Moteefe Weekly Live Stream​ – Not making POD sales? It’s the design

Apr 14, 2021 | Blog, English, Features, Products, Products & Features, Tips

Niche marketing weekly live stream: header image with a microphone illustration

Running a Print on Demand business can be super profitable—as long as you hit on a good design. If you have been running ads for weeks and nobody has purchased a product, then it’s time to face the truth: you have a bad design. 

In this week’s live stream, Print on Demand experts Thomas Gentleman and Aidan Kessell give viewers valuable insight into what steps you can take to find and create a winning design that will bring in thousands in profits!

Check out the timestamps below to see what you need to know about fixing your bad design:


  • 02:45 – What makes a good POD design?
  • 07:35 – Using contrast
  • 09:45 – Less is more 
  • 13:47 – Create high quality wearable designs
  • 16:23 – Create designs in the style of your niche
  • 21:11 – Test your designs

Not making POD sales? It’s the design: the key takeaways

Don’t have 30 minutes to spare?  Here’s a summary of the main points:

What makes a good POD design?

Keep it text-based.  Make sure that there are words in the design that resonates with the buyer. 

Three steps to follow:

  1. Choose a legible and easy-to-read font (sans serif works best). 
  2. Fill in your area with your text-based design.  
  3. When it’s ready to be advertised, zoom into the design so that potential customers can see it clearly. 

Bonus tip: Don’t forget to review your spelling and grammar!

Contrast is key

If you have a dark design, it needs to be put on lighter colored products.  If you have a light colored design, it needs to be sold on dark colored products.  Your design needs to be able to be seen on the product so it is important to have high contrast so that the colors don’t clash.

Less is more

Don’t overcomplicate things with detailed and eccentric colors and designs.  A straightforward and relatable text-based design is all that you need to sell POD products to a buying audience.

Keep it high quality

Be sure your design is in high resolution.  Make sure the edges are clean and that there aren’t any visible or obvious signs of editing (jagged edges, white background, cropped in images)

Create designs in the style of your niche

Understand your audience and the types of images and styles they prefer.  If you are creating POD designs for bikers, traditional 1950’s tattoo styles may be preferred over cute and silly cartoons. 

Always be testing out designs

Your first five designs may not be hits.  You should be running engagement ads to test out your designs and variations of them.  The more you test, the more you learn.  And the better understanding you have of your target market, the more adjustments you make to tailor to their tastes.

If you are still aiming to increase your POD knowledge, use our free resources to help you increase sales in your POD business:

A free 13-video Teachable course taught by POD expert Thomas Gentleman.  The course takes you through creating original POD designs, advertising your product and using Facebook Ads.

Join our community Facebook group and connect with active sellers who are keen to share their experiences and knowledge on all things POD.

Moteefe’s YouTube channel features live streams every Thursday with POD experts Thomas Gentleman and Aidan Kessell.

A downloadable PDF containing common phrases in multiple languages for marketing purposes.

You can watch the full live stream on YouTube or read the transcription below.  Want to be notified next time we go live?  Don’t forget to tune in every Thursday for weekly live streams with Thomas and Aidan where they discuss all things Print on Demand!

Not making POD sales? It’s the design: full transcript

A: Good afternoon everyone and welcome to this week’s episode where me and Thomas are going to talk about, not making the early sales, it’s the design. Where we’re pretty much going to drill into why your designs could be doing better or should be different. Thomas, thanks for joining me as always. How are you? 

T: Aidan, I’m fine. Thank you very much. Hello everybody out there and yes the… what’s the big idea behind this. It’s we get so many people, I suddenly get so many people messaging me saying, “Ah, Facebook ads… are the other… if only this, if only there was that, if we had this, if we had that, maybe if I turn it sideways.”

 No, it’s not about that. Yes, of course having correct ads set up does help sales, but you can just with her simple post engagement ad, $10 a day without any optimisation for purchase whatsoever. You’ll get sales of the designs good enough, now not everything also like that, but you can get sounds like that. It might not be super profitable it might only break-even, but sales nonetheless. 

 It’s the design so the number one, probably over 90% of the reason of why you’re not getting sales is because it’s the design. Yes, the targeting does help. So, if you’re trying to sell hunting t-shirts to vegans probably it’s not just the design as long as you’re not doing anything completely off the wall like that and you will get comments you will get comments if you do that as long as you’re not doing anything completely off the wall like that, any target within that niche it has the possibility to generate sales. 

 It’s the design. So, what do I mean by “it’s the design”? What are the elements Aidan of a great POD design? What’s the worst thing that you can do? Well, there’s two things I suppose here. It’s the design, but it’s also how you show the design. So you could have the best design in the world, but if you’ve got you’ve got a nice big square image to put that design on for your advert and you put a crowd of people with the designs in the background they can’t read it that that that also can have an effect so what would you say is that it is a makes a bad design. What’s a bad one?

What makes a good POD design?


A: A bad POD design is just… I mean if you have something targeting a certain age but it’s in maybe a younger style that could be a very bad way of doing it.

T:  It could be, it could be. But the breakdown here of what makes a good design is that most designs are text-based that means that they have words on them. So if you had an image of say a cartoon farmyard animal say or a funny funny image of a really beautiful image without a design to link it, without some text link it into the niche, it’s probably not going to sell which means the text that makes the difference indeed. Some of the best-selling designs are almost all text. They could have a little bit of something else. 

But basically they’re text so if the words make the difference, mute your phone Aidan, so if the words make a difference then you’ve got a make, you’ve got to use a font which is the style of letter the letters pretty much the typeface that people can read if you’re using like a calligraphy, like a handwriting font, that may look super beautiful, but if you can’t read it. If the a’s look like e’s and the e’s look like a’s and the j’s look like f’s and the i’s aren’t clear.  If it just looks pretty then nobody’s going to be able to correctly read it so the best fonts to use are normally sans serif fonts that’s without that. There’s little cornery bits or very small, if they have got seif and only only a little bit of it you want to get them quite bold. That doesn’t mean just use a bold font that means that they got they’ve got it is the letter sizes important that the amount of printed you’re putting on the shirt you want to make the letters bigger enough the words big enough, so the people can read it you want to fill the whole of the shirt or the whole of the products where you can read it.  

It’s no good just having some little message across the middle in tiny letters. Nobody’s going to see that so you want to fill the canvas of the area that you’ve got whether it’s a T-shirt that you’re selling. Or a cushion or whatever you’re selling you want to fill that area with the message and you want to make it super easy for people to read so when they’re scrolling through Facebook or whether they’re looking on the Internet, it grabs their eyes.  They can easily read it,  easily connect with it and then they find themselves moving through and buying it. So number one make the text big. Number two -you choose well choose a good font that’s readable, an easy-to-read font. Number two is make the text big, fill the area. Number 3 is on the ad image – make sure that you zoom in. Facebook now got rid of the 20% text rule which meant that you could only have 20% of the of the of the of the advert area with text in fact you could always show text on a product you just had to show the whole product so you can just show the top the shoulders and the top down to where the text ends in the ad with the nice background.

 So if you’re doing a fishing t-shirt, you zoom in wright  in so you can read the text on the shirt and in the background of a picture of lake or someone fishing or something like that make sure that you’ve got the rights to use any image that you run in and head, so that’s that’s that’s key that’s absolutely.

 A: I’m going to add one point to you list. Grammar. I’ve had a lot of people say why the hell is this design not selling someone grammar mistake. Where’s if it was correct it probably would have sold and it’s all that they needed to do was just a check or spell check whatever just make sure it’s right and this is such a small school boy error.   But I think it’s overlooked and that could be the difference between a winner and a loser right? 

 T: So yes, make sure that the text that you’re using is correctly spelt and uses correct punctuation where it needs to be used if you’re using a contraction like “can’t” or something make sure that your you’ve got you’ve got that exactly right so we have a translation service if you need help and we don’t mind validating a design but we do see quite a few designs that don’t that have incorrect English is not just the the grammar, but the the phrasing the wording it. It’s close and obviously it is difficult to produce some piece of text in another language. That’s what we’re here for, we can help you with that. 

Using contrast


Now the other thing is contrast so if you’ve got a white cushion you’re selling a white cushion, don’t use a cream font because it won’t stand out. If you’re selling a cushion then use a very dark colour so almost black or dark dark blue, something where it’s going to stand out. Yes, you can highlight the design with maybe some hearts or some other things that would be red but you want high contrast so most POD products sold are darker colours as the product, black, navy blue, and then the text on top of them black works with almost all bright colours and also with white which is really stands out and looks good. 

So if you’re new to this, I would say the easiest way, is it OK white cushions are good so white cushions with black text or dark dark blue text might as well be black no reason to use dark blue unless it’s super important to the design and then dark products with bright colours, so white is obviously as bright as a get it doesn’t get brighter than that but if you want to make a little bit more of the design then you’ve got some bright oranges things like that you could just look for bright colours high contrast and if you use two colours in design make sure that they complement each other so you don’t want colours that clash or look odd together. 

You can search on the internet for a colour wheel and it will give you… You input the one colour that you want to use and it will give you complementary colours that will look good scientifically proven if you will to work in parallel with that original colour and you don’t have to overdo it. Don’t use 15 different fonts in a design. Don’t use 15 different colours in the design. Unless it makes sense for the design. There are some niches where you might want to have each letter in the different. It’s a rainbow thing that you want to get out there, but in general as with all design— less is more. 

Less is more


Less is more. With these tips simple text designs you can use tools like Inkscape for a free vector image thing program that you can design yourself. If you’re just using text you should be able to although even some professionals sometimes struggle with the little bit more complicated but basically for a simple design with the default settings you should be able to get a simple text day out that works. So don’t over complicate it. 

Keep it simple. Use high contrast, make the text big, and use a readable font. If you were doing all of those things all of the time you would be ahead of 80% of the people that are running at the running POV campaigns. Honestly, we see tiny tiny stuff. We see stuff that no contrast agent can’t sleep at night. You know you got to give him a break is looking at this stuff. 

A: I can give you a number of examples, but it really is 90% the time when I have a new seller, even an experienced designer, “Aidan, this is just one design I know it’s good. Why won’t it sell?” It always comes down to two things. One, the design was never strong in the first place or two, the ad that they put it on is just weak. And it’s like they’ve got a family of three and the t-shirts on one of them and they’re in the distance and then the design isn’t filling the whole shirt.

T: Someone’s holding a beer mug in the front of if.

A: You think, these are on Facebook and like when I’m on Facebook for 1000 miles per hour, it’s got to be cleared within 0.3 seconds and it’s not I’m not going to stop and not going to click.

T: Yeah, no point 3 seconds is a long time. 

A: I’m quite slow.

T: Yeah ok, so that’s that that’s the basics. That’s the basic. That’s the basic idea behind what’s the difference between something that’s good and something that bad the idea the concept is important. So it has you’ll have to come up with a good idea, but if you follow those principles you’re going to be ahead of 80%of people that are trying to be successful, and it’s yes as the structure of the ad the way that you’re running the ad the pics of the tiny little bit the page that you’re on it does have a small effect but believe me 90%, 95% of the reason that you’re not getting sales is going to be a combination of the design and the advert rather than the ads. 

And so many people message me whatever ad they’re doing it doesn’t work, this doesn’t convert, I’m not getting sales, oh POD doesn’t work. It is how is anyone getting this? I keep testing. But they just test the same thing basically with different words and the other thing is look at the design. Look at the design that you’re putting out there if you couldn’t give that design away in the street, then who’s going to buy it?  I see things that you wouldn’t you wouldn’t if you were giving them. If anyone was giving them. They wouldn’t walk around wearing them. There’s nothing there that like anybody wants to wear it so you’ve got to think not only does it resonate with the audience, but is it something that people would actually be prepared to put on and walk out in public let alone pay money for comes later. Let’s get down to the fundamentals. Could you save your running into the fishing niche if you went and gave that shirt fisherman. Would they even take it off you or would they look at you funny and say what are you doing? 

Really put yourself in the shoes of the people and take a look around. Look at what types of shirts are selling. You can see on Amazon best sellers the kind of things that people are buying what a wearable design would like and and and and put yourself in their shoes. So if your artwork is just cut out randomly with a big whiteboard around it all jagged and low-resolution when it prints, guess what? It’s going to look terrible. 

It’s low resolution artwork so that’s the next part is the artwork if you’re using artwork make sure it’s of a high enough resolution and that doesn’t mean just dropping low resolution artwork into Photoshop and making the artwork bigger so that is stretched out that means starting with high resolution artwork and as if you’re using text then make the artwork big enough if you’re in it will will will be fine, but don’t start stretching images if you are using images make sure that you got the rights to use them and don’t use tiny stuff. 

If an image is on a white background and you’re not going to be able to get rid of all of that white background good enough for it to print out just putting it out there and the images huge and you’re good with Photoshop and you know what your then you might be able to but for the majority of people you’re not going to be able to do that and you probably don’t have the rights to use that image in the first place anyway, so just don’t do it people put images on, is it actually adding to it or are you just putting an image on there? Because you think it’s it’s a puppy t-shirt therefore I must put a puppy on there and then you put a photo on that. If you’re going to what about a paw print? You could easily draw a paw print. What about something else? A bowl, a bone, whatever something dog-esque, doggy.

A: The best example of this is someone that basically just did a black with white text t-shirt four words and it was an inside joke within that niche nothing else and it was talking it was like funny, super super generic, and it sold. 

They didn’t need to add a picture. They didn’t need to add anything more. That phrase and itself did selling for it and honestly I think if that particular seller added anything more to it would have done a lot less.That was a very very good design. It was literally 4 words. I’m not going to go into detail, but it just goes to show that if you follow just the basic principles right it will work.

Create designs in the style of your niche


T:  If you do add an image make sure it’s of sufficient quality and make sure it is actually adding something to the design and if it’s if it’s a if it’s like your bike that you’re selling well if you’ve got a picture of a duck on a bike in the dark looks like it’s come out of some Disney movie, is a biker really going to be walking around wearing that maybe some of them, are there’s a lot of people out there, but are they more likely to buy something with I don’t know a heart with a dagger through it like a tattoo style kind of thing. Art work in the style of a biker tattoo, you know that sort of 1950s.  You can look up like biker tattoo styles, that would be the kind of an image. 

Again, don’t put a photo of something on there. If you don’t own the rights to the photo be always careful with any biking stuff because of the manufacturer you don’t want to infringe anything but there are so many things that are related to bike and helmet, or no helmet, a bandana, whatever that was always a good one. Basically, make sure that the image, everything that you put on there should be adding to the design. 

So that’s it if you were selling a carp fishing t-shirt, then there’s no point having a heart on it because that’s not what you’re talking about you know this is just you’ve got a add things not for the sake of our there’s a bit of space over there, so I whack something it. No, that’s not the way to do it at all.

A:  Any questions guys? Feel free to pop them in the chat. I will get around to them.  I just wanted to say, my process for when sellers reach out to me and say, “Aidan, I’ve been trying this for a week or two weeks now…” They ask me about Facebook ads and see if something is wrong with their set up and they find it weird that the first question I ask is, “Can you show me the design?” because that is the first step, that is literally the foundation. 

That’s why I was asked that question first because the design is weak; it doesn’t matter what you do with the ads. So if someone asks why that is the first question I go to? That’s why because I know if it is the answer it is design and then it all stems from that. 

You wouldn’t build a house on sand. You wouldn’t build an ad targeting or or best-selling campaign on a poor design or poor concept of a design.

T: Yep, it’s all about the design.  You have to focus on the design if it’s not selling, change designs. I don’t care if you spent 6-weeks designing it and that you think it’s the greatest thing in the world if you put it out there and you spend money on it and nobody’s clicking on the link you’re getting one link for $16 then it’s either the design or the ad and if you’ve zoomed in as I suggested so that people can actually read it then it’s the design they don’t want it. Yes, you could try and change the targeting once but if you’re in a niche for a while. You should know who are the buyers are what a good target is to test within that niche so even if it was, even if it was like a beer drinking t-shirt, always be careful with Facebook ads and beer for instance countries like Norway you can’t run anything without alcohol as lots of other countries to always check the policies but even beer which is going to be a huge huge niche with millions of people you might not get any sales straight away, but if it’s a good beer related design or drinking related design. 

You will get link clinks.  You might not get sales, but you will get them if you spend $10 in the beer niche, you’re targeting the United States 25 to 54 on a, with a design you spent $10 and you’ve only got you haven’t got any link clicks, it’s the design or the add. If you’ve got the ad right it’s the design and even if you’ve got one or two clicks there or click above two dollars. It’s probably going to be the design that’s the problem. Not the ad. Not the targeting. Not Facebook. Not the landing page. Not the Checkout page. Not paypal. Not everybody else is crazy. It’s the design and that’s why it’s super important to have a lot of stuff to test you. You got to have 10 backup designs minimum all of the time to keep testing. These are simple text-based designs the majority of them are not Michelangelo’s high art stuff.

This isn’t the Mona Lisa. This isn’t some Turner masterpiece or some impressionist thing. This is 4 to 5 words on the shirt white text on black background or black product. Maybe you can have some personalisation in there that might help. Certainly if you got personalisation in there and no one’s clicking then you got a bad design. 

Always test designs


It’s that you know you should be able to be churning these out especially if you’re working with a designer we covered in one of our previous shows how you can come up with thousands of different ideas and you should just be testing testing testing testing testing until you hit that big winner. And then it will stand up to yourself and then you will know that is the design I know people that first started in POD, they didn’t they were losing money on the first 50. No sales. But they knew the other people were getting sales, so they did some research. They join the course. I’ve got a free Facebook ads course you can join that, completely free. But they kept going and I think it was on the 60th or 70th sale it suddenly took off at the 60th or 70th test. It’s suddenly taken off for them because that’s an extreme example, but still that will give you an idea of the persistence and what you need to be successful. 

A: Whenever I test something personally, I’ve shown my partner because you get wrapped up and turn yourself or all the niche it’s really good to have that outside perspective. There are certain times where I thought, “This is going to be the next best… This is the one.” I showed it to my girlfriend and, “Would you buy this? It’s for this niche.” And she just laughed at me and said, “What are you thinking?” So it is good to get a second opinion and to put yourself in their shoes and say if I really loved fishing, Jiu-Jitsu, basketball—Would I buy this? Is this cool? If the answer is, “no.” Make it cool or something different.

T:  Indeed. People actually have to give you money for it. It’s not just about coming up with a design within that niche that’s got an image on it. You’ve actually got to have somebody out there that’s passionate enough, that likes it enough to to press the button. But if you get one person that’s passionate enough to do that and you reach them quickly then the likelihood is there’s not a lot more so that’s why the persistence comes in. Ok, let’s wrap this up the design. 

We have, we can help reach out to Aiden and Ana and Flor, our customer success manager available over the weekend of course. 

A: Just to put it out there, in the description if you’re on YouTube there’s a link to our Facebook group where you can find me.  If you are not sure about a design, send me a picture and I’ll give you an honest opinion, feedback on it and tell you if it’s a good idea, if it’s a bad idea, and everything in-between. 

T: Aidan’s here to make you successful, and you know people are sometimes a bit funny about sharing their designs. 

But if you spend money on your design and you are about to turn it off anyway, then it doesn’t matter you will post it on your news feed, post it in the group and say what’s the matter with it? You’ll learn more from that nobody is going to design. It’s no good. It didn’t make any sales. If you post the design…one of mine if you join our Facebook Group there’s a design in there that sold a good amount, a good amount and you can get the design files for that. I’m giving it away. I’m giving it away. That’s a different thing then obviously people are going to try and run that, but so what you just come up with another idea. Come up with 50 ideas if they know some people just whatever you put on the Internet people will be using and moving around and making their own versions of so don’t worry Aidan’s not going to steal anything. Trying to impress Aidan is not so easy.

 A: I’ve seen some great ones but exactly, what Tom said, and don’t worry I’ve seen them all and not only that it’s literally my day job to make sure that you sell.

 T: He’s like a doctor. You don’t have to be shy with your designs with Aidan. He’s Dr. POD. 

 A: Dr. POD

 T: And on that bombshell. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and dare I say comrades, we will be back next week with another exciting show for you live on Facebook YouTube and everywhere else that we can possibly stream to. 

 A: Thank you guys. Have a great weekend!

 T: Indeed. Happy Easter.

P.S. Don’t forget to tune in every Thursday for weekly live streams with Thomas and Aidan where they discuss all things Print on Demand!


Happy selling! Team Moteefe