A few years ago, I was introduced to print on demand as an ecommerce business model. And, I fell in love. If you are new to print on demand, it is modeled after the digital printing business model widely used by Amazon, but instead of custom printed books, it uses custom printed products. The business model requires a few print on demand (POD) resources to be successful and selecting the right ones can make or break your business.
The products available for print on demand are innumerable and varied. A few of my favorite products are canvas art, beach towels, tote bags, hoodies, canvas sneakers, and, of course, t-shirts. With original designs, an understanding of your target market and some basic marketing skills, there is a ton of money to be made selling print on demand products.
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I have spent countless hours learning from some of the most profitable print on demand business owners and have tested at least 75 different tools designed to build, grow, and streamline a successful print on demand ecommerce business. To save you the time from having to do the same, I have put together a comprehensive Print on Demand Resources Ultimate Guide to help you to navigate the amazing tools and resources available to support the success of your business.
Print on Demand Suppliers
One of the most important determinations of your print on demand success will be the companies you partner with for products. When looking for a POD suppliers, don’t settle. Do your research and find the service that aligns with your business objectives.
Here are some things to consider when selecting a print on demand supplier:
- Quality: Do you feel comfortable putting your brand name on the products you sell? Your print on demand products must be durable, machine-wash safe (where need be) and the printing must be of high quality. Order samples of the products that you plan to sell so that you feel confident that your customers will be happy with their orders.
- White Label Shipping: Will your print on demand service ship products to your customers using your brand name and return address? This is referred to as blind drop shipping or white label shipping.
- Fixed Prices and Shipping Charges: Reputable POD suppliers clearly publish their prices and shipping charges. There is no room for guessing if you intend to make a profit.
- Shipping Times: Customers want their items fast. Find out what typical printing and shipping times are for any print on demand supplier you choose as a supplier partner.
- No Minimum Order Requirements: Make sure that your print on demand service will ship out single items and doesn’t require a minimum order.
Printful is one of the original print on demand suppliers. They have been supplying print on demand products to ecommerce brands since 2000 and have a slightly different model compared to some of the print on demand platforms that have recently come on the scene. Printful integrates directly with your ecommerce platform, such as Shopify.
Printful carries clothes for all ages, wall art, tote bags, phone cases, décor items like pillow covers, towels. They regularly add new products and now offer custom embroidery and all over print sweatshirts. They even offer a built in mockup generator. Printful is a user friendly choice for print on demand ecommerce brands.
With more than 200+ products to choose from and over 50,000 users, Printify has proven themselves to be a powerful force in print on demand. They give the impression that they truly want their users to be profitable and they reinforce this message throughout their platform.
Printify has a few membership levels, but starts out with a free level for those who want to try it out without an initial investment. They integrate with the major ecommerce platforms and also offer a mockup generator.
A long time Shopify partner, Teelaunch offers more than 65 different products, including the usual, such as tote bags and tshirts. Used by more than 41,000 ecommerce stores, they are one of the only print on demand companies to accept PayPal as a form of payment.
Like Printify and Printful, Teelaunch offers the complete automated print on demand package and offers competitive profit margins. Unlike Printify and Printful, Teelaunch lacks a mockup generator.
A self contained marketplace, Teespring allows sellers to create unique designs and add them to over 1000 different products. The shopping side of the portal allows consumers to support local sellers, like you, by purchasing cool products with original designs
No ecommerce website is needed with Teespring, as all of the creating and selling happens on the platform.
Fine Art America
If you are an artist, either fine art or digital art, you will love Fine Art America. Catering to independent artists around the globe, Fine At America allows artists to supply artwork that consumers can add to several different wall art mediums, home decor, beach towels, tote bags, stationary, journals and a number of other cool products.
You won’t find any ugly tshirt designs or tacky niche based generic crap on this site. Fine Art America truly is for discerning consumers who enjoy fine art. Print and canvas are museum quality and all art is sold directly from the platform.
In addition to providing an online marketplace and fulfillment service, Fine Art America is committed to the success of artists and photographers. They provide sales and marketing tools to help advance their artistic careers.
If you’re interested in selling your original art online, Fine Art America is the right place.
A newer Shopify app, Pillow Profits quickly gained popularity. Known for providing unique products like car seats, bed sheets, and canvas shoes that can all be customized with original designs, Pillow Profits automates the print on demand process.
Their mockup feature is very user friendly and allows new products to be created easily.
Whether you want to build a free standing store or integrate print on demand into your Shopify store, Gearlaunch can accommodate. Offering similar products to their competitors, outstanding customer service is what sets Gearlaunch apart.
Another feature of Gearlaunch is that they advertise shipping within 72 hours. When ecommerce sellers are competing with Amazon, quick shipping is a must, even for custom printed products.
Detroit based Custom Cat is known for offering a speedy 2-3 day shipping time and wide variety of customized products. If you are looking to carry brand named hoodies, tshirts, jersey, etc and offer printing, embroidery, and sublimation products, Custom Car may be the right choice for you.
Custom Cat allows seamless order processing through integrations or CSV file. Since direct to garment, dye sublimation and embroidery orders are all produced under one roof, they are shipped in one package to your customer.
Print on Demand Niche Idea Tools
In addition to identifying a reliable print on demand supplier partner, one of the most important components of a successful POD business is establishing a profitable niche and desirable design ideas.
For in depth help with selecting a niche, check out this article–> How to Choose A Profitable Niche Idea for My Shopify Store
My all time favorite tool for brainstorming content, Pinterest pin ideas, and Yes, print on demand designs is Sorting Social. This magical tool allows you to search social and selling platforms for niche related products and designs. Search Pinterest, Wanelo, Etsy, Facebook, and Wish all from the same platform. Filter results by POD Niche, Dropship Niche, Hobby, Website, or relevant topics like 2018 Holidays.
If you were trying to come up with design ideas for the dirtbike riding niche, you could search dirtbike tshirt designs in Sorting Social and you would see the results above. Most of my best print on demand ideas started by browsing Sorting Social results. If you are serious about building a profitable print on demand brand, I strongly suggest you head over to Sorting Social and start brainstorming.
A great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what is ranking in Google is to search Google Images for some design ideas. Simply type in your niche and “tshirts” or “designs” and your search results will show you what is trending and give you a few ideas.
Print on Demand Design Tools
Now that you have information about the best print on demand supplier options, how will you design unique, eye catching designs to print on your products? If you are anything like me, you have hundreds of design ideas, but limited designer capabilities. I am a terrible graphic designer, in spite of my best efforts.
Depending on the print on demand supplier partner that you select, there will be different design criteria for each product. The most frustrating thing that can happen when you are excited about your business and begin adding designs is for your design files to be incorrect. Designs that are not the appropriate size or resolution will not deliver a high quality product to your customer.
Keep in mind that successful print on demand businesses are constantly adding new designs to their store. New designs turn first time customers into repeat customers and Google loves when websites update their offerings. Select a method of graphic design that is sustainable when you add 5+ new designs each month plus marketing mockups and ad images.
Here are some tools that are commonly used to create print on demand designs. For a complete guide to print on demand design, download the free How to Create Profitable Print on Demand Designs ebook.
A user friendly DIY design platform, Placeit is geared toward the design challenged crowd (like me.) Placeit is a treasure trove of design templates, mockups, and design elements. They have an exclusive T-Shirt Design Template where they spook feed fonts, layouts, and hundreds of graphic elements from which to choose.
Once you complete your design, download it and upload into your supplier dashboard to create your print on demand products.
An inexpensive (but inconsistent) way to source a graphic designer for your print on demand designs is through Fiverr. You can either submit a request for a designer or search for one on the platform that meets your needs.
Fiverr advertises designs for as low as $5/each, but be sure to read the fine print to make sure that you will receive the design file in the appropriate format. Most high quality designers on Fiverr start out at least $15/design.
When using a service like Fiverr, thoroughly research your freelance designer so that you feel confident that they “get” your brand and the style you hope to achieve.
My personal choice and the option I rely on for my profitable print on demand designs, Limitless Designs is an UNLIMITED graphic design subscription service. With Limitless Designs, business owners pay a low monthly subscription fee in exchange for a dedicated graphic designer who will design an unlimited number of designs each month. My designer understand my brand and my goals. She has the specifications for design size and format from my print on demand supplier, so my designs are perfect every time.
I simply email my design ideas and the products I need the design for and my designer created my original design, usually the same day. Limitless Designs has been a lifesaver and a huge time saver for me and my business. The graphic design service has allowed me to create multiple successful print on demand stores, even though I am a terrible designer.
If you are interested in trying Limitless Designs risk-free, click here and enter Promo Code: AASE for $152 off your first month.
You will be able to create 20-30 original designs at less than $5/design during your first month.
Similar to Limitless Designs, but more expensive, Design Pickle is also an unlimited graphic design subscription service. Just like Limitless Designs, they do not require a contract and guarantee a reasonably quick turnaround time. They have positive reviews and are another great choice for print on demand business owners who are not graphic design savvy.
The Short and Sweet
Now that you have the tools you need to select a platform, brainstorm a niche and design ideas and create original, high quality designs that sell, launch your business! And make some money!
The next hurdle you will cross will be driving traffic to your store.
For 74+ Free Traffic Ideas, click here.