How to sell custom products (+ 8 best products to start with)

By Susanna read
How to sell custom products (+ 8 best products to start with)

If you’ve been thinking about monetizing your audience and selling online, then you must be wondering:

How to choose a custom product that is evergreen, easy to sell, and profitable? 

A quick Google search will probably take you down a rabbit hole of endless articles, adding to the confusion. 

But, here’s the goods news: 

Everything you need to know about how to create and design customizable products is right here in this blog post. And, in the era of custom merch and print on demand, this couldn’t be a better time to offer products online.

So, if you’re a creator or influencer looking to build a passive income stream, then keep on reading. As a bonus, you’ll also get a list of eight different best-selling items for 2022!

What are custom products?

A custom product is any type of digital or physical product that you can create and sell to customers online.

In recent years, print-on-demand (POD) products have become one of the top custom products to sell. Now, most creators and influencers will make branded merch such as face masks, mugs, throw pillows, and more.

instagram merchandise
The rise of branded merch is also evident by the sheer volume of #merchandise posts on Instagram.

Is selling custom products online a good business?

The short answer is—yes, it absolutely can be!

There are plenty of advantages to selling custom products:

  • More engagement and web traffic—selling products will create buzz around your business and drive traffic to your website.
  • A sense of community and belonging—customers who order your products will feel more connected with you and your brand.
  • Better social media exposure—launching your own custom products will increase brand awareness and recognition.
  • A new way for fans to support you—most customers are more than willing to support their favorite creator by purchasing their products.
  • Generate passive income—selling custom products such as print-on-demand merch is a low-risk way to monetize your target audience.
bonberi mart merch
Sellfy creator example: Bonberi Mart got customers hyped up for their merch launch on social media.

Plus, you don’t need a large audience to make a profit—according to behavioral economics, profit depends entirely on getting to the heart of your customer. So, as long as you have customers who love you and your content, your chances of making a profit are pretty much guaranteed.

So, how do you get started? There are several ways to create and sell products online, but most creators prefer starting a print-on-demand business for its cost-effectiveness.

Here’s why print-on-demand is the best way to sell custom products:

  • No start-up costs—you don’t have to financially invest in product manufacturing.
  • No logistical issues—order fulfillment, printing, and shipping are handled by the POD partner. 
  • No minimums—you can sell an unlimited amount of POD products to any market or audience.

Since you won’t need to hold physical inventory, your only potential expenses will be graphic design services (unless you’re an artist) or eCommerce platform fees. However, you can always add your expenses to the product price!

how sellfy's print on demand works
An example of how print-on-demand pricing works with Sellfy.

Designing products is easier than you think

Product design can literally make or break your sales. But, it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. In fact, it’s easier than you’d think—you don’t even need to have design skills because there are numerous online resources and tools that you can experiment with. So, let’s dig in.

10 best graphic design resources for custom products

To get the perfect design, you can use royalty-free graphic resources, free programs and design tools, or hire a graphic designer. 

Here’s a list of the best graphic design resources:

  • Vexels—vector graphics for t-shirts and other types of customized products.
  • Shutterstock—thousands of free high-quality photos and vectors.
  • Flaticon—1,720,000 icons in every category.
  • Freepik—similar to Flaticon, but requires a license for commercial selling.
  • Creative Market—a marketplace with over 880,000 pre-designed graphics.
creative market vector graphics for merch
Creative Market‘s vector graphics for merch.

In addition to these resources, Canva is another highly popular design tool. Not only is Canva free, but there’s also a separate section dedicated to t-shirt design with thousands of premade templates.

Then there are design programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. With these programs, you can use vector designs to create multi-dimensional illustrations, logos, or typography.

canva t-shirt templates
Canva‘s customizable t-shirt design templates.

Alternatively, you can also use a cost-free and open-source tool like Inkspace, which has just as many features as Illustrator.

Not into playing around with design tools? Then let me introduce you to Clint English. This awesome Sellfy store sells high-quality graphic design resources for custom products—from text effects, fonts, and illustrations to textures and pre-made artwork. You’ll definitely find something cool in this shop!

clint english graphic design resources
Clint English‘s high-quality graphic design resources.

Optional: hire a freelance graphic designer

If you have the budget, you can also hire a freelance graphic designer to design products. While you probably won’t need a designer to create something as simple as an image with a catchphrase, you may need extra help for unique designs that require more complexity.

Here’s a list of the best websites for finding a freelance graphic designer:

  • 99designs—the go-to graphic design service where you can launch a t-shirt design contest to find your perfect design match.
  • Upwork—the biggest freelance marketplace for finding outstanding talent.
  • Fiverr—a beginner’s space where some artists list their skills for as little as $5.
  • Dribble—a great platform with established designers for hire.

Sellfy Tip
If you’re a Sellfy creator using trademarked designs with your own products, you’ll need to obtain a licensing agreement from the copyright owner and submit it to [email protected]

How to sell custom products online?

What if I told you that you can get a free online store with products to sell? Without any hidden fees or transaction costs? Because that’s exactly what you can get with a Free Sellfy plan. So, if you’ve been looking for an easy-to-use eCommerce platform, then here it is!

With a free Sellfy eCommerce store, you’ll get:

  • Mobile-first design
  • Instant payouts
  • Advanced VAT & tax settings
  • Multiple payment options
  • Unlimited bandwidth & file storage
  • 24/7 customer support

1. Open a free online store with Sellfy

I’ll show you how to build and customize an online store in less than 5 minutes!

sellfy merch store theme
Sellfy comes with premade store themes such as the merch theme Mode.

Here’s how to start selling custom products with Sellfy:

  1. Sign up for Sellfy’s Free Plan, or start a 14-day free trial—all you need is a valid and verified email address. If you need access to more features, you can always upgrade to a paid plan later.
  2. Choose one of our premade store themes, or use Sellfy’s Store Customizer to customize your store design from scratch.

2. Create print-on-demand products & add your designs

Now that you’ve set up your Sellfy store, you can start adding products! Locate the option to add print-on-demand merch under your dashboard’s PRODUCTS section. Then, click Add new product and you’ll see our POD categories.

What print-on-demand products can you sell?

You can choose from a rich selection of the following categories:

  • Men’s, women’s, and kids’ clothing (jackets, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, tank tops, long-sleeve tees, bodysuits, etc.)
  • Hats (custom print and embroidery on caps and beanies)
  • Bags (backpack, laptop sleeve, fanny pack, and tote bags)
  • Home & living (embroidered apron, water bottle, spiral notebook, canvas, posters, mugs, and stickers)
  • Phone cases (for iPhone and Samsung)

Once you’ve created your products and added your own designs, you can generate mockups or order samples for marketing purposes. 

Creating mockups with Sellfy is super simple—we provide product and model images that you can preview and download on the Edit product page. These mockups show what your designs will look like in real life.

However, if you don’t want to use Sellfy’s product photos, then you can use options like Placeit, which has thousands of free mockups, or Sellfy creator Clint English.

Sellfy Tip
To ensure high-quality print results, we urge you to follow Sellfy’s print-on-demand tips and best practices.

3. Pick a plan & start selling today

Are you ready to get serious with your products and start selling? Then it’s time to pick a pricing plan or upgrade!

Sellfy has four different subscription plans:

  1. Free plan—for creators who want a fully customizable storefront for 10 physical products, including print on demand, discounts and coupon codes, and a store embed feature.
  2. Starter plan—for creators who want to sell an unlimited number of products, get access to 2000 email credits, and use a custom domain.
  3. Business plan—for creators who have high sales volumes and want a white-label store, store design migration, cart abandonment, product upselling, and 10,000 email credits. 
  4. Premium plan—for creators who have the biggest sales volumes and want product migration, priority support, 50,000 email credits, and extra tools to promote their eCommerce business.
sellfy new pricing plans
An overview of Sellfy’s pricing plans.

8 best-selling custom products

To help you pick a product to sell online, I’ve put together a list of eight best-selling custom products with Sellfy store examples. 

You can use this as a source of inspiration, or put your own unique spin on a product to sell. Regardless of what you’re selling, remember that the key is to always provide value to your customers.

Custom apparel (t-shirts, sweatshirts & hoodies)

Here’s why you should sell apparel such as t-shirts: 

In 2020, the global print-on-demand t-shirt market size exceeded $3 billion. And, it’s not going to change anytime soon—the t-shirt printing market value is expected to reach $7.57 billion by 2028.

So, a shirt with a trendy design is a perfect example of a high-demand custom product to sell online. 

guitar tutorials t-shirts
Sellfy store example: Guitar Tutorials sells branded t-shirts to its audience.

Aside from t-shirts, oversized unisex sweatshirts and hoodies are also among some of the best-selling custom items. In fact, unisex clothing is projected to grow by $65.6 billion over the next year. So, launching a line of trendy hoodies or sweatshirts is an absolute must for a custom products store in 2022!

unimex hoodies
Sellfy store example: Unimex has built a whole community around their crypto swag.

Custom accessories (tote bags, phone cases & stickers)

A tote bag is also one of the best products to sell in your online store. Forbes has even called it the new must-have luxury item

But, will people buy it from you? In a 2021 survey, 27% of respondents said that they tried out a new product for sustainability reasons and 25% spent more money on sustainable fashion items. 

Luckily for you, you can sell organic tote bags with Sellfy—they’re perfectly versatile and eco-friendly, and anybody can use them as reusable shopping bags, or street fashion accessories.

sellfy organic tote bag
Sellfy store example: This French Life sells French-themed organic tote bags.

Another highly profitable custom product is the phone case. Literally, everybody has a smartphone these days—there are about 8.7 billion mobile connections on the planet

And, phone case sales are projected to grow 7.5% until 2025, reaching $35.5 billion. So, according to these numbers, you’ll definitely have potential customers if you decide to add phone cases to your selection of accessories.

float on the road phone cases
Sellfy store example: Float on the Road sells eco-friendly phone cases.

You know what else you can sell? Stickers. Smaller items like stickers are much cheaper than other accessories, which automatically makes them a great option for customers on a tight budget. Besides, stickers used by your customers can help spread the word and promote your business. It’s a win-win!

meganheinphotography stickers
Sellfy store example: Megan Hein Photography sells branded stickers to photography customers.

Custom home & living goods (mugs & wall art)

The best part about selling home decor is that it has zero seasonality, so you can easily sell home goods all year long. Why not take advantage of that and create products that can make everyone’s homes a little cozier? 

For example, in a survey done by the Heinz company, nearly 60% of people said they had an emotional attachment to their favorite mug. And, it is hardly surprising—there’s simply no better way to start a morning than drinking coffee out of your favorite mug. This is why a lot of Sellfy stores sell coffee mugs.

sellfy coffee mug instagram
Sellfy creator example: Float on the Road sells enamel coffee mugs to fellow travelers.

In addition to mugs, you could also sell wall art. Despite the overwhelming presence of digital art, posters and canvases are as popular as ever. Most people love decorating their walls with aesthetic pieces of printed art, so wall art is without a doubt another best-seller that you shouldn’t miss out on.

cramshop printed posters
Sellfy store example: Cram Shop sells printed posters with their own artwork.

Your turn to start selling unique products!

I hope you enjoyed reading this guide as much as I’ve enjoyed putting these best-sellers together for you! All it takes to get started is a Sellfy store—the best site for selling custom products—and following our guide. To learn more about making money with digital, physical, and print-on-demand products, be sure to check out our blog for useful tips and tricks.

Susanna is Sellfy's Content Guru with a genuine passion for copywriting, storytelling, and eCommerce. With years of content marketing experience behind her, she helps to create the best possible landing pages, blog posts, emails, and other types of copy. She also keeps close tabs on social media trends and enjoys digging deep into marketing psychology.