In 2014, I earned $85,000 a year as a full-time web developer. While I made enough to cover my living expenses, I put too much time into the job.
I knew that there were opportunities to make passive income in e-commerce. So in 2016, after experimenting with “dropshipping” (a business model in which sellers don’t need to keep any products in stock), I came across a Reddit post that inspired me to start a print-on-demand side hustle.
With print-on-demand, I can sell T-shirts and have a third-party handle the printing, packaging, and shipping. By 2020, I had made enough money to quit my job and focus on taking my side hustle full-time.
Today, at 33, I make an average of $14,600 a month in passive income from my print-on-demand business. The best part is that I work on it for just one hour daily.
How I got started without a design background
My first T-shirt design was a poorly drawn Loch Ness monster. I started using Adobe Photoshop but found it too difficult to navigate without 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 graphic design experience because you can download commercial-use illustrations instead of making them on your own.
Membership prices for All Sunsets start at $59 a year, Creative Fabrica at $4 a month, and Vexels at $22 a month. I use the DS Amazon Quick View and PrettyMerch Chrome extensions to find out what customers are searching for when I’m making designs. Sometimes I make shirts inspired by pop culture moments and upcoming events. sweatshirts
How I make passive income through print-on-demand
Amazon Merch on Demand, where I sell the most items, brings in about half of my passive income. I like this platform because you don’t have to pay for inventory up front. The steps are easy:
Make a design for a T-shirt, then save it as a PNG file (a high-quality graphic format). Amazon Merch on Demand is where you can upload your artwork.
Pick the type of product and write a description. Then, Amazon makes a 3D picture of how the shirt would look. Amazon makes a listing for the design on Amazon.com, so it can be bought.
Every time a customer buys something, Amazon is in charge of making, shipping, and helping the customer. Depending on the type of product and the price at which it is listed, Amazon merch sellers get a royalty fee of between 13% and 37%. Amazon has a list of prices that sellers can choose from when they list their items.
My most popular item is a basic T-shirt. I charge $19.99 per shirt and get a 26% royalty fee for each one sold. This gives me a profit of $5.23 per shirt. Amazon keeps the rest of it.
I sell my designs on hoodies, sweatshirts, mugs, hats, and other things like stickers and phone cases in addition to T-shirts. I always price my products so that I can make at least $5 per sale. For bigger items, like sweatshirts, I make $10 per sale.
Printful is another platform I use. It’s like Amazon Merch on Demand and is a cheap way to get more people to see my products. It prints, packages, and ships the designs I sell on eBay and Etsy. On eBay, putting up an ad costs nothing, but on Etsy, it costs $0.20.
A little creativity and a lot of drive will take you far.
I spend most of my work time making new designs, listing products, and learning how to use tools that will help me automate my business even more. I also made a YouTube channel and took online classes so I could share what I knew. I want people to know that to be successful in the print-on-demand business, they don’t need a degree in graphic design. They need some creativity and a lot of determination.
Ryan Hogue used to build websites and teach part-time, but he quit both jobs to run his own online store. His YouTube channel shows people how to use “Ryan’s Method” to make passive income.