Print on demand designs – How to choose and create a profitable design

Section 2: How to find a profitable POD niche and create your first winning designs

Print on Demand designs and print on demand niches

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Do you know why 99% of the people fail at print on demand? 

It’s because they don’t follow through with the right process. Usually it’s because doing something you aren’t used to doing, like finding profitable print on demand designs or print on demand niches, is mentally hard, and we are all a bit lazy when it comes to putting our mind to it 🙂 


So what is it that is so mentally hard?  (It’s really not that hard)

The one thing that is the biggest reason people fail when trying Print on Demand is understanding that it’s not about you. It’s about them – your future customers – they need to want to buy your print on demand designs and they need to find your print on demand designs. 

  • If they don’t look/search for your POD design – you can’t sell it to them
  • If they can’t find your POD design – you can’t sell it to them
  • If they don’t want your POD design – you can’t sell it to them

Ok, that’s great, but how am I supposed to make sure they will do all of this?

In one word – Research.



Here are some examples and then we’ll dive right in to hearing it from people who actually did it: how you can solve these issues and build your Print on Demand income the right way. 


People are not looking for your designs? 

They probably don’t care about them enough, or don’t care to buy anything related to them. 


For example, (extreme example, I might add) let’s say your neighbor bought a new garden chair for his garden and it inspired you to make a design about it. Woohoo, no one cares… who will look for a t-shirt about a neighbor that bought a garden chair? Makes sense? 


People can’t find your designs? 

So you’ve made some designs about stuff people care about and look to buy. But they can’t find you. Why? 


  1. You aren’t where your audience is.
    Let’s say you created a design for people who don’t like Amazon. It will be a very bad idea to try to sell it on Amazon.. I’m pretty sure your audience is not there.


  2. You use phrases and keywords to describe your design that are not being used by your audience.
    Let’s say you have a design of a trolley and this is the word you use to describe it. Well, if you’re in the US you probably imagine some sort of a rail vehicle (tram), and if you’re in the UK you imagine a grocery cart. So if your design is a trolley vehicle, people in the UK probably won’t find your design, or when they do it’s because they looked for a grocery cart.. Meaning they didn’t find what they were looking for.


  3. Your competition out ranks you so they find them instead of you.
    For example, when you search for something on Google. Do you ever go beyond the first page? And if you do, how often? And to the third page? Probably not. This is what happens when your competition outranks you. People will not find you, because they find your competition first.


People don’t want to buy your designs?

You got a design that people look for and they actually find it. But they do not buy. Why is that? 


Well, that’s easy. Your design is not as appealing to them as the other designs they see. 

How can you tell what’s appealing? There’s a whole section about it below 🙂 (Hint: look for inspiration from your audience and from your competitors) 


OK, enough with the issues of those who fail.  YOU ARE HERE TO SUCCEED!  Let’s dive in and learn how to do it. 


Print on Demand profitable designs - Table of Contents

Why sell to a specific niche?


A niche is a focused audience group that you serve very well. So selecting and focusing on a specific niche is very helpful because:

  • The better you know your target audience the better designs you can offer them so it is more likely they will love your designs, buy them and come back for more..
  • By knowing who your audience is, you know where to find them and you’ll be able to promote and get more people to know about your designs and hopefully buy from you
  • By selecting a specific niche you can check and see how much demand and how much competition you should expect. This can help choose the right niche for you. 


That being said, you do not have to choose a single niche if you are not planning to build your own store or promote your designs by yourself. If you plan to start on a marketplace like Redbubble, you can test several niches and choose to focus on one only after you see which niche brings you the best results. 

Learn more in the video below.

Video owner: Printful Custom Printing

* Somewhat Passive Income does not endorse nor is endorsed by the video owner.


Tips before you watch:

  • Get some inspiration from the two examples in the video. You’ll learn the techniques to find niches and designs in the next videos.
  • As always, it is recommended to use the OVC – One Video Control chrome extension to be able to speed up some of the videos, auto skip ads and save even more time


    • Video length: 3:13 minutes out of 7:38
    • Start time:0:13 
    • End time: 03:26 


Check your understanding:

Selling to a specific niche helps you create much stronger branding and build a loyal customer base. It can also help you create better and more original designs..



Key takeaways:

Choosing a niche is not a must. If you choose to focus on a niche it can help you build a brand and a more loyal customer base and followers. In case you plan to promote your designs by yourself or open your own store, then focusing on a specific niche is very important.

How to find profitable print on demand niches?


Researching niches and designs is actually pretty similar. Researching for a niche is basically researching for a topic and researching for a design is within the topic you selected to focus on. 


Watch the video below to learn how fishing can explain why choosing a good niche can boost your profits. Moreover you’ll learn how to validate that your potential niche is actually a good niche. 

Video owner: Greg Gottfried

* Somewhat Passive Income does not endorse nor is endorsed by the video owner.


Tips before you watch:

  • Pay attention to the simple strategy that helps print on demand sellers to make real money.
  • The reviewed tool is a great tool to help you validate any niche idea you may have. In next videos you’ll find free methods and free tools to help you find ideas for niches and designs.


    • Video length: 6:56 minutes out of 8:39
    • Start time:  0:31  
    • End time:   7:27

Related links from the video:

Check your understanding:

As explained in the fishing example, you may upload a lot of great designs in a niche that has very low demand or a lot of competition (like having your fishing lines in a place without a lot of fish or where they are not so hungry). By choosing a good niche you know that you’ll upload a lot of great designs for people that are “hungry” for such designs.


A good niche for print on demand is a niche around a topic that has high demand and relatively low competition.



Key takeaways:

Create and upload a lot of great designs in a niche you validated as a good niche. A niche with high demand and relatively low competition


Merch Informer is a great tool to validate your niche. You can test it for free for 3 days and use the discount coupon. 


Continue reading below for free tools and more research methods.

What is a good thinking process for finding new profitable niches? Discover niche ideas with Pinterest.


Want to sell more of your designs? You’ll need to know how to pick a niche and then “niche down” even further in order to know your audience and design exactly what they want to buy. This process will be demonstrated using Pinterest as the research tool. 

Video owner: Lisa Irby

* Somewhat Passive Income does not endorse nor is endorsed by the video owner.


Tips before you watch:

  • Listen and follow the mindset of the research that is demonstrated. This mindset and process can be used with all the research tools out there, not only Pinterest. 
  • The term “BSR” is mentioned in the video. If you are not familiar with it, this is Amazon’s “Best Sellers Rank”. The “best selling” product in a category has a BSR of #1 in that category. So the lower the BSR the better. Use DS Amazon Quick View free Chrome extension to see BSR ranks when browsing on Amazon


    • Video length: 5:42 minutes out of 7:17
    • Start time:  1:35  
    • End time:   7:17

Related links from the video:

Check your understanding:

Use Pinterest search bar to start typing a search term and let its auto-complete suggest search terms that people are searching for.


If that niche worked well on Christmas, maybe it is selling around the holidays. You can try to prepare your new designs for the upcoming holiday.


Key takeaways:

Here is a process you can try:

  1. Use tools like Pinterest search auto-complete or others, to “tell” you what is trending or popular right now.

  2. Think, what can you learn from the results that are shown? Are there similar but different ideas, approaches, names, nicknames, slang etc.. that there’s not much competition for?

  3. Search your idea on Amazon and see if there are products that sell (have a BSR) and how well they sell. This will validate that people are actually interested in buying designs that are related to your idea.

  4. If it seems seasonal, think about the next season it may be relevant for and plan for it.

  5. Look at the available designs and get inspiration for your own designs.

  6. Test several niches and keywords and when you find something that is working really well, focus more on it. 

How to find trends and niches with free Redbubble niche research tools?


There is a lot of interest around Redbubble because it is the leading print on demand marketplace that is also extremely beginner friendly. Because of its popularity there are already several tools that help you find out what are the trends and competition on Redbubble. The best thing is, these trends are not limited to Redbubble and you can use these tools to get inspiration for other platforms as well.


In the video below you’ll find 3 free tools that do just that.

Video owner: Ryan Hogue Passive Income

* Somewhat Passive Income does not endorse nor is endorsed by the video owner.


Tips before you watch:

  • The tools are quite similar, so pay attention to the differences and choose according to your taste and preference. Obviously you can use them all. They’re free..


    • Video length:  9:20 minutes out of 12:07
    • Start time:  2:00  
    • End time: 11:20  

Related links from the video:

Check your understanding:

Redbubble® Popular Tags looks at tags popularity and lists the results for each. It also shows the difference between the current results to last week’s results in order to show a trend. Results are updated every 7 days.

Bubble Trends shows the trending searches that happen on Redbubble and the respective results for each. Results are updated every day.

Redbubble Trends Tool is calculating several parameters, and shows a unified score based on its own calculation.


Each line the Bubble trends shows, is a trending search term. So a good way to go will be:
1. Choose a search term with low amount of results
2. Check to see if it isn’t trademarked and if it’s ok to design for it
3. Design and upload your new designs with this search term in your Redbubble tags and description or title (you’ll learn below about trademarks and how to create your designs even if you aren’t a designer)



Key takeaways:

Research tools are a great source of information for your niche and design research. They can help you find new ideas that are related to what people are actually looking for and care about right now.


These 3 free tools or paid tools like Merch Informer can really help you focus on niches and design ideas that are more likely to earn you money. 


How to research winning print on demand designs?


In the next video you are going to see 5 free methods to find design inspiration and learn what your niche audience likes and buys so you can create designs that actually sell, which means that you’ll find out faster which designs are making you more money.

Video owner: Michael Shih

* Somewhat Passive Income does not endorse nor is endorsed by the video owner.


Tips before you watch:

  • This video is from 2018 but has valid and solid advice. These methods are still relevant and important to learn.
  • The video shows you how and where to research designs in the “dog” niche but can be applied to any niche.


    • Video length: 7:39 minutes out of 8:56
    • Start time:  1:03  
    • End time:   8:42

Related links from the video:

Check your understanding:

The research we are doing is meant to help us get inspiration from products and designs that are trending, that our customers like and that people actually pay for and buy.


You should research until you get a few ideas you can create and test. Not researching at all can cause you to waste a lot of time on designs that will not sell. However researching too much will waste your time on research without getting any proof that your research and ideas are on the right course.



Key takeaways:

There are many ways to research and find new niches and design ideas. You’ve seen a few free methods and how to build the right mindset. Once you get the hang of it you can consider saving time and start using a tool that pulls all the data you need into one place.

How to avoid copyright and trademark infringements?


If you don’t want to risk getting sued because of one of your designs, there are 3 things you must know about before you try to sell anything online. 

  • Trademarks
  • Copyrights
  • Right of publicity/Privacy


The two videos below will explain and give examples on what you should not do and how to check that your designs are good to go.

Video owner: Greg Gottfried

* Somewhat Passive Income does not endorse nor is endorsed by the video owner.


Tips before you watch:

  • This video explains about the 3 different things you should be aware of before publishing anything online and for sale. In the next video you’ll also learn what to do in order to avoid trademark infringement.


    • Video length: 4:45 minutes out of 4:51
    • Start time:  0:00  
    • End time:   4:45

Check your understanding:

Trademarks can be registered on a symbol or words. For example a company’s logo can be trademarked. When it comes to trademark infringement you should not only avoid copying/using the symbol without permission, but also not to use a combination of elements that makes people think of the original logo/company


Copyright covers anything that can be considered original work and was not copied from somewhere else. Art, designs, lyrics, quotes, images, phrases and more..


Famous people control the commercial use of their name and likeness.


Now let’s see some examples to make sure this is clear. Moreover, you’ll find some bonus tips on other reasons why not to sell some designs.


Copyright and Trademark examples

Video owner: Wholesale Ted

* Somewhat Passive Income does not endorse nor is endorsed by the video owner.


Tips before you watch:

  • Other than trademarks and copyrights there are other very useful tips about what NOT to sell as print on demand designs


    • Video length: 15: 08 minutes out of 15:39
    • Start time: 0:09 
    • End time: 15:17 


Check your understanding:

Trademarks need to be filed in each country that you want to protect their asset. Search within each country’s trademark search engine in order to know if a symbol or phrase is trademarked or not. In the USA you can use USPTO trademark search


In most countries you don’t need to do anything for your original work to be protected by copyright laws.


Key takeaways:

Whatever you do, these are things you should remember:

  • You should double check in each country you wish to sell your designs in that they are not infringing any trademark. For the USA use USPTO trademark search


  • Don’t copy designs. Be original. Use other designs only as inspiration.

How to create print on demand designs even if you are not a designer?


Professional designers use professional tools like Photoshop and Affinity Designer, which require you to learn how to use them and spend a lot of time until you feel you know what you do.

However, you don’t have to be a professional designer in order to create awesome designs for print on demand. There are tools that make your life so much easier and help create professional and great looking designs without the need of learning how to master a professional design tool. 


Two very popular tools for print on demand are Placeit and Canva. Below you’ll find a comparison between the two and how to use them to make awesome print on demand designs.


Placeit vs Canva comparison

Video owner: Greg Gottfried

* Somewhat Passive Income does not endorse nor is endorsed by the video owner.


Tips before you watch:

  • Don’t worry if you are not exactly sure how each feature works or looks like while you’re watching. Right after this video you’ll find more in depth videos that show how to use each of these tools


    • Video length: 10:20 minutes out of 12:09
    • Start time:  1:13  
    • End time:   11:33


Related links from the video:

Check your understanding:

Both Placeit and Canva offer full commercial use rights (Canva free elements only). Both allow you to use transparent background which is important for print on demand.
Placeit has a large library of design templates that is being updated constantly and a logo design tool you can also use for POD designs.
Canva has a large selection of design elements and offers a lot of creative freedom.


Both offer social media graphic and video designs.
Placeit offers a huge selection of mockups you can show your designs on instead of hiring models.
Canva offers a free plan.


Key takeaways:

Both Canva and Placeit offer you exactly what you need in order to create great print on demand designs.  Full commercial usage rights and a large collection of design templates and design elements.
Placeit offers some extra features that Canva does not, like mockups and integrated designs.

If you wish to keep it free, Canva is your only option. If you want to get a discount, it’s available only for Placeit. Use this discount link


It’s time to dive in and see how easy it is to create professional and amazing looking designs using Placeit, with the bonus feature of a huge library of mockups. 


Placeit overview

Video owner: That Entrepreneur Lifestyle

* Somewhat Passive Income does not endorse nor is endorsed by the video owner.


Tips before you watch:

  • The video talks about how to create t-shirt designs, but the designs can be used on many other POD products and most certainly aren’t limited to t-shirts. Keep that in mind.

  • The examples in the video are geared toward the gaming niche. Placeit designs are so versatile and are not limited to a specific niche. There is something for any niche you can imagine..

  • The mentioned price in this video is not updated. It is now much cheaper and you can use the link below the video for extra 15% discount


    • Video length: 10:20 minutes out of 12:32
    • Start time:  1:06  
    • End time:   11:26


Related links from the video:

Check your understanding:

T-Shirt Designs under the Designs section, and the logo templated under the Logos section


You can use mockups that are related to your niche and designs and post them on social media to show “social proof” so people will feel more comfortable and connected to your designs by seeing them on other people


Key takeaways:

Placeit is an extremely powerful tool that can help you with your POD designs and also with marketing on social media using their social media templates and their huge library of mockups. It is a highly recommended tool by many print on demand experts as well as marketers.

You should check it out for yourself and if you choose to subscribe, here’s a 15% discount link you can use: Discount link

The overview can seem a bit overwhelming and it may be a bit harder to understand how you can really make a design your own. So let’s see how a professional designer uses Placeit to create a single t-shirt design.


Design a T-Shirt with Placeit – make a design your own, A to Z tutorial.

This: (Placeit template)

To this: (Design by Detour Shirts)

Video owner: Detour Shirts

* Somewhat Passive Income does not endorse nor is endorsed by the video owner.


Tips before you watch:

  • Notice how he narrows down the search of a template by selecting a niche from the sidebar filter options and how he searches for extra elements to add to his design.

  • At the end of the video, it is mentioned that you’ll need to resize the design if you wish to use it for Merch by Amazon. The video shows you how to do it in a different software, but you can actually do it with a free tool by Placeit. You’ll find it in your Placeit downloads page or at this link.


    • Video length: 12:14 minutes out of 15:37
    • Start time:  1:30  
    • End time:   13:44


Related links from the video:

Check your understanding:

Fonts, colors, images, background and you can even upload your own logo and images.


Key takeaways:

Palceit is a very powerful tool to create your own designs without having to be a designer. Use the different options available to make the designs your own and create more and more designs.

A yearly subscription will get you 50% off and on top you can use this 15% discount for extra discount on any subscription type you choose: Discount link

How to create print on demand designs with Canva


So now you know how to use and create awesome designs with Paceit. But how about Canva?


Canva is another very popular tool that is being used by many experienced POD sellers. Canva gives you more artistic freedom from one hand but requires you to control more of your design aspects by yourself. Let’s see what this means.

Create a design like this using Canva (design by Lisa Irby)


Video owner: Lisa Irby

* Somewhat Passive Income does not endorse nor is endorsed by the video owner.


Tips before you watch:

  • This video shows you how to use the FREE version which is a bit more limited, but then again, free.. 


    • Video length: 9:05 minutes out of 9:47
    • Start time:  0:27  
    • End time:   9:32


Related links from the video:

Check your understanding:

You would like to use dimensions that will look good on a t-shirt which means the design needs to be big enough. For Merch by Amazon you’ll need to have a very specific size of 4500 x 5400 pixels. 
With Canva Pro you can choose these dimensions. With the free version you’ll need to resize the image after you download it using a tool like


With Canva Pro you’ll be able to choose to download with transparent background. With the free version you’ll need to download your design and use a website like onlinepngtools


How can you create a print on demand design that generates over $1,000 t-shirt sales profits with Canva?


This video shows you how to create a design that sells in Canva. It shows you how the video owner created a single design that made him a profit of more than $1,000.


Video owner: Batti’s Passive Income

* Somewhat Passive Income does not endorse nor is endorsed by the video owner.


Tips before you watch:

  • The design uses a background that was downloaded from a service that provides hundreds of sunset designs that you can use for yourself.

    Those designs can be uploaded to Canva, or to be used in photoshop or other design software to change them a bit and make them your own. Link to this service will be below the video.


    • Video length: 6:08 minutes out of 9:39
    • Start time:  2:47  
    • End time:   8:55

Related links from the video:

Check your understanding:

Your design should be big enough so people would notice it among all the designs and would be able to understand it even when seeing it as a thumbnail in search results.


Retro designs and sunsets simply sell. Actually about 25% of the top 100 shirts selling on Amazon have some sort of retro vintage sunset in the design.



Key takeaways:

Simple designs can earn you a lot of profit. 

You can use external designs like those from Allsunsets and upload them to Canva to make the process easier, quicker and even have a more professional looking design.
Canva is a very flexible tool and you can use many design elements in it. 

Summary of how to choose and create profitable print on demand designs


So what does it take to become a profitable Print on Demand seller? What does a profitable design, people want to buy, look like?

Well, profitable designs come in all shapes and sizes 🙂 


There are so many simple, text based designs that are best sellers that you should feel confident that even if you do not have any design skills you can create a best selling design. Especially when there are so many tools and services that help create good looking designs. 


So whatever your design skills are, you can do well with Print on Demand. 

By now you should know there are only a few things to pay attention to. 

  • People should look and search for your designs
  • They should be able to find your designs
  • They need to want to buy your designs


This is the summary of steps you should follow:

  1. Find a niche people are passionate about with low competition but enough demand.

  2. Get inspired by the best sellers in that niche and create your own version of a best selling design.

  3. Upload your print on demand designs to popular POD marketplaces – learn how in the next course section.

  4. Use the most relevant keywords. Those you found in your niche research who had low competition and high demand (search volume).


Check the next section to learn about the marketplaces that allow people to find and buy your designs. It’s time to start your journey to your first sale and towards building your own passive income stream.

Good luck!


Print On Demand Course Completion Level:
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