Rachel Rofe has a proven system for coming up with product designs that will sell. She always keeps an Idea File handy. This could be a small notebook and pen you carry around or even just a TextEdit doc you have minimized on your Mac. Something to capture inspiration when it strikes. She tends to start by looking for word-based designs. They’re faster, easier, and cheaper (or even free) to come up with. Step one is to head on over to Google Images. Do a search for your niche.
Say your dropship on demand product is a coffee mug. You could search “funny coffee mugs for dad.” See what comes up. Add anything you like to your Idea File. Do some more searches. Jot down some more ideas. Repeat as much as you’d like. It only takes a few seconds and doesn’t cost you a dime. When you feel like you’ve exhausted Google Images, you can also try a couple of Pinterest-based tools. Pinsearcher and PinterestSort.
Both of them are Google Chrome extensions. Install whichever you like best, slide over to Pinterest, search for a keyword phrase in your niche again, and consult the plugin. It’ll tell you which images have the most pins. You can bet those are products that are selling well, since a lot of moms, for example, will pin stuff they plan on buying later. Modeling those designs, therefore, might not be a bad idea.
You can also just search right within Pinterest and use their built-in option to sort by number of repins. For example, Rachel did a search for “funny knitting shirt.” Of the top repinned pics that came up, there was a tank top that said “Knitting takes balls” (of yarn, that is) that was cute. You could slap that on a mug and probably do pretty well. Yes, it really is that simple to come up with winning concepts.
You can do a bit more manual research by going on Amazon, Etsy, Walmart, any retail site, for that matter, and search for top sellers in your niche. Look for products with word-based designs that have hundreds or even thousands of reviews. Let the data tell you exactly what people are responding favorably to. There are paid tools that aggregate all of this info, speed up the process, and make it look extra pretty.
Whatever your preference, you should be able to create a substantial list of viable ideas in a relatively short amount of time. Now, the ethical thing to do would be to come up with your own slight variations. Don’t just copy other people’s words verbatim. Good news is, it’s not hard at all. Don’t overthink it. Just look up some synonyms, change a word here and there, and you’ll be fine. No need to second-guess.
Keep your eyes open for sayings that could work well in other niches too. Rachel was once searching for witty lines for teachers and came across a T-shirt that had: “‘I do this for the money,’ said no teacher ever.” Clever, right? So she applied it to firefighters: “‘I do this for the money,’ said no firefighter ever.” Talk about an easy way to scale up your print on demand business.