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Student - Session 4: Print-On-Demand & 4 Other Business Models

Updated: Feb 7, 2023


Session 4 - Part 1: Print-On-Demand Merch Store Introduction

Class Activity: Open an account at before watching the supporting video which you will find after the SEO Session. NOTE: Students will need to access the Canva design web program ( The basic account is FREE. The free Version is adequate but I recommend using EDU PRO version if possible. A LIVE instructor, if currently a school teacher, can create a FREE EDU/PRO account. ( Once the account is created, instructors can invite students to use this account. Don’t open a REDBUBBLE ACCOUNT YET! Let’s keep Learning!

Session 4 - Part 2: Other Online Business Models

SESSION-End Worksheet (if printed) or as a CLASS ACTIVITY to review together

Session 4 Worksheet_ Business Models
Download PDF • 24KB



Session 4:

  • What Is Print-On-Demand?


  • Explore 4 other Business Models

  • Local/offline business

  • Online instructional business

  • Affiliate Marketing

  • Ecommerce


Note: During this session, you will learn about this and other business models. We are all still in learning mode. We won’t be creating your print-on-demand business just yet. We’ll begin learning more in-depth after our SEO section.

Print-on-Demand is a retail fulfillment method for printing products only after the customer buys them. Your only responsibility is to create a design and then upload the design to the print provider’s platform. The print company does everything else! We love print-on-demand because it’s fun and free.

The first objective is to create a good design and upload it to the platform. Then, when customers buy products such as t-shirts, sweaters, phone cases, mugs, yoga pants, socks, hats, water bottles, canvas prints, stickers, tote bags, aprons, face masks, bath mats, show curtains, and many other goods in your eCommerce shop, the order goes directly to the print provider. The print provider charges the customer, fulfills the order, and ships it directly to your customer. The print-on-demand provider then pays you a commission from the purchase. Commissions can range between 15% and 30%. The e-commerce store owner never has to do anything but create fabulous designs and choose which merchandise you would like your designs featured on.

Many print-on-demand providers exist (like TeeSpring, Printify, and Printful), but we like using Redbubble ( Don’t go there just yet. The greatest benefit of using Redbubble is that it’s not just a design site. People visit Redbubble to make purchases, and this is important because it generates free organic traffic for you!

You can absolutely create fantastic t-shirts and other merchandise on sites like Printful, Printify, and TeeSpring, and the commissions/profits will be much higher, however, your success will be contingent 100% on your own marketing efforts. I would highly suggest starting your Print-On-Demand Business on Redbubble and then eventually transitioning over to one (or more) of the other platforms after you start gaining a following on your social media accounts!

To receive site visitors organically, it’s essential to use SEO strategies. When creating designs, it’s best to be niche-specific. If creating a generic dog design, your design may compete with a million other dog designs. If you make a shirt based on a specific breed, your competition decreases. You’ll then have a better chance of selling that design. It’s essential to use precise keywords in your titles and descriptions. For instance, if I created an amazing Yorkie design with New York City as a part of the design, I would title it New Yorkie City and tag the description accordingly. Now, when someone in the world searches New Yorkie City on Redbubble, my design should populate. Do you see how that works? Don’t forget to share your new Redbubble store and designs on your website/blog and social media accounts. If you have a social media following, this is a sure-fire way to heat things up.

How do you create designs? You may say, “I’m not a graphic designer!” Many very successful shirt designs are surprisingly just text. Canva (free digital design software) offers many awesome fonts and element/photo designs that can be utilized to create fantastic designs. If you subscribe to the paid version, it will open up many more design options. The free version should be sufficient for now. If you’re creating many designs, I would suggest that you pay for the service. If you are participating in any LIVE EteenLab classes, email the eteenlab@gmail to access the Canva Pro Education version. Experiment and have fun! Designing on Canva is one of my favorite things to do. You’ll enjoy it too!

To help you succeed further, venture into keyword research tools for t-shirts/merchandise. One tool I use often is called Merch Informer. Merch Informer analyzes the largest merch platform globally, Amazon, and can advise you if a specific niche or keyword is either over-saturated or perfect for your designs.

The tool rates designs on a grading system between A and F. For example, If you intend on creating designs about dogs and enter “dogs” in the tool, it will surely return with an “F” rating. Why? Because a gazillion designs on Amazon contain the word “dog.” It would be better to create more specific breed dog designs and tag your titles and descriptions accordingly. Although this tool is made for Merch by Amazon, it provides very insightful keyword information that would be relevant for content/designs posted for your other print-on-demand platforms, blogs, and social marketing accounts.

Merch By Amazon

Use Redbubble for a few months. Become familiar with the design process. If you love selling t-shirts and merch, you ultimately should get yourself on Merch by Amazon. Amazon is the largest destination site on the planet, and if you can create great designs, you can make a high income! You’ll need to apply to the program. Millions of people apply and are rejected because they don’t know how to complete the application correctly. Contact me, and I may help you complete the application to give you a better chance of being approved. I can’t guarantee you’ll be accepted, but it’s worth a shot. Can you imagine your designs selling on Amazon? And by the way, Merch by Amazon is free to join!

Class Activity: Open an account at before watching the supporting video which you will find after the SEO Session. NOTE: Students will need to access the Canva design web program ( The basic account is FREE. The free Version is adequate but I recommend using EDU PRO version if possible. A LIVE instructor, if currently a school teacher, can create a FREE EDU/PRO account. ( Once the account is created, instructors can invite students to use this account. Don’t open a REDBUBBLE ACCOUNT YET! Let’s keep Learning!

Intro To Digital Marketing

Stick with a niche, create content, and use digital marketing strategies to grow your business and your income. What does digital marketing mean? In simple terms, it just means that you will be sharing your products or ideas on the internet. For our purposes, our students will mainly be utilizing social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, TikTok, etc.), email, and implementing keyword strategies across all platforms to drive traffic into their eCommerce store. These same strategies can be applied to a number of online businesses and income-generating opportunities. For now, let’s take an in-depth look at 4 other popular teen business models:

  • Local/offline business (neighborhood service based -marketed online)

  • Online instructional business (online lessons, skill-based content)

  • Affiliate Marketing (recommending products/services)

  • Ecommerce (selling your products on your website)

These business models can be standalone (focusing on just one), or students can implement elements from different models to diversify and increase earning capabilities. For example, suppose a student starts an online video instructional business. In that case, they may be able to generate income by selling merchandise (print-on-demand), recommending services (affiliate marketing), or even selling their products (eCommerce). Check these out!

Exploring 4 Other Popular Business Models

Local-Offline Business

The first business model is a Local-Offline Business where teens can venture into the community/neighborhoods and provide a service, in-person and for a fee. Can you think of some examples? Here are a few: dog walking, lawn care, tutoring, babysitting, sports training, music lessons, snow shoveling, fitness support, selling water bottles, errand running, or whatever else you can provide.

These are “offline” teen jobs, but marketing them online will help the business gain more exposure. One way to accomplish this is to create and sell on social media platforms, which we’ll discuss later lessons. Another important strategy, and probably the most important, is building a simple website or blog and registering your domain name (i.e.,

This would be your digital business identity where you will share your knowledge, recommend products, display pictures/videos, post your contact info and prices, and truly share your unique personality. You could also implement affiliate marketing or set up an eCommerce section to sell physical products, ebooks, or tutorials. There are many ways your business can earn multiple income streams, and we’ll dive more into this later on.

Here are some examples of business domain names that are catchy and to the point;

Jen’s Pet Sitting (

Highfall’s Piano Lessons (

Danny’s Dog Walking (

Rachael’s Face Painting (

Soccer Training Trevor (

Tina’s Math Tutoring (

Online Instructional-Tutorial Business

The second business model is an Online Instructional-Tutorial Business offering tutoring, lessons, or workshops all online. You can facilitate your lessons/tutorials/ workshops virtually by pre-recording them (and posting on Youtube/Vimeo/etc.) or running live sessions on sites like Zoom or platforms like Google Meet. An income would be generated from paying customers. You can also introduce additional income streams selling/recommending products directly related to the business through direct selling, dropshipping, or affiliate marketing.

Affiliate Marketing

The third and possibly the simplest concept to get started is something called Affiliate Marketing. Affiliate marketing is an advertising model in which a company compensates third-party marketers (i.e. YOU) to generate traffic or leads to the company's products and services. The third-party marketers are affiliates, and the commission fee incentivizes them to find ways to promote the company. Essentially, the marketer gets paid a commission when a customer purchases a recommended product or service through the marketer’s online efforts.

Affiliate networks like,, and, offer thousands of products (i.e., physical products, PDFs, ebooks, and videos) that you can choose and market on your blog and social media platforms that could earn you a ton of money. If interested in this model, register on Clickbank and search for a digital product in your area of interest. Then copy the link (The “hoplink”) from that Clickbank product and place it on your website and social media platforms. If someone purchases that digital product through the link on your blog/social media account, you can earn a commission between 50% to 75% of the sale.

Amazon even offers an affiliate program on its platform called Amazon Associates. Amazon pays between 4% and 10% commissions from the sales of products that you recommend. I believe the minimum age requirement is 18 years old to participate in most affiliate programs. If you are under 18, you could ask your parents/guardians if they would like to partner with you and they can register. Unfortunately, most online platforms will require you to be 18 and have a PayPal or bank account. However, your parents may want to join you. If you don’t have a Paypal account, go open one!

If you are unfamiliar with Paypal, it’s an online financial service that allows you to pay for items using a secure internet account. Simply add your bank account, credit card, or debit card details. Most online merchants accept Paypal. Also, many affiliate programs will pay into your Paypal account when sales are completed. After receiving money into Paypal, funds are easily transferred into your bank account.

With affiliate marketing, you don’t need to create the product, stress about collecting payments or deal with customer service, similar to Print-OnDemand. Teens simply refer customers to someone else’s product and then get paid a commission. Your job/objective is to figure out how to create a way to market those affiliate links. You’ll need to be very specific with your business/social media presence and how it relates to that product/service. You also need to be creative with articles, photos, and video content targeted at a particular audience (i.e, customers who want or need exactly what you are selling). After you figure out what you want to sell and who to sell to, you’re on your way to earning your first sale! It takes time and diligence, and your efforts will pay off.

Here are some recommendations for starting an affiliate marketing business:

  • Build a blog/website as your “sales page”(collect customer’s emails as often as possible),

  • Create Facebook page/group, Instagram, Youtube, TikTok, Pinterest, etc. (or whatever social media platform you prefer to use).

  • Create lots of great content (photos/videos/articles)

Regardless of your business model, affiliate marketing is a terrific way to earn some extra money within your business if you can find a solid/reputable product or service. Please only recommend products or services you have used or would use and honestly believe in your business’s products and services. Watch the supporting video for more information on how to successfully and adequately build an affiliate marketing business.

Ecommerce Store

The fourth business model is an eCommerce store, where teens can create and earn money selling things that revolve around their passion/interests. Whether they sell hand-made creations, clothing, or drop shipping products from manufacturers, this can be a very lucrative business model.

There are many free ways for teenagers to start online businesses, selling products or services. Most of these can be started for a fraction of what it would cost to open up a physical business (brick-and-mortar businesses like a local florist, computer repair shop, clothing boutique store in your town, convenience store, etc.). The E-Teen Lab instructs how to use WIX. WIX certainly does have the tools and applications to dropship, but let’s use Shopify as our prime example because it is the world’s most used eCommerce and dropshipping platform. It’s used by hundreds of thousands of businesses and is a platform where an online e-commerce store can be created within hours of registering an account.

Most people use Shopify to drop-ship items directly from a manufacturer to their customers. What’s dropshipping? When your customer purchases an item from your store, you would then order and pay for the product from the manufacturer and enter the customer’s address. The manufacturer then fulfills the order and ships it off to your customer! You never have to touch the merchandise. And you keep the profit between the cost of the item and the price charged to the customer.

With just a few clicks, many manufacturers in the US, UK, and China can be easily integrated, for free, into your Shopify (or WIX) store. Then you can find products and easily upload them to your store. Again, finding products is simple, exciting, and fun, but the tricky part is sending traffic to your site. This is why focusing on great content is crucial to the success of your business and using your social media accounts to begin generating sales.

Only consider Shopify if you plan on focusing on a specific theme or type of product. As I mentioned earlier in the course, many people try selling products in different niches/themes (called a general store). This is a terrible idea, especially for beginners. Some of the most successful Shopify stores worldwide just sell 2 to 5 items, and many generate millions of dollars per year. Why? Because the website is simple and the products featured are hyper-marketed on the owner’s blogs, websites, and social media accounts. These are highly targeted stores with very high profits.

If you don’t have a physical product to sell, you can find one from a manufacturer's website and then import it to your store. Most Shopify business owners, using the dropshipping business model, use a website called AliExpress. AliExpress is considered the Amazon of China, and it hosts millions of products in just about every and any interest you can think of.

You may be asking, “how do I import products from AliExpress into my Shopify store?” Great question. Shopify offers app integrations. One app that easily integrates into Shopify is called Oberlo. WIX uses apps called Modalyst and Spocket and works similarly to Oberlo. Oberlo was built to easily import products from AliExpress with just a few clicks, importing images and descriptions. There is a learning curve, but it’s very doable. Many of the item titles and descriptions that transition from AliExpress to Shopify are not formatted well. Ensure the titles and descriptions make sense before activating them in your store.

Shopify is not free; however (if you want to go the e-commerce route), opt into the 14-day FREE trial and go nuts! Learn all you can about the site, download Oberlo, and start importing products all for free. No worries if it turns out to be a mess; your store will not go live during your trial period. For the EteenLab course, we all start on because it is free, and you’ll be able to build the store for free indefinitely until you want to go live to accept payments. If you are very serious about eCommerce, use the 14-day free trial at Shopify to get a feel for how it works. You can cancel within 14 days if you decide to move your business in a different direction.


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