The 6 Biggest Mistakes I Made Selling Print-on-Demand (And How You Can Avoid Them)

Personal picutre
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

Selling print-on-demand is an attractive passive income stream for designers like you and me.

But it’s easy to mess up if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way.

Through trial and error over the past couple of years, I made some big mistakes that got my accounts banned and cost me a lot of money.

I don’t want the same thing to happen to you.

So in this post, I’m going to share the 6 biggest print-on-demand mistakes I made so you can avoid them.

By playing it smart from the start, you can set your POD business up for long-term, sustainable success.

Mistake #1: Leaving Too Much Money in Platform Accounts

When I first started selling print-on-demand, I didn’t withdraw money from my accounts often enough.

I figured it was fine to let my earnings accumulate for a few months before taking a payout.

Big mistake.

Without warning, my Merch by Amazon and TeePublic accounts were suddenly banned. And poof—hundreds of dollars that I earned were gone.

I learned the hard way to take payouts from print-on-demand platforms as soon as you reach the minimum threshold. Don’t leave your hard-earned cash in their hands longer than necessary.

Redbubble latest payment history

Now I withdraw earnings at least once a month, and luckily, most POD platforms are making monthly payments automatically.

I never want to be in a position where I’ve “earned” a ton of money, but can’t access it.

Follow this rule, and you won’t have to worry about losing your payouts if anything happens to your accounts.

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

Mistake #2: Getting Banned for Copyright

When I started selling on TeePublic, I wasn’t getting many sales. I assumed I needed to optimize my tags and descriptions better.

And it doesn’t work.

So, I went overboard by adding designs to my portfolio that may fall into the grey area of copyright.

It worked…for a little while. Then my accounts started getting shut down due to trademark and copyright infringement.

mistakes on POD platforms

Most print-on-demand platforms are now cracking down hard on intellectual property violations. Uploading anything using trademarks without a license or parody exception is asking for trouble.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Stick to original designs and concepts you have the right to use.

Otherwise, you could get banned and even face legal issues.

Mistake #3: Putting All My Eggs in One Basket

For the first year or so, I only sold through Merch by Amazon. It was easy and sales were decent. But relying solely on Merch was high risk.

When my Merch account was banned, I lost my only revenue stream. I had to scramble to set up accounts on other platforms just to stay afloat.

This experience taught me the importance of diversification. Now I sell through multiple print-on-demand sites like Redbubble, TeePublic, Society6, Etsy, and Zazzle.

I also make passive income from digital products, dropshipping, affiliate marketing, and more. That way, if one stream dries up, I have plenty of others to fall back on.

Don’t depend entirely on one print-on-demand site. Branch out to multiple platforms and income sources so your business stays stable if you lose access to one.

Mistake #4: Not Having an Emergency Fund

During my first year running a print-on-demand business, I reinvested most of the earnings back into growth. I didn’t save much of a cash reserve.

So when some unexpected house repairs popped up, I didn’t have the savings to cover them. I had to pause advertising and new product development just to pay the expenses.

Now I know better. Saving an emergency fund needs to be priority #1 when you start a business.

Before you reinvest anything, build up enough savings to pay your basic living expenses for 3-6 months. This will protect you if you face a slow sales month, get banned from a platform, or have surprise bills.

Don’t get caught without cash reserves like I did early on.

Make building an emergency fund your first step so you can handle anything life throws at you.

Mistake #5: Scaling Too Fast

In an effort to maximize profits, I started uploading products very quickly without spending much time on each design. I wanted the sheer volume of products to make up for the lack of quality and originality.

It backfired.

My mediocre, rushed designs just cannibalized sales from my better products.

And it was only a matter of time before I received copyright claims on some of the derivative concepts.

Now I know that carefully crafting one excellent design a week is far better than cranking out 10 low-quality ones. Take your time researching trends, analyzing competitors, and refining your artwork.

It’s not a race. Focus on slowly building a portfolio of high-quality, original designs rather than churning out mediocre work just for the sake of volume.

Patience pays off.

Mistake #6: Not Driving External Traffic

Originally I assumed POD sites would handle all the marketing for my products. But sales were stagnant, even for good designs.

That’s when I realized the importance of promoting your products through your own channels. Don’t rely solely on the platform’s search and discovery.

Now I drive external traffic to my print-on-demand listings through my website, social media, paid ads, collaborations, email marketing, and more. Sales have skyrocketed as a result.

Make sure you have a strategy for promoting your products outside of the POD site. This direct traffic and brand familiarity can take your sales to the next level.

Key Takeaways to Avoid Print-on-Demand Mistakes:

  • Withdraw payouts frequently so you don’t lose money
  • Avoid spammy tactics that could get you banned
  • Only upload original designs you have the rights to
  • Diversify with multiple income streams
  • Build an emergency fund immediately
  • Carefully craft each design instead of churning out low-quality products
  • Drive external traffic through your own channels

Learning from my print-on-demand mistakes will help you maximize your sales and minimize risk. Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips for POD success!

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

Here Are Some of My Favorite Tools For Print-on-demand

As a graphic designer and POD seller, I’ve had the opportunity to discover different helpful products and tools that can be time-saving and make the process of creating your designs a bit smoother.

DESIGNS: Kittl (best for t-shirt designs), Vexels (for professional designs), Placeit (for unique product mockups)

AI IMAGE GENERATOR: Leonardo (best free account)

GRAPHICS: Creative Fabrica (cheapest marketplace), Envato Elements (more variety)

SELLING DESIGNS: Freepik (for beginners), Creative Fabrica (for advanced graphic designers)

SELLING LOW-CONTENT BOOKS Book Bolt (budget option)


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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