Creating t-shirt designs that sell plays a major role in your success with print-on-demand. Here are 10 tips on how to create designs that turn your audience into buyers.
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When it comes to Print-on-Demand, designs are everything.
But how do you create winning designs if you’ve never sold t-shirts online?
It’s not impossible to create a t-shirt that sells. And with these 10 tips, crafting a money-making design is all the more easier.
Tip #1: Spy on super popular winning t-shirt designs.
If you’re not very creative, that’s okay — you don’t have to create a design from scratch.
Instead, you can gain inspiration from designs that are already successful.
This sounds like copying, but it really isn’t. You’re simply looking at designs that are proven to sell. Then, emulating them with your own style.
Where can you find successful designs? Well, there’s plenty of places to look.
But one of the best places that we recommend is Etsy.
Similar to eBay, Etsy is an online marketplace where people can buy and sell goods from third-party sellers.
The only difference here is that with Etsy, the goods you sell must be hand or tailor made. Which is why Etsy is an ideal marketplace for Print-on-Demand sellers.
To find top selling t-shirts, type “niche + t-shirt“ in the search results.
Within the first 10 pages of your search results, you’ll find the t-shirts that are most frequently bought.
This is because every time a consumer buys a t-shirt, Etsy pushes that listing to the front of the search results.
From these results, look to see if there are any that catch your eye. Save that design, then see if you can emulate this design (with your own little twist to it).
You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to recreate a great design. Best of all, you’re betting your efforts on a design that is already proven to convert. As opposed to coming up with a whole new design.
Tip #2: Cross niche.
Most sellers resort to finding a single niche to create a store around.
While there’s nothing wrong with this, a big opportunity is missed here: the ability to cross niche.
What is a cross niche? As the name implies, it’s when you mix two niches together.
So where dogs would be a single niche, dogs & fishing lovers would be a cross-niche.
The benefit of cross-niching is that it’s super targeted.
You’re no longer targeting an audience of dog owners. You’re targeting dog owners who ALSO enjoy fishing as a hobby.
Now, this does narrow your audience. But if you target the right people, you tap into a very passionate audience that not many sellers are targeting.
And with less competition, you now have room to earn bigger profits.
But you can’t simply cross two niches together. For a cross niche to be profitable, it needs to first make sense.
And for it to make sense, you need to do the necessary research beforehand to validate that cross niche.
Which brings us to our next point…
Tip #3: Research your customer before you design your t-shirts.
This one goes without saying.
If you don’t take the time to research your customer, BEFORE you create a t-shirt, you’ll end up with designs that nobody really “gets.”
Successful designs are hardly ever just made up. Usually, it requires extensive research about the customer.
Research on how they think. How they act. What they’re interested in. And even what their fears, hopes and beliefs are.
For some, this may sound like a chore. That’s why most designs out there seem patched up.
You can clearly see they haven’t cared to research their ideal customer who they’re serving.
Those who do, however, end up profiting big. And that’s because they’ve created a design based on what that customer is genuinely interested in.
Take this t-shirt for example.
What type of person would you think would like this t-shirt?
Obviously, an uncle. But let’s dig a little deeper. Probably a very fun uncle. The type of uncle that everyone flocks to at parties and gatherings. The type of uncle who buys the whole family gifts on Christmas. The type of uncle you can always count on.
Not just any ordinary uncle.
You see, this seller took the time to create a customer avatar. You don’t need to know what uncle would buy a t-shirt like this. From the t-shirt itself, you can already picture that ‘funcle’ in your head.
The same applies to your own designs.
Have the patience to research your customer before you create a design.
Doing this alone almost doubles your chances of success, and will save a lot of money and time in the long run.
Tip #4: Choose a style that matches your customer.
When choosing style, keep your customer in mind.
You can have an awesome design. But if it doesn’t match your customer’s persona, you’ll struggle to make any sales.
Let’s say we’re looking for a pug design to print onto a t-shirt.
From research, we find that most pug lovers are women in their thirties, and pretty affluent.
Do you think the pug design below would appeal to them?
At first glance, it seems a bit cartoon-y. It’s a nice design, but our guess is that a mature woman wouldn’t want to sport a kiddy-like design.
How about this design?
This seems a lot more suited to our 30-year old pug lover.
The design is more elegant, feminine and sophisticated in nature. We reckon she’d be more likely to wear this out to lunch with her friends, compared to the first design.
This goes to show how important it is for your design to fit the style of your audience.
Using tip #1, you can easily gain insight into what styles resonate with your audience.
Tip #5: Black t-shirts sell the best.
No matter what outfit you wear, you can’t go wrong with black.
- It’s flattering on most body shapes
- It’s neutral, so pretty much goes with anything
- And it doesn’t get dirty easily
So the takeaway here is pretty obvious: have black as a colour option for every t-shirt you sell in your store.
You’ll be surprised by how quick your conversions increase by offering a colour most people love.
Tip #6: Steal popular t-Shirt designs from other niches.
When browsing for design ideas, most sellers focus on designs within their niche.
It’d make sense for this to be the first place to look. But it doesn’t have to be the last.
Why not research designs in other niches? A design isn’t limited to a single niche.
You can find incredible designs across a wide range of niches. In fact, this offers more ways to get creative with your designs, while reducing the chances of copying a design within the same niche.
Look beyond your niche to find successful designs in other niches.
Then, think about clever ways to combine the visual design, text layout and message in a way that fits your niche.
Tip #7: Get an honest friend or family member to look over your t-shirts.
I’m sure we all love to take pride in the things that we create.
But, more often than not, it’s easy for us to overlook the glaring faults in our work. Faults that other people can easily identify.
This is due to a phenomena called Illusory Superiority. A cognitive bias that makes us think we’re above average at most things we do in life.
As a result, this distorts our perception by overlooking the flaws in whatever we create.
With this in mind, don’t simply rely on your own opinion when you review your design. Ask a family member or friend to offer their honest opinion.
When somebody else reviews your design, they’re likely to spot areas of improvement. Areas that you were not initially aware of.
Plus, you also receive honest feedback which can help you further improve your designs BEFORE you list it on the market.
Tip #8: Humor & wit sells.
No matter the place, humour is key for warming up those around you.
Funny t-shirts have the same effect. Because while you aren’t verbally making a joke, your t-shirt design is doing the job for you.
And this is the main reason why humour and wit sells. Not because it makes us laugh, but because it makes others laugh too.
Having someone compliment your t-shirts is always awesome. And funny t-shirts always get compliments.
Tip #9: Use Canva’s awesome pre-set text designs.
Canva is an app that allows you to create amazing designs for free.
And one major perk for designers is that they have hundreds of pre-set text-based templates.
You can use these templates to help you form a design.
If you’re just starting out, then this is a great way to take away the hassle of trying to come up with a design yourself.
All you have to do is select a template, and swap out the placeholder text for your own.
Utilise this method if you want to get the ball rolling fast.
Tip #10: Use personalization to create a viral design.
When something is personally made for you, chances are that you’ll tend to value A LOT more.
The same applies to print-on-demand — people love personalised merchandise.
Not only that, but people are willing to pay MORE for something that’s personalised. So in other words, personalization allows you to charge higher than usual.
Since a personalised design is unique, it’s price can’t be compared to another t-shirt — because there is no other t-shirt like it.
Ready to offer personalisation in your store? Spod may be a great place to start. This is a Print-on-Demand app that allows customers to personalise their items with their own name.
Are you ready to create winning t-shirt designs?
Unlike popular belief, you don’t need to be an epic designer to create awesome designs.
Ultimately, designs that convert first require thorough research into your audience. And, a sharp eye to spot other successful designs that you can emulate to create your own winning design.