Print on demand (POD) has become quite a popular term in the modern age. That’s because whether you’re an artist, designer, entrepreneur or just a person bursting with creativity, POD can be a perfect canvas for monetizing your creativity.
For those who are interested in POD business but don’t know how to start a print on demand business yet, it is tough for them to take an appropriate decision without any guidelines.
Print on demand is a way how you can sell your products online without actually having an inventory. Sounds odd right? This is a process where you work with your supplier regarding the production and delivery. In most of the cases, the suppliers are online market places who have created a platform for POD business.
If you follow the traditional route of selling products, you might end up with lots of unsold products, inventory cost and many other hassles. However, in case of POD, you don’t necessarily pay for the product until you have sold it. So, there goes your inventory cost out of the equation.
So, how does the Print on Demand business work? It is quite simple, you make a design. It can be for t-shirts, mugs or any other merchandise. Then you upload your design in a marketplace. Do necessary marketing to give exposure to your designs and if any customer likes your designs, they’ll click on buy and that’s pretty much all your work. The rest of the work will be done by your supplier. From production to packaging to delivery, everything will be covered by the respective marketplace.
The POD business is done as a per-order basis, so there is no production until the customer has actually placed an order. Till now, we’ve only covered the gist of the whole POD process, there is actually a lot that happens once you start making your designs and try to sell them. From creating designs to owning a store in a marketplace, a lot actually goes down, so even though there is inventory or production cost, there are still some very important steps that need to be done carefully.
Benefit of Print on Demand
Through, you don’t just sell your products. There are so many benefits that can be gained from it. Some of them are listed below
Testing a New Business Easily
You can test new business or product ideas for future prospects without any risk of production loss or inventory cost. Since POD is greatly dependent on the designs, new ideas are always welcomed in this market.
2. Monetize your Audience
This works great if you’re a public figure or an influencer even a content creator! Whether you’re a YouTuber or an Instagram vlogger, if you have loyal audiences who follow you, they are more likely to buy your products. In this way, you can work for your audience and attract new ones and earn money as well. If you have traffic you can easily make money with Print On Demand.
3. Easily switchable to different niche
Print on Demand can be used to build a business around a specific genre or audience. If you have a preferable niche, you can start building around it. However, if it doesn’t work, you can just aim for a new niche as POD allows you to test new design ideas very easily. There is no loss of money or inventory as you can just remove your designs and start uploading new ones.
4. Zero production cost
You do not need to take any hustle of production until you got any order, besides your fulfillment company will handle everything for you.
5. Zero inventories cost
As you are not taking care the production so you don’t need to worry about the inventory.
6. No Shipping cost of products
Most of the time customers bear the shipping cost and the fulfillment companies handle the shipping so you are hustle free.
7. Low risk
In POD, you can easily run, test and experiment on new products as the investment are really low.
Pros and Cons of Print on Demand
Since production and shipping are mostly handled by the suppliers, it is considered a stepping stone for designers or new startup businesses. It is the most accessible way to source products. However, with every business come advantages, limitations and benefits. At the end of the day, people are more likely to want to know about the advantages, benefits and the limitations than other things. Keeping that in mind we’ve listed the pros and cons in a short and concise –
- ZERO Production cost – No hassle with the production at all.
- ZERO Inventory cost – No production means no inventory cost as well.
- Shipping of products – The shipping is done by the suppliers themselves.
- Low investment – It’s easier to add or remove products, test new ideas without investing much.
- Lower margins – On-demand products generally yield little profit since the marketplace will receive its fair share as well. However, depending on how you price them and how many you sell, profits gradually rise.
- Little control over shipping – The shipping part can get a bit complicated since it varies differently for different products. You might not be left with an option to choose the boxing experience for your customers.
- Limited customization – The limited part here mainly means you can’t just put any random design overall products. For example, if you made a design for a t-shirt, the chances are that design won’t fit in for a mug or a book.
- Limited Product Selection – Print on demand products will generally have limited item selections. If you want to sell T-shirts, you might find diversity and variety across all the platforms but not so much for other products like back covers or a dress.
How does it work?
From a customer’s perspective, when they order from POD sites, they can select the color, the design, the size and which product the designs will be on. It could be on a t-shirt, it can be on a hat, etc. The designs are uploaded on the website. Through the mockup designs, the customer can see how it’ll look on their desired product. After the selection, the customer places the order. The customer gives a shipping address. After the order is placed, then it goes to a factory, the product is printed according to the customer’s requirement. In short, you make a design. Then you upload your design in a marketplace, for example, “GearLaunch” or “Zazzle”. If any customer likes your designs, they’ll click on buy and that’s pretty much all your work. The Print on Demand business is done on a per-order basis, so there is no production until the customer has actually placed an order.
How to start a print on demand business
Print on demand (POD) is often considered to be a canvas that monetizes your creativity. It means that if you have creativity, you can sell it with some additional marketing and designing skills.
We live in an age where we value our creativity and skills more than anything. The concept of POD makes the business more lucrative and appealing to designers, marketers, entrepreneurs or simply those who just want to start their own business.
Print on Demand has become a popular term in the world of online businesses these days. Many of us know what it is but the majority of us don’t know how to do it or how to even enter the business.
Below you will see a 5 steps guideline on how you can start your own POD business. Print on Demand business will require your time, effort and passion, so if you’re prepared, the following steps will help you kickstart your own business.
Simple 5 steps to start:
1. Researching niche:
Picking a specific niche and working on it is the first step of your POD journey. This is very important because based on this; the following steps will take place. Picking a niche means picking an area of interest where you want to work.
For example, you have chosen the niche “Nursing”, now what you have to do is learn everything about nursing. You have to “live in the niche” to learn the inside and outside of it. Only this way, you will gather information and knowledge.
As we’ve said, this is important because, if you are not comfortable or interested in the niche. You won’t be able to work with it. There are some other factors you have to take into account, for example, if you do not follow the trend, you won’t know what your customer is interested into.
Let’s say you have picked a niche of your interest, however, products that belong in that niche don’t sell well. In this case, your business will be heavily affected. That is why it is extremely important to do market and product research thoroughly.
If you select multiple niches to work on, then divide the niche and research on them individually. Talk to the people who belong to the niche, look into their community, and ask them what sort of design and products they like. There are plenty of ways to learn such information.
Moreover, if you are targeting special days and holidays as your niche of interest, then start working on them beforehand. This will give you the opportunity to promote early and let your audience know what products you are bringing for them in regards to that special day.
2. Generating Design Idea:
After you have selected a niche to work on, it’s time for you to generate design ideas which you will eventually sell. Now, if you are already a skilled designer, you will hold a huge advantage over your competitors.
Most of the time, you will have to create your own design from scratch or modify/upgrade existing designs to avoid copyright infringement. Your customers will never expect a copy of a design in your store.
They will always choose the original one. Moreover, directly copying is illegal as well. The genuine idea that comes from the mind holds the strongest value in your business. In terms of designs, complex designs won’t ensure you higher sales.
In fact, the top-selling designs in POD are very simple and elegant. Therefore, if you think you have moderate skills with good creativity, you are more likely to earn success here. However, you do need to connect with your target market, which are your customers.
Since Print on Demand relies heavily on creating and selling designs, it is important to know from where you can generate these ideas. It’s not like an idea will pop into your head just by sitting around. You have to do some research to generate these ideas.
Below we are giving a list from where you can generate your design ideas.
- Google Images
- Stock Photo Sites
These sites are considered to be the inspiration for creating designs. These sites are rich with existing designs and design ideas. You can use different keywords to look for specific designs. Basic SEO knowledge can help you a lot in this case.
Keywords and specific niches are categorized in most of the sites, so it becomes easier for a user to find their desired image and image ideas. Another way you can generate design ideas is by using spy tools.
Spy tools are also used to identify the already popular designs that are selling hot in the market. It is a shortcut if you do not feel like using your own design for your POD business.
3. Setting up the Store:
Setting up your online store is the easiest of the three steps we have mentioned because here your e-commerce merchants will do most of your work. The hard part here is to pick the right Print on Demand platform.
There are many POD platforms out there but some of the best are RedBubble, GearLaunch, Printful, etc. These are the best POD platforms that provide the best of the service. Picking any of the top platforms will ensure your security and they will assist you in a lot of work.
The only thing you have to do here is to buy a domain and select a fulfillment service provider (POD e-commerce merchants). Starting from designing to preparing your theme and everything, your service providers will do the rest of the work.
4. Promote your Store:
No matter how good your designs are or how well decorated your store is, they will remain unknown to the customers if you do not promote them. In the beginning, we have talked about two important POD skills.
One was designing and the other was marketing. Marketing is a crucial part of the POD business. The basic idea here is to promote your product and store, which will lead to maximized sales.
You have to let the customers know that you exist. Among thousands of online stores in this huge online ecosystem, you have to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Marketing techniques are a core part of every business venture; Print on Demand is no exception. You can work your marketing techniques under two kinds of traffic –
- Free Traffic
- Paid Traffic
If you are someone new in the business or with low investment, free traffic can help you to get customers and generate sales. However, you have to give in many hours of time and effort in it.
Social media platforms are the perfect place to implement a free traffic strategy. These are the places with the most amounts of leads. Social media channels like Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, etc. can generate a good amount of leads.
You create social media accounts and start building your authority. This will take a while because it takes time to build trust, credibility, and authority in the minds of the customers.
You need to use these platforms to increase your brand awareness and gather customers. Since there are so many platforms, you don’t really have to use all of them. Just use the ones that match your business model.
Various types of advertisement boosting fall under the paid traffic category. If you have a good enough investment, you can go with this method.
Your store and products will be advertised in various places depending on which kind of advertisement you chose. You can take the help of SEO to learn which keywords are hot picks among the customers. Afterward, you can create content according to that information and place your advertisement.
Furthermore, customer reviews, user reviews, user comments are also important for the promotion of your business.
Sometimes an individual review from another customer is powerful and credible enough to generate more sales than your own promotional strategies. They work as testimonials for other customers to follow. Customers tend to believe other customers most of the time than any marketing technique.
The final step of your POD business is simply to sell! The best thing about working in POD platforms is that you don’t have to bear any production or inventory cost.
After you have followed the last five steps, you simply upload those designs to your preferred POD platform. Your fulfillment service providers (POD platform employees) carry on the rest of the work. You simply sit back and wait for your products to sell. Your POD platform will take care of your –
- Payment Gateway
- Customer Support
- After Sales Support
- Refund Policy
Best Print On Demand Platforms
Print-on-demand, just as the same says, it is a platform where printing is done as per order. Unlike garments and production houses, pride-on-demand is more customer need centric. So, what else makes these platforms different? Well, that’s why we are here to find out. We’re going to list down some of the best Print on Demand platforms out there and analyze why they are on the top. We have created the list based on their ratings, reviews, customer feedback and the services offered.
Merch by Amazon
Since the early days, e-commerce entrepreneurs are using the dropshipping model as a method to establish a brand, generate revenue and retail their products. GearLaunch is a company that makes these things happen quite efficiently and productively. GearLaunch is a print on Demand Company that makes starting your own online e-commerce store a lot easier than it usually is.
It works as a POD fulfillment partner. GearLaunch was established back in 2014, and now it has become one of the best POD Companies that offer fulfillment services. What makes GearLaunch stand out amongst its competitors is its diverse range of products that design can be printed on. Its product line is massive. Moreover, you can also sell under your own domain. What also makes GearLaunch unique is how you can use GearLaunch to sell your products under your own website. This service is not available to other Print on Demand platforms.
It is an online marketplace for a diversity of products. Redbubble has a large fan base of consumers. It has a variety of merchandise, starting from t-shirts to mugs. Redbubble is popular for its colorful and vibrant site. Whenever you enter the site, it just splashes you with colors. The user experience is simple for beginners. The platform is straightforward to navigate, although uploading styles and deselecting things could take some time. It additionally offers options and buttons that are self-explanatory.
Printful is one of the oldest POD platforms. Obviously, as with time, comes maturity, printful has also matured itself into a great POD platform. Their model is slightly different than its competitors. The site is made for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs usually work on other e-commerce sites but the printing and delivery of the product to the consumers is done by printful. Printful gives you custom branding options. Everything is printed and shipped custom labels. Printful is partnered with global couriers like FedEx, DHL, USPS.Com, and APC Postal Logistics.
4. Merch by Amazon:
Merch by Amazon has become a known and consistent name of POD service among e-commerce businesses. Merch is cheap and affordable. Here you can get merchandise produced through Amazon. The costing that you will have to provide are materials, customer service, and various other resources. They have a wide range of product line or merchandise like T-shirts, sweatshirts, jumpers, and even pop socket clutches.
Zazzle gives designers and creators the platform and opportunity to make the products on their own and give a personal touch to it. These products can later be sold off to the artists own customer base or to a third party seller. Here, you can let your creativity flourish as you design cards, invitations, clothing items, accessories, home décor, electronic device add-ons and much more. This is for those aesthetic people with a distinct artsy portfolio and visions how to work with a collection of items, such as home interior designs.
Gooten is one of those print on demand platforms that provide integrated business solutions as well as regular dropshipping. Gooten provides personalized formats for Shopify, Etsy, and Amazon, etc. you can sell through either of them. It is easier when you have personalized formats for each platform. This platform also provides a wide range of customizable products to choose from. This includes wall art, T-shirt, sweatshirts, customizable children merchandise.
TeeSpring started out as an online platform that sells customized t-shirts. However, their catalog has a wide range of products to choose from. Their product line is diverse with merchandise being added regularly. The products tote bags, home décor accessories, mugs, other clothing, and even customized socks. They have a simple design feature that lets helps beginners to try out new things. This platform is amazing for beginners who are trying to make their way into the design for print on demand businesses.
Spreadshirt makes it easy for artists to create designs, mark them on products and sell them online. They have a wide range of products staring from T-shirts to even water bottles! However, Spreadshirt is based in Germany; you’ll need to give their client administration a pilot test to perceive how well they incorporate with your needs.
Society6 is for imaginative and creative people who love planning things around a definite genre or taste. Majority of the items you can sell through Society 6 are identified with inside stylistic layouts, for example, woven artworks wall paintings and canvas prints. You can design telephone cases and skins, and stationery as well. Regardless of whether you have practical experience in visual art, compelling artwork or photography, there are definite methods for each of them to get your work imprinted on the product.
Merchify is notable software for any kind of Shopify site. The process is simple, just install the software and use it to design your things. When you’ve created new items, you can distribute the plan onto your Shopify site. From that point, when your client puts in a request, Merchify will create the thing and ship it directly. Print on demand platforms are one of those places where you can work with any sort of niche you want. However, not all platforms will be able to meet your criteria or needs. That is why there are so many great POD platforms to choose from. Each of them has its own special feature and benefits. Choose whatever suits you the most. Some POD platforms are great for beginners while some are great for experienced people. After a careful analysis of some of the best Print on Demand platforms, we have come to a conclusion that GearLaunch is comparatively the better one amongst the best. We have taken the product quality, product price, conversion rate, customer satisfaction, facilities, product line and the interface of the sites into consideration. GearLaunch came out top as they excelled in every criterion and every feature.
Best Selling Print on Demand Products
Some of the best-selling POD products are our everyday usage products! From t-shirts to posters, backpacks to books, everyone wants a bit of a change in the outlook of their daily products. Here are the best selling products (in no particular order) –
- Phone Covers
- Wall Canvas
How to Generate Design Ideas for POD?
Whether you’re a designer, supplier or someone with an online e-commerce store, design is the key element of your venture. This is where the Print on Demand (POD) business shines. POD is a continuously evolving market with so many people getting inside the industry and trying to work their way up. However, it is quite tricky for someone who is new in the business.
POD is a massive industry that explores the creativity and knowledge of the people working here. There are so many things to learn and so much information to gather. For example, who is your audience or what niche should you focus on next. These are some of the important factors that help you to generate design ideas for your POD business. We will explain in detail on how to generate these ideas
You need to know your audience before you launch your product in the market. You can’t hope sell a customized personalized pet t-shirt to a person who is allergic to pets. We’re not saying it won’t sell completely, we are saying the turnover will be really low. If you have selected a specific niche, you have to know the market demand behind your niche. For example, a t-shirt aimed at mothers only might have a lower turnover than a t-shirt aimed at “parents”. You have to do your research quite thoroughly when you have decided to work with a niche. You have to set a target audience.
There are many other ways you can distinguish your audiences, like their demographic, gender, profession, geographical location etc. Every niche is targeted towards a certain category of audience. If you have selected your preferred niche, you need to acknowledge the maximum number of audiences who will be willing to buy your product. The niche you have selected might have a lower but dedicated number of customers. Taking this into account, then you have to set your goals and target audience and start producing your product. This is an important factor that will help you gather ideas before heading into the market.
If you still have any confusion in targeting audience for your business, there is another blog on identifying the right target audience.
Your product design idea gathering process must acknowledge the type of artwork you want to put in your product and what kind of message you want convey to your audience through your design. Let’s say you want to motivate your audience for positive energy and positive well being. In this case, you’ll probably be trying to look for ideas into places that promote motivation and positive energy. So you have to consider the artwork that will be printed on your product. Maybe you’ll choose an artwork that describes positive energy in an artistic way.
Moreover, the type of message that will go in the product matters a lot. You have to choose something that your audience will be easily able to consume it in their mind. Afterwards, if your audience likes it, the product will sell. This is also an important step that helps gathering ideas.
How to Gather Ideas?
A genuine idea that comes from the mind is the strongest value of your business. However, in order for these ideas to grow and evolve in your mind, external influences are required. These external factors help you to modify and generate the best possible ideas for your product design. Below we will be seeing how we can gather information from these sources and generate our idea.
1. Google Images:
The most common and easiest way to look up designs and ideas is the image section of Google search. Just type in whatever keyword or niche you choose, the search results will show images regarding your topic. Now, these are the images that were made public by their uploaders. You might not find the best quality of results but you’ll definitely find results that’ll give you certain ideas. The search results are dependent on the keyword. Changing the keyword will change the search results.
Pinterest is somewhat an inspiration for all those designers that are searching for their motivation and inspiration to create their own designs. Pinterest is enriched with a massive collection of images. These images are categorized by keywords and specific niche.
You can find design ideas for your product if you look explore Pinterest with concentration. Pinterest has its own community, so it’s likely for you to get in touch with those who are working in the similar niche.
Amazon has its own enriched catalog of personalized products as well. For many years Amazon has sold print on demand products to its customers either as third party suppliers or producers of products. Therefore, Amazon’s gallery of products is massive with a wide range of niches and ideas. Just type in your preferred keyword and you’ll find the type of products you are looking for.
Just like Amazon, you can also find your design ideas from Etsy. Etsy has a massive gallery of personalized and print on demand products on its site. This is mostly because they act as both vendors and suppliers for print on demand products. You can visit their website and check which products are selling hot! This will help you to gather ideas on the market demand behind various niches.
5. Stock Photo Sites
Stock photo sites like FreePik, Shutterstock or Adobe Stock have countless designs in store for the business owners. A lot of e-commerce store owners use these pre-existing designs either by buying from the paid sites or altering them from free sites. Even if you don’t use their designs, you will find plenty of designs to take inspiration from. These sites have a wide range of designs that help the designers one way or another.
6. Spy Tools:
Spy tools are used to identify the already popular designs that are selling hot in the market. It is basically a shortcut if you don’t feel like using your own design for your POD business. You can’t directly copy the designs; you can work on them and use them as a foundation to remake your own version of it. These tools will help you too to identify the designs and information regarding them. These designs help you to remake those designs as if it is an original design.
By now, you should have a good idea of where to find inspiration to generate your own design idea. Success in this field is all about experimenting and failing and then finally coming up with an amazing design that’ll sell like hot pancakes!!!
The two main features of Print on Demand
There are two basic aspects to the print on demand business that you need to consider. The first is the product and the second is how you can get people to see your products. If you don’t have a good design, it won’t make the customer buy your products. Most customers who visit the POD marketplaces expect something different, something unique than their boring stores. If you can give them something unique, the chances are that more customers will start to flock to your store.
The second part is also important because even if you have a great product, it doesn’t matter as long as the customers are unaware of it. It’s really important to give exposure to your products and let the customers know that you have something great to sell. The marketing must be done proficiently whether you’re doing it alone or if you have a team. Last but not least, if you want your business to sustain and make a brand out of it, always come up with ideas that stand out from the crowd!
How to be successful in Print on Demand
Print on demand is a way how you can sell your products online without actually having an inventory. Sounds odd right? Everything in this world that can be printed is part of POD, like T-shirts, mugs, hats, stationery, etc. Every customer wants something different.
Whether you’re an artist, designer, entrepreneur or just a person bursting with creativity, POD can be a perfect canvas for monetizing your creativity. Some of the best-selling POD products are our everyday usage products! Some customers want to put their company logo on the back of their laptop, some want to sip coffee in a personalized designed coffee mug.
The concept of POD works as when the customer demands a product, the order has to come first before the printing begins. It is better than keeping products in the inventory as it inflicts extra cost as well as maintenance. The concept of POD came from this.
Steps: Follow through Success
Following these tasks/methods will definitely boost up your chances of landing a solid chance to succeed.
Learn – To be successful in Print on Demand, the person must know either marketing or design. Both of the skills together will boost your chances of earning success in POD.
Work in teams – Most marketplaces only allow a single individual to open an account and run the business. However, marketplaces like GearLaunch provide a platform to let you work as a team, e.g. admin/moderator/launcher.
Every person can be allocated with different tasks. Like, one of them may just handle the promotion only while some will do design, some will keep everything together in one piece. In this way, all your work can be distributed equally and you can create an efficient store!
Research – One of the most important tasks in POD is research! When you open up a store, you don’t only aim for the local market, you aim to sell your products globally as well.
However, you don’t know what customers in other countries like! So what do you do? Your research on the targeted market in that specific country to find out what design people from other countries like to purchase. Learn about the culture, this will give you a clear view of their preference. To do this, study on it, watch movies/TV shows and read books from international authors.
Furthermore, follow trends, customers really like to follow trends. Keep up with the current affairs and research on what’s trending nowadays.
Niche – POD can be used to build a business around a specific genre or audience. If you have a preferable niche, you can start building around it. If you’re working with a specific niche or a couple of niches, find out which designs attract your niche.
For example, if you’re working with both the “nursing” niche and “hunting” niche, you can’t expect a hunter to wear a nursing T-shirt! Divide the niche and research them individually.
Talk to the people who belong to the niche, look into their community, and ask them what sort of design and products they like. There are plenty of ways to learn such information.
Moreover, if you’re targeting special days like Independence Day or Valentine’s Day, then start working on your niche at least 3 months beforehand. This will give you the opportunity to promote early and let your audience know what products you’re bringing for them in regard to that special day.
Design – There is no limit to the designs you can create, some people have earned success with just working with one design if you’re planning on doing the same thing then make sure that your design must stand out amongst your competitors. However, multiple designs will you give more opening to sell your product. If your customer doesn’t like one product, they can just simply walk away with another of your products.
Hope you got enough information about POD and now you know how to start a print on demand business successfully.
It’s always the right time to start a business, especially when that industry is expanding and evolving. Print on demand business is one of those businesses where you can constantly learn and then monetize on those learning. That is because when you are doing POD, you are always either doing market research or designing the next big design. If you are passionate about learning, and exploring your creativity and work, then Print on Demand can be the perfect way to start your own million dollar business.