Plus A Step-By-Step Guide To Making Your First Sale.

In the midst of a life-altering pandemic, Heather had to face a difficult challenge. While working in the medical profession as a Radiologist, her hours were suddenly cut back. Looking for something to make her bread and butter, she turned to print-on-demand with Printify. $200,000 later, and after quitting her day job, she’s coaching you on how to do it for free!

Getting a successful print-on-demand business off the ground isn’t easy. But Heather managed to start and run several hugely successful stores across Etsy and Shopify by catering to several popular niches. Now, she teaches other print-on-demand entrepreneurs to start and scale their businesses using her tried and true methods.

In this article:

…and much more!

The Pandemic Hits And Pushes Me To Print On Demand.

My road to print on demand wasn’t a straightforward one. I started my career working in the medical industry. After studying for five years, I was certain I’d found my path in life. I have two degrees in Radiology. The medical industry is a great place to be, and I honestly thought I’d have a safe, secure, and fulfilling job for the rest of my life. But then the pandemic hit.

As it did for many, COVID-19 put several hurdles before me. The hospital I worked at decided to cut hours. Most routine operations weren’t happening, so there was no need for orthopedic staff. Instead, much-needed time and money were going to the staff required to help face the pandemic.

Although this was understandable, it put me in a tricky situation. I had just bought my first house, and I found myself working minimal hours with big bills to pay. Because I was certain things would soon return to normal, I decided to search for a side hustle that would see me through the difficult period.

POD And The Magical World Of No Inventory!

It just so happened that I came across a few YouTube videos talking about Print On Demand. If I’m honest, it took me back to a childhood dream I had. I always thought designing T-shirts would be really cool. I’d draw up T-shirt designs in my free time, and these memories all came flooding back. But, my initial thought was regarding inventory. I thought running a textiles or fashion business meant spending cash on buying products before ever knowing if people would buy. Although a fun idea, it didn’t seem like a viable route for me at the time.

It wasn’t long until I learned one magical thing about print-on-demand – something that changed everything for me – you don’t need inventory! Fast forward a little, and I decided to give this print-on-demand business a whirl.

Why I Choose Print-On-Demand Over Other Side Hustles.

I have always loved design. I’ve mentioned my infatuation with design as a child, but I truly think it all stemmed from there. Art and design have always been a part of my life. Before I graduated high school and took the medical route, I earned scholarships to do art. I even went as far as applying to a college in Indiana for illustration and graphic design.

I decided to take the medical route because my father had a serious heart condition when I was in high school. I’d be in and out of the hospital visiting him, and that inspired me to change the pathway I was on. I loved the medical field, but I was always torn between the two. So, when I saw print-on-demand, it gave me the itch to return to what I’d loved before. At the time, I thought it would be a great hobby. I could design and create to help me unwind after a day at the hospital, you know? But print on demand allowed me to monetize and create a side hustle out of something I love doing.

In The Beginning, There Was Strife.

I started with a competitor company, designing and selling neck gaiters. But, it wasn’t long until the pandemic caught up with me in this venture too. Print-on-demand services were struggling due to a backup in production. I decided it wasn’t meant to be and went back to the hospital.

Things were picking up the pace back at the hospital. All the scans, treatments, and surgeries that were on hold because of the pandemic resumed. I was working double my old hours. We were severely short-staffed and I was unhappy. Of course, at first, I wasn’t sure where this sadness stemmed from. My job was back to normal, more hours meant more money, so I didn’t have to worry about bills. But I felt so low. I’d had a taste of the print-on-demand lifestyle, and I craved more. I wanted to try my failed pursuit once again.

Starting All Over Again.

From Zero Sales In Jan To $250,000 By Dec: How I Quit My Medical Job For POD 2

In January 2021, I decided to jump back in and give everything I had to print on demand. I moved away from neck gaiter because these weren’t widely accepted in the States as masks. Following my long-lost childhood dream, I decided to make T-shirts. To be honest it wasn’t smooth sailing at first. There was a six-week period where I had zero sales, which wasn’t ideal. Determined, this time I kept pushing. I got through the six weeks, and sales began coming in.

I knew I had to appeal to more people. I began creating T-shirts that would resonate with different niches. I actually remember my first sale. It was 5:00 AM, and my phone buzzed. And I was like, “uh, what’s that noise?” It was Etsy saying I’d got a sale! That 5 AM sale got me super motivated. It was so inspiring to see someone buying my design. My own product, you know? So, I started posting more.

By the end of spring, I had over 200 listings on Etsy. And I was selling all kinds of products from the Printify catalog. My struggles at the beginning opened my eyes to what I was doing wrong. I now knew that if I tried different niches and products, I’ll know which ones sell the best and direct my business in the future.

Why I Chose To Partner With Printify.

I’d been using a different print-on-demand service for my neck gaiters but had a bad experience with them. When searching for a new print-on-demand company, I came across Printify.

One of the biggest perks for me is your low pricing. I’m able to sell competitive products, such as t-shirts and sweatshirts on Etsy, and still make a profit. The print-on-demand company I had worked with had higher price points resulting in smaller profit margins for my business.

Another reason I enjoy working with Printify so much is that you work with a range of suppliers. If something goes out of stock, you always have several different providers who can cater to my needs.

“The company’s popularity, cheaper pricing, competitive product range, and great customer service made me choose Printify. You take care of your merchants, and I value that”. – HeatherxStudio

Expanding My Business Helped To Promote Sales.

I went from zero sales in January 2021 to making $250,000 in revenue by December. Expanding the business and maintaining the flow of products was hard work. But, I know now that this time, effort, and energy paid off in the long run. Plus, now I get to do this full time which is something I never imagined while in the medical profession. It’s pretty cool.

How Catering To More Niches Helped Grow My Business.

From Zero Sales In Jan To $250,000 By Dec: How I Quit My Medical Job For POD 3

I started with one niche and in hindsight, I was pretty vague about it. After much deliberation, I decided to expand to more niches. I started in the positivity niche before moving on to the workout niche. From that, I went into career-orientated niches, and then the mom niche. Although having such a broad product range was a lot of work, it meant I had items in every niche. And as you know, Etsy is an organic traffic machine; the more traffic you bring to the site, the better it is. It wasn’t long before I had a bestselling product in every popular niche and my traffic was incredible.

I still work in many niches, and there are a few reasons I’ve decided to keep this store structure. Diversifying has made my store successful. Different niches peak at different times of the year, and some categories are seasonal. I’ve noticed April and May are ideal for career-oriented products, but these items are less popular in June and July. Having so many products tailored to different people, occasions and seasons, means I’ve developed an advanced understanding of Etsy and its consumer base.

What To Expect When You're Expecting Huge Sales.

I had a backend problem right at the beginning. When I was selling the neck gaiters, I was using a credit card that had an excess of only $300. My sales were coming in so quickly that I was hitting my card limit. I had to increase my credit line several times to stay ahead of orders. As a beginner, this was tough. It was something I was unaware would happen. I had to navigate this development alongside an influx of sales.

I also struggled with product issues. Just like in any retail role, you’ll have defects and human errors. I’d receive emails from people who had sent the wrong address after shipping. In some respects, I was lucky because I had three years of experience in customer service. But, this was still something new I had to learn as part of my own business.

Guide To Making The First Sale For Beginners

Step 1: Avoid burn-out by scheduled publishing

The beginning can be tough. You require a lot of products to get seen and be successful. In the beginning, I added three to five listings a day on Etsy. And this is a strategy I recommend for my Etsy course students. Designing and ordering these items is time-consuming and can be stressful at times. So, by doing a bit at a time, you’re reducing the risk of overworking yourself.

Step 2: Make publishing only a few listings a daily habit

You need to be consistent to get results. Plus, the more items you create, the better a designer you’ll become. Give yourself time to do better market research, to create and advance your skillset. There’s no point in having hundreds of products if you don’t know how to set up your store and complete listings. I also teach these elements in my course. I help people streamline the learning experience and develop a profitable store without the hurdles I faced.

Bonus: All you need to know about the Etsy customer

Etsy is a very visual platform. Shoppers value aesthetic products. I’d describe Etsy in contrast to Amazon. On Amazon, visuals are clean, clear, and basic. But on Etsy, people value things that look good. For example, boohoo-themed mock-ups do very well on Etsy. On Amazon, it wouldn’t garner the same interest. Unlike Amazon sellers, Etsy users need to consider how their product caters to the tastes and styles of customers.

Learn more on HeatherxStudio and Youtube

My Experience Venturing Out To Shopify From Etsy.

Unlike my Etsy store, I catered to a specific niche on Shopify. The store only sold T-shirts and Sweatshirts. I decided to take the social media marketing route for marketing. I started an Instagram, Facebook page, a TikTok and for a while, it worked. I grew my store to around $35,00 in revenue in six months. So when I began teaching print on demand on YouTube, I had too much on my plate and decided to close it down.

The traffic was phenomenal, and I could see it increasing, But with the customer service demands and social media, it was all-consuming. I had to make a decision for my mental health. Did I want to teach or continue selling on Shopify? I loved teaching, and I still had a successful Etsy store. Instead of spreading myself too thin, I decided to focus my energy on the things I enjoyed most.

“I had the skillset to build a successful POD store. I want to open the door for others to do the same”. – HeatherStudio on Youtube.

The Differences Between Selling On Etsy And Shopify.

Setting up and running each store was the main difference. On sites like Etsy and Amazon, the platform has its own customer base. So all you need to do is add your products, photographs, and descriptions. Etsy and Amazon are well established, and people go to them to find what they want.

On Shopify, you’re responsible for the complete design and functionality. You need to drive traffic yourself, alongside all the other tasks required to run a print-on-demand business. All that work gives you a debatably better profit margin. Setting up a Shopify store is definitely trickier.

Becoming A POD Coach To Help Others Run Successful Businesses.

My coaching story starts on Facebook. When I first joined print-on-demand, I joined several Facebook groups. I soon found myself answering questions surrounding common issues people were experiencing. I spent a lot of time helping others and not focusing on running my stores. That’s when I decided to start my coaching business and serve the people asking for my expertise.

I began by making Youtube videos. But, I was still receiving tons of messages from people seeking one-to-one guidance. Now I coach via my website HeatherStudio. I’ve recently launched my FREE ‘Etsy Plus Print-On-Demand Crash Course’. I have a mix of free and paid-for courses, so I can best serve everyone at different stages of their print-on-demand journey.

Those who learn and invest in my course receive a much deeper understanding and education on the topic. I’m happy that they are really keen to run a successful store and are willing to dedicate their time and energy to learn from me and my experience.

Continuing To Run A Successful Business Despite The Challenges.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is in quarter four. The holidays are nearing, orders are increasing, and with this comes a demand for more customer service. If you’re not prepared, or you don’t have someone to help you, this admin can get out of hand. But, these struggles have also been my biggest wins. My dedication to customer service means I have a lot of repeat buyers and developed a dedicated fan base for my products.

I’d also say burnout has been a big challenge for me. I know that I’m not the only print-on-demand business owner who’s been in this position. It’s important to remember, that you can’t create a successful Etsy store overnight. Small tasks every day lead to big success, and that’s what I teach my students.

If Heather’s story has inspired you to start your print-on-demand journey, click here to join Printify.

If you’re keen to have a solid road map to print-on-demand success, follow Heather on Youtube, Instagram, and Tiktok, and enroll in one of her popular courses on HeatherxStudio.

Learn more on HeatherxStudio and Youtube

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The post From Zero Sales In Jan To $250,000 By Dec: How I Quit My Medical Job For POD appeared first on Printify.

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