Print on Demand: A Low-Danger Option to Promote Customized T-Shirts, Books, and Extra

Whether or not you’re an artist, author, designer, or entrepreneur, bodily merchandise might be the right canvas for monetizing your creativity.

From t-shirts to posters, backpacks to books, you may put your personal unique spin on on a regular basis merchandise and promote them on-line. Nonetheless, for those who go the standard route of shopping for and holding your personal stock, chances are you’ll be left with a pile of merchandise that aren’t promoting.

Print-on-demand companies supply an various technique to bypass the time, funding, and danger related to managing stock, letting you go from creating to promoting customized merchandise at a fraction of the fee.

What’s “print on demand” and the way does it work?

Print on demand is a course of the place you’re employed with a provider to customise white-label merchandise (like baseball hats or tote luggage) with your personal designs to promote them on a per-order foundation underneath your personal model.

Which means you don’t pay for the product till after you’ve truly offered it, so there’s no want to purchase in bulk or maintain any stock your self.

Plus, with print-on-demand companies every thing after the sale, from printing to transport, is dealt with by your provider. When you’ve set every thing up, it takes only some clicks to meet an order when you’ve made a sale.

You should utilize print-on-demand companies to:

  • Check a enterprise concept or new product line for an current enterprise with out the dangers that include shopping for stock.
  • Monetize an viewers you’ve constructed. Printing on demand is a superb possibility for those who’re a YouTuber, cartoonist, or social media influencer who needs to spend your time creating content material as an alternative of fulfilling orders.
  • Create unique merchandise for a distinct segment of shoppers. For instance, attire for people who find themselves enthusiastic about gaming.
  • Simply print one-off objects—t-shirts, books, sneakers, luggage, wall artwork, cellphone circumstances, clocks, laptop computer skins, mugs, and a lot extra. You’ll be able to ship these as items or hold them for your self and your staff.
  • Promote images on-line by inserting your images on totally different merchandise to promote by yourself enterprise web site.  

The professionals and cons of print on demand

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


  • Create merchandise rapidly: After getting the design, you may create the product and put it up on the market in minutes.
  • Delivery is taken care of: Delivery and success out of your palms and in your provider’s. After the sale, you’re simply accountable 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, check concepts, or pivot your method.


  • Decrease margins: Naturally, your prices per merchandise shall be larger than for those who purchase in bulk. On-demand merchandise could yield thinner earnings, relying on the way you value them and purchase clients.
  • Much less management over transport: Delivery prices can get difficult because it typically varies for various merchandise. Your choices might also be restricted if you wish to create a standout unboxing expertise.
  • Restricted customization: Your capacity to customise merchandise depends upon the seller and the product. You’ll must weigh base prices, customization choices, printing methods, and obtainable sizes when deciding on which merchandise to customise.
Template Icon

Free Webinar:

The best way to rapidly begin a worthwhile print-on-demand retailer

In our free 40-minute video workshop, we’ll get you from product concept, to organising a web based retailer, to getting your first print-on-demand sale.

Print-on-demand companies for creating customized merchandise

Whereas many print-on-demand companies may appear related at first look, you’ll must rigorously take into account those you select based mostly on the merchandise you need to create, the place you’ll be transport them, and the retail costs you need to supply, amongst different components.

For instance, a low base price for one product would possibly make it an apparent alternative, till you notice that it could take 21 days to succeed in clients along with your most reasonably priced transport possibility.

Train due diligence while you’re evaluating the appropriate platform for you. That can assist you out, I put collectively a fast overview of a few of the hottest companies 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 with Shopify.

This checklist is on no account exhaustive. For extra print-on-demand choices, try the Shopify App Retailer.

1. Printful

Printful (Shopify app) is a well-liked alternative amongst print-on-demand companies due to its huge choice of merchandise and types (Gildan, American Attire, and so forth.), easy-to-use mockup mills, and choices for including your personal branding to the unboxing expertise by way of stickers, bundle inserts, and customized notes.

For attire merchandise, specifically, Printful provides various printing methods. Listed below are some that you just’ll need to concentrate on:

  • Direct to Garment prints ink instantly onto the fabric, which is very good for less complicated designs (i.e. witty t-shirts). You’ll be able to solely print on sure areas of the product because of this.
  • Reduce and Sew is usually referred to as “all-over print”. The article of clothes is printed on in items for max protection after which sewn collectively for a seamless print throughout your entire piece. Whereas the bottom prices could also be larger, this allows you to create a extra premium product that you may promote for extra.
  • Embroidery is probably essentially the most complicated printing approach 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 that historically characteristic embroidered designs.

You also needs to be conscious of how further customizations have an effect on the value. Printing on the sleeve, for instance, will normally imply paying a nominal price on prime of the bottom price.

In addition to attire, Printful additionally provides mugs, pillows, framed posters, seaside towels, aprons, and extra.

printful print on demand service for t-shirts and other products

2. Lulu Xpress

Lulu is a self-publishing platform for printing and distributing your personal books and ebooks.

Lulu Xpress (Shopify app) is its print-on-demand providing and allows you to select from a wide array of e-book sizes, binding varieties, and web page/print high quality to construct your personal e-book product.

Whereas there isn’t any built-in editor to design your e-book, Lulu Xpress does supply downloadable templates to get you began. It even has a clear pricing calculator that can assist you price out your challenge, together with varied transport choices.

There are additionally reductions obtainable for those who’d prefer to order in bulk.

lulu print on demand service for books

3. Gooten

Like Printful, Gooten (Shopify app) provides a variety of merchandise which you could customise with a number of which can be distinctive to its catalogue, similar to calendars and canine beds.

Nonetheless, since Gooten makes use of a global community of distributors to print their merchandise, there’s additionally much more variance between their objects by way of high quality and transport. However meaning you’re prone to see decrease product and transport costs as properly.

Gooten additionally has an intuitive picture editor that offers you sense of what your remaining product will appear to be.

gooten print on demand service for a wide range of products

4. Printify

Printify (Shopify app) is one other print-on-demand service that options the same old choice of t-shirts and hoodies.

What’s notable about Printify is that its worldwide vendor community permits various distinctive white-label merchandise you’re not prone to discover elsewhere, similar to jewellery, clocks, sneakers and water bottles. Actually, the platform boasts over 200 merchandise you may print on.

Whereas Printify is free to make use of, a premium subscription is obtainable that offers you 20% off of all merchandise for $29 a month, which is a stable possibility for those who’re trying to scale up later and enhance your revenue margins.

printify print on demand service for t-shirts, jewelry, and more

Promote print-on-demand merchandise via your personal retailer. Begin your free 14-day trial of Shopify immediately.

Designing merchandise while you’re not a designer

It goes with out saying that design performs a vital position in creating profitable print-on-demand merchandise. However you don’t have to be a full-time designer to supply unique designs. There are lots of methods to fee or produce your personal designs, so long as you perceive a number of key ideas that may aid you work successfully with designers.

First, we have to discuss making ready your print file. When working with designers, you need to specify that your design is for printing. This tells them that it ought to ideally be 300 digital pixels per inch (DPI or PPI), have a clear background, and different nuances of designing for print vs. internet.

Be aware that print file specs will change relying on the printer and printing approach used. When unsure, ship the designer the print specs for the precise product and any printing tips so that they perceive the complete context.

The designs you add ought to be giant sufficient for the printing space of the particular product, or bigger—resizing a smaller picture to make it greater will doubtless lead to a lack of high quality. If you do not have entry to Photoshop, you need to use Pixlr (free), or considered one of these photograph modifying instruments.

The place to seek out design concepts and designers

In the very best case situation, you’re a designer or know one you may work properly with. However don’t be discouraged for those who don’t have fast entry to design expertise. That’s what outsourcing is for.

Yow will discover designers to work with on Behance99 Designs, or different freelance websites 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 challenge:

  • Share perception into your viewers. Inform them what it’s for and who your viewers is. Displaying them your web site, you probably have one, also can assist.
  • Clearly clarify what you need. Use your preliminary pitch and subsequent revisions (you need to get not less than 1 or 2) to over-communicate what you’re on the lookout for and the rules to observe, and attempt to present concrete suggestions each step of the way in which.
  • Present examples for inspiration. Give them a reference to base the design on or level to previous work that you just favored.

There are a number of gifted designers, so you need to have the ability to discover somebody to deliver your concepts to life. The tough half is determining what you need to design within the first place.

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

You’ll be able to search for content material, messaging, or kinds that already resonate along with your audience to brainstorm concepts price pursuing. Simply be certain you’re not infringing on anybody else’s work.

Social media can also be an important place to litmus check your concepts. In the event you’re trying to flip the web into your focus group, strive the next:

  • Publish 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 concept with a related subreddit

Ideas for beginning a print-on-demand enterprise

Utilizing a print-on-demand service is perhaps simpler than managing your personal stock, however there are some issues distinctive to this method that try to be conscious of. Fortunately, for a lot of the challenges you’ll face, there are artistic options.

The best way to begin a print-on-demand enterprise on Shopify

Print on demand is a low danger, easy technique to begin a massively worthwhile enterprise with no stock. This print on demand tutorial gives you every thing it is advisable to get began.

1. All the time order samples

High quality assurance is crucial while you’re utilizing print-on-demand companies to promote on-line. It is all the time potential that one thing will get misplaced in translation from the design you see in your display to your printed product. However you may simply attain out to your vendor’s buyer assist for recommendation on the best way to repair any points.

You need to guarantee your bodily product appears and feels as you supposed, and one of the best ways to try this is to be your personal buyer so you may expertise first-hand what it’s prefer to obtain your merchandise. Some companies, like Printful, even supply a pattern low cost of as much as 20% off or free transport, so you should definitely benefit from that if it’s obtainable.

Past guaranteeing product high quality, samples are additionally good to have available for taking your personal product images on your web site and social media profiles.

2. Be strategic about transport

Even while you’re not transport merchandise your self, transport nonetheless provides some complexity within the type of transport occasions and prices, and setting the appropriate expectations with clients.

You’ll need to ensure that you’re accounting for printing occasions relating to transport. Regardless of the transport occasions are, you should definitely add wherever from 2 to 4 days for manufacturing, or extra relying on the product.

All the time be upfront about transport occasions otherwise you’ll wind up with a assist inbox filled with transport questions. Define what to anticipate in your FAQ web page or take into account making a separate Delivery web page to clarify transport to clients.

In the event you can, attempt to partially or absolutely take up 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 prime of that, free transport bolsters various your different advertising efforts:

  • Free transport is a superb gross sales sweetener, even for those who can solely supply it for particular areas, and offers clients with yet another 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 succeed in the edge and normally helps you obtain a greater complete transport charge by transport every thing collectively.
  • You should utilize free transport to justify longer wait occasions. Many shoppers will wait a bit longer for an order in the event that they know it can save them cash on transport.

free shipping for print on demand

3. Create mockups that showcase your merchandise

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

Many print-on-demand companies will help you create your personal mockups, displaying your merchandise on an individual or as a flat lay. 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 could actually pay to go the additional mile. PlaceIt is an easy-to-use mockup generator that permits you to create photograph and video mockups for $8 every. Or, if you realize the fundamentals of Photoshop or different photograph modifying instruments, you may browse Mockup World or Behance for templates.

4. Concentrate on a distinct segment to make advertising simpler

Advertising and marketing is what in the end determines the success of your enterprise. However for those who’re concentrating on everybody, you are not likely advertising to anybody. That is why focus is so essential, whatever the techniques you use. 

Having a clearly outlined viewers (e.g. canine house owners) can truly aid you create merchandise which can be in demand, decrease the prices to amass clients, and maximize your potential earnings as a result of your concentrating on choices shall be that rather more exact.

Higher but, for those who can construct an viewers of your personal via advertising, you may create a everlasting asset for your enterprise even when your merchandise change.

There are numerous prospects for advertising, however listed below are some concepts to get you began:

  • Begin an Instagram account and create/curate content material on your audience. Get followers, use what hashtags get essentially the most likes, and construct relationships amongst your potential clients. 
  • Run Fb advertisements concentrating on the pursuits of your goal clients. You may as well use Fb advertisements to check out your designs for as little as $10 to see which of them resonate along with your viewers.
  • Gather emails from guests so you may proceed to market to them at no cost.
  • Get your merchandise into the palms of influencers who can contribute a few of their clout and aid you make gross sales.

Rising an viewers of your splendid clients is a should for constructing a long-term enterprise, print-on-demand or in any other case.

For extra advertising concepts, you should definitely try The best way to Make Your First Sale in 30 Days.

Design, check, promote, and develop

As you may see, a print-on-demand enterprise could be a worthwhile on-line enterprise concept. The obtainable companies supply an accessible supply of stock for brand new entrepreneurs or for anybody who simply needs to check an concept earlier than they spend money on it.

If considered one of your concepts pans out and also you begin to generate a significant variety of gross sales, you may all the time graduate from utilizing a print on demand website to holding your personal stock or proceed to make use of these companies whereas discovering new methods to develop your viewers. The selection is yours.

Particular due to Kyle Howard, UX Supervisor at Shopify, and Liz Bertorelli, Proprietor of Ardour Fruit, for sharing their perception for this text.

Illustration by Eugenia Mello

Regularly requested questions on print on demand

How do I begin print on demand?

In the event you’re planning to begin a print on demand enterprise, start by selecting a distinct segment and the merchandise you need 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. When you begin advertising your web site, you’ll start to obtain orders, and your print supplier will deal with success.

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

How a lot you make along with your print on demand enterprise depends upon the goal market, their wants, product demand, and seasonality. When figuring out how a lot you may earn, you’ll have to contemplate the sale value, charges on your print supplier, and quantity of orders.

What are the very best print on demand merchandise to promote?

There are a variety of merchandise you may promote with print on demand. A number of the fashionable print on demand merchandise embody t-shirts, caps, mugs, wall prints and posters, drawstring and fabric luggage, hoodies, towels, cellphone covers, notebooks, cushion covers, sweatshirts, and leggings.

How do you value print on demand merchandise?

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