How to Start a Print-on-Demand Business: Everything You Need to Know

November 29, 2022
Contents

Anyone can establish their own business without worrying about fulfillment service, managing inventory, or shipping, which makes the print-on-demand model incredibly attractive.

Who would not be interested in trying it out? This simple step-by-step guide is for you if you want to own an internet shop in 2023 and are willing to try it.

Starting a successful print-on-demand business is a dream for many people as eCommerce expands, the number of digital purchasers gradually rises, and the convenience of digital buying reigns supreme.

Let's now examine the print-on-demand business model in light of this. We will discuss its advantages and disadvantages and, most significantly, discover how to launch a print-on-demand company with no cash outlay.

Starting a POD business will take little time with this information at your disposal.

What Is Print-On-Demand (POD)?

When you engage with a supplier of white-label goods, such as baseball caps or tote bags, to personalize those goods and sell them on a per-order basis under your brand and with your designs, you are operating a print-on-demand business.

There is no need to buy in bulk or keep any inventory on hand when using print-on-demand because you only pay for the product's cost after you sell it. 

As a result, it keeps growing in popularity as a business strategy in the e-commerce industry.

Additionally, your supplier takes care of everything after the sale with print-on-demand services, including digital printing, order fulfillment, and shipping.

One significant extra advantage of print-on-demand is that it merely requires a few clicks to complete an order following a sale after everything is set up.

You can use print-on-demand services to do the following:

  • Test a new product line or business idea without the risks associated with purchasing inventory. It also works well as a side business.
  • Profit from a following you have established. Print-on-demand is a terrific choice if you are a YouTuber or cartoonist who prefers to spend their time creating rather than completing customer orders.
  • Produce unique goods for a specific market, like selling t-shirts with prints that a particular group is passionate about.
  • You can print t-shirts, books, shoes, purses, wall art, phone covers, clocks, laptop skins, mugs, and other merchandise in small runs or one-offs.
  • Test your ad creativity. With print-on-demand, you may run advertising to determine which designs and products are most popular without paying the full cost of the goods in advance. You can double down on the creative and raise your ad expenditure if you receive many orders!

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Print-On-Demand Business Model

Print-on-demand, a tried-and-true method of printing for profit, has several advantages for a developing eCommerce business. However, it also has drawbacks.

Advantages of Print-On-Demand Business

Easy to Start

You only need a little business, marketing, or creative background. Print-on-demand platforms frequently include simple instructions and tutorials since they are interested in having you as a customer.

Start by exploring print-on-demand platforms to learn the basics of the business and its services.

Little-to-no Risk

There is no investment needed with print-on-demand. No need to worry about hiring staff, leasing space, or managing logistics.

No Inventory

A third-party provider distributes goods directly to your customer's home once you complete a sale. You do not need to keep an inventory of your products or pay for storage space.

To sell physical goods, you often need to have an inventory of the goods you will sell. It results in start-up expenditures of several thousand dollars. As your business expands and new products are added, paying for inventory also causes cash flow problems. The business model for print-on-demand overcomes these difficulties.

Global Reach

You may quickly sell locally and internationally with the appropriate design while attracting clients worldwide.

Disadvantages of Print-On-Demand Business

Little Control Over Quality

Although the suppliers usually attempt their best, you have little control over the quality of the final product. The most significant defense against this is to order samples, and if you're unhappy with the outcome, change suppliers.

Longer Production Time

The fulfillment process takes a little longer with print-on-demand. The product cannot be packaged and dispatched immediately since you can only print it after completing a sale.

Lower Profit Margins

The print-on-demand business model requires more costs per product than you would pay if you purchased a larger quantity.

Print-on-demand companies often have lower profit margins than other business models that involve buying inventory in large quantities. 

While you will not have to pay for inventory, you will need to sell more items to turn a profit.

Split Responsibility

While the suppliers complete the orders, buyers will contact you as the merchant with any problems. 

Customers need help seeing the supplier. Therefore it is up to you to address any issues they may have.

Since the print-on-demand sector is expanding, new providers are constantly emerging. 

While this is terrific news for businesses, it may take time to locate a reliable provider. 

Many choices are available, so it is crucial to conduct your homework before deciding.

Is Print-on-demand Still Profitable in 2023?

Now that we know what POD is and how it functions, we can discuss how effectively the fulfillment model will work in 2023.

We will examine Google Trends' POD graphics in the following manner:

Print-on-demand has been there for a while, as we can see from the past 17 years. The trend dropped between 2004 and 2014, but it rose again after bursting again in the last several years.

No indication is slowing down, and it will keep climbing past its peak in 2004.

Let's now examine print-on-demand throughout the previous five years:

With each passing year, there has been a discernible increase. The fact that the peak occurred in the late summer of 2020 shows that the epidemic was likely to blame for the rise in people looking for extra sources of income.

When we look back at the previous year, it was mostly consistent, with a few typical peaks and dips. 

Understanding why certain months do better than others may usually be attributed to seasonal occasions like back-to-school, Black Friday, and Christmas.

The Types of print-on-demand Products You Can Sell in 2023

All Over Print

Let's start our list with a collection of special print-on-demand goods: apparel with all-over prints

The statistics from Google Trends show how the demand for garments with all-over prints has increased over the last 12 months. 

The demand is either  50 or above on Google Trends, which shows that this product will still be in demand in 2023.

But specifically, what sort of clothing should you sell? Some popular print-on-demand products are hoodies, t-shirts, and yoga pants with an all-over design.

Sneakers

Sneakers never go out of style for work, school, or other events. In the past 12 months, interest in sneakers is often 70 or above on Google Trends. 

It is a good sign that this will still be a good print-on-demand product for 2023.

However, designing eye-catching sneakers is more complicated than creating them for simple products like t-shirts. So, pay close attention to the design quality your preferred print-on-demand supplier provides.

Stickers

Google Trends reveals that the scale of people showing interest in stickers keeps rising from 75 last November 2021 until today. Stickers are used for art, design, branding, and packaging goods.

If you want to succeed, try making eye-catching, fun print-on-demand stickers designs. For instance, you can offer custom-made stickers for branding or creating designs of fruits, characters, and quotes.

  1. Tumblers

Tumblers have replaced water bottles as another daily necessity as customers have grown more environmentally conscious recently.

Unlike print-on-demand clothes, you will not have to be concerned with consumer sizing issues when selling tumblers. You will just be dealing with 2-3 sizes available.

Additionally, print-on-demand businesses provide a wide variety of water bottle options, including sports and thermoses.

Tote Bags

Despite the rise of luxury leather bags, demand for tote bags has stayed steady for the past 12 months! Therefore, it makes sense to sell this traditional print-on-demand item.

The most excellent part about selling print-on-demand tote bags is that you can offer tote bags with your most popular designs instead of creating new ones.

Totes are a great product to cross-sell to clients at the register, just like face masks are.

Bluetooth Speakers

Bluetooth speakers and headphones are excellent print-on-demand products to think about selling. For the past 12 months, interest in Bluetooth speakers has been consistent.

It will take a lot of work to compete with well-known audio manufacturers like Sony and Bose regarding audio quality.

So once more, concentrate on developing designs that catch people's attention and make your print-on-demand products stand out.

Shirts

Shirts are undoubtedly the most widely used print-on-demand product available. They are adaptable, available all year round, and a great way to express oneself.

However, setting a shirt business apart from rivals can take a lot of work. It does not follow that you should not provide print-on-demand shirts for sale. 

If you do, you should put in much effort to develop a distinctive brand and designs that strongly appeal to a specific target market.

Handkerchiefs

Over the past few months, interest in ordering handkerchiefs online has steadily increased. Additionally, this print-on-demand product offers a large blank canvas for artistic expression.

When designing handkerchiefs, use high-resolution photos and graphics to avoid having your prints come out pixelated. Patterns, names, and other personalized designs are all available.

Eco-Friendly Products

Consumers are now more aware of their purchases and pay more attention to product manufacturing, as sustainable fashion has become the new norm.

Look at Google's rise in "sustainable" searches over the past year. Choose items from your eco-friendly selection made of natural, recycled, or biodegradable materials.

It can apply to both apparel and everyday accessories. Be sure to sell these products by highlighting the environmental advantages and being honest about how these products are made.

Stationery

While working from home has been the trend for some time, it was not until 2020 that having a home office became a must. 

The Covid-19 epidemic has fundamentally altered the nature of work and encouraged several businesses to adopt a partially or wholly remote workforce.

Stationery is one of the top-trending things to sell online in 2023 as the home office trend continues to rise quickly. Consider pens, playing cards, mousepads, and many other items.

How to Start a Print-on-Demand Business in 2023?

Print-on-demand is one of the most effective ways to offer customized goods online. The best part is that it is simple to get started, does not cost much, and you can customize the goods you offer to stand out from the others.

Even though print-on-demand initially seems challenging, anyone motivated to work hard can succeed.

Now that you know what you can sell in the future follow these easy steps to start a print-on-demand business with custom products.

1. Pick a Niche

Start a print-on-demand business by picking a niche. A niche is a concentrated market area for certain goods. 

Finding a niche has various advantages, including increased profitability, less competition, and lower promotional costs.

Start with your area of passion if you are still deciding on the niche you want to pursue. Anything is possible, including exercise, camping, animal care, and beauty.

One of the most significant hurdles you will encounter in your eCommerce journey is picking a profitable specialty.

Where should you search to find a good niche? You could begin by:

  • Start by conducting a quick Google search to look out for the top-selling products of 2022. If you delve deeply into the details, you might find trends on the verge of becoming widely famous.
  • Comparing items and using Google Trends. Google Trends is a very helpful tool for quickly determining the level of interest in any issue because it displays search terms from many locations and languages.
  • Examination of Search Results. To find out what people search for, use Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, Semrush, or other tools of a similar nature.

You will likely fail if you sell to everyone. That is why choosing a niche and determining your target market is crucial.

2. Decide What to Sell

You may customize and sell infinite products with print-on-demand. Not just t-shirts, hoodies, or coffee mugs are included. Despite how well-liked these things are, you can now sell and customize Bluetooth headphones, pilates or workout mats, socks, personalized backpacks, and other valuable goods.

Consider your clients whenever you determine what to sell. If you do not do this, your goods will be lost in a crowded market. 

Always consider the needs of your market; the products you select must be appropriate for your niche.

Some of the best places to start your research and determine what sells are:

  • Amazon. You can search each department on Amazon separately for additional suggestions.
  • eBay. A good place to see what's popular right now is eBay.
  • Etsy. Find gift and product ideas quickly on Etsy.

Make sure to pay attention to design validation; your target audience may completely understand what might seem like a brilliant concept to you. 

Sharing designs on social media, online discussion boards, or with your network is the most popular method for validating ideas.

Remember to browse Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other social media sites to see what people say about particular markets and products. 

Choosing a niche-based community that is more active is better than the awful and quiet ones.

3. Create Designs

Even though print-on-demand mainly depends on original designs, success does not require artistic talent. You do not need to be an expert designer to develop design ideas. It is doable by anyone.

A crucial stage in developing a successful design is researching and gathering the most outstanding concepts from the internet and your social network.

You can get ideas from inventive sites like Pinterest, Dribbble, and others.

A word of caution: only use your study as a springboard for developing your unique designs. 

Never pretend that a design you saw somewhere is your own or commit plagiarism.

Hire a professional designer if you do not want to waste time creating designs. However, ensure that you accurately evaluate your needs before looking for talent.

Useful websites for hiring artists include:

  • Fiverr. One well-known website that lets you hire a freelancer for your designs is Fiverr.
  • 99designs. The marketplace for graphic design services is 99designs.
  • Upwork. The biggest freelance marketplace in the US is Upwork.

4. Decide Where to Sell

You can use some of the most well-liked eCommerce platforms and marketplaces in the world:

  • Etsy
  • Shopify
  • eBay 
  • PrestaShop
  • BigCommerce
  • WIX
  • WooCommerce
  • Squarespace

When it comes to print-on-demand service, you can set up your store using an eCommerce platform or sell online.

What is the difference? Let's explore.

Marketplace for eCommerce

A website that hosts all virtual storefronts where vendors can advertise their goods for sale.

These marketplaces typically have a lot of free buyer traffic and are simple to start up. However, your store's look, branding, and content are less in your hands. They also have their own set of regulations and are very competitive.

Online Store Platform

If you have a particular concept, you can create a unique website for your products using an eCommerce platform.

These platforms allow you to customize your store, add new content, run different discounts, and more. However, because you can only generate visitors through marketing efforts, they take longer to set up, demand more customization, and are more expensive.

Choosing the ideal sales channel is crucial to your business. Each channel offers advantages of its own, but there are also drawbacks.

Before making a choice, assess your business needs and available time and resources.

5. Set Up a Store

It is time to set up your own store after researching sales channels and selecting the best one.

Although the processes will vary depending on your selected platform, the procedure is relatively simple and demands patience. 

Typically, you will have access to pre-made and editable templates. Objectively speaking, it is considerably simpler to execute.

You must set up each page pertinent to your store:

  • Website's contact page
  • Shipping Options
  • Payment information page, as well as other pages

While setting up your online business may take some time, it is crucial for the success of your print-on-demand business.

6. Pick Your Supplier

To launch a print-on-demand company, you must have a dependable supplier who will complete all incoming orders. 

It is impossible to stress how important this is; your reputation as an entrepreneur depends on it.

7. Set a Price

Your ability to profit from print-on-demand directly correlates to the retail price you set for your goods.

Here are some things to consider when setting your product's price:

  • What is the going rate for comparable goods on the market? Try to investigate current market trends and compare prices of comparable products.
  • Where do your clients reside? Selecting a local print provider can reduce delivery times and shipping costs.
  • Will shipping be provided for free? If so, it is a terrific sales trigger, but be careful to include it in the retail price of the goods so you can cover the actual shipping costs.

You are positioning yourself for success by setting the appropriate product prices.

8. Check the Quality of Your Products

When launching a print-on-demand company, it is crucial to assess the caliber of your goods. You can only make up to one sale if your products fulfill their intended function well. 

Your products must inspire confidence in your target customers.

Choosing trustworthy print suppliers is generally the first step to maintaining the value buyers perceive in your products.

Ordering samples is highly advised if you want your eCommerce store to have a positive reputation. It will allow you to evaluate the print quality, design, colors, and finished product.

9. Market Your Products

Implementing fundamental print-on-demand marketing strategies can make or break your company if you want to launch and grow it immediately.

Your objective is to be seen, draw traffic to your website, give people a reason to buy from you, and turn visitors into potential customers.

Here are some strategies for marketing your company:

Social Media Marketing

You can quickly locate and interact with your target audience with a consistent social media presence. 

Remember to produce fresh content regularly, interact with users, and provide encouraging comments on other accounts. Using social media to expand your business is a wise move.

Influencer Marketing 

A common strategy you can use to get more exposure is influencer marketing. You may immediately win over your audience's trust by working with influencers that promote your items.

Content marketing 

Entrepreneurs frequently employ the concept of content marketing. 

You may establish authority in your field and gain trust by regularly publishing relevant material such as blogs, articles, and product reviews.

10. Monitor Your Digital Store’s Performance

You should include some ways to gauge the success of your marketing initiatives in your print-on-demand business plan if you want to start and maintain a successful business.

It is crucial to analyze the success of your online store so that you can make better decisions and boost sales.

Is Print-on-Demand Oversaturated?

Demand typically has two issues, which are as follows: When something is hard to come by and unusual, it's usually scarce. 

Demand is abundant when there are more options than necessary for locating something. Print-on-demand is vulnerable to oversupply demand.

It is primarily caused by the limited variety of things you may print on. Although some providers may offer a wider variety, the demand is mainly driven by what people are already selling.

Because they are simple and universally useful, shirts, mugs, and art prints are the most often sold items. So, in 2023, will print-on-demand be oversaturated?

The answer to this excellent question is no.

Success is also influenced by competition. It may feel like you have already lost before you have even begun since so many people offer print-on-demand. 

But there is hope and more extraordinary things beyond. When you set realistic standards with a goal-oriented business plan, oversaturation will never be your burden.

What Is a Good Profit Margin for print-on-demand?

The kind of product will affect profit margins, among other factors. Once all business expenses have been tallied, you can determine the percentage profit appropriate for a product with a high-profit margin. 

A 10% net profit margin is regarded as ordinary, a 20% margin as good, and a 30% margin as a general rule of thumb.

Tips for Starting a Print-On-Demand Business

Always Order Samples

Remember to order samples when selling custom products online using print-on-demand services.

Being your consumer allows you to experience what it is like to get your items, which is the best approach to ensure that the physical thing you create looks and feels as you intended. 

Always take advantage of discounts. Some suppliers even offer free shipping.

Samples are helpful to have on hand for taking your product images for your own website and social media platforms, in addition to confirming product quality.

Be Strategic About Shipping

Even if you do not ship the products directly, shipping still presents a significant issue regarding shipping prices and timings and how to manage consumer expectations. 

The top print-on-demand businesses will be open and honest about shipping details and take the initiative to alert customers of any potential delays.

When it comes to shipping, you should be sure that you are taking printing times into account. Whatever the shipping times are, remember to allow two to four days—or perhaps more, depending on the product—for manufacture.

Create Mockups that Show Off Your Products

Mockups are an alternative to actual products and will be visible on your product pages. Models can help you take compelling photos of your products.

Several print-on-demand services can assist you in making mockups that display your products as a flat lay or on a person. 

However, there are a lot of free mockup templates and other services that can also make your creations come to life.

Since these mockups will persuade customers to buy your products, going the extra mile can pay off.

Find Your Niche and Build an Audience

With print-on-demand products, your margins will narrow, so you want to position your brand strategically. Because your targeting will be more exact, having a defined audience helps you cut client acquisition expenses and increase your potential earnings.

Building a long-lasting business requires expanding an audience, whether print-on-demand or not.

Create your own online store

You can sell your custom designs on various marketplaces if you get into print-on-demand. For instance, print-on-demand services are available when you open an online store on RedBubble or Zazzle. 

Additionally, custom products are sold on Etsy, eBay, and Amazon.

FAQs: How to Start a Print-On-Demand Business

How much can you make a month with print-on-demand?

The target market, product demand, and seasonality influence your print-on-demand business's profitability. 

When calculating your earning potential, you must consider the sale price, costs charged by your print provider, and the number of orders. Print-on-demand enables you to sell goods with no financial risk.

Do you need money to start printing demand?

You only need to invest a little money in starting a print-on-demand business. You can use two approaches to create a print-on-demand store.

The first approach is opening a print-on-demand store through a third-party online marketplace.

The significant advantage is that it costs nothing to get started this way. You can establish a business without financial commitments and begin making money.

What are the best print-on-demand products to sell?

Print-on-demand products are rising in popularity as eCommerce continues to expand. Some of the top-selling print-on-demand goods are All Over Prints, Sneakers, Stickers, Tumblers, Tote Bags, Bluetooth Speakers, Shirts, Handkerchiefs, Eco-Friendly Products, and Stationery.

How to promote a print-on-demand business?

You can promote your eCommerce store through social media, website optimization, and paid advertising campaigns as your print-on-demand company expands.

What is the best way to use print-on-demand?

Print-on-demand is the best option if you are a creative person looking to launch a home-based business with the least amount of capital required. The best way to use print-on-demand is to create custom products for various purposes.

Can I do print-on-demand for free?

Print-on-demand has the potential to be incredibly profitable if you approach it strategically. The popularity of the brand, the price approach, and the amount sold all affect the average profit from print-on-demand.

You can concentrate on developing your brand, increasing sales, and expanding your business without having to bother about printing, packaging, or delivering your products.

How do you price print-on-demand products?

How well you market your brand will significantly impact the prices of your print-on-demand products. 

Take a basic look at what the market is charging when determining the price of your products. 

For print-on-demand products with customizations, you can charge greater pricing. If you prefer to take a safer risk and reach a bigger target market, you might price your products similarly to your competitors.

What are the best print-on-demand companies?

There are many print-on-demand companies, such as Printful, Lulu Direct, Gooten, and Printify, to pick from.

Conclusion: How to Start A Print-On-Demand Business

Print-on-demand could be a very profitable business if done correctly. 

It is a recommended eCommerce business model for artists and content producers worldwide because of its many benefits.

Print-on-demand offers something for everyone, whether you want to start selling custom products and launch a new business or expand your existing business.

Written By
Kim Pañares

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