Before you can conquer you must compete. Even if you have grand designs on how to make it big in the Print On Demand business, you have to start somewhere. Sometimes, one idea is all it takes. Get yourself out there with a couple of good designs and then build from there. I have a ton of designs on my sites and for every one that sells there are 15-20 that haven’t yet. That hasn’t deterred me because those couple of designs, that generate the bulk of sales, are enough to keep me in the black while I test and tweak others.

But realize that you may not be doing yourself any favors by trying to proliferate the market with your work. Careful planning and an attention to detail will go a long way into securing sales and a customer base. I tried to throw everything up at the wall and make it all stick. Sometimes, I poorly planned a design because I just wanted to catch onto a current event or fad and the lack of thought led to those products never selling. Over time, the subject cooled off and there was no interest anymore. Timing is everything and forethought can be a powerful ally but sloppiness and poor planning can hurt you more. Trends and fads will come along at a clip and not everyone is going to have an impact that is sustaining. If you’re an awesome graphic designer, feel free to churn out designs at will, but if you’re just learning how to use graphics programs you may want to build your skills before you tackle every subject that comes down the pike.

Another tip you’ll often find on Best Practices lists is to think like a customer. If you have a design that looks great on a shirt, what about a magnet or a button? Be careful, because this can lead to poorly thought out placement and might turn off a customer from purchasing something. When you work on a design, think about how it will look on products and choose products that will look good with your design. If you have a design that is square in nature, it may not look good on a round button. This could lead customers to think you are unprofessional and have no idea what you are doing and they won’t buy. The same goes for adult themed designs being used for children’s products. Not a good idea. You don’t have to put your picture on everything. I know it seems easier to just design and auto populate by adding images to all products but be selective and careful on what you pick.

In getting designs ready, plant the seeds early and then let them roll around in your skull a bit before tackling them. I have four or five ideas that are almost a year old but I just haven’t come up with a great way to deliver them. Instead of just rushing through to get them out in the system I’d rather take my time and work on designs that I know I can pull off and maybe, along the way, I will get some inspiration on how to go back to the others and figure them out.

Gain some street cred from pushing out a few good designs. Zazzle has a Today’s Best Award which usually will get you a few “Atta Boy” comments on your store wall and maybe a few fans of your work. Taking the time to consistently put out good work will keep your fans interested and perhaps buying from you or recommending your store to their friends. As time goes by and your business grows you can command a much bigger flock of designs. It's not a race, it's a business.

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