Research says it only takes 2.6 seconds for the user’s eyes to get fixed on a design that catches his/her interest.
If you’re selling t-shirt online, your shirt design is the viewer’s first impression of your product, and ultimately your brand.
Consequently, finding high selling designs for your print on demand store is one of the most important steps that you should take to ensure your business’ success.
It doesn’t mean that other factors like product quality, shipment, and customer service are of lesser importance.
However, the main selling point of a print on demand business is the design. Besides, the t-shirt industry is a very visual business.
Buyers buy what they want and what looks good on them, but they also make sure to choose one with great reviews and product quality.
In addition, good customer service invites customer loyalty.
This means that finding a high selling design for your print on demand store is on top of the to-do list.
We know it can be jarring to look for designs that does not only look great but more importantly SELL in your market.
In this article, we’ve put in ways on how you can find designs that sell for your POD business.
Research Designs on your Merch Platform
Wherever you may be, your merch platform is a great research tool in looking for designs that sell.
A great starting point would be Amazon, since it’s the largest online retail store out there. Merch by Amazon features tons of listings that may appeal to millions of buyers.
Amazon has a very wide reach when it comes to products and target markets.
In order to look for selling designs, look through the “Top Selling” designs that are on your Merch Platform.
A great way to look into this is to check the BSR (Best Seller’s Rank).
The smaller the number, the higher the rank. Much like 21st is higher than 121st.
A product’s BSR rank is based on the number of products that it has sold in the market, which makes it a great indicator for product “salability”.
Once you go through the top selling designs, take a look at the categories that these designs fall into.
Moreover, try to understand what makes them popular in the market. Look into visual styles and product inspirations.
Make a thorough list while you do the research. If, for instance you are only looking for designs that fall into your niche, you can look for top selling designs using a search filter for your specific niche.
Etsy is also a great place for design enthusiasts, which can be a strategic platform to do product research.
Checking into product reviews is also a great idea.
Once you check the reviews, you will also understand what people want and do not want with the “top-selling” designs.
Not only will you get an inspiration for your design, but you will also learn how to improve it.
If you find it quite time-consuming to look into search bars of POD platforms, you can use tools like Merch Titans.
These tools are add-ons that allow you to make product research a much easier feat.
You can look for designs using keywords, categories, price, brand and more.
Utilize Social Media
Social Media is a great place to look for high selling designs.
The platform itself is always up-to-date with what’s trending and what’s selling.
Moreover, huge brands who have a great track record have social media pages and have their ads plastered all over social media.
Thus, it is also a great place to look for ideas.
You can start with Facebook, since it has an efficient Marketplace.
In order to look for designs, search for your keyword followed by the word “T-shirt.”
You can also add other relevant keywords like “For sale”.
This will show results for both sponsored and unsponsored posts.
Facebook can be a great tool since Facebook’s Audience insights can also allow you to see the number of people and demographic information that belongs to a specific niche.
You will see information such as location, age groups, and interests of people that interact with those posts.
Tools such as Ad Spy can help you see the top sponsored posts that do well on Facebook.
Instagram can also be a great place to look for niche-specific designs.
Moreover, the platform also allows you to see what products buyers are liking.
When looking up for designs, it’s best to utilize hashtags in the search bar.
You can select the “hashtag” option when searching for keyword + the word t-shirt or shirt. For instance, #shirtsnewyork can be a great start.
You can also follow and look into Instagram users that sell t-shirts or t-shirt inspiration pages that feature the best t-shirt designs.
Pinterest is also a bit similar to Instagram, so you can also use it to do your design research.
Usually, you can easily determine whether a product is saleable or not if it has a lot of interactions, comments, and likes.
For Pinterest, the most popular designs usually have the most number of pins.
Moreover, it’s important to source designs that are still recent/fresh.
You don’t want to utilize designs that are no longer relevant to the recent market.
When doing your research, make sure to be niche-specific, so you can easily find what you’re looking for.
Monetize Trends and Events
In today’s digital world almost anything trending can definitely be monetized.
Whether it’s current news or trending events, advocacies, or a trending celebrity tweet or even a trending meme online- someone out there is probably making a shirt out of it.
The caveat here is that looking into trends can be a short-term product path, since trends can spike and dive in a very unpredictable fashion.
One moment it’s up, the next moment people are talking about something else.
This is why when you go into this route, sourcing your designs must be done faster, so that you can make the most out of the time that a trend is still relevant.
Some trends can also last longer and more meaningful than others.
For instance, the #blacklivesmatter movement has first trended in Twitter, but has remained as an advocacy to seek racial equality for many months now.
Depending on your niche, target market, and goal, you can definitely still look for saleable designs from current trends and events.
Start by looking into what’s trending on Twitter.
Trending topics can easily be seen on the right corner. You can also easily see what’s trending in your area.
You can also look into other platforms like Reddit to look for trending events, topics, memes, and jokes.
In order to look for shirts that have inspiration from trends and events online, try to source keywords from them.
For instance, “Cat Meme T-Shirt” can be a great way to look for shirts from a trending cat meme.
What’s great about jumping into the bandwagon of trends is that loads of people are already interested and are talking about them.
Thus, there is already an existing market for these t-shirt designs.
Although you will still need to market them, a lot of people may have already been looking up for them online.
You can also search for trending news and topics from Google Trends.
You can search per category depending on your niche.
You can look into politics, news, sports, technology, health, etc.
From this, you will have an idea of the kind of topics that you can capitalize for your shirt designs
If there’s one thing that all fandom groups share in common- it’s the amount of time, energy, and money that they’re willing to spend on their well-revered show, band, artist, or group.
You know what it means as a t-shirt seller.
T-shirt designs can have popular statements and phrases that can be referenced to a popular show, sitcom, artist, etc.
You need to be very careful though, as some statements may be copyrighted.
For instance show titles are a big-No, since they are trademarked.
Having the word “How I Met Your Mother” is not a good idea.
But you can make high selling designs from phrases or quotes that would still have reference to the show.
If you’re unsure, you can always check if your phrase or quote has already been trademarked.
The key is to be creative in making merch that’s inspired from what fandoms groups are interested in.
Finding creative and artistic ways to plug in references can be a great way to generate sales for your merch store.
Be Authentic and Avoid Offenses
After you’ve found the designs that you’re looking for, it’s time to create your own.
Your product research is just the first step.
Successful merch designers and sellers are capable of sourcing their design inspirations but remain original.
This means that you should find a way to make your designs unique and authentic, even if it’s inspired from a specific niche demand or design from another seller.
Skip the generic, overly-used design patterns.
Most of the time, this is already a very saturated market in the print on demand industry.
Make sure to be creative and make your own unique design from your inspirations, but try not to be too mainstream with your designs.
Using Copyrighted or Trademarked Designs will not only increase your chances of getting into trouble with other sellers, but will also kick you out of the platform.
What’s worse is that you can be banned completely from sites, which can risk all that you’ve worked hard for.
Sometimes, even with the intention to create an original design, something similar might have already existed in the market.
Thus, before uploading a design, use copyright checking tools to see whether your design is still original or not.
Another designs that may get you in trouble are those with violent content.
Print on demand platforms has rules and regulations that you should follow when uploading designs.
As a staple, violent content may be prohibited from most POD platforms.
Ensure that your design complies with all rules in the market to avoid being sanctioned or banned.
Upload High-Quality Visuals and Mockups
Nobody wants to look at a poor quality product listing.
No matter how interesting or visually attractive your design is, uploading it with high quality features still matter.
Make sure your design quality is at its best.
You can use different software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or Inkscape.
Merch Titans also has design tools that help you produce high quality t-shirt designs.
If you’re not good at designing, you can outsource graphic designers from freelance sites like Fiverr or Upwork.
However, make sure to look for ones that produce high-quality output for a reasonable price.
The print on demand industry is too competitive for low-quality designs.
If you invest poorly in designing your products, you may just get what you pay for in the end.
You do not need to hire full-time clients if you only need to get a few designs done.
However, if you are capable of designing on your own, make sure to render your designs using the highest quality possible.
Make it a habit to ask for second or third opinions from your peers before uploading your product listing.
Using a high-quality mockup also allows potential buyers to imagine themselves wearing your t-shirts on different locations/instances.
Choose well the age, gender, size, and race of your mockup model to make it appeal better to your target audience.
Moreover, choose a wide range of scenarios to make your audiences envision how they look with your designs.
As a competitive player in the game, your edge is being well-knowledgeable about your niche by utilizing different avenues to conduct product research for high selling designs.
Afterward, your ability to develop well-produced and unique t-shirt designs will definitely increase your chances of having your business breakthrough.