If you are a creative person, you are always buzzing with ideas. And if you have a business bone in you, you must be itching to put your ideas to work and make money.  If you are one of these, then the Print-on-Demand business is perfect for you! Why? Take a look

Table of Contents

Why is the Print-on-Demand business both popular and profitable?

An Overview of the Print-on-Demand Business

Types of Print-on-Demand Products

Steps to launch your Print-on-Demand business with an E-commerce store

Pitfalls to avoid in the Print-on-Demand business

The Final Verdict

The Print-on-demand business (POD) is because of the following reasons

  • Assured returns -  You start the printing only when you get the order.
  • No overheads - You don’t need an office or workspace as everything is outsourced.
  • No inventory - You do not need to stock the items as they are made available only on order.
  • No order fulfillment worries - The POD supplier does the order fulfillment.
  • Easy website monetization - POD is the quickest way to make money from your creative designs through your e-commerce website. All you have to do is display your designs and wait for the orders to come in with the money.
  • Ideal for small orders - Even orders <10 numbers can be fulfilled with Print-on-Demand.
  • Best for niche products - Niche products sell in fewer numbers but are of high retail value. Print-on-Demand is ideal for producing such niche products.
  • Perfect for trying out a new idea - If you are trying out a new idea and want to see how it works, then, you should go with Print-on-Demand. POD gives you the feel of launching a new startup with minimum risks. It is the best way to test-market an idea or a product.
  • Best way to build your own brand - If you want to establish yourself in the market with your own brand, start with POD and scale later.

An Overview of the Print-on-Demand Business

Of all the on-demand services, Print-on-Demand is one that has achieved huge success. GlobeNewswire predicts that the custom T-shirt printing market is expected to cross $10 billion by 2025. Print-on-Demand companies are sprouting each second in every corner of the world. These companies offer their demand services by integrating with Print-on-Demand sites to get their designs created.

Here is a list of some Print-on-Demand sites to make the process easy for you.

Print-on-Demand Sites are the E-commerce platforms that help you transform your ideas into reality. They allow you to upload your own designs or choose from their templates and print products on demand. What more, you can also integrate these with your online store to extend your demand services to your customers.

Examples of Print-on-demand sites

Printful

Printful is one of the most sought-after POD sites due to the following reasons:

  • Wide range of  products and brands - 255+ products
  • User-friendly mockup-generator
  • Great unboxing accessories like stickers, custom labels, package inserts, etc
  • Easily integrated with Shopify, WooCommerce, etc
  • Easy integration with other online storefronts like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, etc

Deploy your online store and upload your designs. Get the orders and pass it on to Printful. Get paid and be happy.

Printful’s Pluses

  • Printful does the warehousing, packing, and shipping
  • It offers design services with tutorials
  • E-commerce photography available
  • With Printful, the design ownership is complete. You own the designs you create on its platform.

Profit Margin on Printful

Printful recommends a 30% profit margin on each sale. Its Profit Calculator allows you to fix your profit margin on each order.

POD products on Printful

T-shirts, Sweatshirts, Hoodies, Swimwear, Beach Towels, Coffee Mugs, Leggings, Tote bags, Phone cases, Stickers, etc.

Printful vs the other POD companies

Printify

Printify is a site that mimics Printful in everything from its name to its functions. Like Printful, it can be integrated with Shopify and other e-commerce platforms like Wix and WooCommerce.

Its Premium Plan is worth a mention as it allows you to connect with 10 online stores using 1 account.

Printify vs Printful- The Race

  • Printful allows you to select products and design for free. It charges only for the product. There are no monthly plans, unlike Printify. Printfiy has a Premium Plan at $29/month and an Enterprise plan based on the order quantity.
  • Printify operates only in USD while Printful operates in multicurrency.

RedBubble

From Down Under, this Australian POD site ranks high on Alexa for its traffic. Although its product range is limited to 70+, it offers complete design ownership to the artist. It has anti-piracy and watermark features to protect the designs. Even its pricing includes the artist’s design cost per product as the markup. This is the reason why it is greatly favored by creative artists and designers.

Bonfire

Based in Virginia, USA, Bonfire is a great POD Site to sell customized T-shirts. It has a great design tool and a host of design templates. It allows you to fix your product’s price and your profit margin. It even allows you to accept tips at checkout (albeit leaving 8% on them).

Bonfire is much-favored as it is totally free and has endless options like fundraising, campaigning, etc. It allows you the design ownership and complete payout for your products while taking only the default prices of the items. A processing fee of 8% is applicable for fundraising campaigns.

Teespring

Teespring declares itself as the end-to-end solution for your E-commerce business. It helps you create and sell products easily with its easy design and global shipping to 160 countries. What more, their product categories include not only T-shirts but phone cases, pillows, tote bags, beach towels and even flags.

The best part about Teespring is that it makes you set both sales goals and campaign duration. A sales goal can be anything like selling a phone case a day and the campaign length can be anywhere up to 21 days. This helps you gain focus on your E-commerce business.

Gooten

The main USP of Gooten is the versatility of its product types. There are so many types of products in each category like Apparel, Home Decor, etc. Form pouches to pet placemats, they have a unique range of products which is really enviable.

With infinite SKUs and easy integration with many online marketplaces, Gooten gets your products where they need to be to sell like hotcakes. With multiple integrations, Gooten allows you to connect with several online stores on Shopify, Woocommerce, etc while giving each one its own product library.

Spreadshirt

This German POD site has over 10,000 visitors a day and has 5.5 million products printed. From hoodies, sweatshirts, aprons to baby bibs and water bottles, their products are impressive and of high-quality.

You can upload your own designs or select the ones created by independent designers. You can even become a partner and earn an Affiliate commission of up to 20%.

Spreadshirt increases its service-spread by allowing theme-customized products. For instance, you can create custom products for a Family Reunion, Baby Shower, or a College Graduation. The hoodies and goodies that you create here on Spreadshirt have the best prints with options like embroidery or 100% design ownership for your creative ideas and attractive discounts up to 70% on the products that help you make easy money with Spreadshirt.

The best feature of Spreadshirt is it allows you to open your own T-shirt or merchandise store on its e-commerce platform. Musicians and artists can launch their Merch stores to promote their labels.

Threadless

Threadless is an online marketplace that allows you to unleash your creativity by uploading your own designs. The uniqueness of this POD site is that it even has online design competitions where your design can be put up for voting.

The other aspect of Threadless that is commendable is that it helps you to create your own brand by setting up your own e-commerce store, fully customized with your own unique logo and layout.

Merch

Merch is Amazon’s option for Print-on-demand. Here you can upload your design, get them printed and sold as Amazon products. You earn monthly royalties and have your own product page on Amazon. Everything from production to shipping and customer support is handled by Amazon.

But remember one thing, at Merch, you can enter only by invitation. You have to fill a form and wait for the invite after your background is verified.

The range of products being printed-on-demand is widening day-by-day. Let us have a look at some of these in detail.

Types of Print-on-Demand Products

T-shirts

T-shirts tops the list of Print-on-Demand products. T-shirts are mainly preferred for Print-on-Demand as they are easy to screen-print or digital-print. T-shirts also make the best brand merchandise and promotional products as the company logo can be easily printed on them.

T-shirts are available in the best prints on Printful, Gooten, Teelaunch, Customcat, etc. Some POD sites like Printaura exclusively offer white-label T-shirt printing.

Hoodies

Hoodies abound the Print-on-Demand and dropshipping market. Sites like Printful, Spreadshirt, Printify, etc offer you the best prints in hoodies. Companies like Rush Order Tees and Broken arrow offer high-quality hoodies with embroidery and printing.

Mugs

Mugs are the most popular promotional drinkware in the corporate world. This makes them most sought-after in the Print-on-Demand market. Printful, Printify, Gooten, and Printrove deal with print-on-demand mugs.

Phone Cases

The POD market is flooded with custom-printed phone cases. Since the mobile is a must-have gadget for safety and style, everyone wants to have their own custom-printed phone case.

Print-on-Demand has made the Phone case an attractive option by printing them with incredible custom designs. Printful, Printfiy, Gooten offer high-quality phone cases. Invition and Tullun offer on-demand printing services for phone cases.

Leggings

From morning to night, one outfit fits just right for women and those are leggings. Print-on-demand leggings are the craze mainly because they help women to get matching ones for their tops or T-shirts. Women like to experiment with different designs and that is why they prefer Print-on-Demand leggings. Get your custom leggings from popular POD sites like Printify or Printful. Art-of-Where and Contrado also offer customized leggings.

Tote-bags

Tote bags are hot items on the Print-on-Demand market due to their universal use and stylish appearance. Most companies prefer to use Tote bags as their promotional products due to their wide use and visibility. Sites that offer Print-on-Demand Tote bags with the best prints are Printful, Printify, Gooten,  Inkthreadable, etc. Qikink, Pixels and Printerstudio too offer high-quality custom Tote bags.

Wall art or Art prints

The home is where the art is. And that is why everyone wants to spruce up their home with wall art these days. Wall art is the home decor in the form of paintings, canvases, stickers, etc. You can find these in plenty on Printify, Printful, Gooten, and Kite.ly.

All these custom products can be created with your exclusive design and marketed under your own brand with the help of the POD sites given above.

Now that you have a list of products with print-on-demand services and the list of their POD sites, it is time to set up your e-commerce store and print-on-demand business.

Steps to launch your Print-on-Demand business with an E-commerce store

The Global T-shirt printing market alone stood at $3.4 billion in 2019 (Grandviewresearch). This is just the market size of a single POD product. This shows that there is a lot of scopes for you to make money by starting a print-on-demand business. To do this, follow this step-by-step guide.

Step 1- Find your niche and pick your products

In the vast expanse of the demand services industry, your niche is your own tiny space that you choose to make your presence felt. Find your niche based on the following criteria

  • Your niche has its exclusive target audience
  • Your niche has a constant demand for its products
  • Your niche is the market space where you have an edge over the others.
  • Your niche can get you definite returns

Your niche can be any of the 2 types

  1. Subject niche- Here the niche deals with a subject and all products related to it. Like Yoga. Everything in this niche would pertain to Yoga. It would then have an assortment of products, all related to Yoga.
  2. Product niche- Here the niche sells exclusively one product. For instance, Bags This could include Totebags, Gym Bags, Office bags, Luggage Bags, School bags, etc.

Identify your niche after a lot of research using the following links

  • Google Trends
  • Social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest
  • Discussion forums - Reddit, Quora
  • Best-selling products on online marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, etc
  • Trend discovery websites - Trendhunter, Trendwatching, CoolHunting, Spring wise, Cool Business ideas, etc

Based on your research, draft a list of products you might want to sell. Choose from among the popular POD products mentioned above like T-shirts, leggings, tote bags, mugs, throw pillows, phone cases, etc. Or create some unique products like stainless steel straws or neck phone cases.

Step 2- Get the designs ready

Creativity is the key to the print-on-demand business. Unleash your imagination and create stunning designs for your products. Use design tools from sites like Canva, Crowdhill, Creativemarket, etc. Or buy great designs from Design Cuts, Art Web, or Big Cartel. Remember, it is always better to buy designs or patent your own to prevent any copyright issues. Make sure that the design suits all types of products from clothing to drinkware.

Step 3- Deploy your website

Once you have your designs ready, your next task is to create your e-commerce store. To build a professional website for your brand, choose Shopify or WooCommerce. These website builders can help you deploy your online store that can be scaled up at a later date. Set up all the vital pages like Business age, Services Page, Product catalog, Order Fulfillment, Shipping, Payment, Contact, etc.

Step 4- Select your print provider

The next crucial step is to select a Print-on-Demand supplier or provider. The print provider you select will have a plugin that gets integrated into your website. Printful, Printify, Gooten, etc integrate easily with many online storefronts like Shopify or WooCommerce. Integrating the POD site to your online store helps dropshipping and order fulfillment to be done in a seamless manner.

Choose a POD provider that gives you the best prints and materials of high-quality. Printify allows you to choose among 15-20 suppliers to find that suits your brand, It has 250 blank products and a mockup generator to visualize your designs. While selecting your POD supplier, keep the quality of materials and timely delivery as the prime focus.

Add the products to your store and set it running.

Step 5- Promote your POD business through your online store

To make your print-on-demand business a success, you need to promote it. Customers need to know about your POD products and brand. Your demand services should gain visibility to generate leads. This can be done in the following ways.

Social media marketing

  • Create accounts or business pages on all major social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
  • Post stunning pictures of your POD products at least once a week. Engage with your target audience by giving them entertaining tips on your POD products.
  • Create an apt hashtag to promote your site on social media. Encourage your users to mention this hashtag in their post and forwards.
  • Offer seasonal deals for your POD products on social media through promo codes.
  • Create interest for your POD products through contests, campaigns and award prizes.

Influencer marketing

  • Harness the power of influencer marketing by promoting your product on Instagram through influencers
  • Offer attractive incentives for people who endorse your POD products in their posts
  • Use influencer marketing apps like iFluenz for Instagram, Klear for Twitter, Famebit for YouTube and Fanbytes for Snapchats to find influencers to promote your POD products.

SEO

Optimize your website for SEO to make it rank on top of all the online searches. Use SEO techniques like keyword search and backlinking to optimize your website content.

Content Marketing

Write informative blogs on your website to attract visitors. Create blogs with unique content that ranks on top of all online searches. Promote your blog on your POD products through all social media to generate interest among online visitors.

Customer reviews

Collect customer reviews on your POD products and use them as social proof. Feature your customer reviews on your website and post them on social media. This will guarantee leads to your POD store.

Now that you have promoted your online store for your POD business, watch its progress, and make improvements based on customer feedback. Devise unique marketing strategies and product improvements to sustain customer engagement and sales. View each step of this process as a brand-building exercise for your print-on-demand business.

Pitfalls to avoid in the Print-on-Demand business

  • Don’t expect sky-rocketing sales the moment you open your e-commerce store.  The Print-on-Demand business, like any other, takes time and effort to succeed.
  • Offering usual and routine products. If your E-commerce store has the same POD products like any other, why would a customer buy from you? Sell unique products with a difference.
  • Selling only one type of product like Phone cases. This narrows down your market size. Offer as many product types as you can.
  • Do not offer too many choices for each product. This confuses the customer and results in poor sales.
  • Give customers a reason to choose your POD products. It may be a unique design, superior quality, or attractive prices.
  • Don’t compete with big players like Amazon or Etsy over delivery times. Do not promise quick delivery unless you are confident your supplier can match the deadline.
  • Do not try to be a jack-of-all-trades and end up doing nothing well. Some people try to design, market, print and even ship their POD products to cut costs. This is too much to do and leaves most of the work undone. Be smart enough to connect with designers and POD suppliers who will do the job better than you.
  • Do not be overzealous and invest in advertising before your POD business and online store get going.
  • Do not ignore customer reviews. They are the true feedback of customers that is needed to improve your business.
  • Do not forget to engage with your customer regularly through emails. It is vital to maintain a loyal customer base for your POD business.
  • Watch the progress of your POD business before thoughts of expansion.

The Final Verdict

The Print-on-Demand business is a great option for those who want to try their hand at being budding entrepreneurs. It is favored most as it has low costs, minimal setup, zero warehousing and order fulfillment responsibilities.

In today’s age where Customer is King, the Print-on-Demand business is here to stay with its USP being customization and personalization.

Be wise and begin your Print-on-Demand business by following this complete guide and make it a huge success.