.
What I really like about this is that you’re able to see what the other designers styles have to offer, and you can take these small intricacies from their personal styles and suggest them to the others competing for your work.
Fiverr: This is the most cost effective route to take which still getting awesome work done. Fiverr gets their name from the fact that they offer professional campaigns at the lowest prices starting at $5.
Granted, you may be asked to pay more depending on the designer you choose to work with and the size of the job you’re needing done, but a small job won't break the bank.
Fiverr is a wonderful resource for one off jobs, or even semi occasional tasks like daily shirt designs and promotional material to help sell your products.
Keep this in mind whenever you’re unsure of how to do something. Run a quick search through Fiverr and see if you can find someone to do it for you for cheap.
Upwork: Formerly Odesk, Upwork is a freelance platform that allows you to find employees to handle tasks, or make yourself available for jobs that others need done.
I’ve been using it for years to hire everything from graphic designers to virtual assistants in order to outsource daily tasks so I could free up some time and focus on the growth of my business. They have a user rating system so you can see what others thought of their work ethic and abilities, as well as an in-depth interviewing process complete with filters to weed out certain details, while actively searching for others. This is a great tool for building your team from the ground up.
Check out our complete guide to hiring the best freelancer.
Time To Get Started
Now you have the tools to get started on your own print on demand store right now!
GearLaunch has the tools you need to maintain your business, now it’s up to you to put the pieces into motion.