How To Start Your Print On Demand (POD) Business?
Not everyone loves the 9-to-5 corporate job world, the high-salaried, high-pressure way of living; some prefer a life where they work with something they are passionate about, something they love doing.
Life becomes more beautiful when your career and your job is about something you truly enjoy doing.
If you are passionate about designing or if you want to start your own business, one of the best options for you is to get into Print on Demand (PoD) business.
This kind of business is completely risk-free and doesn’t need a big investment, and is almost always a success. So, if you have talent and novel ideas, and you love to be creative, a PoD business can be just the kind of business that’s perfect for you.
However, before you get into PoD business, you need to know everything about it - the good and the bad, the steps and the risks, and more.
What is Print on Demand (PoD) business?
In a Print on Demand (PoD) business, you simply sell your designs to customers who like them, printed on a number of products, from T-shirts and laptop covers to mugs, caps and shoes.
The seller simply upload their designs and wait for clients to place an order; there’s usually no inventory and no risk of a loss. Sellers and designers don’t invest anything than their time and effort, and doesn’t have to spend anything than to purchase a good editing and designing software.
There are numerous Print on Demand (PoD) companies that act as middle-men between the seller and the clients; the businesses connect the sellers and the sellers with the client,s handles the transaction between them, prints the design on the products chosen by the clients and delivers them to the clients within a few days.
Some of the most renowned PoD companies are:
All these companies have their own interactive websites where designers and sellers can upload their designs and clients can choose a product they like. All the work in betweem is done by the companies themselves.
There is no inventory or investment needed by the seller or the companies. Only the designs and products that are ordered by the clients get printed, in that precise numbers, and shipped to the client.
Most PoD companies focus on T-shirts, hoodies and mugs, but certain designs can also be printed on towels, notebooks, stickers, bags, backpacks, shoes, phone and laptop covers, stationary and canvas.
How do Print on Demand (POD) companies Work?
Print on Demand (POD) companies work on the basis on customer demand. Instead of creating an inventory that might or might not sell well, these companies only produce a physical product when there’s a demand for it.
Most POD companies neither have any designs of their own nor any printing machines to print the products; they simply create a connection between designers who upload their designs, print providers and clients.
Print on Demand companies only takes direct orders from clients to print their company’s logo, name or brand names on different products.
In these cases, white-labelled products (T-shirts, bags, coasters, mugs, pen drives, etc.) are customized with the client’s unique business logo or brand.
Before digital printing technologies, it was not possible to make single copies or even a dozen copies of T-shirts or hoodies, customized with a person or company’s unique brand.
Consider this as an example of POD business from The Payoneer blog.
Printing a large batch of T-shirts and other similar products with a design was also risky, as no one knew exactly how well a design will do with clients.
With Print on Demand businesses, designers, print providers and sellers can work to customize their designs and products for every single client and never incur a loss.
How do on-Demand Printing companies Operate?
Print on Demand (POD) companies, or on-Demand printing companies work on a simple principle: creating after ordering. A product is created on printed on only after an order has been placed for that particular product.
The products and companies have no inventories; they simply have a stock of white-labelled products and digital designs, and these two factors come together only when a client places a particular order.
Consumers or clients go on these websites (Zazzle, Printify or Printful, etc), choose a design of their choice from the thousands of designs submitted by sellers, choose a medium (T-shirts, mugs, caps, etc.), choose the details of the product (color, size, feature, etc.) and place an order.
Once the order has been placed, the POD companies creates the product and delivers it to the client.
This is why a Print on Demand company is completely safe and free from loss. Since the product is only created after an order has been placed, there is already a demand for it in the market.
This order could be of a single product or a thousand pieces, but the companies will only make what they have been paid for or ordered to make. There will be no unsold inventory and no loss over unsold products.
Therefore, if you are looking for a safe, risk-free business, Print on Demand can be a good option.
How do Start a Print on Demand Business?
Starting one of these Print on Demand companies or getting into this business is easy, and usually completely risk free.
However, it requires that you know all the steps of starting your own Print on Demand business before doing so, just to make sure you are going the right way.
Here is a detailed step-by-step guideline to starting a Print on Demand business.
1. Choose your Niche/ Audience
It’s important that you choose your niche before you start designing. The niche should ideally be something you enjoy, you know a lot of, or something you like doing, or it can be regarding a topic that is in talks at the moment.
You might be interested in sports, ecotourism, healthy living, movies, TV series, etc. topics, or your products might be witty banter and comic strips that can be printed on T-shirts and mugs.
For effective sales, your niche should ideally have a wide audience but should also be specific enough to be unique.
You can also start making designs without a specific niche in mind, but having a set niche helps create your brand. Your niche can be anything, as long as there are other followers of the same idea, ideology or fandom.
2. Choose the Type of your Niche
There can be two ways to choose a niche: a product-based niche or a subject-based niche. Firstly, you can choose a particular kind of product for your niche, i.e. mugs or T-shirts, table coasters or laptop sleeves.
You can make unique designs that can all be printed on a particular product of your choice. The designs can be varied, ranging from witty word play to superhero logos, but your product would always be the same.
This way, with enough marketing, all potential clients would know to come to your store when they need T-shirts, mugs or coasters.
Secondly, your niche can be subject-based. Whatever your subject of choice is - wordplay, clowns, movies, superheroes, birthdays, yoga or healthy living - you can print them on a number of materials and products.
If this is the type of niche you choose, your designs need to be versatile enough to fit different products equally well.
3. Choose a Software
If you are a designer, you’ll already be acquainted with the right software to make your designs. Even if you are a painter, a doodler or a creative person, you’ll need to learn and master the proper designing software to make it in a Print on Demand business.
Some of the most important software that you can work with are:
Of these, Gimp and Canva are free software that you can download from the Internet. Although they can be used for designing, they don’t have a lot of features.
Adobe Photoshop is the most popular designing software among designers; it is available for purchase on the Internet. Ideally, you need a software that has both vector format and Pixel.
4. Research your Niche
You’ll need to properly research your choice of niche before you start designing or before you try and sell your designs. If you end up choosing a niche that is neither profitable nor popular, all your efforts will go to waste and your designs will not sell.
Looking up niches are easy. All you need to do is to go to some of the most popular POD sites online and type in the name of the niche you have in mind.
If the sites already have designs on the same niches, you can take a look at whether they are selling or not. If you have chosen a niche that sells well in most of the sites, it will be a safe niche to try.
On the other hand, it you have chosen a niche that doesn’t sell well, it might be a risk that you can take. Over a long period of time, an uncommon niche might attract a specific group of people, but the sales would not be much for you.
If your goal is to start making a high profit soon, it will be safer if you choose a popular and best selling niche for your designs.
5. Find the Right Website for Your Business
As mentioned before, there are a number of POD companies online that you can associate your brand with, namely: Printify, Printful, TeeSpring, Zazzle, etc.
It is very important that you choose the right platform for your designs, because you want your clients to be completely satisfied with the product they receive.
Relevant reading: Customcat vs Printful: which is better
The platform that you end up choosing will take care of your communication with the client, printing, manufacturing and delivering the product to the client, and you want the whole process to go as smoothly as possible.
There are a number of sites you can choose from, or you can create your store in more than one platform. However, it is important that you don’t start creating your account on more than a few platforms in the beginning.
As a new business, you should ideally open your store in one or two platforms and give it your full concentration; you can increase the number of stores later when your first few stores gain popularity.
6. Decide your Selling Procedure
You can choose between two ways of selling your designs: via a platform marketplace or via your own store. If you decide to use a marketplace, all you need to do is to create an account in any one (or more) of them, upload your design and start selling.
The marketplace will take care of all the steps it takes to deliver the product to the clients, and you won’t have to worry about anything else other than designing.
On the other hand, if you choose to sell your product via your own store, you need to create an account in store sites such as Etsy, Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ShopBase, etc. In this case, you’ll have to connect your store to a print provider after uploading your designs to your store.
The print provider will create the products based on client orders, and even deliver the products to the clients.
7. Create your Designs
You might have existing designs in your portfolio that you want to use in your business, or you might want to create special designs for the business. Here are some ideas that can help you generate some new ideas:
Go to the other stores in the website that you find with the same “keywords” as yours. You can take a look at the designs other business owners have created and take inspiration from them. You shouldn’t directly copy any of the designs you see, but change the ideas to create your own.
Check out popular designs from Pinterest, Amazon, Etsy, Zazzle and other such popular selling sites.
Reach out for suggestions from people interested in your niche or topic of choice.
Type in your “keyword” with hashtags and look for what the young generation is talking or tweeting about.
Search Google with your “keywords” and try to duplicate any of the images or drawings that come up.
8. Make a Listing
For the next part of your business, you need to make a listing of your products. If you are new to this, a listing is all the detailed information about your product that your clients need for making a decision.
Proper information about your product is what’s going to help visitors become your clients. A good listing shouldn’t just include all the practical information about your products, but creative descriptions that will make your clients interested in the products.
When you are making a listing for your product or writing a description, it is important that you add all the crucial keywords that people search with. If you add words like “best gift for women” or “Father’s Day gift” you’ll be visited by potential clients who are searching for those particular items.
9. Create a Storefront
A beautiful storefront is also quite important to attract customers. A good description and an attractive storefront is what’s going to convert your one-time visitors into permanent customers.
Your storefront needs to have unique, welcoming colors, designs and words to make it attractive to customers.
10. Promote your Product
If you are using a marketplace to sell your products, it is going to take care of everything from production to delivery. All you need to do is to create new designs and promote them.
The best ways to promote your product is through Social Media, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
You can use any tactics to promote your product, including inviting your friends and family members to buy your products, giving out discounts on your products, asking your followers to share your products, host contests, paying for advertisements so that your products are visible to social media users, etc.
The key to success in Print on Demand businesses is to create unique designs that everyone will love, promote your products well, and choose the right print providers so that your clients get the best products in their hands.
It is possible to make a successful Print on Demand business and earn a lot of money if you are diligent, determined and have the right guidelines.