Can a POD Business Grow from a Part-Time Deal into a Life-Long Investment?

6 min 53 sec read

Small business side hustle sometimes grows into a serious occupation, especially if the right strategies are taken in time. To create something outstanding, try out bold solutions for expansion that don't require you to spend a lot of time or money.  

Often the romanticized vision of entrepreneurship shows a short path to a successful business that, despite obstacles, continues to expand and grow. But reality can still awaken a clouded mind with stark contrasts: strong competitors, powerful channel development tactics, flexible demand, etc., can frighten and disappoint rather than inspire. Therefore, many entrepreneurs prioritize their main workplace and career growth over a small business on the side. Of course, they significantly reduce the level of risk, but on the other hand, they are in no hurry to find business investment opportunities that would take their online stores to a new level.

To improve something, it's always worth seeing how others do it. Read on for successful cases that have helped owners increase print on demand income and several foundational strategies that will help to expand without hurting your core occupation.

Table of Contents

Cases when POD side-hussle grew into a real business

Can POD business become a passive income source?

Think right of the goals

Choose the right audience and niche

Reduce the number of tasks and diversify the business


Let's try to analyze the actions of entrepreneurs who were able to earn fabulous sums in this low investment business. Their stores have become famous for their unique and authentic designs. So, now we’re going to discuss how others do it. 

Mike Pasley had an entrepreneurial streak from an early age when he would post absolutely anything his parents had on eBay. Soon it became a way of life for him to sell something, and without thinking twice, he decided to focus on selling T-shirts that were accessible to a wide audience. What's on everyone's radar will always attract attention, he says. But the secret ingredient of your strategy should be tracking user reactions, which will drive demand.

The young entrepreneur's advanced training was the turning point when a side hustle became a business. So, Mike realized to keep his tasks from stretching all day and burdening him; he decided to improve his design and marketing skills. But while he was learning, he hired a team of outsourced specialists, to whom he delegated most of his tasks.

Further, it became more and more interesting because in front of his eyes was turning a side hustle into business: Mike began experimenting with advertising and conducting various digital marketing channels, including social networks, changed the concept of the blog, and introduced new marketing strategies. He strongly advises would-be entrepreneurs not to test their patience and hire an experienced designer if they haven’t the needed skills. Another admonition of this lucky guy is to integrate countless ideas that may even come and go with the wind. The emotional component of the products is also essential: if you don't know what it's about yet, then visit themed group chats, Reddit-like publics, and forums, where you can trace the target audience's affections or preferences.

Mike has put a lot of effort into building a community around his products: a solid fan base might help attract new clients and significantly impact profits. In addition, it is essential to pay as much attention as possible to your target audience, staying in tune with them. 

To transform from caterpillar to butterfly and turn your side hustle into a business, you need to learn delegating tasks. Don't try to pull everything on your shoulders: Mike initially gave 20-25 hours a week to his business, but he had to sacrifice time with family and friends. Once he decided to hire a designer and an outsourced team to help develop the niche, his business brought in $700,000 in its first year.

This story is about the struggle for her place in the sun - about a strong and inspiring woman named Heather. She was trained as a doctor and worked in the field like all her classmates. She was an MRI technologist by profession, and when the pandemic hit, her shifts were suddenly cut. The modest earnings made it possible to provide only the bare necessities for two of them: herself and her child. However, huge utility bills, a house she had just bought, and divorce did not make the woman give up. 

Heather has managed to open and run several successful stores that have become good examples of business for ladies with low investments. She came across several YouTube videos about print on demand. She was interested in the industry and decided to look for a niche, starting with research. The woman also took it upon herself to design and sell neck gaiters with competitor companies, but soon the pandemic caught up with them. Heather didn't fold her arms and continued on her way into the POD selling T-shirts. After a long six-week wait, her business took off: her main advantage was her low price, competitive range, and high-quality customer service. 

This best side hustle business example became even more revealing by earning $250,000 in one year. After starting with one niche, Heather's secret is that she decided to expand into several: training, career, and motherhood. Etsy and Shopify have become a kind of organic traffic machine fueled by other channels. To make the brand more successful, she had to diversify her business. She hit card limits to stay ahead of orders to guide the store's development. Heather also decided to teach how to sell POD using Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and other social media, which increased her income by $35,000. Overall, the woman could make $250,000 from scratch in just one year.

They say that life begins at forty, which happened to Loretta Owens, who started painting at just that age. She spent the next thirty years collecting drawings for her portfolio that were unfairly overlooked by the public. When Loretta was 72 years old, the long-awaited fame came: the self-proclaimed "tech dinosaur" created a profile on TikTok and a store on Etsy. 

The artist's unique works can be rightly considered the best investment in business because buyers primarily see in them an unsurpassed style with elements of ethnography. Her brand's philosophy is related to the belief in oneself, which Loretta herself steadily follows.

Her brand began with the publication of a video on TikTok - orders for original canvases and print on demand were already pouring in on her first night. She sends a thank-you letter to each of her clients the old-fashioned way, which shows the sincerity of the owner and bribes customers.

How to promote a t-shirt brand with digital marketing?

These side hustle business ideas have become an explosion in the Internet space. More and more people are craving to get their hands on something original from these designers. We discussed the secrets of their success, and now let's talk about turning the extra income into a primary source of income.

For your brand to become one of those success stories, sometimes it's worth listening to what your competitors have to say. And here's what they say about expanding business investment ideas to the scale of something genuinely worthwhile.

Think right of the goals

Accepting possible difficulties and creating a plan B to solve them can save the newcomer from future disappointments. It is crucial to identify the most viable ideas, test them, and implement them, as Raihanaty A. Jalil of SHYFT Creations does. She overcame impostor syndrome by focusing on constant experimentation: creating a simple store entrepreneur realized that this attempt would teach her a lot if she failed.

Choose the right audience and niche

Investment in an eCommerce business involves a high risk that your business may not burn out: your chosen niche may become another cliche in a competitive print on demand market. Christopher States and his Dog Ross Pet Painting tried to create a unique brand that became a big fish in a small pond. He emphasizes niches with a smaller market, meticulous research into the preferences of a particular audience segment, and practicality about inspiration and idea flow.

start your company with minimum money

Reduce the number of tasks and diversify the business

Small investment businesses are in dire need of an excellent promotion and customer service strategy. But when it comes to print on demand as an additional source of income that needs a boost for growth, you should think about automating the flow of daily, weekly, and quarterly tasks. For example, e-mailing offers to customers, invoicing, requesting feedback and a thank-you letter, tracking the movement of a package, etc., can be delegated not to a live person, where the cost of error is high, but to a machine learning-based platform. Raihanaty A. Jalil also welcomes the idea of fantastic customer service and quality product satisfaction. 

As for diversification, this method is effective for investments in small businesses. After all, expanding the base of sales channels allows you to enter new markets and accordingly influence new segments. This ensures the attachment to the brand of old customers and attracts new ones. 

New Trends and Predictions for Print on Demand in 2022

This article has become a helpful guide for those who want to implement even the craziest ideas in business with low investment in the USA and abroad. We have tried to answer each of the parts of such a complex design target request and finally show how you can create incredible things by listening to the smart advice of experts.

While turning a side hustle into a business, you will have to spend a lot of effort, patience, and time, but it is worth it. Learn from the mistakes of others, study their cases, and look up the best solutions and you're sure to succeed.

June 28, 2022
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