Are you interested in learning some print on demand basics?

With so much information available, it is easy to get lost when exploring this business model.

As a team that’s been in the print on demand space for quite some time, we understand the complexities of print on demand and want to ensure you have the most comprehensive information possible.

This article will cover the basics of POD, how it works, and some critical tips for those who are just starting.

Let’s dive in!

What is print on demand?

Print on demand is when you partner with a supplier to sell products customized with your designs and shipped on a per-order basis.

This means that you aren’t required to pay until after you’ve sold a product, meaning that this business model has little to no risk. 

Print on demand is a fantastic business model for anyone looking to sell their personalized products without having to deal with inventory and shipping logistics. 

It saves time and energy and frees up funds that would have been tied up in managing physical inventory. 

Here’s an illustration of what the process will look like:

Print on demand business model

Cool, right?

Some benefits of print on demand are:

  • There are almost zero overhead and startup costs involved. 
  • Print on demand businesses have the flexibility to offer a wide range of products, from t-shirts to mugs to phone cases. 
  • Print on demand businesses generate passive income, but they also offer the opportunity for creative expression and growth potential.

5 Tips for starting a print on demand business

Let's get started with some tips to help you start a print on demand company!

1. Select a platform for selling your products. 

When it comes to selling products online, the first step is deciding on a platform

Do you want the control and customization of setting up your own website, or would you prefer to utilize an established platform with a built-in audience?

If you decide to start a print on demand business, some platforms to sell on include: 

  • A self-hosted website (WooCommerce)
  • Shopify 
  • Etsy 
  • eBay 
  • Amazon

Each option has its pros and cons.

If you go the route of setting up your website, platforms like Shopify can make it easy to create an attractive and functional online store. However, this also means building up your own audience.

On the other hand, marketplaces like Etsy or eBay already have a large customer base, but may come with higher fees or limitations. 

Ultimately, it depends on what features and level of control you prioritize in selling your products online.

Check out our in-depth article on the best ecommerce platforms for more information!

Homepage of Shopify
Homepage of Shopify (one of – if not the best – ecommerce platforms out there)

2. Narrow your niche and attract a following

When it comes to starting a print on demand business, it can be tempting to try and appeal to as many people as possible.

However, in a highly competitive market, having a narrow niche can actually give you an advantage. 

Not only does it allow you to better define and target your audience, but it also helps to focus your designs and marketing efforts. 

Some ways to stand out within your niche:

  • Build a following on social media platforms and create content that serves your target audience.
  • Reach out directly to influential leaders within your niche or industry.
  • Start an email list and gather emails through social media or a website.

While narrowing your audience may seem counterintuitive, it can help:

  • Boost sales
  • Lower marketing costs
  • Help establish your brand as an authority in that niche.

Narrowing down on a specific niche not only helps you better target and attract the right audience but also allows you to hone in on their specific needs and desires. 

This can make it much easier for you to develop and tailor your marketing strategy, leading to more effective and successful campaigns.

Related article: 27 Best Print on Demand Niche Ideas for Your Store in 2024

3. Create unique branding & products

Unique print on demand product example

With countless other sellers offering similar products, it can be difficult to stand out and make sales. 

So it's important that you take a unique stance to attract customers to your store. 

Some areas where you can stand out include: 

  • Making any logos, banners, or any branding material unique.
  • Creating product designs that are unique to your company.
  • Making your all-around customer experience unique.

Be willing to take risks and think outside the box to separate yourself from the endless sea of generic products.

While it may require more effort, differentiating yourself in a saturated market is crucial for success.

Ever noticed how many online stores have the same product photos?

Yep, it’s a common problem.

Using those old, duplicated images from your supplier can actually hurt your store's visibility on search engines like Google.

That's where OnModel steps in. This Shopify app uses AI to transform your existing photos into unique images!

OnModel Shoipfy app

You can:

  • Swap out the models in your clothing images (For example, according to your target market.)
  • Put your t-shirt design on an AI-made model (No more costly photoshoots!)
  • Change photo backgrounds
  • Add faces to cropped images.
OnModel Localize clothing photos with AI

In short, OnModel makes your store photos unique and fun. So, if you're in dropshipping or POD, you can try it here!

4. Take a strategic approach to shipping

Shipping is half the battle when it comes to a print on demand business. 

Even if you aren't physically in charge of packaging and sending out products, the shipping process can have a major impact on customer experience. 

Some ways to smooth out the shipping process include:

  • Research shipping options and find the best rates.
  • Compare production times between different suppliers.
  • Provide order tracking updates to keep customers updated on the status of their purchase.
  • Provide customer service in case there are any issues with delivery.
  • Regularly communicate with your fulfillment partners.

Delays and high shipping costs can often lead to negative feedback and decreased sales.

Therefore, it is crucial to factor in production times as well as any other delays so that customers have realistic expectations for when they will receive their items.

Shipping time from Printful
Shipping time example from Printful

Staying on top of shipping also requires constant communication with your fulfillment partners and keeping track of any changes or updates in the industry. 

Ensuring a smooth shipping process is crucial for customer satisfaction and overall success in your print on demand business.

If you didn't pick a print on demand supplier yet, check out our article here with the best options in 2024.

5. Ensure your success by having a plan

Starting a print on demand business can be an exciting opportunity to turn your passion for design or illustration into a profitable venture.

However, if you don't have a plan, it can quickly turn into a headache. 

To ensure success, start by considering some of these things: 

  • What type of products will you sell?
  • Who will fulfill the orders that you receive?
  • What platform will you use to create an audience and sell your products?
  • Where will that start-up funds come from?

With a solid plan in place, you can increase your chances of success. 

A business plan helps to outline your goals and how you will achieve them, as well as provide a roadmap for the future growth of your company.

It also allows you to analyze potential challenges and create strategies to overcome them.

For more information, check out our complete how to start a print on demand store guide!

What are the startup costs of a print on demand business?

Let’s check out some of the potential costs that could come with starting up a print on demand business.

For example, say that you want to start up a POD store on Shopify. Let's look at some of the expenses that can come with that:

  • Total costs upfront: ~$90
  • Total monthly costs: ~$57

Again, this is just an example; of course, you can find cheaper or more expensive options depending on the tools you choose and the products you sell.

Don't forget about marketing your business and the costs that come with that as well.

FAQs about print on demand

Still have questions about print on demand? Luckily, we have compiled a list of some frequently asked questions:

Who is print on demand for?

Hobbyists looking for new ways to monetize their passion or an established brand looking for an efficient way to expand their product line. Print on demand has something to offer everyone!

Dropshipping vs. print on demand: what's the difference?

One of the main differences between dropshipping and print on demand is that with dropshipping the supplier never makes any changes to the product. However, with print on demand, the supplier creates the product according to your custom design.

Can you make money with a print on demand business?

Print on demand can be lucrative. There are a lot of people starting print on demand stores now, but if you have the right mindset (that you’re building a real business and not a “make quick money store”), then you already have a head start!

How do you choose a good POD supplier?

When choosing a print on demand supplier, it's important to do your research first. Make sure to read reviews and compare prices before making a decision.

Consider the specific services each supplier offers to make sure they can meet your needs.

Taking action

Reading and absorbing information and knowledge is great (definitely if it’s free!), but do you know what’s even better?

Taking action!

So, to help you with taking action with what you have learned in this article, take a look at the bullet points:

  • Research platforms that provide print on demand services.
  • Look into what type of products you want to sell.
  • Set up an online store.
  • Create some designs to test out the market.
  • Order product samples.
  • Start marketing your products.


One of the best things about starting a print on demand business is the low barrier to entry. With just a computer and internet access, you can start creating and selling unique merchandise without having to deal with inventory or shipping logistics.

The key to success in this industry is understanding your target market and offering unique designs that cater to their interests.

With dedication and hard work, a print on demand business has significant potential for growth and profitability.

We hope you've enjoyed this article and that it provided value to you!

Want to learn more about print on demand?

Ready to move your print on demand store to the next level? Check out the articles below:

Plus, don’t forget to check out our in-depth how to start a print on demand business guide here!

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