You have been operating a POD shop for a while, you haven't made the sales you hoped for and you are thinking about giving up. How do you weigh whether to continue?
The bottom line
The most important question is - Do you like the work? Do you enjoy coming up with creative designs or messages? If you don't find the designing and creating process fun, interesting or exciting then yes, find something else to do with your time that IS fun, interesting or exciting. It isn't just a "life is too short" thing. The problem is that your lack of enthusiasm will reflect itself in every aspect of your shop and cripple your ability to sell.
The basic threshold
OK, so you've decided that you do like designing. The next step is to look at whether you have given it a fair chance. This is not a business of instant success. It takes time and a lot of effort to get going. So here is your check list:
- Minimum of 50 different designs
- Every page shows at least one product so the visitor knows you sell stuff, you aren't just boasting about designs.
- Offering most products with every one of the 50 designs
- Every product shown has the design properly fitted
- No white blocks on apparel
- No white bars on cards, posters, mousepads etc. If the graphic doesn't fit fix it or remove it.
- No sharp edged squares on apparel
- Every product has a description so the reader knows what the design is about without seeing it
- Every product has a descriptive name so people can distinguish it from others
- Every page that shows products has introductory text with language that gives a mental picture of the products and designs before the reader sees them
- The introductory text is concise so when people get to the page they can see many products right away
- The designs are meaningful: They carry a message or convey a feeling
- No more than 1% of the designs are logos
- Spelling and grammar are correct
Go through the learning checklist.
You've built the foundation, now build the business
No fair counting days, weeks or months until you have finished the entire checklist above. Sorry, but you need to learn and grow and don't expect to get much in the way of customers while you do that. So let's stop right there. Take a good look at that list. Do you have the drive and desire to do that work, without the immediate reward of sales? Be honest with yourself. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Recognizing your qualities and deciding to turn in another direction can be smart and strong because that is what it takes to be honest and to walk away from an investment. Don't let others make you feel badly about a decision to do something else. The good thing is that, unlike most businesses, you can step away for a while, get some fresh air and come back to it later. So don't close your shop(s). But do give yourself permission to take a break for a while.
Are you back? OK, if you have decided you are going to stick it out and build something then you have more things to do while time passes, your designs start getting found, and the word starts getting out.
Is your shop organized? In most cases the best organization will be by design theme, not product. That is because what you are selling is the message, feeling, or image created by your design. People START by looking for that, and then look for what it is available on. The exception would be art, which is a tough sell in the POD environment. Art has better success in an art environment.
Are you sending people away from your shop? Get rid of anything that sends people away from your shop, ads for other places, links to other shops, links to your favorite web site -- unless you what you are selling is cause driven. But even then recognize that all links out risk loss of sales.
- Have you given enough time to build a place on the web? If you've been at this less than six months you just haven't given it enough time. It takes time to build traffic and an audience. Unless you are an outstanding marketer set more realistic goals. Your first sale - right around 3 months after opening. Your tenth sales? Right around six months. Then if you are doing stuff right you should start to see a steady increase, assuming all above is all aboard.