When it comes to print-on-demand, there are a ton of suppliers and a ton of options. Shopify has a great network of print-on-demand suppliers and I totally encourage you to look through each and every one to see who is the best partner for your business. Now, there are a few factors you need to take into consideration when you're picking your printer. Printful has a great selection of very high-quality apparel, their app is extremely easy to use, and prices are competitive with other shops.
Gooten has a massive product offering, you can print on everything from pillowcases to ornaments, duvets, and Pillow Profits even lets you customize your own shoes and high heels, they even do backpacks, it's crazy! There are a ton of other printing partners offering even more products and at different prices. It truly depends on your niche and what your audience is interested in. If you're going after coffee lovers, well, obviously coffee mugs will be high on your list.
Animal lovers will immediately gravitate toward the dog beds. For our example, we'll use a fairly generic product that appeals to a wide audience, the good old-fashioned t-shirt. Everyone loves a great t-shirt that shows their interest and, even better, shows their sense of humor. Joke shirts and puns tend to do really well– as long as they're in good taste, of course. Humor goes a really long way.
To an extent, clothing represents a person and who they are. So, your designs and your products are there to represent your customer. Don't forget that. That's why it's so important to really understand your niche audience and what they're passionate about. When they see your shirt, they know they have to buy it, because it represents their interests and their values. Keep that in mind when you're developing your product.
Imagine it in the hands of your target customer and how it makes them feel. Let's not pretend we're all artists here. While some of you might be talented designers, I'm gonna assume most of you are just like me and let me tell you, I am no artist. At this point, we're going to start looking at all of the ways you can create and purchase designs for your print-on-demand business. You've got options. We're gonna look at everything, from doing it yourself, to purchasing premade designs, to actually commissioning an artist to make something for you.
Now, that sounds expensive, right? Don't worry, I'll share my favorite places to find affordable artists who can make your business really stand out. Now let's start with some resources you can use to make your own designs. Of course, there's Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, but again, those are fairly advanced so I'm not gonna assume you know how to use those. Other online design tools out there, like Sketch and Pixlr are a bit easier to use for beginners, but you still need to know what you're doing.
If you're really excited to make your own designs, consider a tool like Canva or even Google Draw. Find cool fonts to stylize your text on sites like DeFont.com or Fonts.com. You'll have a huge selection to choose from, but be sure to look at the rights associated with each font. Some you can download for free and use anywhere, others you need to pay for, and some you need to license for specific uses.
In this case, since we're looking at selling shirts with the font displayed on it, we're looking for commercial rights– write that down– to use the font. Meaning we're using the design to make money, which usually cost a bit more. But hey, if you find a font or design that's worth it, it's usually worth investing. And actually, this applies to your next option, too. Purchasing premade designs.
Anything you buy, you need to make sure you have commercial rights to use. In a design marketplace like the ones I'm going to tell you about, this is made very obvious by the artist, so it really isn't something to worry about. Again, it totally depends on what your niche is. Some design marketplaces will be better than others for specific niches but some great places to start include Creative Market or Invata Market.
I'll include a list of all my favorite design resources at the end of the lesson, so don't worry about writing it all down right now. When it comes to purchasing a design, you have to put yourself in the mind of your target customer. What is it that's going to speak to them? This is why I say it's always good to focus on a hobby that you yourself enjoy because you know what designs will resonate.
Anyway, we'll assume that you're building a business for a niche you know absolutely nothing about. Now, it'll be a bit trickier, but it's a good skill to learn for this business and the future businesses that you build down the road. As you sort through the thousands of designs you have at your fingertips, consider what you're willing to spend. You can pay anywhere from ten bucks to 200 dollars or more. Now, obviously, the cheaper ones get used more, so there is a chance that that design you have your eye on is already being sold somewhere else.
Don't let this dissuade you, but keep it in mind. The more expensive designs will be purchased less and might be more unique. Again, it's up to you and your niche. So, one trick to keep in mind while you select your designs is that you're not going to get it right the first time. Don't put pressure on yourself to select the perfect design. You're going to be testing a few to see what's getting traction.
The only way you're going to know you have the right design on the right product is when the customer actually gives you money for it. So we'll get into testing your designs and your products very soon. Back to getting your designs made. Let's talk about getting custom designs. You'll be surprised but, it doesn't have to be that expensive. You've got a few options here, and again, I'll list all of my favorites in the lesson notes.
When it comes to getting a custom design made, you can go about it in two different ways. Now, the first way is to run what's called a creative contest, where multiple designers develop ideas and offer mockups. You choose the winning design, work with the designer directly to make any final adjustments, and then you pay the designer for their work. It's a fun way to see many versions of the same idea.
You can run design contests on sites like 99designs and DesignCrowd, but again, there are many more, so I'll add them at the end of this lesson. Prices are going to vary greatly depending on the number of different designs that you receive, but you should be prepared to pay anywhere from 100 dollars to 500 dollars for your custom design. Remember, this is your very own design here, and it's on your product. It's unique and it's going to stand out.
if you can manage to invest that much, it's usually worth it. Your main alternative is to hire a designer. Provide a creative brief and work with them to perfect the design. You can use a platform like Upwork or Fiverr to search for designers. You'll want to refine the search a bit depending on the style you're looking for. Look through past portfolios and start collecting the names of designers you might want to work with.
Also, another good thing, is take a look at the ratings and reviews but don't let lack of reviews stop you from hiring someone. Designers new to the platform that don't have any ratings or reviews might actually be the very best ones that give you the best service because they really need to start building their public profile. And when I say creative brief, don't get intimidated. All it really is, is a document that explains to the designer what you had in mind, who the audience is, and how you want the audience to feel when they see the product.
Good designers will be able to work off very little information. If you have a sketch, don't hesitate to send that to them as well. Using a platform like Upwork or Fiverr gives you some assurances in terms of only paying once you're happy with the work you've received. But again, you need to be crystal clear with the designer about what you're looking for and in terms of cost, you can spend anywhere from 20 dollars to 500 dollars for a custom design.
All right. Now let's recap. When it comes to selecting the actual products you want to sell, think about your niche and what they would want. A tried and true classic is the t-shirt, but again, you will have lots of competition there. And when it comes to getting a design made, you can either do it yourself, purchase a premade design or hire a designer through a contest or a freelancer platform.