What Is Print on Demand and How To Start a Business (2024)

Whether or not you’re an artist, author, designer, or entrepreneur, promoting bodily merchandise utilizing the print-on-demand mannequin may be the right means to monetize your creativity.

From t-shirts to posters, backpacks to books, with print on demand – an business anticipated to develop 25.8% yearly till 2030 – you may put your personal unique spin on on a regular basis merchandise and promote them on-line.

This information will provide you with an outline of the print-on-demand world, with recommendations on begin your print-on-demand enterprise in addition to steering on the most effective print-on-demand companies.

What’s print on demand (POD)?

Print on demand (POD) is a enterprise mannequin the place merchandise, resembling attire, equipment, or house decor, are produced solely when an order is obtained. This eliminates the necessity for stock administration and upfront prices.

With a POD enterprise, designs are digitally printed on-demand, permitting for personalization and suppleness. Plus with print-on-demand companies, the whole lot after the sale, from digital printing to order achievement and delivery, is dealt with by your provider.

A serious extra good thing about print on demand is that when you’ve set the whole lot up, it takes just a few clicks to satisfy an order after you’ve made a sale.

You should utilize print-on-demand companies to:

  • Take a look at a small enterprise concept or new product line for an present enterprise with out the dangers that include shopping for stock. It additionally makes a terrific facet hustle.
  • Monetize an viewers you’ve constructed (print on demand is a superb possibility for those who’re a YouTuber or cartoonist who desires to spend your time creating as an alternative of fulfilling orders)
  • Create unique merchandise for a distinct segment of consumers (e.g., t-shirts for people who find themselves tremendous keen about lengthy distance operating)
  • Print one-off or small batches of print-on-demand t-shirts, books, footwear, baggage, wall artwork, telephone circumstances, clocks, laptop computer skins, mugs, and different merch
  • Take a look at advert artistic: Since you do not pay for value of products up entrance with print on demand, you may run adverts to see which designs and objects are most properly obtained. For those who get a large quantity of orders, you may double down on the artistic and enhance your advert spend!

Execs and cons of print on demand

Print on demand can be utilized to construct a enterprise based mostly on the dropshipping mannequin—the place the merchandise and delivery are all dealt with by a 3rd celebration. It’s one of the vital accessible methods to supply merchandise or begin a web based enterprise, however it’s best to know the perks and limitations earlier than you dive in.


  • Create merchandise rapidly. After getting the design, you may create the product and put it up on the market in minutes.
  • Delivery orders is taken care of. Delivery and fulfilment is out of your arms and into your provider’s. After the sale, you’re simply chargeable for customer support.
  • Low funding, decrease threat. Because you’re not bodily holding any stock, it’s simpler so as to add or take away merchandise, check concepts, or pivot your method.


  • Decrease margins. Naturally, your prices per merchandise will likely be increased than for those who purchase in bulk.
  • Much less management over delivery. Delivery prices can get sophisticated, as it’d range for various print-on-demand merchandise. Your choices are additionally restricted if you wish to create a standout unboxing expertise.
  • Restricted merchandise. Your potential to customise merchandise is determined by the seller and the product. Relying on which print-on-demand firms you wish to work with, you’ll should weigh base prices, customization choices, and accessible sizes when deciding which vendor to decide on.
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4 well-liked print-on-demand companies

Whereas many print-on-demand companies may appear comparatively related at first look, you’ll should rigorously think about those you select based mostly on the merchandise you wish to create, the place you’ll be delivery them, and the retail costs you wish to provide, amongst different components. As print on demand has grown in reputation, so has the quantity of print on demand firms available in the market.

For instance, a low base value for one product may make it an apparent selection, till you notice that it might take 21 enterprise days to succeed in prospects along with your most inexpensive delivery possibility.

It is extremely vital to train due diligence when evaluating print-on-demand firms. Google and different assessment websites are your good friend. Selecting one of many fallacious print-on-demand firms can set you again financially, and even harm the expansion of your model. Listed here are 4 well-liked print-on-demand companies.


1. Printful

The logo of Printful, featuring three colored triangles that symbolize printing ink

Printful is a well-liked selection amongst print-on-demand websites due to its broad choice of high-quality merchandise and types (Gildan, American Attire, and many others.), easy-to-use mockup turbines, and choices for including your personal branding to the unboxing expertise.

For attire merchandise specifically, Printful presents numerous printing methods you’ll need to pay attention to:

  • Direct to Garment prints straight onto clothes—particularly good for easier designs (i.e., witty t-shirts). You’ll be able to solely print on sure areas of the product consequently.
  • Lower and Sew is typically often called “all-over print.” The article of clothes is minimize, printed on, after which put again collectively for a seamless print throughout your entire piece. Whereas the bottom prices could also be increased, this allows you to create a extra premium product that might promote for extra. This isn’t to be confused with “sublimation printing,” which is a much less correct however extra economical technique of reaching an all-over print.
  • Embroidery is maybe probably the most complicated printing approach as a result of the ultimate product is definitely a threaded design with a 3D impact. That is finest for easy designs that contain solely a handful of colours, and for merchandise like hats.

You must also be conscious of how extra customizations have an effect on the worth. Printing on the sleeve or inside label, for instance, will normally imply paying a nominal charge on prime of base value.

Apart from attire, Printful additionally presents mugs, bedding, pillows, framed posters, seaside towels, aprons, and extra.

2. Lulu

the logo of print-on-demand company Lulu, featuring a stylized paperback book

Lulu is a self-publishing platform for printing and distributing your personal books and ebooks, providing lots of the instruments you’d want. It is one of the vital well-liked print-on-demand firms.

Lulu Direct is its print-on-demand providing and allows you to select from a wide array of guide sizes, binding sorts, and web page/print high quality to construct your personal guide product.

Whereas there isn’t any built-in editor to design your guide, Lulu Xpress does provide downloadable templates to get you began. It even has a clear pricing calculator that will help you value out your mission, together with varied delivery choices.

There are additionally reductions accessible for those who’d prefer to order in bulk.

3. Gooten

Promotional card for print-on-demand company Gooten, with illustrations of POD products including cups and picture frames

Like Printful, Gooten presents a variety of merchandise that you would be able to customise with a number of which are distinctive to Gooten, resembling calendars and canine beds.

Nevertheless, since Gooten makes use of a global community of distributors and dropshippers to print its merchandise, there’s additionally much more variance between its objects by way of print high quality and delivery. However that additionally means you’re more likely to see decrease product and delivery costs as properly.

Gooten has an intuitive picture editor that provides you an excellent sense of what your closing product will appear like.

4. Printify

The logo of Printify, which is cartoon snapping fingers on a green background

Printify is one other print-on-demand service that options the same old choice of t-shirts and hoodies. What’s notable about Printify is it additionally presents a global vendor community that allows numerous distinctive white-label merchandise you’re not more likely to discover elsewhere, resembling jewellery, clocks, footwear, and water bottles. Actually, the platform boasts over 200 merchandise you may print on.

Whereas Printify is free to make use of, a premium subscription is obtainable that provides you 20% off of all merchandise for $29 a month, which is a stable possibility for those who’re trying to scale up later and enhance your revenue margins.

Creating designs while you’re not a designer

Design performs an important function in creating profitable print-on-demand merchandise. However you don’t should be a full-time designer to supply unique designs.

There are a lot of methods to fee or produce your personal designs, so long as you perceive a number of key ideas that can enable you to work successfully with designers.

First, and most vital, is making ready your design file. When working with designers, it’s best to specify that your design is for printing. This suggests that it must be saved at a decision of 300 dots per inch (dpi). The scale of the photographs you add must be the identical dimension because the printing space for the product. 

Be aware that print specs will change relying on the printing approach used. When doubtful, simply ship the designer the print specs for the particular product so that they perceive the context.

Normally, the file you add will likely be a PNG or PSD. Remember the fact that for those who use a clear background, the colour of the t-shirt will likely be your background coloration.

Example of a printing guide layer in Photoshop, showing the user where to place their design

The place to seek out design concepts and designers

In the most effective case situation, you’re a designer or know one you may work properly with. However don’t be discouraged for those who don’t have entry to design abilities. That’s what outsourcing is for.

You will discover designers to work with on Behance or 99designs who can produce usable designs so long as you present clear directions. Right here’s how one can add readability and context for a design mission:

  • Share perception into your viewers. Inform them what it’s for and who your viewers is. Displaying them your web site will help.
  • Clearly clarify what you need. Use your preliminary pitch and subsequent revisions (it’s best to get a minimum of one or two) to over-communicate what you’re searching for, and attempt to present concrete suggestions each step of the best way.
  • Present examples for inspiration. Give them a reference to base the design on, or level to previous work that you simply preferred.

There are many gifted designers, so it’s best to be capable to discover somebody to carry your concept to life. The actually difficult half is determining what you wish to design within the first place.

This can rely in your target market for the product, however you will discover design inspiration on:

You’ll be able to search for content material, messaging, or kinds that already resonate along with your target market to brainstorm concepts price pursuing. Simply make sure you’re not infringing on anybody else’s work. 

Social media can be a terrific place to litmus check your concepts. For those who’re trying to flip the net into your focus group, strive the next:

  • Submit to your private community on Fb or to teams;
  • Use Instagram’s Ballot and Query stickers to solicit suggestions;
  • Share a tough model of your design concept with a related subreddit.

5 suggestions for beginning with print on demand

Utilizing a print-on-demand service may be simpler than managing your personal stock, however there are some issues distinctive to this method that you ought to be conscious of. Fortunately, for many of those challenges you’ll face, there are artistic options.

Listed here are among the finest print-on-demand suggestions that will help you out.

1. All the time order samples

Product high quality assurance is important while you’re utilizing print-on-demand companies to promote on-line.

You wish to guarantee your bodily product seems to be and feels as you meant, and one of the simplest ways to try this is to be your personal buyer, so you may expertise first-hand what it’s prefer to obtain your merchandise. Some companies, like Printful, even provide a pattern low cost of as much as 20% off or free delivery, so remember to benefit from that if it’s accessible.

Past guaranteeing product high quality, samples are additionally good to have available for taking your personal product images to your web site and social media profiles. 

2. Be strategic about delivery

Even while you’re not delivery merchandise your self, delivery nonetheless presents some complexity within the type of delivery occasions and prices, and set the fitting expectations with prospects. The perfect print-on-demand firms will likely be clear about delivery and be proactive about sharing data on any potential delays.

You’ll wish to make sure that you’re accounting for printing occasions relating to delivery. Regardless of the delivery occasions are, remember to add anyplace from two to 4 days for manufacturing, or extra relying on the product.

All the time be upfront about delivery occasions otherwise you’ll wind up with a assist inbox filled with delivery questions. Define what to anticipate in your FAQ web page or think about making a separate Delivery web page to elucidate delivery to prospects.


For those who can, attempt to partially or totally take up your delivery prices into your retail value. Yr after 12 months, research present that shock delivery prices added at checkout can deter prospects from shopping for. On prime of that, free delivery bolsters numerous your different advertising efforts:

  • Free delivery remains to be a terrific gross sales sweetener, even for those who can solely provide it for particular areas, and supplies prospects with yet another incentive to purchase.
  • Conditional free delivery (e.g., “Get free delivery while you spend $30 or extra”) encourages prospects so as to add extra to their cart to succeed in the edge and normally helps you obtain a greater whole delivery price by delivery the whole lot collectively.
  • You should utilize free delivery to justify longer wait occasions. Many shoppers will wait a bit longer for an order in the event that they know it’s going to save them cash on delivery.

3. Create mockups that exhibit your merchandise

Whereas fashions will help you snap compelling images of your merchandise, mockups are additionally an efficient various and will likely be a distinguished a part of your product pages.

Many print-on-demand companies will help you create your personal mockups, displaying your merchandise on an individual or as a flatlay. However there are different companies and loads of free mockup templates that may additionally carry your merchandise to life.

These mockups are what is going to promote your merchandise to prospects, so it could actually actually pay to go the additional mile. PlaceIt is an easy-to-use mockup generator that allows you to create photograph and video mockups for $8 every. Or, if you understand the fundamentals of Photoshop or different photograph enhancing instruments, you may browse Mockup World or Behance for templates.

a mockup of three print-on-design books with image placeholders

4. Discover your area of interest and construct an viewers

Since your margins will likely be a bit thinner with print-on-demand merchandise, you’ll wish to be strategic about the way you place your model. Having a clearly outlined viewers (e.g., canine homeowners) can really enable you to decrease the prices to accumulate prospects and maximize your potential income as a result of your concentrating on will likely be rather more exact.

Having a distinct segment makes it simpler to develop an viewers that turns into an asset. Some advertising ways you may strive straight away embrace: 

Rising an viewers is a should for constructing a long-term enterprise, print on demand or in any other case.

5. Create your personal on-line retailer

For those who’re stepping into print on demand, you’ll come throughout totally different marketplaces to promote your customized designs on. For instance, RedBubble and Zazzle provide POD companies while you create a retailer on their platforms. Folks additionally promote customized merchandise by means of Etsy, eBay, and Amazon. 

Marketplaces give consumers selection and a straightforward approach to discover merchandise. However what they don’t do is present a procuring expertise that you simply management. This provides you a singular startup alternative.

Once you construct a branded storefront on prime of an ecommerce platform like Shopify, you may management the expertise: how your retailer seems to be and feels, how folks work together with you, how they uncover your model. It additionally presents integrations with prime POD companies so the whole lot occurs from one dashboard. To not point out the decrease charges you’ll pay from proudly owning your personal retailer.

Buyers who aren’t loyal to manufacturers like Etsy or Amazon could get pleasure from attending to know your model and searching your website. Your e mail listing, remarketing adverts, and social media profiles make it simpler to remain related with them and construct a relationship that extends past {the marketplace}. Having your personal web site may be extremely useful in establishing your model additional as properly.

Design, check, promote, and develop

Print-on-demand companies provide an accessible place to start for brand new entrepreneurs or for anybody who simply desires to check an concept earlier than they put money into it. There are millions of white label merchandise on the market that you would be able to make your personal, and no scarcity of attainable designs to pair with them.

Choose combos will inevitably promote higher than the remainder, nevertheless it’s comparatively straightforward to repurpose the identical core design for a number of merchandise.

If what you are promoting concept pans out and also you begin producing a significant variety of gross sales, you may at all times graduate from print on demand to holding your personal stock, or proceed to make use of these companies whereas discovering new methods to develop your viewers.

The best benefit of the print-on-demand mannequin is the pliability it affords what you are promoting and the time it provides you again to concentrate on development.

Print-on-demand FAQ

What’s one of the simplest ways to make use of print on demand?

For those who’re planning to begin a print-on-demand enterprise, start by selecting a distinct segment and the merchandise you wish to promote. Then get your designs and web site prepared. After that, search for a print-on-demand service and add the merchandise to your retailer so you can begin to promote merchandise. When you begin advertising your web site, you’ll start to obtain orders, and your print supplier will handle the fulfilment. Get began!

How a lot cash are you able to make with print on demand?

How a lot you make along with your print-on-demand enterprise is determined by the goal market, their wants, product demand, and seasonality. When figuring out how a lot you may earn, you’ll have to think about the sale value, charges to your print supplier, and quantity of orders. Print on demand helps you promote merchandise for comparatively low threat.

Can I do print on demand totally free?

There are a variety of merchandise you may promote with print on demand. A few of the well-liked print-on-demand merchandise embrace t-shirts, caps, mugs, wall prints and posters, drawstring and fabric baggage, hoodies, towels, telephone covers, notebooks, cushion covers, sweatshirts, and leggings. You’ll be able to technically do print on demand totally free, however will doubtless have to spend some cash on advertising and adverts to begin seeing outcomes. Get began totally free! 

How do you value print-on-demand merchandise?

Your print-on-demand product costs will rely largely on how properly you market your model. When pricing your merchandise, take a look at what the market is charging as a baseline. You’ll be able to cost increased costs for print-on-demand merchandise with customizations. In any other case, you may value the merchandise equally to your opponents as a safer guess if you wish to cowl a bigger goal market and make a revenue.

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