How's it going? In this post, I'm going to talk about how to make money with print on demand stores. I'll cover what a print on demand store is, how to set one up one to design and create products, and how to make thousands of dollars a month making money online once your store is up and running.
You can start this type of ecommerce business with under $100, but it may take longer to get started.
What Is Print On Demand?
Print on demand is a process in which individual copies of items are created at the time of order, eliminating the need for inventory and stock. You can use print on demand when selling clothing such as t-shirts and hoodies, and you can also use it for selling phone cases, paintings, shower curtains, bags, mugs, tote bags, canvas prints, wall art, and more.
When deciding if you want to start a print on demand business, you'll have to figure out whether you're going to hire a graphic designer to do your custom designs, or if you'll do them yourself. My wife and I own a print on demand shop called Pebblebrook Apparel and we opted to do our own designs. This allows us to earn more money on our bottom line.
Print on Demand Companies
To get started, you'll need to find a company that will manage printing your designs and shipping them out to your customers. I recommend Printify, personally. Printify allows you to create stores on Etsy, eBay, WooCommerce, Wix, and Shopify. Their print on demand service is free as well, though if you sign up for premium at $29 per month, you'll save 20% on all of your orders.
When using Printify, you'll first create a store picking the platform you intend to sell on. Once your store is set up, you'll be able to pick from clothing and other apparel to upload your designs to. They offer loads of custom products and various shipping options.
Each printer has different printing and shipping rates. You can select which printer you want to use on this screen.
As a US-based company, we do all of our printing and shipping from the US to get our products to our customers as quickly as possible.
After you've chosen a printer, you can move on to the screen where you upload your design and customize the design further (such as adding color to clothing fabric if you're designing clothes). When you've completed that, you can add a description and finally you'll be presented with the cost to make the item and be able to enter your selling price.
Once you've added all of your designs, you'll be able to export them to your store.
How To Start A Print On Demand Business
To make money with a print on demand business, you'll first need to have some designs, right? How do you get started designing products to sell? The best place I can think of for designing high quality products is the website Canva. Canva has a free and paid version.
You can certainly make some great designs with the free version however the paid version will give you more freedom and let you download PNG files with a transparent background – a must have.
When creating designs on Canva, it's essentially to make them has high resolution as possible. When my wife and I make designs, we use a 4000 x 4000 canvas. This allows us to make the highest resolution designs required for Printify.
What goes into a design you might ask? When it comes to making clothes, there's a few ways to go about it. One is coming up with catchy phrases like you've certainly seen in online t-shirt stores. Another technique is to use eye-catching imagery with your shirt to create a unique design that people will want to buy because they won't find it anywhere else.
Our strategy is to mix both. We come up with clever phrases while mixing in some imagery to go with the phrases.
Once you've created a design that you like, you'll want to download it as a PNG with a transparent background and prepare it for Printify or your printer of choice. You may also want to make a mock-up, which I cover below.
Creating Mock-Ups For Your Designs
When creating a print on demand product, it's often a good idea to create mock-ups of your products on real people. This allows you to have your products shown in real-life situations and is great for sharing on social media.
You can use a website such as PlaceIt to get started. PlaceIt is a subscription-based website that allows you to upload your designs onto clothing and other apparel with people in real-world situations. This will draw in potential customers that you want to sell your products to.
If you go down the paid advertising route, you will definitely see more results by providing a mock-up with someone wearing or holding your products versus just showing a picture of your product in a plain image.
A critical aspect of learning how to make money with print on demand is, well, how to price your products! You might think offering the lowest price compared to your competitors is the only way to make sales. This is a common misconception.
The truth is, you can often price your products somewhere in the middle of your competitors' prices. That is, find your lowest and find your highest competitors and pick a middle-ground.
There's studies behind why this works, which is out of the scope of this post, but the gist of it is that when people have three or more choices to choose from, price-wise, they often find that the least expensive priced product may be considered “cheap” or low quality and that the most expensive priced product may be a “premium” product. Therefore, many people who want a “regular” product will choose one priced in the middle.
When coming up with a price, you'll need to think about your profit margin. Remember that your price must cover your printing costs, your shipping costs, tax where applicable, and PayPal fees (or your preferred payment method).
When you add up these costs, you still need to make a profit that covers your overhead costs, such as any costs involved in running your business. This may include your web hosting, subscriptions to websites that help you make the products (as discussed earlier in this post), anyone you hire to help you, and so on.
Providing Excellent Customer Service
Remember, print on demand is an online business, which means you will, at time, have to provide customer support to customers who have questions or who may request a refund or exchange. Make sure you have an email address dedicated to inquiries and that you always respond professionally and as quick as you're able to.
If you're uncomfortable with working directly with customers, you may want to hire a virtual assistant to check and reply to your emails once or twice a day.
The Overall Workflow
Once everything is up and running and you're ready to open your print on demand business, here is a walkthrough of how things will go:
- Customer orders a product from your store.
- You get paid and an order alert will activate on your printer's site. If you have automated orders set up, you won't have to do anything further, but if you're doing orders manually, you'll have to approve the order.
- After the printer processes the order, you'll be charged the costs to your credit card on file.
- The printer will then create the product and ship it.
- You use the money you received as payment to pay off your credit card that you're using to cover costs, and you pocket the difference.
This process can be fully automated by having your printer automatically process orders, having a system where your payments automatically go to your bank account, and your bank account autopays your credit card bill. Just keep an eye on everything and you could have a fully automated business.
Where To Sell Your Products
You can sell your products in a number of locations, including:
3rd party websites take a cut of your proceeds but you get a lot more exposure on them. You'll face a lot of competition but the added traffic is often worth it.
When you make your own website, you'll have more freedom as to how you want to sell your products, but it will often take a lot longer to get noticed. My recommendation? Do both. Sell on both 3rd party websites and also sell on your own website.
As you gain traction, you can start pulling traffic only to your own website if you choose, thus eliminating 3rd party websites from taking a cut of your profits. My favorite way to make money with print on demand is through my own personal website but I do see the value in spreading out among other sites to get traffic early on.
Advertising on Social Media
We mainly use Facebook Ads to advertise Pebblebrook Apparel. If you don't have the budget to use paid advertising, another great way to spread the word of your print on demand store is Pinterest and Instagram. By posting daily pins and posts, you can attract customers to your brand.
Having a Facebook page and Twitter account will also allow customers to find you as well as interact with you.
Wrapping It Up
There you have it. In this post, you learned how to make money with a print on demand business. The startup process can be a little daunting, but once you get going, print on demand businesses can do quite well. Before you know it, you'll be designing and selling products and making passive income every month.