Print-on-demand: What it is and how to get started in 2023
If you’re reading this article, you must want to know what print-on-demand is. Well, it is a business model that can be described as a partnership between a businessperson who uses an e-commerce platform to maintain their online store and a supplier. This business style allows you to customize products with unique designs and sell them only when there is an order. In this model, customers access the creator’s online store, and place an order, and the supplier takes care of the entire process, from having the materials need to print to shipping, including the actual print job.
With this model, it is possible to set up an online store without having to invest in stock, printers, and structure. You also won’t have to worry about the logistics of your products. Besides not having to invest a lot when working this way, there are no limits to how much you can profit from it. Everything will depend on the quality of your prints, your digital marketing strategy, and how well you set up your store.
Although the costs to start an online business in the print-on-demand model are really low, these platforms do not always offer a customer support tool suited to your needs. So, don’t forget to implement a professional chat system on your website. AppTuts has already tested some of these tools and the most recommended ones on the market, in order of quality, are these:
With any of these tools, especially Jivochat, your Print-on-demand-based store will be more professional and will achieve total customer satisfaction, who, as you may know, care a lot about fast, efficient, and quality service. However, if you already know JivoChat and want to explore new tools, check out the 30 best JivoChat alternatives.
In this article, our focus is to help you take the first steps, understand why this model is growing, and understand the sales format and the products available in print on demand.
Why is print-on-demand growing?
All over the world, people show interest in personalized products that represent the most diverse areas, be they professions, shows, anime, or even brands. And of course, this search is for quality products with fast delivery. As such, many entrepreneurs want to offer these types of products, but sometimes they do not have enough financial resources to kick-start the business.
Precisely to solve this problem, people have been more and more interested in what is print-on-demand, and the niche is growing. This type of format allows you to scale your business without hindrance, while buyers can purchase quality products. On-demand printing also avoids fabric and water waste, as it only prints when a purchase is made, meeting the environmental concerns of increasingly conscious consumers.
What are the products available to print on demand?
T-shirts, mugs, hoodies, and hats are the most popular segments of print-on-demand. However, this does not mean that your business should be limited to customizing these products. After all, with print-on-demand, you can customize books, jewelry, pillows, pens, water bottles, and even fanny packs.
If, when choosing a market segmentation, you decide that your online store should attract an audience of all ages, you can invest in t-shirts, as they are popular with all generations. However, if your audience is more mature, mugs may be the best option, while a younger audience may be attracted to hoodies.
On the other hand, if you want to attract an audience that is interested in unique accessories, you can target your store for custom jewelry. That is, the possibilities with print-on-demand are quite varied.
How to make money with print-on-demand?
Now that you have an idea of what print-on-demand is, we’ll talk about how to make money on the internet with this model. The first way is to open your store on a platform dedicated to this segment. On this platform, you will be able to sell a variety of products with eye-catching prints to a specific audience. However, if this is not your goal, there are other ways to earn in this area, such as becoming a product supplier for these platforms. For example, if you manufacture mugs, you could be a supplier to print-on-demand companies.
Another way to benefit from this segment is to offer design services. If you are a professional in this field, you can use freelancing sites to advertise your skills in this field. On the other hand, if you have experience in social media, you can approach stores that work with print-on-demand to help them increase their online presence and establish more effective communication with consumers through posts on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and even LinkedIn. In the latter case, you can still speed up your work using some of these 9 artificial intelligence tools for social media in 2023.
Starting a print-on-demand business
As attractive as a print-on-demand business may seem, you must not forget that it is real work. The platforms that offer this type of service actually do a lot of the work. However, this does not mean that you should sit idly by and wait for the money to just appear in your account.
Therefore, in order to help you understand what are the steps that must be followed for success in this area, we are going to give you some tips on how to start in this market segment.
1. Structure your business
The first step you need to take to start learning what print-on-demand is and starting your business is to study this market to understand well what will sell. Although t-shirts are usually the first choice for those starting out in this segment, they can make you just one more among many other sellers who have already adhered to the same business model. Although you don’t need to give up on selling T-shirts, explore other merchandise to start with so that you stand out.
Afterward, you must have a very solid idea about what your niche is. That is, will your prints represent old paintings, nature, the animal world, a profession, a movie, or a show? By defining these categories, you can target your marketing to a group of people who are most likely to buy your product. To further increase your chances of selling, consider creating a cross-niche. For example, if your store is about The Big Bang Theory series, the cross-niche could involve this humorous series with other geek themes.
With these two steps taken, you move on to the third point, which is the focus on design. For this, try to study the popular images of your niche and see how you can remodel them so they look better in your business and are more adapted to your target audience. After all, there’s no point in having a wonderful print that has no connection with the people you want to be your buyers. After that, just use one of the photo and image editing tools, such as Canva, or, if you have some money to invest, hire a freelancer to help you in this step.
Still speaking of design, you need to be very careful about what you choose to use, so as to avoid copyrighted images, as it is illegal to create and sell works of art derived from copyrighted characters and trademark logos. Take care of this detail so that you don’t have to pay other brands high prices so as to avoid your store getting taken down.
2. Create your brand and online store
The next step in learning what is print-on-demand is creating your brand. Now it’s time for you to take the time to research a name for your store and register the domain. Remember that it should be simple and, at the same time, reflect your niche and the products you sell. Also, don’t forget that your company’s name cannot be something generic, because if that happens, your future customers may have difficulty finding you on Google and social media.
Furthermore, although there is no one-size-fits-all recipe to follow when choosing a name for your company, there are some points that you might want to consider when making this important choice.
- It must not have more than 12 digits.
- It cannot be used on social media.
- It’s ideal that it’s available in “.com”
- It must be pleasant to hear.
- It must be easy to say.
- It must be easy to read.
- It must be easy to memorize.
With the name already defined, you should focus on finding a good platform that offers print-on-demand service. To do this, take some points into consideration, such as, for example, the average production and delivery time of the product, if you have the products you want to sell, what your profit margins will be, and if you have integration with other platforms. Another point that can be a great advantage for your choice is the presence of the platform in other countries.
Now all you need to do is create your prints and add your items to your store display. For this, use the platform’s image editor to apply your prints to the items you want to sell, set prices, and send the product to the store. This process can be a little time-consuming, depending on how many products you want to start selling.
3. Test the customer experience
Before you launch your store and start selling, it’s ideal that you check out the customer experience on the print-on-demand platform you’ve chosen. With your showcase ready, select some products to buy and check if the company really has an easy-to-use website. Also, contact the site’s customer support to find out if it is really good and if it clarifies all customer queries regarding issues such as payment methods or difficulties in using the platform.
Also, ask for some samples to check the quality of the parts. Keep an eye on the fabric used if you work with clothing, as well as the quality of the print. Make sure the colors are true to the design so your customers aren’t disappointed. Another point that must be thought about is whether the sizes of the T-shirts, if they are your products, correspond to those published on the website. If a customer buys a size L blouse, for example, and it arrives in a smaller or larger size, this can be quite frustrating.
Finally, check that the deadline established for delivery on the website corresponds to reality. If the order arrives many days after the established deadline, check if there was any problem with the company responsible for delivery. Otherwise, see if there were any issues in the product’s production area that delayed delivery. These small details make all the difference when the customer makes the purchase and also in their decision to return or not to buy from your store.
4. Start selling
Now that you know what print-on-demand is, you will focus on promoting your products. An interesting way to do this is to set a release date and create a lot of buzz on social media before that date. Use different content formats, such as Reels, carousel posts, stories, and videos on TikTok, to intensify your marketing actions, at least one month in advance of launch. If you have resources to invest before starting to sell, you can bet on paid ads and email marketing.
It’s also worth researching what the big eCommerce stores in that area are doing to ensure their success. This way, you can have a clear idea of how to overcome obstacles and reach a larger audience. Whether investing in paid traffic or creating content that stands out on social media, the important thing is to find the best way to attract money to your business.
Don’t forget that in any business, success can take time or come suddenly. However, with print-on-demand, you already have the great advantage of not having to invest a lot to get started. Take advantage of that and the fact that you don’t have to worry about logistics. Focus all your creativity on discovering new ways of selling and making your company stand out from so many others existing in this segment.
What is print-on-demand?
On-demand selling, also called print-on-demand, refers to a business model where products are only created, usually by suppliers, after your customer places an order. This eliminates the need to maintain inventory, reducing risks and costs for the seller.
How does a print-on-demand platform work?
Print-on-demand platforms allow sellers to upload designs and list printed products like T-shirts and mugs. After a customer orders, the platform prints the design on the chosen item, sends it directly to the customer and the seller receives his share of the profit.
How to sell on the print-on-demand model?
To sell on the print-on-demand model, you first have to choose a platform that caters to the market. Then you will create designs that appeal to the target audience. Set up your store by setting prices and other details, and promote your online store through digital marketing, social media, and other channels.
What to sell in the print-on-demand system?
There are numerous products that can be sold in print-on-demand systems. The most popular are t-shirts, hoodies, and general apparel; mugs; art posters and prints; books and magazines; phone cases; cushions; purses and backpacks; caps; and finally, jewelry and personalized costume jewelry.
What are the print-on-demand platforms?
There are several popular on-demand sales platforms on the market. Some of the best-known are Printful, SPOD, T-Pop, and Printify. Some of these platforms may have a stronger presence in certain markets, so it’s important to research which is the best option for the target audience you want to reach.