How to make your first Print on Demand sale – FAST

After we launch print-on-demand products such as t-shirts, coffee mugs, or tumblers on marketplaces such as Amazon, Etsy, eBay and wait for a while, most of us generally expect our first sale.

It will take time to get that first sale. The feeling when we get our first sale from something new is always great. It’s kinda like you’ve just achieved something.

I had that feeling when I sold my first print-on-demand product on Amazon.

It was fantastic. I didn’t have to spend any dime on ads!

I have been asked questions like, “How long will it take me to get my first sale?” and “I’ve launched all sorts of products, but haven’t made any sales yet. What should I do?”

Actually, the simple and short answer is to keep launching new products in many niches and scale up whatever is selling.

I just finished reading The Atomic Habit. It contains a case study about dividing photography students into two groups:

  • The first group will get A when they take 100 photos. (The Quantity Group)
  • The second group will get A when take only ONE nearly perfect photo. (The Quality Group)

Guess which group produces the most good photos?

..

.

The answer is the first group – the Quantity group.

This is because the quality group spent too much time thinking about how to take the best shot. They worked too hard to achieve perfection, a nearly impossible goal.

Meanwhile, the quantity group was learning from their mistakes. They thought less, took a lot of photos and tried to improve on the photos they took. In the process of taking 100 photos, their skills greatly improved.

“The best is the enemy of the good.”

Voltaire

This case study can be applied to the print-on-demand business as well. Actually, it applies to almost anything, including business, sports, health, wealth, etc.

The best way to grow your print-on-demand business is to keep uploading new products, tweaking titles and keywords, finding products that sell, and scaling from there.

Keep learning from what you are doing.

I have been in a group of people who are using the same business model. Most of the successful ones here do the same thing. They just keep launching new products. They don’t think too much about anything. They just keep learning from what they’re doing.

While some people keep asking questions about “the problems they haven’t met yet”. Many of their questions are actually ones I’ve never thought about. Many months have passed, and I still hear the same people asking the same questions.

Let’s be the taking-action group of people.

In this article, I’ll share my experience of when I made my first sale, as well as some techniques you can use to get your own first sale – fast – from your print-on-demand business.

How many products I had when I got my first order

When I started selling the print-on-demand products on Amazon, I uploaded only 5 coffee mug designs.

All of them were old designs that I couldn’t sell well on Teespring using Facebook ads. I just did it to test my new market.

Technically, these were losing designs.

BUT…

I made my first sale within a few weeks!

I didn’t do much keyword research. Just added some simple keywords related to the products. This was actually the first time I’d tried to sell a product on Amazon.

I thought it was very easy to make sales using this business model.

But it’s not. My second sale came much more slowly.

Although I made my first sale a few weeks after listing just five products, I had to wait for many weeks after that for the second sale to come.

I rarely listed more new products. It wasn’t my main focus at that time, so I didn’t do anything much. I just waited for the next sale.

When I got my second sale, I saw how many people did well using this business model. People sold lots of coffee mugs during the holidays. I thought I needed to take this business more seriously and upload products more consistently.

I set a goal: to upload at least five new products every day.

But I quit doing it just a few days later. It was just too boring. As I’ve said, launching print-on-demand products is a very simple process. Just create an ugly design, create a product, and upload it to Amazon. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Over and over and over.

When a product is uploading, it takes a few minutes to appear on Amazon. I used this time to watch videos on YouTube.

Instead of just waiting for a few minutes for a product to upload, it took me much longer to upload products because of YouTube. It was very easy to get distracted.

After that, I knew that I couldn’t be successful if I did everything by myself. This business model requires consistency. So I decided to set up a team and let them handle almost everything for me.

Well, the consistency problem was solved by my team. All I had to do was select a market or niche for my team to create products for.

How to Find Niche Products to Sell on Amazon

When I firstly assigned work to my team, I targeted only a few niches.

As I had promoted many print-on-demand products using Facebook Ads, I knew that there were winning niches such as Engineering, Nursing, Teaching, Mothers, Fathers, etc. where we could make lots of sales.

So I started with those niches. I asked my team to find tons of quotes and create designs for those niches.

But I didn’t make many more sales.

So I went back to Amazon and did some research.

I found that the niches I had targeted are very competitive. There were thousands of products in those niches, and many existing strong sellers dominated the market.

It’s difficult to fight with them, especially when your product is new. You have no sales record and no customer reviews.

So I changed the way I worked.

Instead of focusing on only a few niches, I asked my VA to create products for many niches – specifically, more than a thousand niches.

They included professions, dog breeds, cat breeds, hobbies, cities, etc.

There are many sub-niches within these big niches.

For example:

Professions – Engineer, Nurse, Teacher, etc.
Dog Breeds – Akita, Labrador, German Shepherd, etc.
Cat Breeds – Persian, Russian Blue, Ragdoll, etc.
Hobbies – Skiing, Knitting, Gardening, etc.

Not only did I target those thousand niches – I also asked my team to combine these niches with other angles.

For example, instead of creating products only for Engineers generally, I asked my VA to create products for Engineer Dads, Engineer Moms, Engineer Daughters, Engineer Sons, Engineer Aunts, Engineer Uncles, etc.

This way, we could create thousands of products and find untapped markets that had low or sometimes no competitors.

Although many niches have a very small audience, combining many small niches can bring you huge traffic.

Also, if you target niches related to a profession, there will be many important special days for those niches, such as Engineer’s Day, Nurse’s Day, Attorney’s Day, Accountant’s Day, etc.

Many people purchase a print-on-demand product such as a coffee mug as a gift for their colleagues. I have some winning products in the professional niches, and I’ve made many sales during these special days.

Some orders were for something like 50 mugs. I think the buyer may have been a boss who bought the mugs for the people on their team.

Today, when I search Amazon using a keyword like “[PROFESSION] mug”, I often find my product is the first in the search results.

No ads. Just pure organic traffic!

So don’t overlook these small niches. It’s possible to earn a lot from them!

Also, if you combine these niches with family, these kinds of products can also be sold on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

These products are all evergreen. We can sell them any time of the year.

This is the strategy I use to make more sales, very fast with very little effort.

Many small winning niches = BIG WIN!

Product Settings in Amazon

Okay, after you create products in many niches, the next thing to consider is the product settings.

When selling any product, you have to check the market and see what price range, size, and color most people want to buy.

For example, as GearBubble just recently launched a new tumbler product, I need to check what sizes, colors, and price ranges of the top-selling tumblers on Amazon.

There are many colors for the tumblers, so it’s good to do some research first to find out what colors people like.

I’ll just randomly search something like “Dad Tumbler” to see the top-selling tumblers in this niche.

Then, I scroll down to check the price range, sizes, and colors of products that have reviews.

Customer reviews on Amazon can be used to roughly validate that a product has made some sales.

I mostly follow the price range and product specification info for this kind of product.

In this case, we will find that most “Dad Tumblers” are in black and blue, with a price ranging from $20-30, and sized at 20 oz.

So, I’ll save this info in my notes. Then I’ll check the tumbler in other niches to see whether they have the same specifications or not.

In addition to the specifications, when doing product research I’ll check the “common keywords” that most of the top-selling products contain.

For example, in this case, you will see that there are many ways to describe the tumbler. It’s not just a “Tumbler”, but also a “Stainless Steel Tumbler”, “Insulated Tumbler”, “Mug”, “Travel Mug”, “Travel Coffee Mug”, “Engraved Tumbler”, etc.

This is very useful for a non-native speaker like me. I can find many synonyms for the product and use them as my product keywords.

There are also keywords like “Gifts for Dad”, “Birthday Gift”, “Gifts from Daughter”, that most top-selling products use in their product title.

List all these keywords and save them to your notes. You will need them when you have to consider the titles and keywords for your products.

This process will help you list many products fast and have the products in the price range and specs that most people want.

Following best-selling products is one of the tricks that can help you make your first sale fast.

After you’ve been selling items for a while, you can adjust the price if you want.

List products on other Print-on-Demand Sites

The next thing to do to make a quick first sale is to list your products on other marketplaces such as Etsy, eBay, RedBubble, Teepublic, etc.

There are many places to sell print-on-demand products with free traffic.

Amazon is the biggest one, but there are many other sellers here.

You can still make good money from smaller marketplaces that have less competition.

Many small wins is a BIG win.

Also, there are many other products you can sell. Your thing doesn’t have to be coffee mugs, shot glasses, travel mugs, or tumblers. If you use other integration systems such as Printful or Teelaunch, you can put your designs on other products.

I rarely check competitive products, but after GearBubble launched tumblers, I found many other products that had very little competition. (Yes, a tumbler has a very little competition!)

You just need to list them all and post them on many marketplaces.

This will help speed up your sales.

Recap

Okay, all the above is what I usually do to boost sales in my print-on-demand business. You can use these same strategies to make your first sale fast, too.

  • The easiest way to be successful in this business is to keep listing new products. Don’t waste your time asking questions or reading stuff that don’t produce results. Take action quickly.
  • If you can’t do it yourself, set up a team. My team has helped me list almost 80,000 products on Amazon, and I rarely have to do anything.
  • When you just get started, try to list products in many different niches. Don’t stick to just a few niches. Many small winning niches = BIG WIN.
  • Make sure you check the price, color, size, and other product specifications of top-selling products. This will help you understand the market and determine the price and product specifications that most people want.
  • Do keyword research by finding “common keywords” used to advertise top-selling products.
  • List your products on many marketplaces. Don’t sell your products on Amazon only. There are many other marketplaces where you can make sales, and they usually have less competition than Amazon.

These are all simple tricks I use to boost my print-on-demand business. Actually, they’re not tricks. They’re just methods I use to list products consistently and more effectively.

Good luck with your print-on-demand business!

—Bank K.

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