Action Plan: How to Sell Print-on-Demand Products in 2020 (The Very Doable Guide)

11 min read

Selling print-on-demand products in multiple marketplaces using free traffic is one of the business models I’ll use in 2020.

It’s a model I really like, because I don’t have to spend much time on it. And it keeps growing every year.

I have been selling POD products on Amazon for over three years, and started selling them on Etsy and eBay in Q4 last year.

From just a side-hustle business that generated just 10-20% of my yearly income, I noticed that it increased to 30-40% of my total income last year.

The most important part is that I spent only a few hours a month to build it. About 95% of the work was handled by my two virtual assistants (a graphic designer and product uploader).

The growth of my income from this business model is very stable compared to other business models, so I’ve decided to take this business model more seriously this year to make more income from it.

Here’s my action plan to sell print-on-demand products in multiple marketplaces in 2020.

This 3,000-word article is a very detailed and doable guide you can follow to build your print on demand business easily.

Okay, let’s start.


Step 1: Product and Phrase Research

The first step is to find popular phrases that can be used in many different niches.

For example:

Engineer – I’m not arguing. I’m just explaining why I’m right.
Nurse – I’m not arguing. I’m just explaining why I’m right.
Teacher – I’m not arguing. I’m just explaining why I’m right.

I’m an Accountant. To save time, let’s just assume I’m always right.
I’m a Fitness Trainer. To save time, let’s just assume I’m always right.
I’m a Programmer. To save time, let’s just assume I’m always right.

etc.

Have you ever read these phrases somewhere on the internet?

If you check Etsy and search for keywords like “Accountant Mug” or “Engineer Mug”, you will find these phrases, along with beautiful designs, printed on many products.

Then check the number of reviews. You will see that many people who buys these products write nice reviews.

These are examples of phrases I really like. They can be used in many different niches.

Try to find phrases like these ones and use them in many different niches. You’ll be able to create thousands of designs, fast.

Then, after these products have been on the market for a while, I’ll check my sales stats and find the winning phrases.

Which products sell well, and what are the phrases on them? I’ll ask my designer to create many different designs for that phrase.

For example, if the coffee mug with the phrase “Engineer – I’m not arguing. I’m just explaining why I’m right” is selling well, I’ll ask my designer to create new 30 designs for this phrase.

There will be new 30 designs bearing the line – “Engineer – I’m not arguing. I’m just explaining why I’m right.”.

Put them on multiple products – coffee mugs, shot glasses, tumblers, travel mugs, etc.

This will help you create and find new winning products in a very short time.


Step 2: Prepare a Product Title, a List of Good Keywords, and Product Description.

The next step is to prepare a product title, a list of good keywords, and a product description.

When I sell print-on-demand products using this business model, I focus on quantity.

I’ll throw the spaghetti on the wall, see what sticks, and try to scale from there.

So, when I list a product, although most products will have the same pattern in the product title, the same description and general tags, I have to make sure that the product info contains good keywords (i.e., the ones people use to search for the products they want).

For example, if I list a coffee mug that contains a phrase related to “engineer” in the design, the keywords “engineer coffee mug” or “mug for engineer” must be in the product title, product description, and product tags.

I use the keyword tool MerchantWords to do keyword research and find keywords related to my products that have high traffic volume and low competition.

Then, I’ll make a list of keywords like this – “[NICHE] coffee mug, mug for [NICHE], funny [NICHE] mug, …”

(The keywords that will be combined with [NICHE] will be identified through my MerchantWords research.)

These keywords will be used as product tags in marketplaces.

They will be also inserted to the product title and description.

It’s very important to insert the main keyword in the product description. I see that most products don’t have the main keyword in their product description.

They use the default description from the publishing tool they use.

Like this:

  • High-quality mug makes the perfect gift for everyone.
  • Printed on only the highest-quality mugs. The print will never fade, no matter how many times it is washed.
  • Packaged and shipped from the USA.
  • Dishwasher and Microwave safe.
  • Shipped in a custom-made styrofoam package to ensure it arrives safe and sound. GUARANTEED.

You’ll absolutely love your order. Contact us if you don’t. We’ll make it right. Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.

These are the default product features and descriptions of the product cranked out by the product publishing tool.

Many products on Amazon use the same product features description.

If we can insert the main keyword, like “[NICHE] coffee mug”, in this part of the product description, our product will outrank many products in the market.


Step 3: Keep Listing New Products Regularly

The key to success in this business model is to keep listing new products regularly.

Find new phrase
Make a design
Create a product
REPEAT.

Use one design to create many products – such as white coffee mugs, shot glasses, travel mugs, and pillowcases.

Then let the designer convert the black text design to a white text design. You can use this design to create other products such as a black coffee mug, black tumbler, black wine glass, etc.

Some phrases can be designed for accessories like necklaces and bracelets. Necklaces and bracelets have a very low production cost, but we can charge a higher prices for them.

But you have to make sure that the phrases you use are suited to this kind of product. Funny phrases do not normally work with these products.

The phrases that work with necklaces or bracelets usually convey a tender or lovely message from someone to another, like mother to son, father to daughter, or wife to husband.

I haven’t tried selling necklaces or bracelets on Amazon much, but give it a try. I have seen many necklaces selling really well on Amazon.

All right. You will now have some ideas you can use to create multiple products very quickly.

Keep listing your new products, EVERY DAY.


Step 4: List Many Products Daily on Multiple Marketplaces

I have been selling print-on-demand products on Amazon since 2017, but I didn’t sell products on other marketplaces like Etsy or eBay.

That was a BIG mistake.

I have seen many people crushing sales on Etsy and eBay. Many of them made more on Etsy than they did on Amazon.

So my plan from now on is to list my products on other marketplaces besides Amazon.

My team has added 150 products to my Amazon account every day since 2017. But from now on, I’ll let my automated system do it for me at a rate of 200 products per day.

(I’ll write about the automated system in the last step.)

On Etsy, it can be risky to add too many products each day, so there I’ll add only 50 products per day.

eBay limits the number of products you can upload daily, so I can’t do much on this marketplace. I might try to contact them to ask if they can increase their upload limit.

So, before the beginning of October – which is the prime time for making a lot of sales –  I’ll have an additional 54,000 products in my Amazon store, and over 13,500 products on Etsy.

That’s quite a large number for one store. Hopefully, I can dominate sales in some of the niche markets.

And not just on Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. My team recently found new small marketplaces with very low competition. I’ll list my products in these new marketplaces, too.


Step 5: List Products on Shopify and WooCommerce

This is the long-term goal. You won’t make many sales fast from this step.

I came up with this idea last year, when I thought that I would have much less control if my products were only in the usual marketplaces.

Amazon, Etsy, and eBay can suspend my account at any time, if I do something wrong, even if I didn’t mean to.

So, I created a way to add my print-on-demand products to Shopify. I wrote an article about this business model, and you can read it here.

Since then, I have made some sales using the free traffic on Shopify. Not much, compared to selling them on marketplaces or using paid traffic. But it keeps growing every month.

A few months ago, I also opened a store on WooCommerce and added my print-on-demand products to it. I installed some plugins that do the basic SEO. I’ve not had many results from this store yet.

The plan I’m going to follow with these Shopify and WooCommerce stores is to do the basic SEO for these stores, and hire some people to do the link-building.

Last year, I tried purchasing some gigs from SEOClerk to build links for some of the categories in my Shopify store.

It’s called a Private Blog Network (PBN). (I didn’t know it, but at the time it was a kind of Black Hat SEO!)

I hired someone to build some links (over 1,000!) from his private blog network for 30 days. There are many backlinks to some of the pages on my store.

One month passed, two months passed. No results.

I thought SEO sucked.

But in Q4, I had some sales in this Shopify store. I checked Google Analytics, and found that the traffic had kept increasing every month since I’d hired this guy to build some links.

I talked to my friend who knows about SEO, and he told me that PBN works too, but requires a bit of time.

So this is what I’m going to do this year. I’ll keep hiring someone to build the backlinks to my Shopify and WooCommerce stores to create some organic traffic.

In the long term, I’m pretty sure I can make much more organic sales from these stores.

NOTE: I chose the cheapest plan on Shopify, and removed some apps that I rarely use to keep the cost low.

WooCommerce is free. You just have to pay just a few bucks a month for hosting. I hardly bought anything except a good theme and the shipment tracking plugin. That’s enough for me.


Step 6: Focus on BIG Holidays and Special Days

Holidays are the times we can sell many print-on-demand products. Especially on the days when people like to purchase a gift for someone they love.

A print-on-demand product is usually a gift, because of the message on it. People will select the product with a message they like and give it to someone they love.

There are some BIG holidays when we can make a lot from selling print-on-demand products. They include:

Valentine’s Day (February 14)
St. Patrick’s Day (March 17)
Mother’s Day (May 10)
Father’s Day (June 21 – the third Sunday of June)
Christmas (December 25)

There are also other special days, like birthdays and anniversaries, that help us make sales all year long.

You can create products bearing funny or meaningful messages related to the particular holiday. Most of the time, they have a good chance of being sold before or during the holidays.

But not only the big holidays. There are other special days for many small niches such as professions, dog breeds or cat breeds.

Here are some examples of the “profession” days:

Nurse’s Day (May 12)
Engineer’s Day (July 1)
National Trucker’s Day (October 4)
Accountant’s Day (November 10)

I have many winning niches related to professions, and the products in them sell pretty well.

Once, last year, I sold 100 coffee mugs in one order from one profession niche.

Many orders contained 5-10 units each. People in the profession niches usually bought multiple units in one order.

I think they purchased these mugs for their colleagues. Maybe the boss purchased the gifts for his or her employees.

Don’t underestimate the sales you can make from these small niches!


Step 7: Send the Winners to Amazon FBA

Most of my income in the past years has come from Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA).

Don’t know what Amazon FBA is?

Well, basically, when I find that a mug has been selling well (like 5-6 units a month), I’ll order it in bulk and send them to Amazon warehouse.

Amazon will give this kind of product a better ranking, because they have a product in their warehouse, and can pack and ship it to the customer in a very short time.

I have an article about Amazon FBA. You can read it here.

Last year, I made a mistake. I was too lazy to send my new winning products to Amazon FBA.

I just sent my old winning products, which had sold over 1,000 units each on Amazon. It’s quite easy to duplicate prior shipments of old winning products in Amazon. I can get it done in a very short time.

But it takes a few times to create a new shipment for products I’ve never sent to Amazon FBA. (OK, it’s actually just a few more minutes.)

The problem is that many people had already bought these old winning products, so I didn’t see much of an increase in sales.

So the last Q4, I didn’t record much progress compared to other sellers.

This year won’t be the same!

I already checked the stats for 2018-2019 and listed the products that sold well in these two years.

I have 25 boxes of mugs with 21 new designs in the making. They will be shipped at the end of this month.

I’ll try sending at least 10 winning designs a month to the Amazon warehouse. This way, I will have new winners for Amazon FBA before the next Q4.

BTW, every product I have in Amazon’s warehouse, I’ll list in other marketplaces too. This will reduce the handling and delivery times, because they will be shipped via Amazon FBA.

This will help increase the conversion rate of these products in other marketplaces, because people will see that the products will ship quickly.


Step 8: Automate Work using PODTurbo

This is optional. You can do all the steps above manually by yourself, or hire someone to do them for you.

The great thing about this year is that I’ll be able to automate all the work above using PODTurbo, a tool that my team developed. It helps me save tons of hiring costs and time.

Because most of the work is very easy to do and the process of adding products is always the same, we shouldn’t do it by ourselves. We should hire someone to do it for us, or use an automated tool.

Anyway, there is some work that I have to do manually, such as finding new phrases and creating designs. I’ll still hire my virtual assistants to do this.

But apart from that, the PODTurbo system will do all the other work, including:

  • Creating product mockups
  • Setting up product titles based on data we insert
  • Preparing product descriptions based on the niche and template
  • Schedule times to publish products to the marketplaces
  • Automatically publish products to multiple marketplaces such as Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Shopify, and WooCommerce
  • When there is an order, it will be imported to PODTurbo automatically. I have to do one-click ordering to place an order with the supplier. (This process will be 100% automated soon.)
  • When the order is shipped, the supplier will send the tracking info back to the system, which will use this info to fulfill the order in the marketplace.

It’s a very useful system, and helps me build my print-on-demand business in much less time.

I don’t have to create a product, publish it marketplaces, fulfill the order, etc., manually. Almost every process is handled by the system.

If you haven’t checked out this tool yet, I highly recommend that you try it here:

Okay, these are all the steps and the action plan that I’ll use to sell my print-on-demand prodicts in 2020. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line in the comment box below.

—Bank “Crushing It” K.

P.S. I wish my team had created this system two years ago. I would have saved tons of hiring cost. I hired people to list almost 100,000 products over the past two years – and that cost me a lot!

P.P.S. If you’re looking for a business that will make passive income for you over the long term, I highly recommend that you start building a print-on-demand business. Many print-on-demand shops in Etsy have started selling these kinds of products since 2012, and they are still doing it. It’s best to get started as soon as you can.

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