Print on Demand Design Mistakes: Common Errors for Beginners

Print on Demand Design Mistakes blog post

Print-on-demand (POD) is a great way to start your own business and make money by selling custom-made products. However, there are certain mistakes that beginners often make when starting out. In this blog post, we will go over the top 7 POD design mistakes that beginners make, and how to avoid them.

#1. Copyrighted and Trademarked Content

The number one mistake that beginners make is not paying attention to copyrights and trademarks. Not only will it violate content policies of most of the services you use, it will also get you in trouble with the law. This means that you can't print shirts with designs you found on Google without checking who it belongs to, create designs with your favorite brand slogans or even sell fanart-based designs.

To avoid this, make sure that you are either the owner of the copyright that you’ve purchased the rights to use, display and resell it or use content that's under public domain. You also head over to to search the trademark and copyright database to make sure you aren't infringing. All content must comply with right of publicity, trademark, and copyright laws. Just be smart or you’ll be sorry in the end!


#2. Boring or Unoriginal Content

The second most common problem with POD designs is boring and unoriginal content. POD products, in contrast to dropshipping, have a higher cost per product because they are printed on demand. In other words, you typically don't get a bulk discount of your POD items. If you're trying to compete with products that are not unique and are printed in bulk, you just can't keep up with the prices elsewhere.

To ensure your success, find a specific niche and focus your efforts there. Put some thought into your designs and make them stand out.

#3. Cheaping Out on Designs

While it's great to be creative and use free design apps to create your own designs, if you're not familiar with print design and don't spend a lot of time working on your products, it's going to show. If you buy your designs online and only go for the cheapest ones you can find, they might lack either quality or originality.

Investing time or money in making sure that your print files are going to look good when printed is going to save you a lot of heartache–spoiled samples, unsatisfied customers and orders put on hold. Check our our POD resource page for some great options such as Vexels and Kittl. You can also use Printful's Design services for both creating your designs from scratch and adjusting them for printing.

Cheaping Out on Designs

#4. Bad Grammar

This one is a no-brainer. Bad grammar on your text designs is going to show that you haven't spent a lot of time on your designs–certainly not enough to notice the mistakes. The only exception might be an intentionally misspelled word–like a pun or a niche-specific inside joke.

If you don't spell gud, have sumbuddy else edit ur stuff. 😂

#5. Poor Image Resolution

When creating designs for POD products, it's important to pay attention to the resolution of your images. Low-resolution images will look pixelated and blurry when printed, which can be a major turn-off for customers.

Make sure that your images are at least 300 dpi and that they are the correct size for the product you're selling. You can use image editing software to adjust the resolution and size of your images. Many POD platforms such are Amazon Merch On Demand will give recommended resolutions for specific products. 

poor image resolution

#6. Not Testing Your Designs

One of the most important things to do when creating POD designs is to test them before putting them up for sale. This can include testing the colors, sizing, and placement of your designs.

By testing your designs, you can ensure that they will look great when printed and that there won't be any surprises when you receive your first batch of products.

#7. Ignoring Market Trends

Finally, beginners often make the mistake of ignoring market trends. Just because you have a great product or service doesn't mean it will sell well if the market is not ready for it. It's important to stay up-to-date with market trends and adjust your business strategy accordingly. This can include adjusting your pricing, marketing efforts, and product/service offerings to align with current market demands. Ignoring market trends can lead to missed opportunities and a lack of success in the long-term. It's crucial to be aware of what's happening in your industry and adapt to changes in order to stay competitive and successful.


In conclusion, starting a business can be a challenging and rewarding experience, but it's important to avoid common mistakes that beginners often make. By understanding the importance of creating a solid business plan, keeping overhead costs low, and staying on top of market trends, you can increase your chances of success. Remember, success doesn't happen overnight, but with hard work and determination, you can achieve your goals and build a successful business.

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