If you’re an artist, graphic designer, illustrator, or creative enthusiast looking for ways to monetize your hobby and art, a print-on-demand (POD) business is a great option.
POD platforms enable creators to market their original designs on various products, such as T-shirts, phone cases, mugs, etc., without taking care of inventory and shipping.
Starting a POD business might sound daunting, but it’s relatively easy once you know the basic steps- it’s an easy automated business idea.
Here’s my step-by-step guide on how to start a print-on-demand business to get your business off the ground!
- Start a print-on-demand business with low start-up costs and the potential to scale
- Pick your printing niche, select products, create designs & find reliable suppliers for production & shipping
- Market your prints through social media, email & paid advertising to drive sales
- Sell on Shopify to get the best online store set up in minutes.
How To Start A Print-On-Demand Business
I love that a print-on-demand business is pretty much what it sounds like.
You sell stuff with your art printed on it, but it’s a way to make passive income and not do the work yourself.
Instead of printing a huge batch of T-shirts, mugs, or whatever else you’re selling and hoping people buy them, items get printed by another business whenever someone orders.
It’s a great way to start a small business without much risk. But how do you get started with a POD business?
Here are some steps you can take to get started:
1. Pick A Printing Niche
The first thing you want to do is figure out what content you will sell. You need to pick a niche, a focus area.
Once you’ve figured out that, it’s like having a roadmap for everything else. It’ll help you choose the right print-on-demand products and make it easier to market your stuff later.
Maybe you love funny quotes and want them on T-shirts, or perhaps you like painting garden scenes that could go on mugs and canvas.
Knowing your niche and what products would be good for your style, whatever your art style is, helps you aim your POD business in the right direction.
So before you jump into designing or setting up an online store, spend some time getting clear on your niche.
2. Select Your Products
So, you’ve picked your niche and are now ready to decide on the products you want to sell in your print-on-demand company.
It’s not just about following your passion; you’ll also want to know what’s trending and what your target audience might like.
There are tons of options to consider. Some of my favorite products are:
- Coffee mugs
- Home Decor
- Canva art
While clothing like T-shirts are always a hit, diversifying your product range can help you reach more people and gain more traction.
3. Create Your Designs
Now comes the super fun part: making your own designs for a POD business.
Putting in time to create awesome designs can set your brand apart, helping you start selling custom products and making money as those customer orders roll in.
Now, remember to keep your target market in mind when you’re making designs. Think about what will grab their attention and create custom products that pop.
Play around with different colors, fonts, and images that speak to the people you want to reach.
Oh, and a heads-up: if you’re using stock images or templates, check the licensing so you don’t run into any legal issues down the line.
4. Find A Supplier
Finding the right print provider is crucial if you want to make sure your business is a hit. Trust me, you want a reliable company with high print quality.
When I started my store, I got samples from print-on-demand companies like Printful, Printify, or Gooten. It helped me compare quality and how quickly they could get stuff to my door.
Now, here’s a tip: look for suppliers that offer free shipping or do in-house fulfillment.
Having fulfillment in-house means the company takes care of everything from printing to shipping right from their own facilities.
It’s like a one-stop shop, which can make your life much easier and often means faster delivery and better quality control.
Finally, as you pick your third-party supplier, consider how they’ll fit with your online shop.
You want a supplier that can integrate smoothly with your ecommerce platform so you can focus on what matters: growing your business.
I’ll go more in-depth on a few print-on-demand services down below for you to check out!
5. Determine Your Pricing
Once you’ve got your POD store up and running and you’ve chosen from among the print-on-demand companies, it’s time to get serious about your business model, specifically pricing.
You want to ensure your print-on-demand store prices are attractive to your customers and profitable so it’s sustainable for years to come.
Think about all your costs: production, shipping, and the money you hope to make.
You want to set prices that cover costs and have good profit margins without scaring folks away with the price tag.
Also, consider adding shipping costs to the retail price so people aren’t surprised at checkout. We all know how a last-minute fee can turn us off from checking out.
6. Open Your Online Store
So, you have your products, designs, and pricing ready to roll.
The next step is launching your own online store to start selling on your POD store.
Whatever print-on-demand platform you go for, be sure it fits the needs of your own website.
It should be straightforward but have features and integrations that align with your business model and own branding.
There are several platforms to pick from that print-on-demand sites use- Shopify, Etsy, eBay, and WooCommerce, just to name a few.
Shopify is super user-friendly and offers many tools to help you grow. It also syncs up nicely with popular print-on-demand sites like Printful and Printify.
If you’re leaning more toward unique or handmade items, Etsy is a solid choice for your own store. It’s already got a built-in audience that loves that kind of stuff.
I’ll get into more detail on these stores below so you can get a quick comparison!
Take some time to weigh your online business options and make the best choice for your print-on-demand service.
7. List Your Products
Your online store is ready; it’s time to add your products to your digital shelves.
Make each listing count with detailed descriptions, high-quality photos, and the right pricing.
The pictures should show what makes your designs special so that people know what they’re getting.
Ensure these images are watermarked in the preview so people can’t just steal and use the image themselves!
Remember, your listings aren’t a one-and-done deal. Regularly update them to make sure they’re in sync with what you’re offering.
Any design, stock, or pricing changes should be reflected immediately. Keeping everything current not only looks professional but also helps catch the eye of potential buyers.
8. Market Your Prints
Have your store all set up and your products listed? Great, but you’re not done yet!
It’s time to get the word out about your awesome print-on-demand products and get marketing to generate sales.
Social media channels like Facebook and Instagram are your best friends here, along with good old email marketing and paid ads.
Pick the platforms your target audience hangs out on so your message hits the right eye. And don’t just use these channels to spam ads; use them to connect and branch out your business.
Reply to comments, send out helpful or fun emails, and make your customers feel like they’re part of your brand’s community.
Remember, good marketing isn’t just about the first sale. It’s about keeping customers coming back, and for that, you need a solid plan.
Keep an eye on how well your marketing is doing. If something’s not working, don’t be afraid to switch it up.
9. Land Sales
Now that your products are gaining traction let’s talk about how to land more sales and keep those customers returning.
It’s all about building a loyal customer base, and here’s how I would do it.
First off, excellent customer service is a must. Be friendly, helpful, and responsive. Customers with a great experience with you are likelier to stick around and buy more.
You can also reach out to existing customers directly to let them know about special promotions and deals, encouraging them to return when the customer places their orders.
Offering promotions and deals is another smart move, and you can spread the word through social media marketing, a fantastic sales channel for reaching your audience.
Lastly, always keep an eye on how your marketing and sales strategies are doing. If something’s not working, don’t hesitate to make adjustments.
The right printing supplier can help you provide your customers with awesome professionally printed t-shirts, coffee mugs, or tote bags that show off your designs in the best ways.
So, let’s chat about printing suppliers and how they can be the secret sauce to making your print-on-demand model online business successful with high-quality products.
They offer 850+ products, including cool stuff like custom t-shirts, bags, and much more that you can put your designs on.
But that’s not all – they’re like the chameleon of printing suppliers because they can blend seamlessly with different e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Etsy, eBay, and WooCommerce.
So, no matter where you want to open your online store, Printify’s got you covered.
And guess what? They even offer worldwide shipping. Yep, they’ve got over 90 printing facilities scattered across the globe and teamed up with the best printers in each location.
So, no matter where your potential customers are, you can get your products to them quickly.
Now, let’s talk about the nitty-gritty stuff – the prices.
Printify doesn’t break the bank. Their prices are competitive, which is always a plus. What I love is that you can even get started for free with no credit card required!
When it comes to printing suppliers, Printful is right up there with the best. They have a wide range of products you can customize, and their platform is super user-friendly.
Just like Printify, Printful works with a bunch of e-commerce platforms. So, whether on Shopify or another platform, you can easily set up shop and sell custom products.
And guess what? Printful’s got some serious speed. They’re known for their fast turnaround time, so you won’t be twiddling your thumbs waiting for your orders to be printed and shipped.
Plus, they offer flat-rate shipping, which means you don’t have to break the bank to get your products into the hands of your customers. It’s a win-win for both you and your wallet.
Oh, and did I mention their stellar reputation? Printful has a stellar 4.6 rating on Trustpilot. That’s like a gold star in the world of online services.
Let me tell you about Gooten – they’re not your run-of-the-mill printing supplier. They’re all about unique stuff that’ll make your brand stand out.
I’m talking phone cases that turn heads, canvas prints that make your walls pop, and even face masks that can be a fashion statement.
But here’s the cool part – they’re all customizable. It’s like having a creative playground at your fingertips.
Now, here’s where Gooten shines. They’ve made connecting your e-commerce platform and selling your customized products a breeze.
It’s like a few clicks and boom, you’re in business. No need to break a sweat.
If you’re just setting up your online store or planning to expand your market reach, choose the right selling platform.
With so many options, selecting the best platform for your business needs can be overwhelming.
These are some of my favorite platforms that I’ve used:
Shopify is one of my favorite platforms to get your online store up and running. It’s not just a popular choice; it’s a game-changer for over a million businesses across the globe.
Here’s why Shopify deserves a spot on your radar:
First things first, Shopify is all about simplicity. I love that they’ve nailed their interface and offer customizable templates to create your stunning online store.
Shopify is loaded with features, from helping you manage your inventory to giving you the inside scoop with analytics tools. Plus, when it comes to marketing, they’ve got the goods.
And here’s the kicker – Shopify plays well with others. To simplify your life, you can seamlessly integrate it with third-party software like QuickBooks and Google Analytics.
Now, let’s talk $$. Shopify’s pricing starts at just $39 per month, which covers hosting and payment processing and lets you have as many products as you want.
But with my link, you can start for only $1 per month for your first 3 months- a good savings you can put back into your POD business.
Etsy is one of my go-to platforms, and let me tell you, it’s a treasure trove for all things handmade, vintage, and unique.
It’s a bustling global marketplace with a whopping 81 million active buyers and millions of sellers worldwide.
As an Etsy seller, you get to be the boss. You create your little store, showcasing your items to the world. It’s like having your shop right in the heart of this massive marketplace.
Now, here’s where Etsy shines. They provide handy tools to manage your orders, keep track of your inventory, and streamline your shipping process.
So, you can focus on what you do best – creating amazing stuff.
But wait, there’s more! If you’re looking to expand beyond Etsy (though, trust me, Etsy is pretty awesome on its own), you can integrate it with third-party platforms like Shopify.
That way, you can have more ways to earn money and reach even more customers without breaking a sweat.
Now, let’s talk fees. Etsy charges a tiny $0.20 listing fee per item, and when you make a sale, they take a 6.5% transaction fee.
It has set the standard for creating a bustling global marketplace where individuals and businesses can find buyers for their new or used products.
One of the big perks of eBay is its pricing. They keep it straightforward with a store subscription fee that starts at $7.95. They also charge other fees to sell in an eBay store.
eBay’s got a massive user base, and that’s great news for you as a seller. With so many potential buyers, you will find the right match for your products.
EBay’s buyer feedback system also helps build trust between buyers and sellers, making it a reliable and safe transaction platform.
WooCommerce is the perfect fit for WordPress users looking to dive into e-commerce.
With WooCommerce, you get a customizable, tailor-made platform for print-on-demand businesses.
What’s great is that you can create a unique online store that perfectly matches your brand’s style.
It integrates smoothly with print-on-demand services like Printful and Printify, making it a breeze to turn your creative designs into real products.
If you’re already rocking WordPress for your website, adding WooCommerce is a no-brainer. WooCommerce
In terms of cost, WooCommerce itself is free. However, while the plugin is free, you need a WordPress website to use WooCommerce, which will incur hosting costs.
These can start from around $5 per month. Additionally, certain features and extensions are not free and may require additional payment.
Also, bear in mind that while WooCommerce doesn’t charge transaction fees, you’ll have to pay payment processing fees to your chosen payment gateway.
Pros & Cons Of Printing Business
- Creative Outlet: Running a printing business allows you to express your creativity through design and customization.
- Customization: You can offer personalized print-on-demand products catering to specific customer preferences.
- Low Overhead: Many print-on-demand models have low upfront costs, making them accessible for start-ups.
- Scalability: As your business grows, you can easily scale your operations to meet demand.
- Diverse Product Range: You can offer various customizable products, from apparel to home decor.
- Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR): The print-on-demand industry is expected to grow by 25.6% through 2030.
- Competition: The printing business can be highly competitive, with many players in the market.
- Quality Control: Ensuring consistent print quality can be challenging and may lead to customer dissatisfaction.
- Inventory Management: Managing inventory can be complex, especially with a diverse product range.
- Marketing Effort: Effective marketing efforts are crucial to stand out in a crowded market.
- Profit Margins: Profit margins can vary based on how you market your business and the pricing strategy.
Is print-on-demand a profitable business?
Yes! The print-on-demand approach can be a smart move for your business.
Print-on-demand is quite different from your typical online store because you don’t need to worry about storing a bunch of stuff.
That means you dodge the risks and costs of stocking up on inventory.
Is a print-on-demand business a good starter business for beginners/new entrepreneurs?
A print-on-demand business is a great starter for beginners and new entrepreneurs.
Starting a print-on-demand business is much more comfortable than starting a traditional eCommerce store.
Print-on-demand business platforms like Shopify offer various user-friendly tools and pre-built templates that make it easy for anyone to set up a store.
What products could be in my print-on-demand shop?
You can offer a wide range of print-on-demand products without worrying about inventory management.
Some popular product options include:
- Wall art
- Phone cases
- Stickers, posters
- Canvas prints
- Tote bags
- Home décor
- Pet accessories
How can I create designs for my shop?
Creating designs for your print-on-demand shop can be challenging if you don’t have graphic design skills.
Many resources are available to help you create professional and eye-catching designs for your print-on-demand business.
One option is to look on FlexJobs and hire a freelance professional designer or an agency to create custom designs for your brand.
Another option is using design tools such as Canva Pro, Adobe Creative Suite, or PicMonkey to create your designs.
These tools offer a variety of templates, fonts, graphics, and editing features to help you create designs that reflect your style and brand personality.
How much does it cost to start a print-on-demand business?
The costs can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on how much you invest in your own business.
On average, a print-on-demand business could cost around $3,000 between production, a selling site, taxes, and other business expenses.
Some ecommerce platforms, such as Shopify or Printful, offer free plans or trial periods, which can help you test the waters before committing to a paid plan.
Is Shopify good for a business platform?
Yes, Shopify is considered one of the best platforms for a profitable print-on-demand business.
Shopify offers a user-friendly website builder, themes and templates, integrated payment and shipping options, and marketing features like SEO and social media integration.
Not only that, but you can get integration with print-on-demand apps such as Printful or Gooten, which makes customer orders seamless.
Also, Shopify offers a 3-day trial period and affordable pricing plans starting at $39 per month, which makes it accessible for small and medium-sized businesses.
Starting a print-on-demand company is a great idea to make money online, minus the financial risks and the headaches of a traditional brick-and-mortar setup.
It’s a path to entrepreneurship filled with potential, and you’re on the right track with this guide.
Find a niche market when you start a print-on-demand business, whip up designs that turn heads with your target audience, and partner up with a reliable print-on-demand service.
With these steps, you’re on your way to rocking the print-on-demand world and building a successful business.
So, why wait? Dive in, selling on Shopify, and start making your mark today! with a print-on-demand business!