Print on demand is a business where you sell items that aren’t printed until you make an order. You work with a company that handles all the printing and fulfillment making this a very low barrier of entry business to get into.
To start your print-on-demand business may scare you because clearly the market is a harder one now. However, it’s still possible and here is everything you would do from what websites to sell on, to what marketing you would do, to what designs you would make. This blog is for anyone who has thought about starting their own print on demand business but isn’t sure how to begin.
Let’s jump right in!
6 Steps to Starting a Print on Demand Business
1- Decide what you want to sell
New business owners often start with t-shirts which are a great choice because they’re so profitable. However don’t limit yourself to just t-shirts with print on demand you can sell a huge range of products without investing any additional money.
By offering more products like hoodies, mugs and even puzzles, you give your customers more reasons to place an order. You don’t need to keep any inventory. So, take the risk-free opportunity to test new products. It’s also a great way to make the most of your designs.
If you’re curious about what products and styles are trending our blog article talks about some of the biggest apparel trends right now, so click on the link here to get some money making product ideas.
2- Pick your niche
A niche is a specific market that your products appeal to. Think about who’s most likely to buy your product. Cat owners, coffee lovers, comic book fans… There are countless niches out there that you can target.
Having a niche means you face a little less competition and it makes targeting your audience easier. That way you can focus your resources on reaching people who are more likely to buy your products. You don’t have to please everyone.
Here’s another idea: You can also choose across niche. These are niches that are even more specific. An example of a cross niche would be young parents who love hockey or dog owners who enjoy gardening.
Do some online research on your niche to understand what they want and how they spend.
3- Make a design
Don’t worry if graphic design isn’t your forte. Your job is to think of an idea that will sell. Then you have a few options:
If you have a sizable budget you can simply pay a graphic designer to create it for you. However, if you’re just starting out with a very small budget you can create your own designs on free software like Canva or Adobe Spark.
Another option is creating designs using your print on demand partners website. Printfest allows you to create your own design online and provides hundreds of royalty-free images that you can add into your designs.
4- Create an online store
Another way to start an online store is building a website using wordpress.com and then add the woocommerce extension. Each method has its own disadvantages and advantages so it really depends on your needs.
At this stage you should also buy a domain name. There are lots of places to do this including Hostgator, Godaddy, Namecheap and many more.
5- Choose the right print on demand partner
You can work with multiple companies but make sure that you start with a company that will help your business take off.
Here are seven questions you should ask when choosing a print on-demand partner:
- Are their prices low enough for you to make a profit?
- What’s their print quality like?
- How fast do they fill their orders?
- Where do they print and ship from?
- Do they offer a large range of products?
- How do they handle returns and refunds?
- What are people saying about them in reviews?
6- Create a product
Your print on demand partner should have free integrations that allow you to easily customize and add their products to your store.
Upload your design and take a look at the mock-up that gets generated. Then personalize the product listing and add it to your online store.
How do I Find the Perfect Niche for My Print on Demand Business?
Finding the right niche is the key to your success on any print on demand platform. There are several niches to choose from and the key to success on any print on demand platform is finding the right one.
Having a niche makes it easier for you to gain success with your store. If you are successful within your niche, you’ll be the go-to person for your intended target audience. It also means that your store will be one of the first to pop up during searches and that increases the likelihood of you making sales. Once you achieve success within one niche you can add more later.
You should note that trending niches might only be profitable for a short period and that is not the goal of any successful business. There is a lot of risk and skill needed to capitalize on a trending niche. This is because there are already so many other people looking into this niche and the competition is frankly too high.
What you want to find is an evergreen niche to have sustainable profits for as long as you are a seller on print on demand. To help you in your print on demand niche research process it would be important to first create a persona of the person you want to sell to. Get an idea of who you want to sell to.
10 Things To Do Before You Start A Print On Demand Business
Unfortunately, there are a lot of consequences if you skip over this 10 point checklist, and none of them are good.
Some of these can lose you money from advertising campaigns that were doomed to fail from the start. Some of them can cause you massive headaches from customer service issues. And some of these can, unfortunately, even result in your advertising campaigns and your stores getting shut down.
1- Only add a maximum of five color variations to your product
There are multiple reasons why this is a terrible idea. Starting with the fact that, you know, it looks absolutely terrible and horrendously ugly having a million, billion color t-shirt on a white background in the image gallery.
The second reason is that giving customers lots of options is usually a bad idea. Thats’s because of something called analysis paralysis. Basically, when a customer sees lots of different t-shirt colors, they become overwhelmed and don’t know which to choose. And so, ultimately, choose nothing at all.
And of course, the third reason is that sometimes certain designs don’t even look great in every color. When you’re choosing between different colors, something that’s really good to keep in mind is that when it comes to t-shirts, Amazon Merch has found that darker shades usually perform better, with black being their top-selling t-shirt color. Which is pretty cool to know.
2- Check your print provider options
Instead, print on demand services, like Printify, often contract out to third party suppliers and manufacturers.
With Printful, they will automatically choose which manufacturer will create the item for you based on what country your customer is located in. However, Printify doesn’t let you do this. Instead, they make you choose.
3- Make sure that you have a credit card or money set aside before you start an online store
Make sure that you’ve either got a credit card or some money set aside. So that you can purchase these items in advance, to tide you over in the meantime.
Credit cards are usually the best option for this. That’s because you’ve normally got four to five weeks to pay back the balance without accruing any interest. And you will receive your payment well before that happens.
4- Check if your written phrase is trademarked, and avoid copyrights
How do you know if a design is copyrighted before you use it or not? Well, how do you do a search for copyrights? The answer is that you don’t need to check because by default, and by law, the moment a piece of artwork is created, it is, by default, copyrighted.
However, what you can do is use this design for inspiration and to make your own version of it. You can go to Canva, and you will make your own quick design. You can now take this different design and sell it on a t-shirt.
And something that’s good to keep in mind is that small phrases, like world’s best rabbit dad, cannot be copyrighted. They can be trademarked. Which leads us to the second question: How do you know if a phrase is trademarked?
Basically when it comes to trademark phrases, they are very easy to do a search for. Each country has its own trademark search engine. If you go and search at the USA trademark electronic search system, you will find the results you need.
Something to keep in mind though, is that, unlike with copyrights, which most countries have agreed to protect by default, trademarks must instead be filed in each and every country. And so for example, just because something is trademarked in the USA, doesn’t mean that it would also be trademarked in Turkiye.
5- Have lifestyle photos for your products, not just generic mockups
When you go ahead and you create a product with a print on demand service, you usually get a picture to help you promote your product, right? Just one problem.
These simple mockup photos of a product on a plain white background may be terrible when used for advertising. Yes, if you want to run ads to sell your products, then lifestyle images are key.
6- Don’t just opt for selling t-shirts
T-shirts can make you a lot of money. Yeah, so they’re still good. But they aren’t the only type of print on demand products out there, especially if you’re selling in your own store.
For example, leggings can sell for massive markups, because their value is ambiguous. The reason why they are ambiguous is because, while you could go to your local mall and potentially find t-shirts that feature dogs on it, you are extremely unlikely to find anything similar when it comes to leggings.
7- Check to see if your design can be printed onto a different product
This is usually the easiest way to create effective upsells with print on demand, by taking the same design and then printing it onto another product. On the other hand, there is something that’s good to keep in mind that some designs that are patterns can print really well onto pillowcases, and onto blankets, leggings, and even tote bags.
Whereas this sort of single image design may not work so well on leggings, but it obviously works really well printed onto t-shirts, or onto hoodies. Plus they work with mugs as well.
8- Add scarcity, but not to every product
Scarcity can be a very effective way to get customers to buy now, in the moment, for fear of missing out. You can use this tactic in a Facebook ad to say that you’ve got a sale on, but only until stocks last. And to even add an inventory product bar to your product listing, showing that stock is low and that it will sell out soon.
However, this kind of gets ruined if your customer starts clicking on other items in your store and sees: Hey, all of these items are on sale, and they all seem to be almost out of stock. This may seem a little suspicious.
9- Check to see if your niche is banned on Facebook
Facebook has a lot of discretion to shut down any adult product ads that they do not like. Now obviously, Facebook ads aren’t the only way to create products but they are one of the best ways. It’d be quite a shame if you went to all this effort to create this great product and store and then not be able to advertise your products there.
So go through Facebook’s advertising policies. Be sure to take a look at what types of niches and products are outright prohibited, and restricted.
10: Find your most honest friend or family member to get their feedback
It can be very, very difficult for us to step back and be objective about the things that we create. Essentially, the vast majority of people think that they are above average. Which is why it is very important to stake out your most honest friend or family member to give you their honest opinion about whether your products or store looks ugly.
Those were steps to starting your print on-demand business. We know it can definitely seem like a daunting task. However, take it one step at a time and you’ll be on your way to running your own online store.
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