The 100 Design Rule for Print-on-Demand Explained

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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

We’ve all seen those too good to be true stories…

Some regular Joe or Jane quits their boring desk job, starts slinging t-shirts online from their couch, and next thing you know they’re making huge money.

Yeah, right. If only making it big in the print-on-demand world was really that easy.

Well, because I’m about to let you in on a secret that just might turn those unbelievable riches-from-the-shirts dreams into reality.

It’s called the 100 design rule, and stick with me here because this one strategy can flip everything for your t-shirt business.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “100 designs?! That’s insane – who has time for all that?!”

Believe me, I was right there with you at first.

Creating a hundred original t-shirt designs from scratch sounded like a Herculean task.

But hear me out, because this method is brilliant in its simplicity.

The problem that plagues so many would-be t-shirt tycoons?

They spend hours obsessing over perfecting one design, rush to upload it, and then sit around wondering why nobody’s buying it.

Rinse and repeat that vicious cycle a few times and most people just give up, resigned to the fact that making real money with an online t-shirt business is impossible.

Why Should You Try The 100 Design Rule?

The 100 Design Rule for POD

But the 100 design rule flips that frustrating script on its head.

Instead of agonizing over a single design, you’re basically shooting 100 unique designs out into the world.

It’s a numbers game, really the more quality options you give customers, the higher your chances of striking gold with the next vintage distressed sarcastic cat t-shirt that’s about to go viral.

Still, 100 does sound like an intimidating number, especially if you’re brand new to this game.

I get it – those first few designs are always the toughest as you try to figure out your personal style and learn what works and what doesn’t.

That’s where this rule’s real secret sauce comes into play…

By taking a more rapid-fire approach of creating 100 varied designs right out of the gate, you’re basically enrolling in a crash course on design, aesthetics, trends, and marketing – and getting paid for your education!

With each new t-shirt concept you sketch up, you’ll gain invaluable experience with layout, color palettes, font pairings, and so much more.

It’s like building up those all-important graphic design muscles through sheer repetition and hustle.

You’ll quickly discover what themes and styles you naturally excel at.

  • More importantly, you’ll learn what resonates with your target t-shirt audience and start to recognize those potentially lucrative niches.

The Importance of This Rule in Print-on-Demand

The 100 Design Rule

Speaking of lucrative, let me hit you with a stat that should have you running to fire up that design software.

Did you know that the average successful print-on-demand seller has over 6,500 active listings in their online stores?

Go on, let that number sink in for a minute…

Now do you see why committing to designing 100 shirts from the jump is important?

If you put in the effort to crank out 100 designs right off the bat, and even just a handful of them start getting traction, you’ll be so far ahead of the competition before you know it.

Of course, the rule is far from a magic pill – let’s be real, it’s still gonna take some serious work.

Each of those 100 designs can’t be some half-baked, slapped-together elements.

No, we’re talking about well-researched concepts with appealing graphics and solid commercial potential.

You’ll definitely want to study the trends and bestsellers to understand exactly what makes a t-shirt design an absolute beast these days.

And don’t get me started on making sure your artwork and text are properly optimized for that classic t-shirt shape!

There’s a real art to nailing a design that looks perfect printed across someone’s chest.

The good news?

I’m speaking from experience here – every aspect of great t-shirt design slowly clicks into place as you hit that 100 design milestone.

It’s almost like the process rewires your brain to start recognizing winning designs before you even put the stylus on the tablet.

Honestly, reflecting back on my own journey is crazy. Those first few designs were, uhh…let’s just say they’d make any seasoned graphic designer want to claw their eyes out.

Overly busy, poorly formatted, with bizarre font and color choices – I was basically doing everything wrong!

But that’s the beauty of cranking out 100 unique designs one by one – it forces you to iterate, get creative, and shake off those rookie mistakes.

By design #25 or so, my style started coming into focus and I was already improving by leaps and bounds.

By the time I hit #100, my designs were turning heads and racking up those first few sales.

Now here’s the real deal.

The 100 design rule shouldn’t be treated as some finish line to be crossed.


Those first 100 designs are laying the crucial foundation for long-term success in this competitive industry.

The real print-on-demand heavyweights I know?

The Blueprint of the Most Successful POD Sellers?

They’ve got thousands upon thousands of active designs bringing in serious monthly revenue.

So after celebrating that hard-earned 100 design milestone, it’s time to take those new skills and ramp things up to a whole new level.

  • Identify your top sellers and double down on those themes and styles customers love most.
  • Rinse and repeat that process of researching, designing, launching, and analyzing to continually expand your catalog of offerings.

Will it be easy?

Of course not – this game can be a real grind, no doubt about it.

There will be self-doubt, frustrating plateaus, and probably more than a few dud designs that’ll make you want to snap your laptop over your knee.

But that perseverance, that refusal to ever stop hustling and improving, is exactly what separates those making a living off of apparel from those who fizzle out and quit after six months.

Look, the path to making four, five, or even six figures per month with an online t-shirt business certainly isn’t for everyone.

It requires real blood, sweat, and tears – but also a genuine passion for design and being your own boss.

The rule I have explained here simply forces you to put some serious skin in the game from day one.

If the prospect of cranking out 100 unique designs while juggling research, marketing, customer service, and everything else makes you go pale, hey, no shame!

This hustle isn’t cut out for everybody.

The rule helps you realize print-on-demand isn’t your long-term play before wasting years spinning your wheels.

But for all you creative, driven hustlers out there, just know that clearing that 100 design hurdle is your gateway to capitalizing on the stories of people getting stinking rich by selling wildly popular t-shirts online.

For those who thrive on taking massive action and have that insatiable entrepreneurial spirit, well, these first 100 designs are simply the first delicious taste of potential riches to come.

BONUS FOR YOU: Unleash your potential as a print-on-demand entrepreneur with this free guide – download now!


Special Etsy Bonus (for new shops only): Use this link to Get 40 Free Etsy Listings.


Alura – The all-in-one platform for selling on Etsy. Start with a free account and explore all the features you need to start, run, and grow your Etsy shop. Try the free plan.

EverBee – Similar to Alura, but with a focus on new sellers who need simple researching too. Try the free account.

Sale Samurai – Another research tool, but with one of the cheapest subscriptions on the market. See more.

Graphic Designs:

Kittl – A fantastic place with highly professional templates, that can be edited and used for print-on-demand. In my opinion, it is a go-to place for any person, who wants to make money with print-on-demand on Etsy. Try Kittl for free.

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

When I sell my designs on t-shirts or other POD products, I always vectorize them. This makes them scalable without losing the quality. For that process, I use Vectorizer which is powered by the latest AI technology.


If you are serious about selling your designs on t-shirts, mugs, and other products, you must list them on the biggest marketplaces, such as Etsy. To do so, you must connect your store with a fulfillment company, two of the best being Printful and Printify.

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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