There’s just something magical about making a full-time living, from any exotic location in the world, with just a laptop. Especially during the holiday sales season and better yet if you can sell more after the holidays.
Today, we’re catching up with someone who has achieved that dream. Christina Umerez from Toronto mastered print-on-demand so quickly that she quit her 9-5 job in less than a year.
She built a business using POD, focusing on the holiday sales period of Halloween, Black Friday, and Christmas. Those periods skyrocketed the budding entrepreneur’s sales and after finding ways to sell more after the holidays, allowed her to leave her regular job for good.
Christina is not only living the dream – she’s now teaching others how to do the same. Christina is rapidly gaining traction on TikTok, where she shares her tips for success.
The Makings of an Online Entrepreneur
Christina showed her ambition and entrepreneurship early on. As a child, she tried to open a jewelry business and, at 18, attempted to sell clothes from a wholesale trader on Alibaba.
“My parents were in HR and tech, and their philosophy was to go to school and get a good job. They were all about being comfortable and landing a career with a decent pension. For some reason, I’ve always been more into entrepreneurship.
I studied internationally and backpacked during my summers off from university. Travel has always been a huge part of my life. My boyfriend and I are big festival goers too, which is another reason we travel.
There were very few jobs I could think of that would allow me to pursue my dreams, so I’d been searching for something like print-on-demand for some time.”
Christina was working in marketing when COVID hit. Although this opened up the option of remote work, she still wasn’t keen on the idea of fixed hours and working on someone else’s schedule.
“When everything went online during COVID, I began a hardcore hunt for a side hustle. I initially tried to do my current marketing job in a freelance capacity. Still, after my employer discovered it and explained that this wasn’t allowed, I had to think of another way to make money online.
I tried various online business ideas, from drop shipping to selling pet portraits on Etsy. The idea worked well, but it would take me two hours to complete a picture on top of my regular 9-5 job.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people began setting up accounts with the same idea, but they were charging way less than I was. And so it became unsustainable, as I had to work until 10pm each night trying to stay competitive.”
In the end, after pulling countless all-nighters creating pet portraits, Christina began to look for something more sustainable. She was already selling on Etsy, so she decided to stay on the platform but with a better business idea.
After trawling through YouTube videos, she discovered print on demand.
“I was able to make my first sale in around five weeks. I knew nothing about the business model, but I quickly realized the potential.
I had no experience with mockups, photos, or design in general. I basically just threw in a few designs and made a sale.
I thought that was really cool, as I hadn’t done much of anything at that point, so I was excited to carry on down the POD path. To this day, I don’t advertise or market my store. I simply add designs and do a little customer service.
It’s not 100% passive, but it’s certainly better than working late hours to make one sale.”
Maximizing Holiday Sales With Printify
After seeing how well the model could work, Christina began to devote more time to her newly found online side hustle. She hoped it could eventually be the key to her dream of becoming a full-time traveler.
“Growth was slow initially because I was still working 9-5. I would concentrate on my store for a few hours every evening and whenever I had spare time. After two to three months, I was making around $300 profit every other month, which is great side hustle money.”
Eventually, Christina was promoted to a senior role in her regular job. After feeling overwhelmed and switching employers, Christina was now convinced she needed to find a long-term solution to quit her traditional career.
“I started posting 10 or 20 new designs a day. Every moment of my spare time was devoted to the project to produce more print-on-demand designs.”
Eventually, the hard work began to pay off. After starting the project in April, Christina ramped profits from $300 to over $12,000 in November and December of the same year!
“I was desperate to succeed. My hardcore designing schedule propelled me forward at just the right time to benefit from the crazy selling season from October onwards. There were times in August when I’d be happy with one sale per day. Eventually, I was getting 40 or more sales a day in November and December. It was just crazy.”
Staying 'evergreen' After the Holiday Sale Season
Although POD helped Christina achieve healthy profits, she remained at her 9-5 job. She was afraid the sales would eventually plateau once Christmas and New Year had passed.
“I remember thinking that this was probably going to be something that simply happens for a few months per year during the holidays and eventually dries up. Although the money was great, I wasn’t convinced it would be able to replace a real job.”
In reality, things didn’t turn out that way. Because Christina had focused on evergreen designs rather than typical holiday-based niches, she ranked at the top of Etsy’s search algorithm well into February. Turns out these designs would be her ticket to sell more after the holidays we over.
What are Evergreen Designs?
Evergreen designs are not related to specific events or time periods such as Halloween or Christmas and can be sold throughout the year.
“I was making probably $6-8,000 per month. Because of all my positive reviews, I was slowly climbing the rankings and getting to the top of Etsy searches. When I realized I was consistently making more than my 9-5 for far less work, I figured I had the leeway to quit and try to build a full-time business.
“When I quit my job, I was actually in Mexico, and I flew straight to Buenos Aires after that to celebrate. I’m now moving to Bali, so not only have I been able to realize my dream, I’m doing it while making more than I did in my 9-5 job.”
Replicate Christina's Success With the Right Partners
After trying both different business models and platforms, Christina emphasizes the importance of choosing the right partners. We were eager to know why she chose the Etsy platform and why it worked so well for her.
“What I love about Etsy is that you can test multiple different products. People are searching based on individual listings rather than looking at your specific brand. If you create a Shopify website, for example, it’s much more important to have a unified theme or niche, but on Etsy, I was able to just throw out every idea to see if it worked.”
Like many other successful POD sellers, Christina concentrated on finding untapped niches and creating designs that appealed to a particular audience.
“I mainly concentrated on hobbies in the beginning. I always tell people to focus on less obvious ideas they personally have experience with.
For example, I tried designs based on breathwork and cold exposure. It’s very niche, but plenty of people in that community are very passionate about it, even though most people wouldn’t have a clue what it involved.
If the keywords or niche began to work for me, I would make more along the same theme. If specific colors, words, or fonts were doing well, I would make more designs in the same style.”
When Christina started, she didn’t use SEO or research tools and instead relied on old-fashioned trial and error. Without relying on marketing or hunting for a target market, she was free to experiment with her listings.
Start Strong This Holiday Season
As we approach the 2022 holiday season, Christina points out that the busy period of Halloween, Black Friday, and Christmas can make or break a print-on-demand business. It often brings in more money than the rest of the year combined.
“I would say that if you’re able to be up and running in time for the holiday season, you should give it your best shot. Q4 can easily make an entire year’s wages. So try to prepare as many designs as possible for that period.
However, she points out that to sell more after the holidays, it is beneficial to avoid holiday-specific designs and stick to evergreen niches such as birthdays, hobbies, or careers. Sales for Halloween and Christmas-specific items tend to dry up quickly.”
Christina's Top 5 Tips for Holiday Success on Etsy
1. You’ll Need More Listings Than You Think
“I recommend newcomers try and list 100 designs as quickly as possible. That sounds like a lot, but you can use the same basic template on two or three different products.
You can also test different images, colors, and fonts to see how they work. Overall though, I would definitely recommend 25 individual designs within that figure.
Not all designs will sell uniformly. Sometimes it takes a lot of listings to eventually come across a design that people resonate with. I have over 800 designs listed, and only a handful sell daily.
I recently spoke to someone who had listed 100 items in their store and hadn’t made a single sale. But after they listed one more design, it began selling multiple times per day.”
2. Choose Unsaturated Niches
“People tend to think about common Hollywood or pop-culture frameworks. As I mentioned, I chose breathwork as a more unusual niche, which worked well for me.
One of my students’ stores focused on a very niche career and is doing very well. I had no clue what the designs or slogans meant as I was not in that career and hadn’t heard of this job before. But his audience understood and strongly resonated with his themes and jokes.
If you’re out for ideas, check out the top-rated sellers and try to find out what they’re doing. I’m not saying to copy them, but you can transfer some of their font choices and colors to your own specific niche.”
3. Don’t Panic if You’re Not Getting Any Sales
“I think many people are put off by the initial lack of activity when starting out.
I try to explain to the people I teach that sales are exponential once things get going. It might take five months to make a hundred sales, but only five weeks to make the next hundred.
Everything begins to ramp up once the sales come in and you start ranking and getting positive reviews.
There’s a lot of trial and error involved with this business model, and sometimes it’s simply a matter of luck. The main thing is to keep putting in consistent effort.”
4. Experiment With Product Photos and Colors
“Definitely test your main photos. Make mockups in lots of different colors too. Etsy is a very visual platform, so a design that fails to sell in one color might do amazingly well in a different shade. Things that grab people’s attention tend to rank higher. You never know what will make people want to click on an item, so you need to keep trying different things.”
5. Have a Plan in Place for When the Holidays End
“If a sweatshirt is selling well, ensure you have the same design on a t-shirt.
Think about seasonality and the types of clothing sales that will dry up as the weather changes.
I noticed a big drop in April, May, and June for this reason, so I had to rush to switch all of my designs to t-shirts in time for the hot weather.
I also recommend building up your designs that are not tied to holidays so you can sell them year round.”
Christina Is Already Preparing for a Busy Holiday Season in 2022
“For me, the first year was all about testing. This year I will be including holiday-themed items on top of my evergreen designs.
I already have established evergreen designs selling to keep me afloat after the holiday season.
I recommend people focus on evergreen niches first over holiday designs if you do not have consistent sales yet and want to keep seeing sales after the holidays.
I’m studying other sellers for Halloween and trying to spot the trends. Retro and vintage designs are everywhere right now.
I do not expect that trend to stop after Halloween but instead to carry forward into the next Holiday.
For this holiday season, I am testing following all the major trends I have been seeing and have started to implement these, and I am already making sales for these holiday-themed products.”
From 9-5 To Business Owner and Influencer
Now that Christina has found success using Printify, she can pass on her knowledge to help others. Christina’s TikTok channel is gaining popularity fast, though the entrepreneur never aspired to become a social media influencer.
“I’ve always been super camera shy. It was certainly never my goal to be big on TikTok. A friend and I challenged ourselves to post a video, before New Year, of us talking on camera. My video was about print on demand and the amount of money I had made during the holidays.
I had about 10,000 followers when I woke up, and my channel kept growing. I ended up with double that amount by the same evening, and the original video got up to 800,000 views. At that point, I said to myself, ‘well, I guess I’m a content creator now .’A whole new world has opened up for me since then, and I’m able to teach and help others succeed. The entire journey has been wild, and I’ve certainly gotten over my camera shyness.”
TikTok has driven Christina to make her Printify business even more successful, to prove to her fans that she’s actually doing what she teaches.
Her TikTok account has attracted over 140,000 followers, and she’s started a YouTube channel to provide more in-depth content.
Feeling inspired to start a business with Printify and continue to sell more after the holidays? Find Christina on TikTok and YouTube, where she has great content to help you get started. Plus, check out her free training course, where you’ll get actionable advice for starting a print-on-demand business from scratch.
Make It Happen Today!
Share the article