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How to Succeed In POD Industry With No Design Skills

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By Becca - October 10, 2019- in Go-Getter Blog

Have you been looking for ways to make some passive income, but you are unsure where to start?

Let’s a look at how you can build a successful Print On Demand Business with no design skills whatsoever. The idea of passive income is to get your business running so you can eventually make money while you sleep with little to no effort. Before we get to the good stuff, you have to understand that everything has its advantages and disadvantages. The Print On Demand industry isn’t any different. Generally, passive income won’t make you a millionaire overnight. But with time and effort, you can build a million-dollar business just by selling products online.

Can you make money with text-only designs?

Absolutely, you can! Take a look at online marketplaces such as Amazon and Etsy. They make up the majority of top-sellers. In fact, text-only designs are standard among sellers who are just starting out.

We recommend text-only designs until you get the hang of more advanced programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. You can use popular phrases, jokes, slang, and puns.

What you’ll need to get started

Anyone can become an e-commerce seller. With Print On Demand, you can start a business with minimal upfront costs in no time. All you need is high-speed internet, time, and a desire to learn about the Print On Demand industry.

Popular design tools

Gimp – a free open source design software, similar to Photoshop.
Canva – The free version has minimal features. The paid version offers features that are necessary for t-shirt designs, such as downloading images with a transparent background.
Creative Market – A source of inexpensive design elements such as fonts, patterns, and graphics.
DaFont – Download free fonts for your next project.
Font Squirrel – Download commercial-free fonts.

Design foundation

Anyone can get good at graphic design, you don’t need to get a diploma to be creative; however, there are two things you should keep in mind if you want to create top-selling designs:

  • What are you trying to communicate?
  • Who are you communicating with?

Get your creative juices flowing

This is the first stage of every creative process. Often times, it is more imperfect than perfect.
You can dump all your ideas on a whiteboard, sketch it out, or create a mood board to come up with new ideas.

Why should you create variations of one design

Sometimes you will be faced with a situation when the layout of a design doesn’t feel quite right. When you are faced with that gut feeling, create different variations of the particular design. This method can be useful in a way that you’ll end up with five to six designs at the end of the creative process. You can then easily choose your favorite. This is quite a lengthy process, but it is necessary to create designs that pop.

Text-only design rules

  • Embrace the negative space – helps the audience to focus on the main message.
  • Commit to a specific alignment – based on your message: right, center, or left.
  • Choose fonts carefully – fonts should always compliment the main message.
  • Visual hierarchy matters – pay attention to what portion of the design you want the audience to focus on first. 
  • Colors – take time to understand the usage of colors in different cultures.
  • Pick the primary color and use a color wheel to find complementary colors.
  • Use two to three colors max – too many colors can distract your audience from the main purpose of the message.

color wheel calculator

Choice of fonts matter

Typography is  the most common way to start a Print On Demand business. You should ask yourself these three questions:

  • Is the font legible/readable?
  • What are the latest trends?
  • What fonts are others using?

More on this topic at Typography Basics For Print On Demand.

Text-based design ideas

With Print On Demand, you don’t have to worry about upfront and warehouse costs.
Products that you sell are fulfilled on demand when a customer makes a purchase.
Create as many designs as your creative mind allows, you have nothing to lose if some designs don’t sell.
You may find that a slight design variation becomes your top-seller.
We strongly recommend that you check every phrase you’re thinking of using through the official trademark property office of the country you’re intending to sell in.
Important: This is general information and is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. 
Hire a local attorney who can help give you advice in specific scenarios.

Foreign Language

Do you speak another language? Use your skills to create unique designs that only a handful of people will understand. Also, foreign language phrases have become quite popular among millennials. Anything from food ‘Holy Cannoli’ to basic sayings ‘Caio’ makes a fantastic Print On Demand t-shirt design.

Federal Holidays and Observances

Holidays are a big part of every culture, especially in the United States of America. Aside from Federal Holidays, we observe almost anything. From International Dog Day to Chocolate Covered Everything Day, you name it we most likely celebrate it.
Take a peek at some of the major Holidays that are celebrated here.

Good Deed

Are you a lover of our public lands or advocate for the ‘Adopt Don’t Shop’ movement? With print on demand, you have a choice to create designs that fit your beliefs. Take it a step further, donate a percentage of the sales to a foundation or an alliance of your choosing.

Disaster Relief

Our climate is constantly changing. Hurricanes, tsunamis, and wildfires are inevitable.
It’s not too much of a problem when natural disasters happen outside of civilizations; however, that’s not always the case.
Unfortunately, sometimes, we are faced with a situation when disasters hit home.
Design products specific to a disaster, partner up with disaster relief programs, and have a portion of proceeds go to that specific relief program.

Inspirational Sayings

Inspirational sayings are much more than entrepreneur and relationship quotes.
You can create sayings based on occupation, hobbies, religious beliefs, country of origin, food and drink favorites, and more.


Are you always the one who has the group cracking up? You, my friend, have a competitive edge over other sellers already. Use what you got to create designs that everyone will love.

Pop Culture

Do you often find yourself coming up with new memes? Take advantage of your interest and create phrases that are ‘currently’ trending.

Schools & Universities

examples of school related tees

Even though you can’t be using school colors, logos, and images, you can still become successful in the college market.
Implement sayings that college students talk about, such as college debt, drinking, acceptance rates, and more.
When it comes to text only designs, do as much research possible – scout Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and other popular marketplaces to see what has been done and pinpoint your opportunities.
Always go for originality. But if you need a little inspiration to get started, search for the best sellers and create a design with the same concept in mind without being a copycat.


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