10 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Print-on-Demand Business

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Miroslav Novohradsky
Founder of NechEmpire

I'm Miroslav, a passionate graphic designer, Etsy seller and AI enthusiast. At NechEmpire, I'm here to share my knowledge and skills. I want to turn...Read more

Thinking about starting a print-on-demand business?

That’s awesome, and you have my full support!

It’s a fun way to make money by putting your designs on t-shirts, mugs, and other cool stuff.

I know it from my own experience.

But before you jump in, there are some big mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

So, let’s talk about them so you can start your business off right.

The most important things to remember are:

  • Be patient – sales take time
  • Make lots of designs
  • Create unique designs for specific groups of people
  • Use good quality products
  • Sell different types of items
  • Be nice to your customers

Now, let’s take a closer look into more details about these mistakes and how to avoid them!

Mistake #1: Thinking You’ll Get Rich Quick

You know how in movies, someone starts a business and suddenly they’re swimming in money?

But real life isn’t like that, especially with print-on-demand.

Don’t expect to make sales right away. It usually takes about a month before you start seeing any money come in.

Think of it like planting a garden.

You don’t put seeds in the ground and expect to eat tomatoes the next day.

Your business needs time to grow. Keep working on it every day, and soon enough, you’ll start to see results.

Mistake #2: Not Making Enough Designs

Imagine you’re fishing. If you only have one fishing line in the water, you might catch a fish.

But if you have ten fishing lines, you have a much better chance! It’s the same with designs. The more designs you make, the more chances you have to make sales.

Don’t worry about making each design perfect.

It’s better to have lots of good designs than just a few great ones.

Keep creating and uploading new designs every day. You never know which one might become a big hit!

Mistake #3: Making Boring Designs

Have you ever seen a t-shirt that just says “Happy Birthday” and thought, “Wow, I need that!”?

Probably not. There are already millions of designs like that out there. Instead, try to make designs that are special and different.

Think about specific groups of people who might like your designs.

Maybe you could make t-shirts for people who love both cats and pizza. Or mugs for grandpas who like fishing. The more specific you get, the more likely someone will say, “That’s exactly what I was looking for!”

Mistake #4: Forgetting About Your Customers

Before you start making designs, think about who might want to buy them.

Are you making stuff for teenagers? Moms? People who love dogs?

Once you know who your customers are, it’s easier to make designs they’ll like.

For example, if you’re making designs for people who love to go camping, you might put your designs on things like water bottles or backpacks. Think about what your customers would use and enjoy.

Mistake #5: Using Cheap Products

It might be tempting to use the cheapest t-shirts or mugs you can find.

After all, you want to make more money, right? But think about it – would you want to wear a scratchy, thin t-shirt? Or drink from a mug that chips easily?

Using good quality products might cost a bit more, but your customers will be happier.

Happy customers are more likely to buy from you again and tell their friends about your awesome stuff!

Mistake #6: Only Selling One Kind of Thing

Let’s say you’re really good at making funny t-shirt designs. That’s great!

But don’t stop there.

Some people might love your design but not want a t-shirt. Maybe they’d prefer it on a mug, or a phone case, or a tote bag.

The more different kinds of items you sell, the more chances you have to make sales.

It’s like being a restaurant that serves both pizza and burgers – you’re making more people happy!

Mistake #7: Ignoring What’s Popular

Do you know how certain things become super popular at different times of the year?

Like how everyone wants scary stuff around Halloween, or how floral prints are big in spring?

Pay attention to these trends!

Make designs that fit with what’s popular right now. But also think ahead – start making Christmas designs in the summer, so they’re ready when people start shopping for the holidays.

Mistake #8: Not Checking How Designs Look on Products

Have you ever seen a t-shirt where the design is in a weird place, like way too low or off to the side?

That’s what happens when someone doesn’t check how their design looks on the actual product.

Before you put a design up for sale, make sure it looks good on the item.

A design that looks great on a mug might need to be changed to look good on a t-shirt. Take the time to get this right – your customers will appreciate it!

Mistake #9: Making Designs That Don’t Go Together

Imagine you’re in a store, and one rack has bright, colorful tie-dye shirts, and right next to it are plain black t-shirts with serious messages. It would feel a bit weird.

Your designs should feel like they belong together.

Try to create a style that’s all your own.

Maybe all your designs use the same kinds of colors, or they all have a similar funny style. This helps people remember your brand and come back for more.

Mistake #10: Being Mean to Customers

This one’s super important!

Always be nice to your customers, even if they’re not being nice to you. If someone doesn’t like what they bought, listen to them and try to fix the problem.

Happy customers might tell their friends about you, which means more sales. They might also leave good reviews, which helps other people decide to buy from you. Remember, being kind is always good for business!

So, starting a print-on-demand business can be really fun and exciting.

Just keep in mind to be patient, make lots of unique designs, think about your customers, use good products, sell different kinds of items, pay attention to what’s popular, make sure your designs look good, create a style that’s all your own, and always be nice to your customers.

If you avoid these mistakes, you’ll be off to a great start!

Remember, every big business started small. Who knows? Maybe your little print-on-demand shop will grow into something amazing.

Recommended Tools For Etsy


I have made an entire section of helpful and mostly free tools you can use to build a successful online business on Etsy. See the tools here.

Kittl – A go-to place for any person, who wants to make money with print-on-demand on Etsy.

Creative Fabrica. They have millions of cheap graphics that can elevate your t-shirt design.

Vectorizer – This tool transforms your image into a vector with seconds. scalable without losing the quality.

Simplified – Create mockups, designs, and photos with the power of AI in a matter of seconds.

Disclosure: Some of the links above may contain affiliate partnerships, meaning, at no additional cost to you, NechEmpire may earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.

Personal picutre
Miroslav NovohradskyFounder of NechEmpire

I'm Miroslav, a passionate graphic designer, Etsy seller and AI enthusiast. At NechEmpire, I'm here to share my knowledge and skills. I want to turn your design passion into a successful online business.

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