Why ‘Improvecat’ is terrible

I’ve spent the past few months now getting obsessed about Print on demand, so I’ve seen my fair share of Passive income ”’gurus”’ around; some with some genuinely good advice, some with terrible advice, and plenty of people regurgitating standard tropes within print on demand. This post may even turn into a light rant!

One of these is the ‘Improvecat’ method. Much like copycatting; you simply take someone elses design, change it enough so that you can’t be sued, and then try to compete with the original.

  1. Search for a design
  2. Remake the design with different fonts / illustrations
  3. ????

If you aren’t familiar with it, try it for yourself now. Lets head on over to Amazon and search for something, say, ‘Joke Shirt‘. Take a look at the results.

Heh, I guess some of these are pretty funny. ‘Mmm… π‘. Nice. They all seem to be nice and original, but let’s just take a look at that Pi shirt again. Heck, lets look at all of these shirts again. Search for a shirt of your choice and you’ll see what I mean. I’ll search for the maths one; ‘5 out of 4 people Struggle with maths

Oh, right, I see. There are hundreds. 644 to be exact at the time of posting. All basically identical, all telling the same joke, all constantly undercutting each other and trying colour variations and font differences to try and make that sale. This isn’t even a large case, you can find designs with thousands of ‘Improved’ versions.

What I’m trying to highlight here is the Improvecat method is a race to the bottom.

What it does is flood the service, be it Amazon, Redbubble, TeePublic, with absolute junk. And it isn’t passive at all. You’ll always have competition.

What Improvecat is good for

Improvecat is a way that a lot of people get into Print of Demand and there are times when it has it’s benefits.

As I said previously, it’s a great idea to look at your competitors work! You should be researching what other people are doing. If you find a niche that is untapped, or poorly tapped, this is where Improvecat can come into effect with great results.

Improvecat is good when you can actually ‘Improve’ on the piece, not just copy and change it.

You might see a T-Shirt which has a terrible illustration, or badly placed text, or a joke that could be so much funnier. In this case, I think it’s fine to be ‘inspired’ by it and make a better version.

What you should avoid, is making a version that is basically functionally identical. All you’ll do is cut your own potential income in half instead of taking a bigger slice of the pie.

What if people copy my design?

While this isn’t likely to happen if all you’re doing is copying other people, it can be annoying to see people copy your designs. This is just something you need to deal with when you’re selling stuff, online or offline.

It’s just going to happen if you get big enough and focus on Jokes or Pun designs. If you work on your own illustrations, then you’re less likely to be copied. It’s so much easier to just copy text than remake an entire illustration from scratch.

In summary

Nowadays, especially for Amazon, there are so many dedicated tools to help sellers find niches, that you’ll likely always be competing, whatever you do. Success is a case of being first in the niche, or best in the niche.

You just need to keep getting better, uploading more. Print on Demand is largely a game of numbers. You can’t rely on one or two best selling products. Create a design, upload it, forget about it. (Well, maybe return in a few months to optimise tags and things)