Print on Demand Training

Extra Tid Bits

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Building Your Print On Demand Empire

This final module is to give you extra ways to find insights into what might work for you. Also to give you extra chances to get your designs noticed. If you see examples of the same products with other peoples creations on them it can spark good ideas for you. Pinterest can provide you with both examples to help you with your creations and free exposure to help promote your products.

Product Examples

Here are a couple of examples of mugs that I spotted on Facebook that I thought had potential. I don’t know the people who did these I just spotted them and thought they were quite good. I haven’t researched whether they have sold well or not but I thought they probably would. One is quite funny and one appeals to lady bikers. I have tried to not jump around too much so mugs and bikers was the sensible choice. Mr Trump divides opinion but he can often raise a smile.

Do your research on the type of designs that work.

You can see that they both have appeal for mother’s day. Both probably have appeal beyond mother’s day but the biker mug is aimed at a particular type of mother. The Trump mug may well have wider appeal but jokes become stale after a while so I guess that has a limited time to sell. What I am trying to say is you need to think through every aspect of your designs appeal. Other people may look at your product in a different way to you so try to think about all possible reactions to whatever you are saying on your product. Current event products have a limited appeal but the good thing about Print on Demand is that it doesn’t matter to you because you only produce stock if somebody has already bought and paid for it.

Pinterest Boards

One thing you must do is make sure you get your items on a board on Pinterest and linked back to your sales page because ladies love to look at this website and it is a great place to get free traffic.

Pinterest now has 200 million monthly users so it is huge and it is the second biggest referrer of sales online. If you going to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your products remember that the audience is heavily biased towards females with between age 20 – 40 the most frequent users.

Two thirds of the Pins made are from businesses. So the sort of product pins you would make are certainly expected on this platform.

Here I have pinned the mug we designed earlier

This page appears when you first add your product which is great but don’t miss the value provided underneath. Directly below Pinterest provides a ‘more like this’ list. This gives you a page full of ideas about niches, slogans and creative designs that Pinterest thinks are the most similar to the item you have just posted. It is gold for people looking for inspiration.

This picture shows about a third of the page of similar products and of course you can click right through to their sales pages. You can pick up tips on presentation and product description on the way. Keep learning what is working for others all the time.

Another great search you can do which will be of great benefit on Pinterest is this

Here is a screenshot of the Pinterest search page. You can see that it gives you the latest post associated with Gearbubble and that our Motorbike mug is that very latest Pin shown.

That search is good for any Print on Demand Supplier. You just need to replace the on the end of the link with or or anybody else that you wish. You can even replace with and see the latest pins linked to that marketplace. It will provide you with very useful insights.

PRO TIP: Use our Chrome Extension to quickly see the top posts from any of these sources.

Earlier in the report we showed a ‘biker’ search on Amazon. That is useful for design ideas but here is something that will help a lot more.

This is a Chrome Browser extension called Unicorn Smasher that will help show you how successful each T shirt is. It is a free extension from the Chrome Webstore.

In this image I have the first 96 t shirts listed in order of which has the most estimated monthly sales per month. If you click the headings you can change the priorities so that the lowest product rank is first or the list can be in highest revenue order. All are useful and if you hovver over the description a picture of the t shirt pops up so that you can see which shirt the data relates to.


This report is intended to give you an appreciation of what is involved in running a Print On Demand business. It has shown that it can be one of the simplest businesses to run with the least amount of overhead.

There is a certain freedom to this business that is hard to explain. You are free to use lots of suppliers, free to use your own designs and there are lots of options in the way you decide to sell. It can be as simple as sending traffic to one sales page or you could set up your own website, be in marketplaces and have integrations. It is entirely your choice how far you wish to take it. The simplicity of the business gives you the options.

Doing the research is interesting and will help you to pick winners.

It can actually be quite fun to think of slogans that resonate with other people and create good designs. Also very satisfying when you get a winner and it becomes obvious that people like what you have created.

So if you choose to have a crack at this type of business I wish you every success and lots of fun!

Print on Demand Training

An Introduction To Print On Demand

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Building Your Print On Demand Empire

This series is intended to explain the process and benefits of the Print on Demand business model. When you finish the report you will understand what is involved and have a complete roadmap on how to start your own Print On Demand Business.

This business model started with books and most people would associate it with publishing of some kind but now it has spread to many different types of product. Now, this is where it gets interesting.

The Print On Demand business system that I am going to describe to you is simply to put your own unique design onto any one of hundreds of available products from dozens of suppliers.

The Print On Demand model is ideal for people that don't want to or can't afford to risk any money in starting a business. Many people want their own business but are scared to take the risk. This is a business that minimizes risk. If you don't have any money or don't want to risk borrowing money from the bank, then the Print On Demand business is one that you should seriously consider.

In traditional business models you generally have to invest in stock if you are going to sell any sort of product but in the Print On Demand business you do not need a speculative investment in stock. There is not any danger of investing in the wrong stock as you only pay for items that you have already sold. Many businesses make the mistake of buying badly and their profit sits in a box in the corner. Or they have to sell at a loss.

So, there are no premises to pay for, no staff to pay and no stock to pay for before any item sale. The main expense is your time and possibly money spent on advertising to bring your customers to your sales platform.


Firstly, you will need to have a target market. By that I mean an audience to market your products to. You need to find a group of people that have a similar interest and identify where they can be reached. This could be people that like particular animals or have who have a specific job or are getting married. So you might try to get the attention of dog owners, perhaps individual breeds, or nurses for instance. You could try to target your products at firefighters or fishermen. There are plenty of target markets. You can find a free list of Print on Demand and dropshipping niches right here (look under ‘Search Suggestions’).

Secondly, you will need some designs. You can either do this yourself if you feel you have artistic abilities or you can find somebody to do your designs for you. There are plenty of places where you can find graphic artists. There are also plenty of places to find ideas for designs. They are not too expensive and we will cover that in more depth later in the report.

Thirdly you will need a competent business supplier to do the actual physical work of printing, processing and delivering your orders to your customers. You may very well need more than one depending on what type of products you decide to offer.

And finally, you will need at least one sales platform so that your great designs can be seen and purchased by the general public and in particular the people you are targeting.

Types of Products

There are so many different types of products that can be used in this business model that it would be silly to list them all here. I will just list ten that I know can work well.

T shirts

The biggest selling Print On Demand product is the T Shirt. These can be simple slogans or something a bit more elaborate.

Sweatshirts / Hoodies

These provide a good opportunity particularly around Xmas to make a very good profit margin as they are quite high value in comparison to the other items.

Coffee Mugs

There are variations on size and color on this popular product


This product is good for sentimental type messages and the more serious type message. It can earn you a nice profit margin. Super for Valentine’s Day or Anniversaries.


Not quite as popular as necklaces but still a good market with the right message

Pillow Cases / Cushion Covers

These have good possibilities if you get the design right and catch people’s imagination.

Tote Bags

A very popular item with the ladies. Very fashionable at the moment

Phone Cases

These make a great gift. It is an item that most people could use.


Headwear is something that can be good particularly with sportsmen but can be adopted for special occasions as in this sample.


Prints for the wall need to be more artistic than for clothing in general. It is a good market for the more talented artists and designers.


All over print socks can be very effective. The all over print technique is used on other garments like T shirts and tights too. Some suppliers have better software than others for easy creation of from design. Research the suppliers to see which suits you best.

I hope the above selection has given you some ideas on niches, designs and products. Putting your own combination together can be fun. This is just a small selection of ideas. There are plenty more products to choose from.

Print on Demand Training

Choosing A Supplier

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Building Your Print On Demand Empire

Print On Demand Suppliers

In this section I am going to give you some examples of good print on demand companies that you might consider using if you decide to start a business in this area.

In no particular order – as they say on the reality shows:


Zazzle is a fantastic website which has over 1300 products in many niches. In fact, just looking at the contents list on Zazzle at the head of the website homepage will probably give you ideas for a niche if you don’t already have one. You see, it is such a comprehensive list that you could quite easily decide to offer things just for weddings or specialize in products for pets or anything really that you are interested in.

Or you could decide to go in the opposite direction and specialize in the product rather than the niche. Then you would only offer bags or only T shirts or cards to a variety of different niches.

Interestingly these Father’s day ideas on Zazzle are nicely different from other companies but this is supplied from a supplier within Zazzle.

When you study the flask product description in more detail you see that it was made by a company that has a set up within Zazzle and designed by a different company and offered in a shop within Zazzle. So Zazzle is worth looking around. There is some buried treasure in there that you might not spot at first glance.

Whatever you decide, Zazzle is a great place both to get ideas and to get your products up and running.

You can also become an affiliate for other people’s product on Zazzle.

Pros – huge range of good quality products

Cons – slightly more expensive than some and a bit more complicated to understand.

To visit


When t-shirt printing / selling first became popular on Facebook Teespring was at the very forefront of this huge business. The numbers being sold were huge and print-on-demand became very popular for clothing particularly on Facebook. T-shirts in summer and hoodies in winter made some people a lot of money.

There were many courses on how to make money on Facebook using t-shirts and hoodies. These consisted of how to use print on demand websites to create your designs and also how to use Facebook advertising two get people to see your designs.

It reached the point where the marketplace was saturated. There were just too many people trying to sell t-shirts on Facebook. Also there were many companies copying Teesprings business model, some better than others. Some are still going strong and some have disappeared again.

Teespring have moved to stay ahead of the game and they extended what they offer to a much bigger range of products.

Teespring have plenty of tutorials to help you set yourself up properly for success. It is a pretty simple system for anybody to follow as well.

They have a Facebook page with 850,000 likes that you look at to see what they are doing at the moment and they also have a blog to give you ideas.

Pros a simple system with good T shirt prices

Cons no realistic chance of a passive sale. You need to provide your own audience.

To visit


This company has a good range of products and a nice system for uploading your designs and creating mock ups. It has a major plus with it’s integrations with marketplaces.

This gives it an advantage over other platforms as it eliminates a lot of work for the seller. It integrates with Shopify. BigCommerce , Etsy and several other platforms.

Pros – It simplifies the system for you

Cons – slightly more expensive on some of its products

To Visit


This company give you your own online shop and their product creation system takes one image and allows you to apply it to many products. This makes it very easy to have a shop with multiple products in it in just a few minutes.

They have their headquarters in Germany but also have production facilities in Czech Republic, Poland and USA. A big company that makes it easy to sell in both North America and Europe.

Pros – Ease of use. Production on two continents.

Cons – confusing marketplace system

To visit


This company is one of the newer companies in this business but has come in really strongly with a good selection of products an easy system to follow and a strong tutorial system. They particularly go out of their way to make sure that their customers have every tool necessary to make the sale. They even have basic Facebook Ads training to make sure you are getting the right traffic to your offers.

Gearbubble market T-Shirts like many other companies but also have a very good selection of jewellery with necklaces being a particularly successful product for them. They have a strong range of Coffee Mugs too. Their system makes it easy to put the same design on several different products and provide your own unique shop front. They also have an impressive upsell system which allows you to maximise your sales order values.

What I like most about Gearbubble is how it feels. It feels like they want to help you succeed as much as you want to succeed for yourself. One of the ways they do this is with a Facebook group. They keep you up to date with what is going on. What is also helpful is that you can gain knowledge, tips and encouragement from other people that are also selling their products.

Gearbubble is free to use but if you are producing good products there are paid upgrade integrations that you might decide you want to use to increase your product exposure.

Pros – community of sellers – simple product creation system.

Cons – some delivery time issues.

To visit

Wrap Up on Suppliers

I can keep just going on with suppliers like Printify, Redbubble, Sunfrog, Society6 – the list goes on and on. You will find no shortage of suppliers particularly in the United States. If you are in Europe there is a good choice too. Teezily is based in France and Spreadshirt is based in Germany.

Each supplier has their own system for creating the product but also for marketing the product. For instance Redbubble has a particularly good search system, and product tagging system in their marketplace. So look at both aspects of each supplier when choosing who to use.

Just a word of caution with regard to shipping costs. When you are setting up your products please make sure you get your shipping costs right. You don’t want to be losing all your profit on shipping costs. Get your ad targeting and shipping costs coordinated so you don’t lose out. Shipping overseas can have prohibitive costs so know what you need to charge your customer if you plan on selling overseas.

I have chosen to use the Gearbubble system later in this report to explain the process to you because it feels the simplest and most logical of the ones I have used.

Print on Demand Training

Product Creation

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Building Your Print On Demand Empire

Creating Your Product

Creating your first design will be different for different people. Some may have a niche mapped out in their mind and be aiming to fill a shop straight away. Others may have one thing they think is funny or topical and want to see if they can make one product work.

Making the actual design is not very difficult. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need a complex design. Simple is often the best. There are several ways of creating your image and I will show you some of them. If you prefer to get somebody else to do it you can outsource this relatively inexpensively but I would recommend giving it a go yourself first. Or you could hire somebody on Fiverr and try yourself at the same time and see who does the best design. It can’t hurt to have a choice.

For simplicity’s sake let us go through the process of making one design just so that you can see how simple it can be.

Product Ideas

I'm going to assume you know your market and that you have found a group of people to market to. So now you need to find a design. Your design can be very simple, in other words just nice text or it can be very complicated you will see examples of both that work when you do your research.

If there's going to be any sort of demand for your product the chances are someone's already done something similar. There are plenty of places to look on the internet for product ideas. Print On Demand marketplaces have their own search function where you can find their best selling products. You can try Google Images, Pinterest, Etsy and even Amazon to see what other people have done in the past. Or if you want to skip the hard work you can use one of the several tools that we offer. Teespy, Sorting Social, and See What Sells are all freemium Print On Demand design research tools that show top-selling designs from multiple places around the internet. Each tool has its own advantages so check each one out to figure out which way of researching best suits you.

Now, back to the manual way of researching…

Here is an Amazon search for ‘biker’ t shirts as an example

This search yielded over 2000 results so this is a popular market and you will see plenty of examples. This is not to copy, but this is to give yourself an idea what may work and what may not work and come up with your own solution. It's very important to be original please don't copy that's not the intention here you are just looking for clues at this stage of which direction to go in. Again, I'll talk more about this in the marketing section of this report.

The simplest idea is for some sort of funny slogan which people may take from memes or something that they know would apply to this particular market.

Creating Your Image

So if you have an idea for an image that you want to put on your products then you have the choice of doing it yourself or finding somebody to do it for you. I'll first run through a couple of ways to do it yourself. I would recommend you doing this even if you decide against it later. Then, at least you'll know what's involved if you have a little crack at it yourself first.

To put a slogan on a T-shirt or a Coffee mug or a necklace you will need to find some text to put on a transparent background. Now, to have a transparent background most of these Print On Demand companies would require you to create a .png file so when you save your image it has to be a .png and not a .jpg.

People use Photoshop to make their designs but you don't need to be particularly good at graphic design or to have Photoshop to do this. Free graphic design software like Canva, Pixlr, Gimp are commonly used.

Method One

If I'm doing something very simple like just a text using a nice font I actually use Google Slides. I don't know anybody else that does this and I can't remember how I discovered it but I'm going to tell you how I do it and hope that it helps you.

The good thing about Google slides is that if you have a Google account, which pretty much everybody has, you've got this on your computer already.

Here is the step by step

1 Go to Google Drive

2 Click My Drive at the top

3 Click Google Slides

4 Click Layout and choose last option change canvas to blank

5 Click File then Page Setup near the bottom

6 Choose Custom from dropdown menu

7 Choose the dimensions that apply to the product you are creating

Now you have the perfect blank canvas. There are different ways to put text on the canvas but on Google Slides there is a Word Art function which is very good. There are absolutely loads of fonts to choose from and if you haven't got enough you can add even more fonts to Google Slides.

To get to Word Art click the insert button at the top of the page then click Word Art. Type your slogan into the box then you can change the font from the drop down menu in the header.

You can play now with your result. You can change the color, you can change the size, you can change the font again, you can add an outline to your letters, play with the thickness of the outline. All sorts of things that you'll find fun when you start doing it. Don't be tempted to make it too complicated. Sometimes simple is good.

Still keeping things simple I'm now going to show you how you can bring a transparent image straight into Google slides which you could possibly combine with your slogan should you so wish.

So let's say you want to target people that like motorbikes and Harley Davidson's in particular. You can click Insert at the top of your Google Slides page then select image from the drop down menu, then select search web. This will give you the normal Google image search so if we type in Harley Davidson to see what comes up and then we need to filter from the menu on the left hand side so that we end up with an image that doesn't infringe copyright and has a transparent background.

You will see in the picture that there are filters down the left hand side of the page. I have chosen the ones that are in red. So that is coming down the page, any size for the picture size , transparent for the type of picture and labelled for reuse so that there is no problem with copyright. You will notice that there are several filters for reuse. Labelled for reuse is the one without restrictions and they get progressively more complicated so I'm choosing the simplest option again.

Decide to use one of these or you may decide to look elsewhere. To continue from here I'm just going to choose one of these pictures. I quite like the pixabay one near the bottom which is basically a drawing on a transparent background. As you can see in the picture below by clicking on the picture in the search I've gone through to Pixabay and this is the page that allows me to download the picture without any restrictions. However, if you use the search function in Google Slides you don't need to go as far as this page Google will insert it direct from Pixabay and you don't need to put it on your computer.

If you look at the picture of the motorbike you will notice the square pattern in the background and it is that white and grey check pattern that you are looking for so that you are sure you have a transparent background.

You now know how to insert text into your canvas and also how to insert a picture into your canvas and you can easily combine the two. The choice is yours and I recommend that you try all of these to see which works the best for you. Testing is a great idea.

When you are happy with your Design in Google Slides you must remember to save the item as a .png file. To do that on your Google slides page click file, then download as, then .png image. You need to check you have saved with a transparent background and not picked up a white background while in Google Slides. If you are not transparent then you need to go to another website. The second website is called Lunapic which is also a very useful website in itself with many other uses but in this instance all we need to do is use their transparency tool. All you need to do is to click on that one color {white} to remove all of that color and leave it transparent. Then you are finished.

For your information you can use this website to easily change the colors of your designs. This is very useful to exchange black and white when you want to offer dark and pale t shirts.

Method Two

Canva is an alternative graphic creation software which is quit widely recommended in internet marketing circles. If you don't have Photoshop then this is the software that is most often used by marketers.

Most people use the free version for their design work. There is also a paid version which is currently $9.95 per month paid annually or $12.95 if you pay a month at a time. To download an image with a transparent background unfortunately you have to have the paid version which does make it very simple. However, there is a free 30 day trial of the upgrade which could be very useful to people just starting out. Alternatively, you can still use the free version to make your original image then save as a .png file and go to a second website to remove the background. Try and make sure your background isn’t cluttered or complicated as a solid color is much simpler to clear. This is a repeat of method one so back to Lunapic which is also a very useful website in itself with many other uses but in this instance all we need to do is use their transparency tool. If you have made a simple image in Canva with a solid white background or any solid color background then all you need to do is to click on that one color to remove all of that color and leave it transparent. You must press the Apply button which I keep forgetting to do in my hurry as it isn’t obvious in my world. Then, as before, you save it as a .png file and you have finished your graphic.

You can find Canva here

Method Three

Pixlr. You may actually find this to be easier than the first two methods. You can see in the picture that you can add an image either from your computer or from a URL. So if you have previously managed to find a PNG file with a transparent background you can put it here and not have to worry about going to a second website to remove everything in the background. You can also add any slogan with the text editor without affecting the background. This is where your design skills come into play. I would recommend going over to Youtube and watching a tutorial or two on how to use Pixlr. There are plenty to choose from and people use it in different ways. You can always learn something and if you are going to market products it is a good skill to have.

You can find Pixlr here

Method Four

The simplest of them all is to get one of a few apps that you can use on your smartphone. Wordswag and Typorama are two such apps and they offer some very good templates that turn your ordinary text into something eye catching automatically. The good thing about this is that it gives you so many options to choose from in seconds. It saves time and gives better results than I could dream up myself.

I think these apps were almost certainly conceived to make flashy Instagram posts but they are very useful for Print design. I use Typorama which I choose because the first background it offers up to design on is transparent so it makes it really quick. There is a free version and a small fee for the Pro version. Wordswag costs $4.99 and Typorama costs $5.99. You really should get the Pro if you want to do it this way. Here is a sample image of how it looks on the phone. You will notice 3 of the 50 templates available below the transparent area.

Outsourcing Designs

You will have no trouble finding places to find a graphic designer. The problem will be deciding how much you want to spend and who is likely to give you a design that will work.

The most widely recommended site by marketers is Fiverr because it's cheap and there's a wide choice of services offered. My experience of Fiverr has been both good and a bit disappointing. You have to be careful because cheap isn't always the best option and also many of these people are just using / rearranging stock images so if you decided to use two different designers you may well get two very similar designs.

So with Fiverr you can get a bargain just be very careful when you're choosing who to give the work to. You can ask questions of the designer before you hand over your cash and I would suggest that you do that. Also make sure your instructions are very specific because you can end up with something you weren't expecting.

Shop around some of the other resource type websites too. Particularly if you have got a bit more of a budget. Take a look up at a website called Upwork also one called Freelancer and another called People Per Hour. They will all probably be a little bit more expensive than Fiverr but even if you

decide against them a little bit of research is always helpful.

It is very important that you are careful not to infringe copyright. Make sure you don’t use any Brand names or copyrighted logos in your product.

The Process

Gearbubble is the platform that I find the one that I like to use the most. So using Gearbubble as an example I'm going to walk you through the process of adding your Design to products of your supplier and then putting them on sale. Or how to launch a new product campaign as they do it on Gearbubble.

There is a big green Launch Campaign button on Gearbubble’s homepage. When you press that button you will be taken to a page which gives you a choice of all the products that you can put your design on.

As you can see from the picture there is a wide choice of products. Some of these are very popular and others are probably not worth your time. The thing to remember here is that you can put the one design onto all of those products if you wish at no greater expense than your time.

For the purposes of showing you how this works I'm just going to go with the first item on the page and show you an example of printing on a coffee mug.

When you select coffee mug and press the Green next step button you were taken to the next page which is a blank coffee mug. Here if you have done your design correctly you will have an image to upload to give you your product.

The slight complication here is that the different products require different sized images. For instance, the image required for the front of a T-shirt is considerably bigger than the image required to print on a coffee mug. Another complication is that people talking different size terms. So in this case Gearbubble are talking in inches whilst you may well have saved your image in pixels. You need to understand how pixels relate to inches and vice versa and possibly centimeters in other instances.

I will provide a chart which will help you with converting pixels to inches or inches to pixels somewhere in addition to this report.

Going back to printing the mug as you can see in the picture the upload design page has a blank mug and other details on the left hand side. The first box headed default Style gives you a drop down menu or for choices of

styles for your mug design. The first being a way in the picture the 11 ounce mug in a 15 ounce mug, metallic mug and a color changing mug. Then Dropping down the page you have the choice of color you have the price that you want to sell it at and the potential profit. In this example it looks quite overpriced in $19.95 for a mug with $15 profit that's something that you would and can easily play with as you can see from the difference in the two of your base cost would be $4.95.

Next is the personalization layer where are you can add specific words for individual people possibly this is where you can get the extra price by making unique products for individual people.

The choice of fonts and font colors makes up the last line.

You can see in this second mug screenshot how the image fits onto the side of coffee mug and also on the very right hand side how are you can adjust the settings. You can actually print both sides if you wish. What you can't see in either of the two screenshots that I have provided is that when you start to upload the system gives you all the information you need to know about the size specifications of the image for the item that you are uploading. Therefore, you shouldn't waste any time uploading files that are too big or too small for the product you are working on.

I added a slogan which I think is a pretty good match and uploaded to the website. When the image is created you go through to a page which formulates your sales page for you. You name your campaign, describe your product and set the campaign length. You name your URL

You can add tags that relate to your product to help with people searching the niche.

When you click through at the end of the page you have a sales page that Gearbubble has created for you at absolutely no cost to you and really looks very good. Below is the one I have worked through as our example.

As I write this I have no idea yet if it will work as I did this all in about 30 minutes and so far that time is my only investment. Now I have to decide my selling strategy.

Print on Demand Training

Selling Your Product

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Building Your Print On Demand Empire

Sales and Marketing

With any business you have to have a good idea of where you are heading before you set off. A common expression is ‘start with the end in mind’. It basically means that if you don't know where you want to end up you're not going to know which road to take. The fact that you don't have to invest heavily in this type of business doesn't mean you shouldn't take it as seriously as if you'd as if you put lots of money into it. If you want this to be a proper business you are going to have to spend some money on advertising and you are going to have to spend a lot of time thinking of your sales strategy, working out who your audience are and how to get your products in front of them to give yourself the best chance of selling something. Not to mention all the designing you're going to be doing or at least organizing with your outsourcers.

This is the sort of business that you can actually just play at because you can do just one design and post it around social media and hope to get some sales. That might just be a bit of fun for you and not a serious business and that might be all you want.

If this is a serious venture for you then you must think the whole thing through. Firstly, you are going to need to have decided on a Niche market. We also need to decide what types of products might fit their market and where these people can be found on the internet. I say on the internet because it's basically an online business.

To start without spending much money you should make sure you have your products listed in a marketplace. If you have some spare money to spend on advertising then proceed with minimal investment until you either start to get sales or have a better understanding of how to advertise effectively.

Step by Step

Let's take this step by step

  1. Look for a niche that has people with a passion for something. Think about what people get excited about and look for ways of servicing that excitement. People get excited about hobbies, pets, sports and possibly careers. Also, people that have something filling their minds, perhaps only temporarily, like getting married or losing weight. So, you can target people that are on a diet or people that are engaged to be married.
    Reminder: Use this free list of proven POD niches.
  2. Go and find these people on the internet. Find them on Facebook, find them on Reddit, find them in forums.
  3. Then work out which websites they visit, what magazines they read and who are the leading voices are in this crowd. This will give you the thought processes to find out what your products need to be and how to get them in front of the right people.
  4. You need to go and research the products that already exist in that niche and find the most popular ones and see if you can come up with something that is at least as good if not better than those. Here is a screenshot of a Google image search for Motorbike Mugs. You can see that other people certainly think that this is a good market as there are plenty of products already available. This is easy research and if you hover over each image you can see where each item is for sale. This research helps you with design ideas, gives you new options for places to sell your products and if you click through to the websites you can also study how these people are going about selling their products and you can get a feel for the selling prices of everything.

  1. The above picture is a screenshot of a Google Search which is very helpful. You can do something very similar with Pinterest which will give a different set of results. An added extra, what you can do with Pinterest is you sort them by popularity if you use a tool like Sorting Social.
  2. You need to find some creative juices to come up with designs or slogans to match the people in the niche. You probably need to find your humorous side as many products are based on humor.
  3. Now you have a chicken and egg situation. You have to decide how you want to sell your products but you don’t yet have a proven design. So what do you do? Do you set up a shop with a couple of designs on lots of different products? Set up with one product type and lots of designs or feel your way, design by design, making sure that all your products have some demand. My opinion is that you don’t have to do everything at once and I would put my effort into getting one design to work first and build a selection of good designs slowly from there. Test the designs and get yourself a design that works and then you have a base to work from. Unfortunately, more designs fail than work well so you need to be persistent until you find a winner. This is where a tools like Teespy and See What Sells come in handy because they will quickly show you popular print on demand designs that are selling right now.
  4. Once you have decided on your product you then have to decide how to advertise it. A very common way is to sell on Facebook. To sell on Facebook you would need to start a Facebook page and promote a post to people that have shown an interest in your niche subject. You will need to spend money on Advertising to do any meaningful business on Facebook. You can also offer your products on third party websites like Etsy, Amazon or Ebay at this stage.

Selling Options

The fear of losing money or the actual loss of money forces people to either give up or explore the other options.

The option that many people take up is to go through the same design process but sell in a marketplace that doesn’t require an ad spend. This involves listing your products on places like Etsy , Amazon and Ebay and working out a system of passing your order onto your Print On Demand Supplier.

This is slightly more complicated and may well involve more work on your part as the orders have to pass between the companies involved and you have to ensure your supplier is paid rather than receiving the money direct from your customer. Your rate of sale will be less than if you are advertising but you have the peace of mind that you can’t lose any significant amount of money. This makes it ideal if this is a side venture because any sale is a bonus if you already have a regular income.

Selling on Etsy

Etsy is a long-established marketplace with a reputation for hand-crafted items. The fact that it is basically a place for lesser known good quality products gives you a chance to charge more for your items than you might on Ebay or Amazon.

To give you an idea on how busy a website this is they got 175 million visits in April 2018 and 85% of that traffic was organic. The majority of visitors are from the United States with the United Kingdom coming in a distant second. The biggest referring site is Pinterest so one big tip would be to open a Pinterest account and get your products on there with a link back to Etsy as quickly as you can.

Etsy has a listing cost of $0.20 to list one item for 4 months or until it is sold. The other costs are not upfront costs. They come from the sale and can met from the funds provided by the buyer. There is a transaction fee and a payment processing fee. These together equate to about 8% of your selling price. Don’t forget to include that in your costs when you look at choosing your selling price.

There are currently ten choices of ways for your customer to pay so there should be no barrier there. You can choose how Etsy pays you and from what I can tell the most popular way is to set up a weekly payment of your balance direct to your bank account. You may need a little buffer of cash to deal with any gaps in cash flow if you need to pay your supplier and the Etsy funds haven’t quite arrived with you yet. It is always best to get the order placed with the supplier asap as it saves your customers getting impatient in the long run.

You also have the option of integrating your Etsy shop with a supplier so that the complications I have talked about previously are magically taken away. There may be a charge for this integration with some companies. One company that does it without charge is Printful. They have a huge range of products. There is a bit of work involved setting it up but you will find it totally worth it in the long run. Once you have made that integration your only real job is to come up with something that will sell and list it. Somebody else is making and shipping the product and Etsy are supplying the traffic.

PRO TIP: Use See What Sells to see the top selling print on demand products on Etsy.

You are able to open your own shop on Etsy so I would recommend you put a small range together to fill your shop out. Name your Shop something relevant that gives the buyer a chance of understanding what you do. Think about the theme of your shop and almost use it as a branding tool if you have thought that far ahead. Sometimes the clever name is too clever to actually be of any benefit in finding customers. You will need to link a credit card or a verified Paypal account to your Etsy account to complete your shop opening.

One thing I have noticed is that the companies that sell their integrations charge more for the Etsy integration than they do for either an Amazon or an Ebay integration. I believe this is because although the overall traffic to the website is a bit less the product is a bit more targeted to the audience. The other two sites sell everything and anything but Etsy is more niche and commands a better selling price.

One final idea on Etsy is that you can become an affiliate of the website. So if you have your own blog or a social media presence you can do some sort of product review perhaps including one of your products and comparing with other people’s products and even if they prefer somebody else’s item you can get a commission on that through your link.

Selling On Amazon

You have choices when it comes to Amazon. They actually have their own Print On Demand system called Amazon Merch. This is by invitation so you are asked to fill out an application form to be approved as an Amazon Merch seller. You can apply for an account here

Merch by Amazon was originally set up for Developers to sell their Apps merchandise through in App purchases but Amazon did not restrict this and it is now available to everyone to apply.

Each t-shirt takes 1-3 hours to go live on site. When the customer purchases their shirt they can decide if they would like Men’s, Ladies or Youth based on a sizing guide provided on your listing page. Also, as it is an amazon product they offer swift delivery and free returns.
There are two types of shirts you can put your design on, these are Anvil & American Apparel.
You can set your own Royalty from Merch by Amazon as well. They take a listing fee (15% of sale price) and cost price ($9.31 for Anvil T-Shirts) for each T-shirt sold. Anything above the cost to Amazon is yours to keep. The average t-shirt on Amazon sells for between $15-$25.
You can incur additional costs on your t-shirts and this is if you have either of the below:
Additional fees if you print on the back – $4
Additional for American Apparel – $1.50.

There are Tier levels within Amazon to stop individuals from creating an unlimited amount of t-shirt designs from the start of their account. {these aren’t the names of the levels – in Amazon they just say level up until you hit pro}
Initial level – Offer 25 different t shirts listing
Level 2 – you must sell 25 t shirts to get here – you can sell 100 different variations
Level 3 – must make 100 shirts Sales, you can sell 500 shirt variations
Level 4 – must make 500 shirts sales, you can create 1000 variations – this is know as pro.
Level 5 – 1000
Level 6 – 2000
Level 7 – 4000
You can sell T-shirts $0.01 above cost price if you wish, you won’t make much money initially but it is a great way to quickly Tier up with Amazon if that is your aim.

Amazon Merch is on the one hand a very simple system because everything is in one place but on the other it is limited to just producing T shirts. If you fancy having a go with T shirts this is great as there are no logistical worries and they even use Amazon Prime to make the delivery so it is a fast service. Also it is a non-exclusive design agreement so if you have a winner through Merch you can also use the design elsewhere. You can test it on Merch then sell it on Etsy too.

Otherwise, it is a similar situation to Etsy. You can either manually pass over your orders to your Print On Demand supplier or you use a company that already has an integration system. Again, just be careful about cash flow because you will likely always be a few days again from being paid in the manual system.

Of course, you may have decided to set up your own independent website using one of the popular ecommerce companies. You can use shopping solutions like Shopify or Magento to list your products and have an integration between your store and Amazon. Again there is work involved initially but their is plenty of tutorial help around to get you over the hard bit.

Another innovation that you can utilize if you have Shopify is their Buyable Pins app which allows people to buy direct on Pinterest. That is huge. Pinterest is a top browsing site particularly for ladies and you can link to your own website for checkout but actually missing a step and buying on Pinterest is a real step forward.

If you get it right on Amazon you have the potential to sell an awful lot of t shirts. Do your research, look at the current best selling T shirts and see if you understand the appeal and can adapt it to something you are doing. Also look at the calendar see if there are any major events coming up in your country that you can cater to. Perhaps somebody else has already got something going on an upcoming event that will spark an idea for you. The main thing is to keep thinking. You will find the right idea if you stick with it.

If you try enough something will work. It could be that something you think is beautiful or very clever doesn’t work for you and that something you think is stupid or ugly does. It can be hard to gauge the public. We are all different.

Advertising On Facebook

To generate sales from Facebook you will need to open a Facebook advertising account and start a Facebook page in the niche of your chosen products. It is compulsory to use a Facebook page to make your advertising posts on Facebook. Open the business version of the advertising account ,not the personal one, as you'll find that you'll soon want to change it if you make a success of the business. The way Facebook advertising works is for the advertiser to ask Facebook to put their advert in front of people that have shown an interest in this niche by liking relevant pages or listing among their interests or basically showing some sort of interest in the subject.

Continuing with the motorcycle theme I have looked through Facebook and found dozens and dozens of motorbike groups as well as some pages with huge followings. Although I have never researched motorcycles before it is clear it's a huge market. In the picture below you can see that this Facebook page has a following of over 5 million people. This is the largest one that I found but it's just one of dozens and many of them have over 100000 followers. There are also many active groups to do with motorcycles which are quite specific in the topic, such as particular brands of motorcycle. Some are buy and sell groups that it could be helpful to join to help with selling your products. These would be particularly useful as you can post without any cost in these types of group.

This is not a Facebook advertising course so I'm just giving you some hints rather than talking about the specifics of setting up an advert. When you are setting up your advert you are able to target people that have followed a specific page and there is reason to believe that someone that's followed the page Legendary Motorcycles could well have an interest in your motorcycle products. You may well find pages that are even more relevant than this one if you do more in-depth research than I've done here.

The idea with Facebook ads is to be advertising to the most relevant people so that you're not wasting your money advertising to people with only a passing interest or no interest at all. You want to be advertising to the real fanatics. the people that have got the real passion for the niche. This means that when you are selecting your targeting you need to be really picky otherwise you'll find your been wasting money on your advertising. Another thing you will need to consider when choosing your Ads is whether you are going for the sale or just testing people's opinions on your Design. You could pay for Ads that grow your page following and get you some engagement on your page whilst learning whether your designs are saleable before paying for the ads actually that do more of a hard sell. All these things of course depend on your experience and your budget. Ideally you would like to grow a page following so that you can post to a limited audience without paying for the privilege every time.

It is also possible to add a shop section to your Facebook page. It is possible to set the shop up within Facebook so that people actually check out on Facebook or you can set the shop up to send people to your own website, gearbubble or shopify store to check out. To check out within Facebook you would need to link up your PayPal account or a Stripe account and to checkout off of Facebook you can use whichever check out system you prefer. Having a shop linked to your page obviously gives you a chance of taking orders passively as opposed to having to advertise.

Above is the Facebook Home Page of Teespring the Print On Demand supplier. They are a good example of what can be done with Facebook shops. You can see in the left-hand column a shop tab which takes you to a small selection of products on Facebook. Also right across the front of the top you have three pictures of products in a Shop element which when clicked just go to an individual product page for each one. On the top right you have the Shop Now button that takes you directly to their website and their full range of products. This is a page with 854,000 likes to they will be wanting to be monetising their following in the best way possible.

Creating A Business Manager Account in Facebook

Creating your business manager account is very simple. To create your business manager account go to and there is a big blue button in the middle which says create account. Click the button and you go through to the next page where you have to name the account and a further page where you give your name and the email address you wish to use. That is it. It is so simple that it doesn’t really need explaining but I hope by explaining it you won’t reluctant to get started. Once inside you have opportunity to open ad accounts and create business pages even add people to help manage your account from the business manager dashboard.

Creating An Ad Account

In your business manager go to business settings then click Ad Accounts on the left hand menu , click the blue add button and then click create new ad account from the drop down menu. You will go through to a page where you have to confirm your time zone and the currency you are working in. At this point you get to actually create the account and get the opportunity to access to other people, perhaps staff if you have any, and then to add a payment method. Once you have added a credit card or Paypal account you are ready to go.

Creating Your Page

You can create your business page from several places. If you just open your ad account we might as well open it from the business manager. Choose Business Settings Then on the left hand side menu choose Pages and then Add then Create a New Page which gives you a drop down menu of Page types. For the type of thing we are trying to do here I would suggest that you choose Brand or Product then you choose a category which will be determined by what you are trying to sell and then name and press create page. The blank page is ready for you to access at this point.

You then just need to add two images. A square profile image and I larger rectangular image for the header. You are now ready to start posting.

If you already have pages you might want to open from here which comes from clicking the left option in the previous image.

Choosing Your First Ad

This may all seem a bit simplistic if you have some Facebook experience but over the past few months I have met a few business owners that were spending money on Facebook Ads but had never realised there were other options than boosting a post with their personal account.

On to the first ad. This is a debatable point. Some people say Like ads are a waste of time and money whilst others think that pages should have an initial audience. I tend to go with the second group and usually start with a Like campaign. This is a type of advertisement that invites people to Like your page. This type of ad is very easy to set up and you can usually buy likes cheaper than other forms of ads. If you're targeting is fairly broad you can usually pick up Likes for around a penny and therefore get around 1000 followers for $10. Some of these may be outside your geographical target market but it doesn’t really matter at this stage. You need to remember as your targeting gets more specific your ad costs are more likely to rise.

If you start a Facebook Page and you start posting with no likes then nobody is going to see it so I think those few bucks at the beginning make the page more credible. So make three or four interesting posts and then start a simple Like campaign before you launch your first sales campaign. You can always use these people as mini research by asking for their opinions on products in your posts rather than asking them to buy. It will get your page some engagement and something may come then passively.

Creating a Targeted Ad

Your Like campaign didn’t really need to be very targeted. The ad you create to actually sell your product needs to really hit people that love the niche. It is important when you set your ad up to get your targeting right. Parts of it are obvious and other parts might take some thinking about. If , for instance you are only selling in the US then you only target the US. Also think the geography within the US. In this case, are there more bikers in California than Illinois? The answer is I don’t know so I might try separate ads for different states. You might find that one is more receptive to your product or you might find you get cheaper clicks in different areas. There are a lot of variables. It is your job to interpret the data that comes back to you and tweak it so that it gets you the most sales for the least amount of spend.

If you have a slogan written in English then only target english speakers. You can separate into age groups. Again, you can run separate ads to work out which age group likes your product the most. Obviously if you find that 40- 50 year olds in California are twice as interested as 20 -30 year olds in Illinois then you would probably decide to put your ad money into that ad.

Interests are important. In our example we would obviously target Motorcycling and Motorbiking. Then we would need to look beyond that and find more specific targeting. My initial thoughts without doing research are perhaps people that like Sons Of Anarchy or Harley Davidson. The Harley Davidson Facebook page has over 7 million followers. Then I would do some research on Facebook. We would need to find big Motorbiking pages and target the people that have liked that page.

Another little trick I like is to use Facebook search and look for niche + the phrase ‘get yours here’ or ‘get one here’. Below is our example

This not only finds you other page names for you to target their followers but also gives you insight into other products being sold in the niche and their popularity. This type of search helps you both with the targeting and also when you are thinking about product design you might find an idea to work from. You can see that the first result seems very popular as it has 3500 likes 598 comments and 399 shares.

When you create your Facebook ad you will need to generate a good mock up so that your product looks more attractive. Most suppliers have something that will help you with this.

Here is the mock up I made to use in my ad. Hopefully you agree it looks better than the one on the sales page. You can also use mock ups with backgrounds for your ad. You will see a picture later in the report with this mug on a kitchen worktop.

Then it is just a question of using the right wording to encourage people to your click through to your sales page.

The Challenge With Facebook Ads

The hardest part of using Facebook advertising is not to get sales but to get sales from an ad spend that makes you profitable. In other words making sure that you don't spend more on advertising than the profit that you are making on your product. For instance if you sell a coffee mug at $19.95 you should easily be able to make a profit as there is $15 to play with before you start losing money. Now most would not want to pay that price for a mug. It is too expensive. However, if you decide to sell for the more reasonable price of $9.95 it's probably unlikely that you will see much profit you may even make a loss. There are too many variables on the small profit margin. Firstly you never really know your ad cost until you start running the ad. Secondly you don’t know for sure whether the product is as appealing as you think it is. You only get a feel for this as you run campaigns. You almost have to expect to lose money to start with while you're feeling your way getting an idea of which ads work, which products have the most appeal and how to stay in profit.

How can you tip the balance back in your favour a bit? The obvious solution is to pitch the selling in the middle at $14.95 and then you have an extra $5 to spend on ads before you start losing money. If you put your mind to it you can be even more creative than that though. You can set your product up so that when somebody buys it you offer them a second product at a reduced price but still at a profit so your chances of making a profit on the initial ad spend are increased.

Another thing you could do is offer 2 products in a pack price so the purchase price is higher. So you could have either 2 different designs or the same design on 2 different products. Then you a have bigger ad spend before crossing into a loss. It is very easy to fall into the trap of trying to be as cheap as possible all the time. Thinking that cheap is the way to get sales is a mistake. Sales without profit is a waste of time. Another simple way is just to concentrate on a higher priced product.

On Gearbubble particularly Necklaces are very popular and I think it is a lot to do with the mechanics of advertising rather than Necklaces are better sellers per say. The necklace has a higher perceived value than a coffee mug. To me a coffee mug at $19.95 seems expensive but a Necklace at $27.95 seems quite a reasonable price. The fact that the marketer has a bigger margin for error in their advertising budget makes it a more attractive choice of product to push in the first place. There is also a case to be made also that the message a necklace is more likely to have value that a message on the mug. I mean necklaces are more likely to have sentimental messages and coffee mugs perhaps a mixture of sentimental and humorous. It is just my opinion but I really think sentiment has more value than humor in many cases for these products.

The majority of people that try and make money this way will give up because their first campaigns failed or they lost money. There are too many things that need to be right for you get all your ducks in a row on your first attempt. You can only succeed with perseverance. You will need to be prepared to lose a little bit of money when you are learning. Even when you have had a few winners you won’t always get the next one right. One of my friends reckons that he only gets one in ten designs to work to any extent but luckily that success more than covers any losses on the others.

Facebook Post Offer

When you make a page post you are given the option to make several different types of post. You can make an offer that will have a limited reach but is free to make. You can, of course, share the post to other pages and extend the reach a bit but it won’t be as effective as a paid ad. Below is an example of an Offer Ad. I also offered a discount code in this example.