TIP 9. Experiment: The Mad Doctor Is In

Posted by Mongo Tuesday, December 1, 2009

If you have images of a scientist, deep in the recesses of his lab, piecing together parts of dead people, then good. Get a brain from a man named Abby Normal and you have the makings of a great plan. Truthfully, you can only regret the chances not taken when it comes to a business like Print on Demand publishing. For the most part, you have no overhead except your time, so once you have a site or store up and running, you have time to be creative. I mean this one more than one front.

Be creative in your endeavor with graphic design. Try new things and techniques. When it doubt, search it out. I primarily use Paint.Net for my design, although I recently received a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements. It’s going to take me some time to adjust so I keep plugging away with what works. After all, Paint.Net is free and there is a plethora of plugins available to mimic the effects of a real graphic designer’s abilities. Go to a book store, grab a cup of coffee and settle into an overstuffed chair with a couple of books on design and look for stuff that interests you.

Experimenting with design is one aspect. Experimenting with subject matter opens a whole new ball field to play on for designs. Tackle new subjects and take a walk on the wild side of self expression. Do you have a political voice? Express it and you’ll be surprised who will buy it. If your integrity and moral compass can take it, design for opposing viewpoints to maximize your chance of sales. Before the whole Guantanamo Bay Waterboarding news broke I had never heard of that kind of torture. It sounded like something you did at the beach, like body surfing or boogie boarding. So, I thought it would be funny to lampoon the idea that it was a sport and made a “Property Of” style shirt for the Guantanamo Bay Waterboarding Team. It was purely a joke aimed at the imagery in my head of someone surfing off the coast of Cuba. Little did I know it would become my biggest seller.

While I admit that I am no big red state conservative, nor bleeding heart liberal, I do lean to the left in most cases. The design wasn’t intended to speak to one side of the political aisle or the other, but I’m pretty sure I can figure out which way the majority of people who bought lean towards. It doesn’t bother me. It’s your right to have an opinion and I’m willing to make a dollar off of it for better or worse. Do understand that you should be socially responsible and stick to terms of service when it comes to political messages just like anything else. Caf├ęPress has removed designs centered around Psalm 109.8 and I’m sure other sites will as well. Regardless of the intention behind the designs it paves the way for interpretation that could be considered violent, illegal, and downright treasonous. I don’t always agree with how the POD sites conduct their removal of content, for whatever infringement, but in this case I think it was the right choice.

In terms of experimenting in other ways, do some homegrown marketing for your site. Put up flyers at the grocery store. Buy some of your own stuff and take it flea markets or put it up on eBay. If you have the time and patience, use your online site to run a brick and mortar style business. Create customized order forms and offer to do work on a local basis. CafePress and Zazzle both have products like cards and posters. Offer up your talents to local groups to do shirts for their sports teams, family reunions, and other events. A lot of sites offer bulk discounts for multiple orders of the same product. Have you ever seen families at amusement parks wearing the same shirt? There you go. Some people need the service but don’t have the time to do it themselves. Look online for design contests and try your hand at sites like Fark and Flickr. If you are a good photographer, sites like Flickr can be an outlet to share your portfolio and offer links to products sporting your photos.

While no one wants to send people away from their site, not everyone will like your products. That doesn’t mean you can’t make money offering to show someone the door. CafePress and Zazzle offer affiliate programs that can generate you referral credits and income by linking to their store with a unique identifier. If they purchase something from the site after going to it from your affiliate link, you get paid. Established sites like T-Shirt Hell and Busted Tees offer affiliate programs as well. Yes, all of those links are affiliate links from my accounts. At least I was honest about it.

So, fire up the Jacob's Ladder travelling arc, get your parts together and make some mad doctor success.

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