How I've Sold 500,000+ T-Shirts Using Print On Demand

July 2, 2024

Selling over 500,000 t-shirts and generating more than $25 million in sales over the past seven years has been an incredible journey. Here, I’ll share the five biggest mistakes I made along the way. Whether you're selling your first shirt or your thousandth, avoiding these pitfalls will save you time and money.

Mistake #5: Not Choosing a Niche

When I started, I didn’t understand the importance of a niche. I launched a store with random products, thinking that appealing to everyone would maximize my potential customer base. However, this approach diluted my brand and failed to attract loyal customers. The realization hit hard after months of low conversion rates and unprofitable ads. Focusing on a specific niche, like we did with our successful yoga apparel brand Yoga Stay, helped us connect deeply with our target audience and significantly improved our results.

Mistake #4: Insufficient Product Volume

After narrowing down to a niche, we thought launching 20-30 designs was sufficient. In hindsight, this was a big mistake. Volume is crucial in print-on-demand. Launching 200-300 designs would have given us more chances to attract buyers and helped us improve our design skills. A larger catalog is essential because even with the best marketing, if your product selection is limited, your growth will be stunted. Increasing our product volume made a noticeable difference in our success.

Mistake #3: Choosing the Wrong Print Partner

Choosing the right print partner is vital for quality, speed, and cost-effectiveness. We learned this the hard way after experiencing significant supply chain issues. Among the major players—Printify, Printful, and Gelato—we found Printify to be the best for our needs. They offered the best combination of quality, speed, and price. A reliable print partner ensures that your orders are fulfilled on time and accurately, which is critical for maintaining customer satisfaction and momentum.

Mistake #2: Not Tracking Financials

For a long time, we neglected to track our financials accurately. This oversight led to rising costs and overhead that went unnoticed for weeks. Running profit and loss statements alongside balance sheets could have alerted us to these issues much earlier. Regular financial tracking helps you catch and address cost discrepancies before they become significant problems. It’s akin to doing taxes: manageable if handled regularly, overwhelming if left until the last minute.

Mistake #1: Neglecting Google and Email Ads

Our biggest mistake was not leveraging Google and email ads. These tools are like having a wheelbarrow to scoop up money from a table. Google ads and email retargeting are incredibly effective, especially when you’re already driving traffic to your site. Retargeting allows you to follow up with interested customers who didn’t make a purchase on their first visit. Properly set up email flows and low-budget Google search ads can consistently generate revenue with minimal ongoing effort.

These five mistakes taught us valuable lessons on our journey to selling 500,000 t-shirts. By focusing on a niche, increasing product volume, choosing the right print partner, tracking financials, and utilizing Google and email ads, you can avoid these pitfalls and accelerate your success in the print-on-demand business.

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