What I’ve realized after 15 years of Print-On-Demand.
1- You Don’t Need To Be a Designer to Succeed.
Oh, the “purists” will not like this statement. Maybe some are even offended!
I’ve never considered myself a designer. I’m a Mass Uploader! Maybe a moderate Mass Uploader, since some mass uploaders using automatic tools are uploading 100 DESIGNS A DAY. Me, personally, I was manually uploading 10 designs a day on a couple of POD platforms. Currently I’m uploading 100 designs weekly on my online store.
Here, I’m not suggesting that you should create pure crap like pixelated designs ill-placed on the products for the sake of playing the number game. Nope! Make your design good quality enough to be sold and please the audience. That’s the people who are voting with their money to buy your designs on the products they want.
To please and appeal the market (people), all you need is a Canva subscription to create attractive and desirable designs. Fun, simple, complete and very easy to use. That’s the only one I use personally and it fill all my designer’s need. Why busting your ass trying to learn Photoshop when you can easily use Canva for less?! A no-brainer for me!
2- It’s A Number Game.
Quantity Over Quality any time. See number 1.
Occupy more online real estate to paraphrase Ryan Hogue.
Throwing shit to the wall to see if it’s stick has always been my approach to Print-On-Demand and blogging in general.
Happily, Quantity usually leads to Quality. 😎
Picasso is a good example of the above.
Picasso’s entire body of work includes:
- more than 16,000 paintings and drawings.
- And yet, only a small number of these pieces gave Picasso his status as timeless Art icon.
Artists and purists may be offended…
But you won’t reinvent the wheel with a T-shirt design. Just make sure the shit you throw to the wall is good enough to be thrown. 😉
3- Most of your Designs Will Never Sell. (AKA Most of your shit won’t stick)
Despite what some
shithead no-good, dishonest and/or ignorant YouTube guru will tell you. The majority of your designs will never sell once. Especially if you upload 60 “unique” designs a day on RedBubble as this fabulous guru pretends to do as his “hobby”. Mass uploading is so much fun isn’t it?!?!🥱 When he’s not busy uploading a daily YouTube video, peedling his POD online courses, exploring new hustles like Airbnb and making rain videos, and operating other successful businesses. Autopilot Passive Income my ass!
Don’t believe the hype!
4- Merch By Amazon is not the be all end all of POD.
Frankly, as much as I admire Jeff Bezos as an Entrepreneur extraordinaire. And as much as I love to make most, if not all, of my shopping on Amazon.com. I hate Merch By Amazon as a POD platform! Amazon Merch On Demand WTF with this new name??!!
Many Print-On-Demand sellers make thousands of sales monthly on the MBA marketplace.
As far as I’m concerned, it was just a waste of time for me. I’m still stuck in Tier 100 making about 10 bucks a month. 😠
Everything must be snowflake-friendly there! I was always afraid to download a design there. Nothing political, nothing funny, nothing rude, nothing that can remotedly offend a ?%&%%$ POS snowflake. You can’t even support good social justice causes like LGBT and anti-racism since those words are trigger words for the almighty algorithms.
Pay to play business model. Paying for traffic to Amazon from Amazon?! A brilliant business model for Amazon but not really for the sellers. If I pay for marketing and advertising it will be to send traffic to MY HOUSE. Not on someone else platform.
Understandably, Amazon won’t risk any controversy to publish your designs if they trigger the almighty algorithm. And, as expected for a corporation their size, they won’t blink before deleting your account.
Being a nsfw-kind of T-Shirt
designer uploader. It isn’t a funny nor lucrative place for me!
5- We Do All Copy Each Other.
Do what’s works. See below.
6- Copying is overrated.
It happens that I have a design that sell really well on one platform.
What do you think I did?
I copied the hell out of my own best-selling design. Creating about forty versions of that same design. Changing colors, descriptions, even putting it upside down. Publishing my winning design and its dozens of versions on all the platforms I was publishing to. Trying to duplicate the magic on the other POD platforms and/or with a version of it…
That one design stayed popular on that one platform. Period.
You can’t outrank what is already top ranked in Google search.
7- Marketing is a waste of time.
Why would you send people on someone else platform?
FYI, RedBubble, Teepublic, and all POD platforms do all the advertising for you. They pay hefty amounts of dollars to advertise on Google. So don’t waste your precious time with Pinterest and Instagram publications. Nobody care and most likely, nobody will buy.
Instead, CREATE and UPLOAD MORE designs. That’s all that matter!
However, if you operate your own online store (Shopify, Woo Commerce, etc) you will have to do some marketing one way or the other. 😪
- SEO Content Creation
- Social Media
- Paid Advertising. 😟
8- BeWare of the gurus
Speaking for myself, most of my education (at least, the one who’s useful) I’ve been made online. YouTube is my main source of education. I’m a nerd at heart. I love to learn new things that can be useful in my daily
You can learn a lot from the free stuff they give away to trick you into buying their online courses. But, don’t believe the hype and always keep a critical mind.
Most gurus, for lack of a better word, provides valuable content.
Most are lying and/or exaggerating (isn’t it the same thing?) their success to pose as an Authority (to sell you their online courses).
Most are making most of their online income as YouTuber and online course peedler, not POD sellers.
A few are sincere and genuine.
Some are pure evil (dishonest scammers) and misguiding you.
I am maybe the only exception to this rule. Since I don’t have anything to sell you… yet! Only if you ask me to. 😉
The Good, the Bad, and Ugly of the YouTube POD gurus sounds like a great idea for one of my future blog post!
9- Licensing /Royalties / Passive Income Is The Sweetest MONEY You Can Get. 🤑🤑🤑
You have to work your ass off initially. But the rest is all passive income if you choose to leave like I did. (Until they kick you out of their platforms).
Completely hands off, no customer service, no worry, no BS.
Just being careful about what you upload and everything should be fine.
If you have some doubt about the political correctness, the copyrighting, or else about a design that you want to publish. DO NOT publish it!
10- We Are Living In A Snowflakes’ World! Unfortunately… (My Lunatic Rant) 😡
We are living in the era of the offended, safe space, cancel culture.
Merch By Amazon, Etsy, Shopify (yes, Shopify), RedBubble, Teepublic, etc. can and will throw you out if you cross the line. Or if a competitor decides to get your ass off the platform.
I’ve left all my POD platforms because I was scared to upload anything that could offend a POS somewhere. I was afraid to see over 6,000 designs getting deleted from the platform. Thus losing another stream of income.
If I wasn’t cancelled from RedBubble, I would have been perfectly fine mass uploading 100 designs a week on multiple POD platforms.
Operating my own eStore wasn’t in my near future. Why bother?
Don’t tell me uploading designs on POD Marketplaces isn’t scalable. It is perfectly scalable! The more you upload, the more Money you make. There is no ceiling.
But like Michael Essek would say. You are building a sand castle. Not really a solid ANTIFRAGILE business.
The platform can kick you out and delete all your catalog. Being 1 or 10,000 designs, they don’t give a damn! Just like on any social media platform, you own nothing there. It is their house and their rules! They have the right to do whatever they want. You’re just a number for them!!
Merch By Amazon can lower their commission just like they did in the past. They can close the MBA platform to designers and just allow giant corporations like Disney to publish there.
A change of algorithm can fuck up your sales! Those damn algorithms…
Shopify killed RageOn
Shopify will close your shop without warning if they want too. Rageon was a VC (Venture Capital) funded user-designed POD marketplace hosted on Shopify. Which proven to be a fatal mistake! Shopify killed RageOn’s entire business. Deleted and cancelled goodbye! The reason: A few designs weren’t snowflake-friendly… What was they thinking… A supposedly $50 to $100 Million company (founder’s valuation 😉) hosting on Shopify??!!?? Be careful Kylie Jenner!
On the flip side,
Years ago, always looking for new platforms to upload my designs on, I’ve made some research 🧐 on them.
I didn’t liked what I’ve found…
RageOn was reviewed as an unprofessional company who treated its customers and designers like crap. Offering barely any customer service, late shipping, late payments to its designers…
And for what I’ve seen, their designer sign-in seemed scammy as hell! They were offering you the opportunity to create your own fashion “Empire” in exchange of very low commissions and maybe some monthly fees. Their customer/designer “support” was limited to only one email address. No phone number, no chat, just one email address that never answer you back (as stated in several negative reviews all over the web).
Maybe it’s a good thing that these scumbags are out of business?!
Just not for the right reasons!
It seem that you can steal from your customers and designers all you want. As long as you don’t offend a fuckin’ snowflake with a few controversial designs!
By the way, I’ve never uploaded anything unto RageOn.
It was a no-brainer.
THIS IS MY HOUSE, NOW!
Having your own WooCommerce website/online store is great.
No more fear to be suspended.
No more fear to upload a design.
But operating your own online store can be a pain in the ass… Most of the time.
What about traffic?
You’re now on your own, in the middle of nowhere, a needle in a haystack, a drop in the ocean…
One in 1.98 billion websites
Happily for me, I’ve built my eStore on one of my existing blog. A blog established in 2012, so I’ve already had a decade old online presence with organic traffic. A huge headstart and advantage to create an eCommerce.
With unlimited customization comes a shitload of trouble…
Always too many technical issues. Lack of speed, non-compatible plugins, and much more. I’m really graceful that Dreamhost has such an amazing customer support! (Another shameless plug to lead you to sign-up using my affiliate link.) But it’s true!
Speaking of customer service…
When you thought you were free as a bird, owning and operating your own online store on your way to the moon. You soon realize that you have new bosses, many new bosses, the most important ones: YOUR CUSTOMERS. Which I like to call my clients. It’s more classy!
Jeff Bezos became the Richest Man In The World (at least for a time) with CUSTOMER OBSESSION. Putting the Customer first and foremost.
Success leaves clues.
Just like anything else in life, owning and operating an online store has positive and negative aspects, ups and downs.
Nothing is perfect!
But I see mine as an Artwork.
The POD Seller Roadmap to Success
I’m not kidding! Maybe I sounded, just a little bit, bitter in the above paragraphs of my ill-written rant. But POD is a tremendous business for somewhat creative people who want to earn money from home and be their own boss. I would even dare to say it is a perfect business as long as you don’t make the same mistakes I made. 😦
Here below is the PERFECT POD Roadmap.
STEP 1. MBA, RedBubble, Teepublic, etc.
- Stay politically correct.
- Create “original” designs. Get inspired but do not copy.
- Mass Uploading. Quantity over Quality. To this day, as mentioned above, I’m still uploading 100 products per week to my store. It used to be 100 designs a week to multiple online platforms. But now it’s product to my store only. Plus I’m publishing 10 blog posts a week on the blog of my store. Having a daily and weekly quota worked really well for me. It thought me DISCIPLINE and PRODUCTIVITY. Both are indissociable.
The goal is to make $1,000 a month in profits (royalties/money in your pocket). Only then, you will be ready for Step 2.
STEP 2. Etsy and maybe Merch Seller and eBay
- There you will learn customer service through a marketplace.
The goal is to make another $1,000 of profits a month on these Marketplace. Only then, you will be ready for Step 3. Having your own online store.
STEP 3. Your OWN online store.
Shopify if you dare. If you survived all POD Platforms and Etsy you shouldn’t have any problem on Shopify. You won’t have all the operational headaches that come with WordPress/WooCommerce. But you will probably have to pay close to one hundred bucks a month to have a smooth operating store on Shopify. I would gladly pay that if I wasn’t a control freak! But I prefer to be uncancellable and 110% owner of my store. The only people I have to answer to are my clients (customers) and my readers.
- Now, you’re on your own. You will have to drive traffic to your store in the middle of nowhere. But don’t worry, at this stage, you have multiple POD income streams and vast knowledges about the business you’re into.
- Gaining the trust of your visitors so they will eventually buy from you. If they ever come back…
I recommend that you do as I say not as I did. Do the 3 Steps in order just like a video game or the schooling system. Do not go directly to step 2 or 3. Each step offers valuable learnings and experiences that will be very useful for your next step.
Stay tuned, I will certainly publish a detailed post about the POD Roadmap to Success in the near future.
Everything is perpetual learning!
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Quantity Over Quality – What the most successful print on demand stores have in common
Why Quantity Should Be Your Priority