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

Whether or not you’re an artist, author, designer, or entrepreneur, bodily merchandise could be the proper canvas for monetizing your creativity with print-on-demand.

From t-shirts to posters, backpacks to books, you possibly can put your individual unique spin on on a regular basis merchandise and promote them on-line. Nevertheless, in case you go the standard route of shopping for and holding your individual stock, it’s possible you’ll be left with a pile of merchandise that aren’t promoting.

The print-on-demand (POD) business is anticipated to develop at a compound annual progress fee (CAGR) of 26.1% till 2030.

Print-on-demand companies provide a better technique to bypass the time, funding, and danger related to managing stock, serving to you create customized merchandise at a fraction of the fee than manufacturing them by yourself.

This information offers you an summary of the print-on-demand world, with tips about learn how to begin your print on demand enterprise in addition to learn how to most successfully begin promoting customized merchandise.

What’s print on demand (POD)?

Print-on-demand (POD) is a enterprise mannequin the place merchandise, reminiscent of attire, equipment, or residence 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 success and transport, 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 use print-on-demand companies to:

  • Check a small enterprise thought or new product line for an current enterprise with out the dangers that include shopping for stock. It additionally makes an excellent aspect hustle.
  • Monetize an viewers you’ve constructed (print-on-demand is a good choice in case you’re a YouTuber or cartoonist who needs to spend your time creating as an alternative of fulfilling orders)
  • Create unique merchandise for a distinct segment of shoppers (e.g., t-shirts for people who find themselves tremendous obsessed with lengthy distance operating)
  • Print one-off or small batches of print-on-demand t-shirts, books, footwear, luggage, wall artwork, cellphone circumstances, clocks, laptop computer skins, mugs, and different merch
  • Check advert artistic: Since you do not pay for price of products up entrance with print-on-demand, you possibly can run advertisements to see which designs and objects are most nicely obtained. If you happen to get a large quantity of orders, you possibly can double down on the artistic and enhance your advert spend!

The professionals and cons of print-on-demand in your ecommerce enterprise

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


  • Create merchandise shortly. Upon getting the design, you possibly can create the product and put it up on the market in minutes.
  • Transport orders is taken care of. Transport and fulfilment is out of your arms and into your provider’s. After the sale, you’re simply liable for customer support.
  • Low funding, decrease danger. Because you’re not bodily holding any stock, it’s simpler so as to add or take away merchandise, take a look at concepts, or pivot your strategy.


  • Decrease margins. Naturally, your prices per merchandise will likely be greater than in case you purchase in bulk.
  • Much less management over transport. Transport prices can get sophisticated, as it would fluctuate for various print-on-demand merchandise. Your choices are additionally restricted if you wish to create a standout unboxing expertise.
  • Restricted merchandise. Your capability to customise merchandise relies on the seller and the product. Relying on which print-on-demand corporations you wish to work with, you’ll must weigh base prices, customization choices, and out there sizes when deciding which vendor to decide on.
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Greatest print-on-demand companies for creating customized merchandise

Whereas many print-on-demand companies may appear comparatively related at first look, you’ll must fastidiously think about those you select primarily based on the merchandise you wish to create, the place you’ll be transport them, and the retail costs you wish to provide, amongst different elements. As print-on-demand has grown in recognition, so has the quantity of print on demand corporations available in the market.

For instance, a low base price for one product may make it an apparent alternative, till you notice that it could take 21 enterprise days to achieve clients together with your most reasonably priced transport choice.

It is extremely necessary to train due diligence when evaluating print-on-demand corporations. Google and different assessment websites are your good friend. Selecting one of many incorrect print-on-demand corporations can set you again financially, and even harm the expansion of your model.

That can assist you out, we put collectively a fast overview of a number of the most print-on-demand websites that cowl a wide range of situations. All of those companies are free to arrange (you solely pay while you order a product), plus they combine together with your Shopify retailer.

Let’s take a look at a number of the greatest print-on-demand websites.

1. Printful

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

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

For attire merchandise specifically, Printful gives a lot of printing strategies you’ll need to concentrate on:

  • Direct to Garment prints instantly onto clothes—particularly good for easier designs (i.e., witty t-shirts). You may solely print on sure areas of the product in consequence.
  • Lower and Sew is typically often known as “all-over print.” The article of clothes is minimize, printed on, after which put again collectively for a seamless print throughout your complete piece. Whereas the bottom prices could also be greater, 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 probably probably the most advanced printing method as a result of the ultimate product is definitely a threaded design with a 3D impact. That is greatest for easy designs that contain solely a handful of colours, and for merchandise like hats.

You must also be aware 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 price on high of base price.

Apart from attire, Printful additionally gives 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 individual books and ebooks, providing most of the instruments you’d want. It is one of the well-liked print-on-demand corporations.

Lulu Direct is its print-on-demand providing and allows you to select from a wide array of guide sizes, binding varieties, and web page/print high quality to construct your individual 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 can assist you price out your venture, together with numerous transport choices.

There are additionally reductions out there in case you’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 gives a variety of merchandise you can customise with a number of which might be distinctive to Gooten, reminiscent of calendars and canine beds.

Nevertheless, since Gooten makes use of a world community of distributors and dropshippers to print its merchandise, there’s additionally much more variance between its objects when it comes to print high quality and transport. However that additionally means you’re prone to see decrease product and transport costs as nicely.

Gooten has an intuitive picture editor that offers you sense of what your remaining 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 number of t-shirts and hoodies. What’s notable about Printify is it additionally gives a world vendor community that allows a lot of distinctive white-label merchandise you’re not prone to discover elsewhere, reminiscent of jewellery, clocks, footwear, and water bottles. In truth, the platform boasts over 200 merchandise you possibly can print on.

Whereas Printify is free to make use of, a premium subscription is out there that offers you 20% off of all merchandise for $29 a month, which is a strong choice in case you’re seeking to scale up later and enhance your revenue margins.

Discover extra print-on-demand companies by studying 11 Paid + Free Print-on-Demand Corporations for Promoting Customized Merchandise.

Creating designs while you’re not a designer

Design performs a vital position in creating profitable print-on-demand merchandise. However you don’t must be a full-time designer to supply unique designs. In truth, current surveys present that almost 32% of store house owners outsource designs for his or her shops.

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

First, and most necessary, is getting ready your design file. When working with designers, it is best to specify that your design is for printing. This means 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. 

Notice that print specs will change relying on the printing method used. When unsure, simply ship the designer the print specs for the precise product so that they perceive the context.

Usually, the file you add will likely be a PNG or PSD. Remember the fact that in case you use a clear background, the colour of the t-shirt will likely be your background colour.

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 very best case situation, you’re a designer or know one you possibly can work nicely with. However don’t be discouraged in case you don’t have entry to design abilities. That’s what outsourcing is for.

You could find 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 venture:

  • Share perception into your viewers. Inform them what it’s for and who your viewers is. Exhibiting them your web site may also help.
  • Clearly clarify what you need. Use your preliminary pitch and subsequent revisions (it is best to get no less than one or two) to over-communicate what you’re in search of, 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 just preferred.

There are many proficient designers, so it is best to be capable to discover somebody to deliver your thought to life. The actually tough half is determining what you wish to design within the first place.

This may rely in your audience for the product, however you could find design inspiration on:

You may search for content material, messaging, or types that already resonate together with your audience to brainstorm concepts value pursuing. Simply make sure you’re not infringing on anybody else’s work. 

Social media can be an excellent place to litmus take a look at your concepts. If you happen to’re seeking to flip the online into your focus group, attempt 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 thought with a related subreddit.

Ideas for beginning with print-on-demand

Utilizing a print-on-demand service could be simpler than managing your individual stock, however there are some concerns distinctive to this strategy that you have to be conscious of. Fortunately, for many of those challenges you’ll face, there are artistic options.

Listed below are a number of the greatest print-on-demand suggestions that can assist you out.

1. At all times order samples

Product high quality assurance is crucial 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 best ways to do this is to be your individual buyer, so you possibly can 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 transport, so make sure you benefit from that if it’s out there.

Past making certain product high quality, samples are additionally good to have readily available for taking your individual product photographs in your web site and social media profiles. 

2. Be strategic about transport

Even while you’re not transport merchandise your self, transport nonetheless gives some complexity within the type of transport instances and prices, and learn how to set the appropriate expectations with clients. The perfect print-on-demand corporations will likely be clear about transport and be proactive about sharing data on any potential delays.

You’ll wish to make certain that you’re accounting for printing instances in the case of transport. Regardless of the transport instances are, make sure you add anyplace from two to 4 days for manufacturing, or extra relying on the product.

At all times be upfront about transport instances otherwise you’ll wind up with a assist inbox stuffed with transport questions. Define what to anticipate in your FAQ web page or think about making a separate Transport web page to clarify transport to clients.


If you happen to can, attempt to partially or absolutely take in your transport prices into your retail value. 12 months after yr, research present that shock transport prices added at checkout can deter clients from shopping for. On high of that, free transport bolsters a lot of your different advertising efforts:

  • Free transport remains to be an excellent gross sales sweetener, even in case you can solely provide it for particular areas, and offers clients with yet one more incentive to purchase.
  • Conditional free transport (e.g., “Get free transport while you spend $30 or extra”) encourages clients so as to add extra to their cart to achieve the brink and normally helps you obtain a greater complete transport fee by transport the whole lot collectively.
  • You should use free transport to justify longer wait instances. Many shoppers will wait a bit longer for an order in the event that they know it can save them cash on transport.

3. Create mockups that exhibit your merchandise

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

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

These mockups are what’s going to promote your merchandise to clients, so it may 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 realize the fundamentals of Photoshop or different photograph modifying instruments, you possibly can 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 house owners) can truly enable you to decrease the prices to amass clients and maximize your potential income as a result of your focusing on will likely be way more exact.

Having a distinct segment makes it simpler to develop an viewers that turns into an asset. Some advertising ways you possibly can attempt 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 individual on-line retailer

If you happen to’re entering 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 Etsy, eBay, and Amazon. 

These marketplaces do include some advantages: Amazon alone has 300 million lively buyer accounts worldwide, placing extra eyeballs in your merchandise. Etsy has over 80 million lively consumers. Zazzle has popularity, itemizing tons of of hundreds of thousands of merchandise since its founding in 2005.

Marketplaces give buyers alternative and a simple technique to discover merchandise. However what they don’t do is present a purchasing expertise that you just management. This provides you a novel startup alternative.

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

Customers who aren’t loyal to manufacturers like Etsy or Amazon might take pleasure in attending to know your model and searching your website. Your electronic mail checklist, remarketing advertisements, and social media profiles make it simpler to remain related with them and construct a relationship that extends past {the marketplace}. Having your individual web site could be extremely useful in establishing your model additional as nicely.

Design, take a look at, promote, and develop

Print-on-demand companies provide an accessible place to start for brand new entrepreneurs or for anybody who simply needs to check an thought earlier than they spend money on it. There are literally thousands of white label merchandise on the market you can make your individual, and no scarcity of potential designs to pair with them.

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

If your small business thought pans out and also you begin producing a significant variety of gross sales, you possibly can all the time graduate from print-on-demand to holding your individual 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 flexibleness it affords your small business and the time it provides you again to concentrate on progress.

Print-on-demand FAQ

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

If you happen to’re planning to start out 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 maintain the fulfilment. Get began!

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

How a lot you make together with your print-on-demand enterprise relies on the goal market, their wants, product demand, and seasonality. When figuring out how a lot you possibly can earn, you’ll have to contemplate the sale value, charges in your print supplier, and quantity of orders. Print-on-demand helps you promote merchandise for comparatively low danger.

Can I do print-on-demand without cost?

There are a variety of merchandise you possibly can 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 luggage, hoodies, towels, cellphone covers, notebooks, cushion covers, sweatshirts, and leggings. You may technically do print-on-demand without cost, however will seemingly have to spend some cash on advertising and advertisements to start out seeing outcomes. Get began without cost! 

How do you value print-on-demand merchandise?

Your print-on-demand product costs will rely largely on how nicely you market your model. When pricing your merchandise, have a look at what the market is charging as a baseline. You may cost greater costs for print-on-demand merchandise with customizations. In any other case, you possibly can value the merchandise equally to your rivals as a safer wager if you wish to cowl a bigger goal market and make a revenue.

What are the very best print-on-demand corporations?

Whereas there are various print-on-demand corporations to select from, listed here are a number of the hottest:

  1. Printful
  2. Lulu Direct
  3. Gooten
  4. Printify