In 2014, I was making $85,000 a year as a full-time web developer. Although I was earning enough to cover my living expenses, I felt like I was putting too much of my time into work.
I knew there were opportunities to earn passive income in e-commerce. So in 2016, after experimenting with “dropshipping” (a business model where sellers don’t have to stock products), I came across a Reddit post that inspired me to start a print-on-demand crowd.
Print-on-demand allows me to sell T-shirts while outsourcing the printing, packaging and shipping to a third-party supplier. By 2020, I was making enough money to quit my job and focus full-time on my side business.
Today, at age 33, I earn an average of $14,600 per month in passive income from my print-on-demand business. The best part is that I only work on it for an hour a day.
How I started without a design background
My first T-shirt design was a badly drawn Loch Ness monster. I started with Adobe Photoshop, but found it too difficult to navigate without any formal training.
Now I use All Sunsets, Creative Fabrica and Vexels to create my designs. These sites are great for print-on-demand sellers who don’t have much experience with graphic design because you can download artwork for commercial use instead of creating them yourself.
Membership prices for All Sunsets start at $59 per year, Creative Fabrica at $4 per month and Vexels at $22 per month.
When coming up with designs, I research which keywords are popular with customers using the DS Amazon Quick View and PrettyMerch Chrome extensions. Sometimes I make shirts inspired by pop culture moments and upcoming events.
How I earn passive income with print-on-demand
About 50% of my passive revenue comes from Amazon Merch on Demand, where I sell most of the items. I like this platform because you don’t have to pay money upfront for inventory.
The process is simple:
- Create a T-shirt design and save it as a PNG file (a high-quality graphics file format).
- Upload your artwork to Amazon Merch on Demand.
- Choose the product type and add a description.
- Amazon then creates a 3D representation of what the shirt would look like in real life.
- Amazon creates a product listing on Amazon.com, making the design available for purchase.
- Every time a customer makes a purchase, Amazon takes care of manufacturing, shipping, and customer service.
Amazon Merch sellers earn a royalty fee of between 13% and 37%, depending on the product type and listing price. Amazon has predetermined offer prices that sellers can choose from.
My best-selling product is a standard T-shirt. I charge $19.99 per shirt and make a 26% royalty fee per sale, which equates to $5.23 in profit. Amazon keeps the rest.
In addition to T-shirts, I sell my designs on hoodies, sweatshirts, mugs, hats and other accessories such as stickers and phone cases. I always list my products to make a minimum of $5 profit per sale, but I sell larger items like sweatshirt with a $10 profit.
Another platform I use is Printful, which is similar to Amazon Merch on Demand and is an inexpensive way to get my products in front of more people. It prints, packages, and ships designs that I list on eBay and Etsy. It costs $0 to post a design on eBay and $0.20 to post a design on Etsy.
With a little creativity and a lot of drive you can go far
During the hours I work, I mainly create new designs, inventory products and learning tools that allow me to further automate my business.
I also started a YouTube channel and created online courses to share my knowledge. I want people to know that they don’t need a degree in graphic design to succeed in the print-on-demand business. They just need a little creativity and a lot of drive.
Ryan Hogue is a former web developer and adjunct professor who quit both jobs to run his ecommerce business. To be Youtube Channel teaches people how to earn passive income using “Ryan’s Method”.
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