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This Former Stay-at-Home Mom Started a 'Zero Experience' Side Hustle That's Earned Over $500,000 — and She Doesn't Work More Than 1 Hour a Day Gina Van De Voorde didn't have a background in ecommerce or graphic design — but that didn't stop her from going all-in on her new venture.

By Amanda Breen Edited by Jessica Thomas

Key Takeaways

  • Van De Voorde sees significant sales with just a few hours of work per week.
  • She says success comes from front-loading the work and maintaining consistency.
Courtesy of Gina Van De Voorde

In the summer of 2021, former stay-at-home mom Gina Van De Voorde was working remotely for a mental health facility — and the gig was "ironically destroying [her] own mental health."

"I just hated the job," Van De Voorde tells Entrepreneur. "I dreaded it every single day. And that's what kind of led me into looking for different side hustles or businesses to start."

Van De Voorde scoured YouTube for hours every day in search of inspiration until she found a tutorial for print-on-demand. Print-on-demand services allow side-hustlers and business owners to create and ship their products as orders come in — which means fewer costly minimums and less risk.

Related: This Retired UPS Employee Started a People-Oriented Side Hustle That Earns More Than $500,000 a Year — and 'Anyone With a Pulse Can Do It'

From there, "it kind of clicked," Van De Voorde recalls. Despite having "zero" experience in ecommerce or graphic design, she was able to open her Etsy clothing shop that same day.

"Thankfully a lot of simple designs sell really well."

She opted to work with the print-on-demand platform Printify and create her designs on Canva.

"I'm definitely still not a graphic designer by any means," Van De Voorde says. "I still don't really even think I'm that good, but thankfully, a lot of simple designs sell really well. Text-based designs sell well."

For the first few months, Van De Voorde "was just kind of guessing" which designs would resonate with customers. The strategy wasn't all that effective in the beginning, she admits. But the more time Van De Voorde spent on Etsy, conducting research from 9-5 alongside her full-time job, the more she realized which styles and trends would sell.

Related: This Graduate Student Started a Side Hustle to Help Pay Tuition. It Earned Over $115,000 Last Year — More Than His Full-Time Job.

"With print-on-demand, you have to do a lot of niche research."

Van De Voorde began by selling T-shirts and sweatshirts, which remain her top-selling categories today.

"With print-on-demand, you have to do a lot of niche research," Van De Voorde explains. "In the beginning, I was just testing a bunch of niches until I tested the Western niche that proved to be very successful. So that was pretty much my first niche that scaled really well."

Van De Voorde also offers her designs on Shopify now but says it's "totally different" from selling on Etsy. With the latter, she doesn't have to worry about driving her own traffic, as it's "more like a marketplace."

Related: How This Seller Makes $12,000 a Month of Passive Income on Etsy

"As long as you're consistent, posting every day, you'll see success."

Van De Voorde's consistent trial-and-error approach paid off — big time. Nowadays, not only does she work on her shop "just a few hours a week," but she's also done more than $500,000 in sales.

And her best advice for other side-hustlers who hope to take a page from her book and run their own successful print-on-demand businesses? Don't assume it's some overnight "get rich quick scheme."

"It's a lot of work upfront," Van De Voorde says. "So just be prepared that you have to front-load the work in the beginning in order to get your shop off the ground — then you can kind of pull it back. But as long as you're consistent, posting every day, you'll see success."

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a senior features writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate of Barnard College and received an MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts.

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