Avoid These Top 5 Print on Demand Mistakes When You’re Just Starting…or Struggling

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Whether you're new to POD, looking to scale your sales or you're in a rut, these top 5 Print on Demand mistakes will slow down your ability to move forward.

I've been active in the POD industry since 2014 and the following mistakes are the ones I've seen popping up time and again. It's about damn time I wrote about them in order to stop you from hitting the same roadblocks I've run into and know others have.

You're going to want to read through them all because the last is incredibly serious and can have some terrible outcomes if you choose to move forward in that direction.

Buckle up, I'm about to help you unlock your POD game, and ensure you're heading into Q4 with the best chance of success.

5. Over Designing

It doesn't matter how many times I bring this point up it still hasn't sunk in for a lot of people. When designing for a new niche you must understand that we are trying to address the biggest portion of that particular market.

Print on Demand Spy Tool

In order to do that we need to follow the 6 basic print-on-demand fundamentals of design.

    • The font must be clearly legible
    • No cursive font that's hard to read
    • Design should clearly call out who you're targeting
    • Attention must be put on the punchline or most important part of the phrase
    • The design must contrast with the product you're selling on
    • Very limited use of color

From the image above you can easily see which ones stand out…and which don't, with or without my dead giveaway right or wrong marks 😂.

4. Not Niching Down

Niching down in Print on Demand is where you WILL make your money. The industry is exploding right now due to the pandemic and everyone being stuck at home. There's been a monumental shift to selling and purchasing online.

This is fantastic for us as merchants, but what you need to realize is with the influx of people joining us selling online, the industry becomes more and more saturated. Doesn't help me TikToking and YouTubing bringing in more and more folks either…

With that said, the reason why I'm comfortable doing it is that when you start niching down it is almost impossible for all the marketers in the world to address every individual there is.

Someone reached out to me this morning letting me know about a spreadsheet he has put together with all the different combinations of hobbies, professions, interests, pets, etc and apparently there are 2,011,142,400 unique combinations…

What is niching down?

In the video below I explain how to niche down and create products for those specific people.

Effectively niching down is taking a top-level/broad niche like Military and niching down into the sub-niches within… in this case Air Force, Army, Navy…

That's step 1. Step 2 takes you further down the rabbit hole. Air Force Mom, Air Force Dad, Air Force Veteran. At that point, you have 3 angles to target… Females + parents + air force = Airforce Mom.

Need a place to start? Grab my free 1000+ Untapped & Profitable Niche List. This eBook will give you a hell of a start. Not niching down is one of the biggest print on demand mistakes I am seeing all the time, particularly with jewelry.

3. Choosing Products With Not Enough Margin

When choosing the print-on-demand products you're wanting to sell it's important to select a product that has enough profit to allow you to scale and cover your costs.

Coffee mugs are great…if you're selling on Etsy for $24.99 a pop…but you're not going to make serious bank. You will need to create a ton of designs, optimize all the listings before you start to see any sales, and when you do you'll need to sell a significant amount before you can start taking serious profits…

Selling on Etsy

CustomCat offers coffee mugs for $3.50 + $4.99 Shipping (+ 5% Etsy Transaction Fee) (of $24.99). Selling at $10.50, we end up with a profit of $15.25. Compare this to selling a necklace from ShineOn… cost for necklace $19.30 + $5.17 Shipping. Selling at $49.99 (could sell for $59.99 on Etsy quite easy), profit ends up $23.02 before upsell.

Selling on Facebook

This is much more important on Facebook. When you start scaling on Facebook

 conversions typically come in very

Print on Demand Jewelry

 cheap. In some cases, less than $2. At that point, selling mugs is even profitable, but as you mature into the scaling process the CPA (cost per acquisition) escalates and climbs very quickly to $10, then $20, & so on.

This is where having that extra margin helps. With ShineOn, the app has sales pages installed on their stores that convert up to 15%!!! And they also invest in creating killer upsells, like the Mahogany Jewelry box which adds an extra $20 to our margin. Non-ShineOn products convert for us at 2-3% which is industry standard.

2. No Consistency. Not Having a Simple Plan

Everyone knows the saying “By failing to prepare, you're preparing to fail”. With print on demand, this well and truly holds true. We must plan. It doesn't need to be super difficult but having a weekly schedule that you stick to will be hugely beneficial to your overall success.

Weekly Schedule

    • Monday: Design research – Get 5 new phrases. Make them unique to your niche. (1 Hour)
    • Tuesday: Create 1-2 Designs in Canva (1 hour)
    • Wednesday: Create 1-2 Designs (1 hour)
    • Thursday: Create Remaining Designs & Upload to Platform/Store (1-2 hours)
    • Friday: Optimise Etsy listings/Advertising new designs on Facebook

The time allocation of each is up to you. Once you have your niche in mind finding ideas for your new designs is not difficult. You can very easily get 5 new phrases in less than 30 minutes.

Consistency is key. Sticking to a loose plan week in week out is going to have the results you're seeking. When you're starting out, something as basic as the plan above allows you to start building the skillset you need to be successful and helps you to start asking the questions that matter.

1. Infringing on Copyright

This is a massive no-no. Apart from just being completely unethical, the consequences of making this mistake mean you'll no longer exist as a merchant.

Some of you may know, Storehacks was born from a spell of me being on the sidelines due to infringing on copyright way back in 2014. For the first 2 weeks of my POD career I was following what some of the “gurus” were saying.

It was the thing to do back then…infringe, follow the sports teams, people love the sport. TV Quotes are where the monies at…blah, blah, blah.

So, with no experience, I thought I'd try. I did a quick Breaking Bad shirt complete with a silhouette of Walter White's face and the quote “I am the danger”. Even now you can't find whether or not a quote is copyrighted…To be safe, assume it is.

The other was more blatant. I did a Florida gators logo in the state of California… in January 2017 both got unearthed by a new company called Counterfind. None of those shirts sold for us and we quickly decided way back in 2014 that we wouldn't do TM merch.

In any case, I was banned for 9 months. My original Facebook account banished and no longer exists. I was lucky to find my way back on but these days Facebook is ruthless and has lots of security in place to ensure no one can get back on their platform if they're booted.

Be Unique

Instead of infringing on any level of TM, create unique products that don't go anywhere near another's IP. In the video below I explain who to do just that…

All my success to date has been by creating unique phrases that have not been seen before. They may have seen bits and pieces of the phrase that we've designed but for the most part, the design is completely original. This is the only way.

As far as print on demand mistakes go, no matter what anyone else says (I just saw a video from a prominent YouTuber this morning saying it was fine), this by far has the worst consequences of any. It will not only wipe out your business and fill you with bad energy but if will stop you from ever selling online again.

Wrapping up

This business is not hard. Stop making it so. By avoiding the print on demand mistakes above, by being consistent, having a plan, and creating designs based on the fundamentals you will be selling more often with less effort.

Do you have any mistakes that I need to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below and I will add them in.

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