Etsy Beginner Tutorial — Print on Demand — Part 3: Creating Winning Designs

Learn how to create amazing designs that will earn you a lot of money!

In the previous articles of this series, you’ve learned about production partners and how to find winning niches and winning designs.

In case you haven’t read the previous ones, I recommend going ahead and reading them now:

Our overview:

Introduction & Production Partners -> Niche & design research -> Create Winning Designs -> Mockups + Upload to Production partner -> Push to Etsy -> Optimize shop & SEO

Best ways to create designs

There are a lot of graphic design apps out there, and even more other tools that can help you.

A few design apps I’ve used in the past:

P.S. These days you can also use an AI image generator of course – I use, because it has seamless integrations with Etsy, allowing you to create and upload hundreds of designs in just a SINGLE DAY! Tutorial here.

Grab your list

If you did your research (as described in the previous articles) correctly, by now you should have a nice list containing a few winning items from competitors.

Let’s take the an item from my list: Niche = Valentine’s day

One of the items on my list

Next, go to

(I’m using Canva pro, which is really cheap for the value you get to be honest, so if you’re serious about POD, I highly recommend getting it — if you don’t have an editor yet. Plus you can also use it for the next lesson/article: mockup design).

We’re going to try and re-create the design

We can start with a template OR just start from scratch. For now, let’s start with a template to get some inspiration.

Canva templates

After scrolling a little bit, I found the following template that I like. Let’s go with this one:

P.S. I like the coffee cup, so I’m cutting that out & saving it for later.

Important key points before we start

  1. Readability: make sure your design is well readable
  2. Sizing: big size, simple, easy to see/read
  3. Font: use a clear, big font
  4. Keep it simple: the simplest designs are the best ones
  5. Colors: use colors wisely so that everything is readable nicely
  6. No offensive stuff. Anything that can get your design removed is a no.
  7. Don’t spend too much time on every design. Doesn’t work out?-> next
  8. Always keep the same size. I go with 4500 x 5400. If you use Canva Pro, you can resize the design:
Create every design in 4500×5400

Why resize? So it’s easier to upload. No need to play around with repositioning for example while uploading (P.S. resizing is a pro feature so if you don’t have it, then make sure you have the correct size right of the start).

Let’s start designing

Always keep your example in mind. My template already has a curved text, so I’m keeping that. I’m also going the remove the coffee cup (but saving it for later because I like it, I think it looks cute).

So I played around a bit, tried some stuff, and this is what I came up with now:

I like it, let’s see how it would look on a T-shirt. PS: Via Canva Mockup Generator you can also display your design on a mockup. This way you can see how your design would look if someone would wear it.

Mockup via Canva Mockup Generator

Yeah this looks quite good in my opinion.

Create variations

Our next step is to create a few variations on this design. Maybe change the colors, the text, the image… whatever you think is cool. A few examples:

P.S. creating these mockups you’ll learn in the next article!

Also, don’t forget different colors! The black text is only good for light designs, but some people might prefer dark designs!

Same design, but text in white (for black dark shirts)

Another example

While I was scrolling through the templates, I suddenly saw this:

This reminded me of the movie “Taken”, with Liam Neeson.

So I made this:

Very dumb and stupid, I know… but why not? Our goal is to be original. I know it doesn’t look like our “example design”, but it doesn’t always have to.

Although — I DO RECOMMEND going with the “copy-winning-designs-method”, (it’s proven that those designs sell) — but sometimes you can try something and who knows it might work out!

If it doesn’t sell, then we’ll edit or remove it.

For those of you that are wondering about the image of Liam Neeson: I edited it by removing the background & cartoonizing it with BeFunky:

Cartoonized Liam Neeson via BeFunky Artsy option

Example of a bad design

Of course, we can’t always immediately create the perfect designs. It takes some trial and error and getting used to.

Below is an example of a design that I just created, but that was NOT good in my opinion: it simply looks… “bad” and “cheap”.

Looks terrible and cheap

Continue until you have at least 10 original designs

Why 10? Because when you start uploading 10 new designs, Etsy sees the shop is really active, and will give it a boost in most cases — which is great when you’re just beginning.

So go on and make sure you have at least 10 awesome designs!

I recommend going with 10 “close variations” of the “winning designs” on your list, and then create more variations of those.

So in the end you can end up with like 50 designs, all based on 10 “winning ones”, that we found during our research.

Go to part 4 of this Etsy tutorial: Creating Amazing Mockups!


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Michiel Schuer


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