Rachel Rofe says a lot of students come into her Low-Hanging Ecom course thinking they lack the creativity and skills to come up with different design ideas to put on their print on demand products. But the truth is, as long as you go into the right niches, keep it simple, and follow winning formulas (like slightly rewording a coffee mug phrase that’s already selling well), you’ll be just fine. That said, she does offer some design tips outside of her tried and true methods, just so you have an edge on Etsy and Amazon.
These ideas are all super easy, a ton of fun, and you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home to do them. The first thing Rachel goes over is greeting cards, an awesome way to get inspiration. “They are full of just brilliant design ideas,” she says. “They can pertain to kind of every occasion under the sun, and come with all kinds of great images and messages, ranging from super super funny to really poignant. And you don’t have to go to places like CVS, Walgreens, or the grocery store to browse them.”
Just go to the main greeting card company websites: Hallmark, Papersource, American Greetings, Blue Mountain, Greeting Card Universe, 123 Greetings, etc. Once you get there, do a search for special occasions, events, or holidays. You’d be surprised how you can take a Christmas card and tweak it for a t-shirt slogan that makes sense year round. “Now of course you never wanna directly copy anyone’s image,” Rachel says. “I never recommend doing that. You just kind of want to look at these as a source of inspiration that you could work from.”
Also, Instagram is another great source for design ideas. There’s pictures galore, but also videos, memes, all sorts of stuff that gets floated around on The Gram. Look for accounts that post a lot of text-based content, as that’s what Rachel recommends most of your POD designs be. (They’re fast to make, free, and have mass appeal). Remember, you can do searches for popular hashtags, such as #CoffeeMugs, #FunnyMemes, #FunnyQuotes, and so on and so forth.
The next thing you can do is look for trending headlines in the news. “So if you pay attention to the news, you can find a lot of inspiration for your designs,” Rachel says. “There’s always something interesting going on in the world. And especially in like politics and entertainment, and they often overlap. You don’t have to stick to traditional news sources either. You can branch out to other sources like Good News Network or Sunny Skyz or Facebook headlines. Or you can just do a search for positive news, which I tend to find more inspiration from.”
Also, why not swing back to old designs you’ve already made? “Take a look through your old design files and see if anything kind of sparks your imagination,” Rachel says. “You might be able to kind of riff off of a design that you made in the past to create something fresh. Or you could make a tweak or two to an old design to go into a new niche. For example, say you have a design like ‘Pit bulls are my favorite. They make the best pets.’ You could do ‘Guitar players are my favorite. They make the best boyfriends.’”
You can also just ask your family. See if they can come up with any great ideas. Ask them what they’d buy for someone, or what they’d most like to receive. What else? Browse Quora and Reddit. Play word association games to get the creative juices flowing. Think about your favorite music lyrics. Or inside jokes you have with your friends. Or quotes from people you admire. As long as you’re paying attention, there are design ideas everywhere. Books, ads, Netflix. Literally, everywhere.