What is Print on Demand? How to Start Print on Demand Store in 5 steps
- Bilal Uddin
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Print on demand is the easiest gateway to enter the ecommerce industry. You just need to be creative and be specific in your targeting to generate massive revenue from this business model.
It is undoubtedly one of the most lucrative online businesses right now. You can find tons of examples who are making hundreds and thousands of dollars by selling print on demand products.
Withintheflow had the privileged to get in touch with a couple of successful print on demand entrepreneurs. Do check out thier interviews on our channel.
- Peter Fitzer – How This Man Sold 25000+ POD in One Year
- Building A Print on Demand Brand – Q&A with Gary Amstutz
To make the print on demand easy to understand I have created a very comprehensive guide that would help you in kick-starting your POD business.
Once you are done with this guide, you will a precise idea about how to start a succesful print on demand store.
What is Print on Demand?
Print on demand is a kind of dropshipping service that allows you to take any design place it on any products that you can sell online such as t-shirts, mugs, shoes, wall shelf, etc. You need to use Print on Demand services (like Printify, Printful, etc.) to source the product and print the design on them.
The products are blanks and available in different colors so you can put a customized design and make it your product.
Once you make a customized product, and then you can display this product on your online store to sell.
As I said earlier, print on demand is another form of dropshipping business. Here you do not need to keep the inventory. You only need to display the product in your online store. When the customer buys the product, the print on demand service will pack it and ship it to the customer on your behalf.
Print on demand services charge fees for the product and shipment services, so you need to charge more from your customer, and the difference would be your profit.
That’s how print on demand works!
Why use Print on Demand Services?
Print on demand allows you to make easy profits with less investment and with least fatigue. It’s is a billion-dollar industry, and it is expected to generate a revenue of $19 billion by 2021.
You only need to integrate a print on demand site into your ecommerce or dropshipping store and let them do the rest of the work.
Best Print on Demand Products to Sell
Here are14 best products to sell in your online print on demand store.
- Apparels (T-Shirt, Hoodies & Sweatshirts)
- Wine Glasses
- Phone Cases
- Cushion Covers
- Wall Decors
- Stationery (Notebooks, Journals, Greeting Cards, etc.)
- Tote bags
How to Start a Print on Demand Business in 5 Steps
Step#1 – Find a perfect niche
Niche marketing is the proven success formula of print on demand business. It helps you focus on design and understand the preferences of your niche audience, such as what design they like, what language they prefer, etc.
Google trends is one of the best tools to find out the perfect demand for any niche.
However, the best way to choose the niche is – Follow Your Passion.
In case you are not passionate about anything, then select the niche in which you are already associated.
For example, if you have a pet dog and know everything related to having a dog, then it would be hard for you to come up with relevant content.
If the worldwide trends is shows rising or constant growth in the demand then it’s a plus point.
When I started this print on demand business it took quite some time to find a niche but the answer was quite simple.
Select the niche in which you are an expert.
Related Article: 9 Easy Steps to Find a Profitable Niche
Step # 2 – Create a Community
Once you find out a niche the next step is to create an engaging community and get maximum warm visitors on your page before publishing any products.
Instagram and Facebook pages are the best platform to create an engaging community.
To create a community, there is a process that you need to follow here
Understand the preference of your niche. That is why I suggested going for a niche you already know. Join the relevant group related to your niche to get first-hand knowledge to get familiar with nomenclature and slangs of your niche.
Facebook groups and subreddits are the best places to conduct your research.
You can use Google to find relevant groups on social forums.
Just type, “Your Niche + Facebook Groups”
In a matter of minutes, you can find multiple resources to create understanding about your niche.
2- Gather Content
To engage the community you need content that is highly relatable for your community. To get the best ideas Pinterest and Google images are the best sources to generate the best ideas.
Just write this on Pinterest;
“topic of niche” + memes
“topic of niche” + quotes
“topic of niche” + funny
For example, if you are studying dentistry then that how you are going to conduct research on Pinterest.
And you will find thousands of ideas to post on your community.
3- Boost Your Community with Facebook Ads
Most of the print on demand guide does not mention to run ads just for the sake of Facebook likes. But it will give a kick-start if you already generate a few thousand fans of your community.
Here I am not talking big-budget advertisement; $50 – $70 is sufficient to give you up to 5k – 10k followers within 3 days.
Create an ad and post a couple of images on your page so when the visitors come to your after seeing the ad they should not find your page empty.
Keep your ad running for at least 3 days, post at least one post a day, and check if you are getting engagement.
The shares and comments show the sign of relevancy that means they are finding the content relatable.
Step #3 – Create the Design
The fun begins here. You have the niche and build an audience who like your content now comes the design creation.
In print on demand business, the design is almost everything that you need to prepare your product for sale. To get this job done, you are going to heavily rely on graphic designers unless you are the one.
The ultimate hack of winning design – Current Trends + niche.
For example, father day is coming and you have a pet dog niche then you can create a dedicated design for your niche by integrating both elements.
You will need to check out freelance websites such as Fiverr and Upwork to hire a designer for the job.
However, there is another way to get your design is to create yourself with Canva.
I highly recommend using the Canva to create print on demand by yourself it is extremely easy to use that help anyone who to create a professional design.
If you want to have the access to every design then you should go for its premium version that is $11/month with a 30-day free trial period.
It also offers a free version that works amazingly well.
Step # 4 – Create a Shopify Store and Choose a Print on Demand Service
You do not have to go set up a Shopify store to start a print on demand business. You can also create a store on Teespring, upload the design on its product, and promote the products in your community.
However, to get control of every function and make maximum profits you must go for Shopify print on demand business.
Best Print on Demand Apps to Integrate with Shopify
- Custom Cat
- Pillow Profit (for Shoes)
Check out 11 Best Print on Demand Shopify Apps.
You can integrate multiple print on demand apps with a single store. However, you may find some difficulty in to fulfill the product at the same time if a single order from different app products.
If you want to use more than one supplier than you must follow these Shopify threads:
More than One Print on Demand Supplier
Working with Multiple Print on Demand Fulfillment Companies
Because it is one of the most user-friendly ecommerce platform, it allows drag and drop editing option that does not require any coding or web development skill.
In addition, you can integrate multiple prints on demand apps with Shopify easily including Printify and Printful
This is how you can integrate Printify with Shopify:
Step # 5 – Find Winning Product Design with Facebook Ads
Run Facebook ads and find a winning design. You only need one successful design to get the maximum profits.
Here your community will benefit you. If you have an engaging community then you can directly post the content and it will organically reach your audience.
However, you will need more audience and when you have a community you can easily create a look-alike audience to get more relevant audience.
Once you find a winning design then try to duplicate that design on other products such as mugs, pillowcases, shoes, wall-papers etc. and never stop testing the product. If a design comes out as a winner on T-Shirt then try on to a different product as well
To get the best response on your Facebook ads, you’d better use Facebook audience insights. Do check out this Facebook Audience Insight Guide that helped us to get $120,000 sales in just 49 days.
Another way to find out the winning is to take the help of your niche community. Remember in the second point I suggested keeping your audience engage with regular posting here it will you to find winning design for your POD products.
You just need to analyze which of you gets the maximum engagement.
When you have a community with a relevant audience it gives you a clear understanding regarding the preference of your niche audience so you get a broad what design will work in your niche.
Pros and Cons of Print on Demand
- No hassle of fulfillment and inventory – Print on demand is a form of dropshipping business, so keeping the inventory and fulfillment service is not your job. The product will only be created when an order arrives, so you get free from any trouble regarding inventory.
- Can focus on marketing and branding – You do not need to worry about product quality, shipment, and stocking. Therefore, you can easily concentrate on the marketing of the product to target the right audience.
- Easy and cheap to start – Setting up an online business gets much more accessible with print on demand services. You just need to sign up (most of the print on demand companies offer free signup) and start your business by uploading your design on products. You will be charged when the customer places an order so it won’t need significant investment to get going.
- The profit margin may be low – Because print on demand services take care of everything, including keeping inventory, printing, and shipment. For their services, they charge fees that lower the profit margin of the seller.
- Hard to gather customer’s information – Customer’s data is crucial to retarget and boost sales, but if you are selling with print on demand services, you might not get to the details of customers who like your product.
- Limited product option – Most of the products in these sites are generic with high competition such as Mugs and t-shirts. So, if you are willing to sell any niche (one-of-a-kind) product from these platforms, then you may not find your preferred product.
10 Prerequisite of Start Print on Demand Store
Print on demand store is not something new in the online market but for the newcomers, it is much essential to consider a few things before starting a ‘Print on Demand Store’.
Most of the time new beginners may not consider going through the following important aspects. Reading the best instructions is a painstaking task and the person who is well versed of each do’s and don’ts will eventually become a ‘Master of the Game’
1. Add a Maximum of 5 Color Variants to Your Product
It seems so supportive towards customers when you give them a variety of options to choose such as multiple colors or various sizes. It is a fact that variety in customization attracts customers which helps in boosting up money but on the other hand, it is a terrible idea to let your customer wander around the selection of lots of colors. Giving your customer too many options is never a good idea.
Keep this fact in your mind that not every design looks good over every color. Psychologically the human brain couldn’t resist too much variety at once which leads them to leave your site on the spot. So, never let this trauma happened to your customers.
2. Check Your Print Provider Options Before Selling Internationally
Most of the people have this misconception that your service providers are manufacturers also who completed your order. Usually, Print on Demand (POD) fulfillment services collaborates with third-party suppliers and these third-party suppliers fulfill your orders. As these suppliers are from different countries so they vary in available colors, production time, and prices.
As a matter of fact, Print on Demand assign the orders to the nearest service providers to the customer’s location. Likewise, ‘Printify’ certain service provider who doesn’t choose a third party supplier to fulfill your customer’s order. In this case, you have to manage manually and must consider the most suitable third party supplier. So, your customer receives the order in the shortest possible time.
3. Make Sure That You Have Credit Card or Money Set Aside
How to receive the money from orders?
Who orders the product?
These are few questions that strangle your mind when you start the Print on Demand Business. Getting confused while handling money is natural. The process is pretty simple. Let’s assume that ‘Printify’ is your POD fulfillment service.
- When a customer placed an order in your store for a T-shirt, you receive money via ‘Paypal’
- After that by default, ‘Printify’ scan your store for any customer’s order once a day.
- As ‘Printify’ successfully finds the required T-Shirt order for the customer, the fulfillment process will be started automatically.
- At this time, ‘Printify’ then charge debit or credit card from your account.
So, this is how the process goes on for every order in your store. But initially, when you start, the money could take several days in transferring to your bank account. The time of transferring the money also depends on your location. Due to this reason, it is crucially important to have some money set aside so that you can purchase items for your store in the meantime.
4. Avoid Copyrights and Check if Your Written Phrase is Trademarked
You must be new in POD market but you must have heard the phrase’ Copyrights’. There might come a time when you would like to have the same design in your store too and you don’t want to take that ‘Copyright’ risk. The best you can do to avoid any such strike is to create your own version of the design.
Pick the design from an authentic source such as Shutterstock and have a proper license of them to use it in your print. If you have a graphic designer then make sure he is having an idea from scratch or have a license to use it.
5. Have Real Lifestyle Images for Your Products
If you want to boost your sales and engage your customers, you must use lifestyle photos on white background. For this you don’t need to dressed yourself in t-shirts and upload them, you can avail the services from ‘Place it’.
The ‘Place it’ will facilitate you in placing artwork designs which featured as real-life models.
‘Place it’ have lifestyle photos for products such as t-shirts, mugs, hoodies, cushions, and pillows. For the best presentation, you can choose lifestyle photos related to your design.
You can some of its templates for free, To get complete access of all mockups you need to purchase a $14.95/month or $99.95/year plan.
6. Don’t Just Stick with Selling T-Shirts
Print on demand is a vast category. Don’t just limit it with designing T-Shirts only. You can stretch your product line with numerous of customizable accessories.
For example, a pair of leggings and mugs can generate a valuable profit. May be these accessories sound so commonly available on the shelf item but the POD designs are hardly available on shelves. So, make sure to have a unique variety in your store.
7. Check to See if Your Design Can Be Printed onto Another Product
All types of designs are not made for all types of products but there is no harm in testing some of your designs on different products. You can start from using small design patterns on blankets, pillows, leggings, and bags, whereas single image designs go best with t-shirts, mugs, and hoodies.
8. Create Urgency (Limited Stock)
Scarcity or shortage may not sound good but works magically to boost up your sale when you labeled your product as the most wanted category. But if you label every product as ‘limited stock’ then it will not attract the customers anymore. Scarcity is considered as ‘Psychological triggers’. You must balance it with products fairly so that it seems realistic.
9. Check to See if Your Niche is Banned on Facebook
Nowadays promoting your product on Facebook is an essential factor to build up your relationship with customers internationally. For this, you will make sure the acceptability of your product under ‘Facebook’s advertising policy’.
For example, ads related to tobacco/smoking are banned on Facebook. So, if you target the smokers community then you might face trouble in running ads for your products.
To avoid any violation go through Facebook’s advertising policies and note down the list of prohibited or restricted products.
10. Get Honest Feedback from Your Friend or Family Member
Naturally, human beings have this superiority regarding the things they have created by own. That is why relying upon own centric opinion is not a wise thing to do. To get an honest view of how your store and product design looks like you must have the opinion of your friends and family members.
If came this far then I hope you have some idea about how to start a print on demand business. Before taking off, I want you to remember a couple of important things when you start the business.
Never Stop testing your products
If your T-shirt works well for you do not just make an ad for a T-shirt and stop right there. Maybe it is the design that is the actual winner. So always try to do the experiment on the products you never know how much potential a market owns unless you test it.
Be Patience in scaling Facebook ads
Data is real money. Many people do this mistake of scaling their Facebook ad too fast, this practice does not give Facebook ads ample time to collect useful data in the product testing phase that made your ads counterproductive for your business.
If you have any queries, feel free to mention them in the comments below and join our 5000+ Facebook community of ecommerce entrepreneurs.