Creating Designs for Print On Demand
There are many great reasons to use print on demand services. Maybe you need a design for your t-shirt company, or maybe you're an artist and want to sell prints of your work without having to keep large quantities of each print in stock.
Whatever the case may be, there are some key things that every entrepreneur should consider before designing their first print on demand design.
What this article covers:
- Designing for Success: general guidelines
- How to find design ideas and inspiration
- Creating your Print On Demand design
- Artwork guidelines for print
Designing for Success
Here are some pointers to help you ensure the long-term sustainability of your Print on Demand business.
Avoid trademarked or copyright content
If your design features a known character, slogan or was designed by someone else then you need to make sure you have the right to submit the design for print. This includes 'fan art' - unless you have explicit permission!
Selling artwork that isn't your own can result in legal issues. At best, your design will be removed from your platform of choice. At worst, you might find yourself involved in a legal dispute. Avoid!
Make it original and unique
Selling printed clothing and accessories can be lucrative, but if you're up against hundreds of sellers offering the exact same design or concept then you're inevitably going to have to work harder to get sales.
These sellers may also be mass producing products with lower production costs, meaning they can sell at a lower price.
Offer something unique with appeal to a niche market and your sales will boom.
Avoid bad grammar and spelling mistakes
This may seem obvious, but it is a often overlooked point, especially when entrepreneurs are selling designs in languages other than their native tongue.
Spelling errors reflect badly on your brand and will be detected by most potential customers.
If you're unsure, make sure your designs are checked before you offer them for general sale!
Finding Design Ideas
If you're not already at the stage where you have a design idea in mind, there are plenty of places to look for inspiration.
Considering the points above, your idea should be something unique and should have a story to it - this will result in a more interesting product which will ultimately be easier to market.
Choose something you know
We recommend starting with something you're passionate about, or something you understand well.
For example you might be a golf lover, wanting to sell golf related merch. You already have the competitive advantage here because you are more likely to understand what other golfers like and enjoy.
See what's currently selling. Search Google, Amazon, Redbubble, Etsy, Teespring etc. for designs in your niche. Some of these platforms allow you to filter by 'best selling' or 'popular' so you can get a feel for the type of designs that are selling well.
Use Social Media
It can be difficult finding inspiration to create original content, but there are plenty of sources on social media that will provide you with a wealth of design ideas.
Here are some tips for using Social Media to your advantage:
- Follow designers or bloggers who create work in your chosen niche
- Search hashtags related to your industry using visual platforms like Instagram or Pinterest
- Use related Facebook groups / Reddit to find trending topics (memes and slogans always make for great designs!). Socialising wherever your target audience congregates also allows you to ask fellow members' opinions about designs and even market your designs to them later on (with the group owner's permission, of course!).
- Join communities like Behance, Dribbble and Reddit's Design forum. You'll be able to find colour schemes, font combinations and clever designs for inspiration.
- Join the Print On Demand Uk Sellers group to network with hundreds of other designers and entrepreneurs
Public Holidays, Events and Seasonal Designs
Consider Christmas, Mother's/Father's Day, Valentine's Day, and so on. When you consider the number of festivals and public holidays, it seems to be almost infinite.
All of these present excellent opportunities for both merchandise design and marketing.
When you combine your desired niche with a celebration, you're guaranteed to find winning design and marketing opportunities. Let's use the previous golf example and pretend Father's Day is approaching. Search for 'Father's Day Golf Gifts' on a website like Etsy to see what I mean!
A website such as DaysOfTheYear.com is great for finding all of these celebrations..
Outsourcing design ideas
Yes, it's possible to outsource the idea generation part of your merch business. If you're REALLY not a creative person then you can find creative people willing to generate new ideas for you. Search marketplaces such as Fiverr and Upwork or look in facebook groups for designers.
Keep It Simple
Sometimes the simplest solution is the strongest. Slogans and typography-based designs are easy to create and often appear in the 'best selling' section of famous marketplaces. A text-based design needs very little graphic design experience. If you're not sure about your skills, make a mockup and get a second opinion!
Bringing Your Design To Life
You should have a few ideas by now and want to get them down on paper. There are numerous free and paid resources available to assist you in creating designs like a pro, as well as numerous options for outsourcing the job if you are not creative.
If you have a creative eye, you can easily create the design yourself and save money. The following are some of the best free and paid tools:
- Canva - a simple user interface and lots of templates to help you design like a pro. Canva also has a paid option which unlocks lots of extra features.
- GIMP - a Photoshop alternative for those who are slightly more experienced
- Photopea - a browser-based photoshop alternative
- Envato Elements - you can find design templates, illustrations, icons, fonts and more to help you bring your designs to life.
- Adobe Photoshop / Illustrator - the industry standard for creating and editing artwork
Designing products when you’re not a designer
Bringing your design to life is easy when you have design experience, but what if you don't? If you're not confident enough in your design abilities, it's easy to outsource your design to a professional designer. It doesn't have to be expensive either!
Be as clear and specific as possible in your brief - put into words exactly what you want your design to look like and provide your artist with similar examples. If you provide a terrible brief, expect terrible artwork!
- Fiverr (cost: cheap)- there are literally hundreds of 'gigs' offering t-shirt design. You're bound to find a gig which caters to your style and many of the artists allow you to request a limited number of revisions in the event you're not happy with the first draft. You'll be able to get designs from as low as $5 but be warned you often get what you pay for and sometimes it's worth forking out for a premium gig.
- Upwork (cost: cheap to moderate) - Here you can browse thousands of freelancers and their portfolios to connect with a suitable artist. You'll work one-on-one with them to achieve your desired results.
- Hire a designer directly (cost: moderate to expensive) - you can do this in person or online, via portfolio sites such as Behance or Dribbble. Browse artwork first to find something matching your desired style, then contact the artist directly to discuss working together.
- 99Designs (cost: moderate to expensive) - Hold a design competition! Pitch your idea, set a prize and dozens of designers will submit their initial drafts to you. You get to choose the winner. This approach is fun and allows you to see lots of designs before choosing your favourite.
Creating Mockups and Product Images for your store
Once you've completed your design, you can begin creating product photos.
Fortunately, you don't have to print your idea ahead of time or hire a model to wear it for a professional photoshoot.
There are a number of tools you can use to generate the perfect product images:
- Imprinted.com mockup generator: Upload your design to your garment of choice and click the download button. It's as simple as that! Do this for all of your desired garment colours.
- Mockup generator at Placeit.net: a fantastic tool for creating mockups of people wearing your designs. Thousands of mockup images are available, and you can simply upload the concept to see how it would look when printed and worn.
Be sure to consider the artwork guidelines for the product you intend to print on.
Create your artwork to the exact measurements of the print area (for example, 35cm x 45cm for certain t-shirts) and at the highest resolution possible (300 DPI is usually sufficient for print).
Use a transparent background where appropriate and ensure the artwork is supplied in the correct format (PNG is usually the best format as it allows transparent backgrounds)
Hopefully this post has helped you to understand the basics of designing for print on demand. It’s easy and with a little practice, you can create designs that are ready to be printed in minutes! If you want more information or clarification about any of these steps, please contact us by email or live chat.
Where do you find design inspiration? Let us know in the comments section below!