How to Make Money with Print on Demand

If you like the idea of working from home, Print on Demand might be for you. The business model lets you focus on designing products and marketing without worrying about inventory and shipping. In fact, you might set up your online store in a couple of hours and get sales the next day. 

If you’re smart about choosing the right on-demand company, crafting unique designs, and creating persuasive marketing, POD could even help you quit your 9-5.

In this article, we’ll show you how to make money with print on demand. 

What is Print on Demand?

Print-on-demand (often abbreviated as POD) is an order fulfilment method to handle orders. Here’s how it works: You create the products, and then a POD partner company prints and delivers those products to your customers. The best part is, your customers won’t see any mention of the partner company—the entire credit goes to you.

The magic of on-demand services is that they only produce items when someone places an order. This prevents excess stock from piling up in landfills.

What’s even better is that you only pay your print provider after your customer has paid you for their order. So, you can start with print-on-demand without any upfront costs.

Make Money with Print on Demand

Print-on-demand is simple, budget-friendly, and lets you add your personal touch to what you sell, giving you an advantage over competitors.

Don’t worry if print on demand seems confusing initially. With determination and hard work, anyone can succeed. Follow these steps to start your print-on-demand business:

1. Choose a Niche

A niche is a specialized market for specific products. Picking the right niche has several perks, including higher profits, less competition, and lower advertising costs. If you’re unsure about your niche, start with something you love – it could be fitness, camping, funny cats, or true crime.

Selecting a profitable niche is a crucial step in your eCommerce journey. Need ideas? Here’s how you can find a winning niche:

  • Check out the hottest-selling products by searching online and visiting print-on-demand websites. Dive deep into the details – you might spot emerging trends.
  • Use Google Trends to compare product popularity. This tool visualizes search trends across regions and languages.
  • Analyze search results with tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, or Semrush to understand what people are searching for.

Trying to sell to everyone rarely works. That’s why you need to identify your target audience and choose a niche. 

2. Choose What to Sell

When it comes to print-on-demand, the possibilities are vast – it’s not just about t-shirts and coffee mugs. There’s a wide range of products you can personalize and offer for sale. Here are some of the hottest items people love customizing:

  • T-Shirts
  • Die-Cut Stickers
  • Hoodies
  • Socks
  • Tote Bags

Whatever you decide to sell, make sure it resonates with your customers. Tailor your choices to meet their needs and preferences, and stay aligned with your chosen niche.

To find the right products that will stand out, consider these helpful sources:

  • Amazon: Explore different departments for fresh ideas.
  • eBay: Get insights into trending items.
  • Etsy: Discover unique gift and product concepts.
  • Social Media: Take a look at platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit to see what’s getting attention.
  • Other Print-on-Demand Sites: Check out similar platforms to gather insights on popular products and niches.

Remember, if a particular community or niche seems quiet, it might be a good idea to explore a livelier one. By keeping your finger on the pulse of what people are discussing and searching for, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions about what to sell.

3. Create Designs

While it might sound daunting to create designs for your print-on-demand, you don’t need to be a professional artists to do the work. 

If design isn’t your thing, you can always hire hire experienced designers on Upwork and Fiverr. They can create custom designs based on your specifications. For a more professional touch or for bulk design needs, you might consider hiring a design agency.

In fact, even if you choose to save some money and do it yourself, it isn’t as difficult as you think. Here’s how to create your winning designs:

  1. Gather Inspiration: Look for inspiration in your daily life, on social media, and in online communities related to your niche. Platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Behance are great for finding design ideas and understanding what appeals to your audience.
  2. Use Design Software: Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are industry standards for creating high-quality designs. However, if you’re looking for free alternatives, tools like GIMP, Inkscape, and Canva are excellent options. Canva, in particular, is user-friendly and great for beginners, offering templates and design elements that can be customized.
  3. Test and Get Feedback: Once you have some designs ready, it’s a good idea to test them and get feedback. You can do this by sharing your designs on social media, with friends, or in communities related to your niche. Use the feedback to refine your designs.
  4. Prepare Files for Printing: Before uploading your designs to a POD platform, make sure they meet the platform’s requirements for print quality. This usually involves specific file formats (e.g., PNG, PDF), color settings (RGB or CMYK), and resolution (typically 300 dpi).

Some POD companies offer their own design tools tailored to their product specifications, making it easier to create compatible designs. You may also use ready-made templates on Placeit that can be customized to suit your needs. This is particularly useful for those without design skills.

4. Choose Your Selling Platform

Time to decide where you want to showcase and sell your POD products. If you’re using Printify, it’s easy to connect with some of the world’s top eCommerce platforms and marketplaces:

  • Etsy
  • Shopify
  • Walmart
  • eBay
  • PrestaShop
  • BigCommerce
  • WIX
  • WooCommerce
  • Squarespace
  • Printify API

When it comes to selling with print on demand, you usually have two main options:

1. eCommerce Marketplace

Marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon have a vast, established audience, which can lead to quicker sales and visibility for your products. Starting on a marketplace is generally cheaper and easier, as it requires less initial investment compared to setting up a website.

Customers often feel more secure purchasing from a well-known marketplace due to established trust and customer protection policies.

However, marketplaces impose restrictions on how you present your products and interact with customers, limiting your ability to build a unique brand identity. It also charges fees per sale, which can reduce your profit margins.

2. eCommerce Platform

If you’re feeling a bit more tech-savvy, an eCommerce platform lets you build your own personalized online store. You’ll have full control over the store’s design, customer interaction, and overall branding.

Owning your store also allows you to collect and utilize customer data for targeted marketing and building customer relationships. You can build an email list and notify customers of your promotions to attract more sales. 

However, managing a website includes dealing with technical issues, updates, and customer service, which can be daunting without the right skills.

It’ll also cost you thousands of dollars to drive traffic to your site using social media advertising. 

Step 5: Create Your Store

You can create an online store using an eCommerce platform such as Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce. These platforms are user-friendly and can integrate easily with most POD services.

Most POD services e.g. Printify has integration tools for you to upload your product designs and add them to your store. Just remember to set product descriptions, images, pricing, and shipping details.

For beginners who aren’t tech-savvy, you might consider using Shopify. It offers many ready-to-go templates that you can customize to fit your style and brand.

Step 6: Partner with the Right Supplier

The success of your print-on-demand business hinges on finding a reliable partner to fulfill your orders. It can affect your product quality, customer satisfaction, and operational efficiency.

So, you have to research potential suppliers to understand their market reputation and experience in the POD industry. Look for reviews, testimonials, and case studies that demonstrate their reliability and quality of service. 

Some of the popular print-on-demand suppliers include:

  • Printful
  • Printify
  • Gelato
  • Redbubble
  • Society6

Here are some tips to help you choose the right supplier:

  • Evaluate Product Quality and Range: Order samples from potential suppliers to assess the quality of their products firsthand. This includes checking the material, print quality, and durability of products. You should consider suppliers that offer a wide range of products, which can help you expand your product offerings in the future.
  • Check Integration Capabilities: Make sure that the POD supplier can seamlessly integrate with your e-commerce platform. This integration is crucial for automating the order fulfillment process. Suppliers like Printful support integration with platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and Etsy, making them a versatile choice for many online businesses.
  • Consider Fulfillment and Shipping Efficiency: Analyze the supplier’s fulfillment capabilities, including their production times and shipping policies. Suppliers with multiple fulfillment centers, like Printful, which has locations in the US, Mexico, Latvia, and Spain, can offer faster shipping times and better service to a global customer base.
  • Analyze Costs and Profitability: Understand the cost structure of each supplier, including any hidden fees such as subscription costs or minimum order requirements. This will help you calculate your potential profit margins accurately. Always look for suppliers that do not charge upfront fees and only charge when a sale is made.

Step 7: Set Your Price

The retail price you set for your products plays a big role in your earnings. Here’s are some tips to help you price your POD items:

  • Calculate Total Product Costs: To make a profit, you have to determine the total cost involved in producing and delivering your product. It may include production, platform fees, shipping and taxes. If you’re paying for custom designs or licensing artwork, also include these costs.
  • Competitor Analysis: Look at prices of similar POD products on platforms like Etsy or Shopify. You may adjust your pricing based on whether you want to position your brand as budget-friendly or premium.
  • Customer Perception: Price can influence customer perception of quality. Pricing too low might lead to doubts about product quality, while pricing too high might limit your potential customer base. 
  • Offer Promotions: Introduce promotional pricing or discounts for bulk orders to attract more customers and increase sales volume. This can also help in reducing inventory if you hold any stock.

After setting your initial prices, monitor sales performance and customer feedback. Be prepared to adjust prices based on this feedback and any changes in costs or market conditions.

Step 8: Quality Control

For print-on-demand products, quality assurance is important because it makes sure the product looks and feels good. You can also reduce the risk of returns and refunds with quality control, which helps identify and resolve issues before products ship. Here’re some tips for you:

  • Choose the Right Printing Partner: Select a printing partner with a strong reputation for quality. Research their printing technology, experience, and customer reviews. A reliable partner should have a robust quality control process and be transparent about their production methods.
  • Design with Printing Specifications in Mind: Create designs that are optimized for printing. Use high-resolution images (at least 300 dpi) and ensure that color profiles are set to CMYK, which is standard for printing, as opposed to RGB, which is used for digital displays. This helps in avoiding issues like blurriness and color inaccuracies.
  • Test Your Designs: Before offering products for sale, order samples to check the quality of the printed items. This allows you to assess the print clarity, color fidelity, and overall product quality. Make any necessary adjustments to your designs based on these samples.

You want to make sure you’re using high-quality raw materials (like fabric for t-shirts) and inks. Using better materials can make the final product look and last longer, which improves customer satisfaction.

Step 9: Promote Your Products

Marketing is important for print-on-demand (POD) products because it helps to identify niche markets, increase brand awareness, and attract new customers. POD marketing strategies include:

  • Social Media Marketing: You may use platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Pinterest to share engaging content related to your products. Create high-quality posts, stories, and reels that showcase your products in action, share customer testimonials, and highlight unique selling points. 
  • Paid Advertising: Consider running paid ads on social media platforms and Google Ads to target specific audiences interested in your niche. Facebook and Instagram Ads offer advanced targeting options based on interests, behaviors, and demographics.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize your website and product listings with relevant keywords to improve your visibility on search engines. This includes optimizing your product titles, descriptions, and meta tags.
  • Email Marketing: Build an email list by offering incentives like discounts or freebies in exchange for email sign-ups. Send regular newsletters featuring new products, promotions, and valuable content to keep your audience engaged and encourage repeat purchases.
  • Influencer Marketing: Collaborate with influencers and micro-influencers in your niche to reach a wider audience. Influencers can create authentic content featuring your products, providing social proof and driving traffic to your store.

How Much Can You Make With Print On Demand?

A print on demand business can make anywhere from $1,583 a month to $9,833 a month, with the average monthly income coming in at $4,639. It’s an average of $27 per hour without managing fulfillment!

For those just starting out, however, monthly earnings can be relatively modest, often a few hundred dollars per month. For instance, on platforms like Teespring, Merch by Amazon, and RedBubble, you can make around $1 per active listing per month. If you have 100 shirts on each platform, that’s around $100 per month on each site.

For those who have established their POD businesses, monthly earnings can reach as high as $9,833 per month. Taking myself as an example, after running my print-on-demand business on Etsy for over 3 years, I’ve made between $2 and $10 per purchase, and I sell around 400 POD products each month including t-shirts, mugs, and cushions.

Here’re some factors that might affect your earnings:

  • Platform Choice: Different platforms like Amazon Merch, Redbubble, and Teespring have varying levels of competition and audience reach, which can affect sales.
  • Design Quality and Uniqueness: High-quality, unique designs that cater to specific niches tend to perform better.
  • Marketing and SEO: Effective marketing strategies and SEO can significantly increase visibility and sales.
  • Niche Selection: Choosing the right niche is crucial; sellers who understand their target audience’s preferences tend to achieve higher sales.

When you’re just starting out, always be realistic about your earnings. Most POD sellers only make modest incomes that can’t even cover their bills. Keep in mind that success in POD often requires hard work, patience, and strategic planning.

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