Starting a print on demand business from home is the most popular choice for beginners wanting to create an additional income stream. This is because there is no start-up cost involved and also no after-sales service involved which will leave you with enough time to create products.
- What is Print On-demand business?
- Example of a print on demand business
- Are Print On-demand stores profitable?
- What is the most popular print-on-demand platforms?
- What is the best print on demand products to sell?
- How can I start a print on demand business?
- What are the benefits of print on demand services?
- What are the negatives about print on demand?
- How much does it cost to start a print on demand business?
- Start a print on demand business from home – Conclusion
What is print on demand business?
Print-on-demand (POD) business is where you as the creator create products that can be manufactured and distributed by a third party. Most beginners will use this platform as an entry into eCommerce because it is the easiest to learn.
Example of a print on demand business
You the creator will create a design that can be placed on physical products such as t-shirts, mugs, hoodies, stickers and many other products. There are thousands of products out there that can be sold as print-on-demand services.
The product is sent directly to the customer and the service provider will pay you a commission after their costs are recovered.
Are Print On Demand stores profitable?
Print on demand stores can be very profitable but it takes hard work to build up a large portfolio. Unfortunately with print on demand earnings only comes with a large presence on the web and quality designs.
The profitability of platforms differs from one to another so it is best to study their pay-out margins before you start. These margins can range from 3% to 25% depending on the product and the platform.
As these profit margins are fairly low you will need to have a sizable inventory to make a good sustainable profit. It is also advisable that most of your effort must be targeted towards creating products with the best margins.
Unfortunately with print on demand, the products with the low margins are best sellers while higher-margin products will take longer to sell. To find the balance in your niche you might have to create a high margin primary product supported by one or two lower margin secondary products.
What is the most popular print-on-demand platforms?
There are two different types of print on demand platforms that a creator can look at to start an online business with.
Onsite Print on demand
Onsite print on demand is where the service provider will allow you to generate designs and upload them to their platform where they will provide you with a storefront.
For a beginner, this is the most popular start to print on demand because it cost nothing to start up and all functions of the e-commerce stream are done by the supplier. This will give the beginner the opportunity to build up inventory without having to worry about the technical stuff.
3 most popular print on demand websites for beginners
Print on demand website
The other option for a beginner is to open your own e-commerce store linked to third party print-on-demand providers such as Printful and Printify. This option is more technical and will also require some monetary input to start with.
You will be required to obtain your own domain, web hosting and shopfront set up before you can link to print-on-demand services. This option I tried but soon realized it can be costly and very technical. Now with a bit of income coming through it is another option I will follow to claim a bit of independence.
Beginners who prefer this platform will be people who are prepared to put money into it because they feel the higher profit margins will provide a return on investment. They obviously also possess the technical know-how of how to do it.
The 3 most popular websites a beginner can set up their own storefront
The most popular print on demand platform will depend on your niche but for beginners I would sincerely go effortless on Teepublic or Redbubble. In 30 minutes you can set up and start selling your designs.
What is the best print on demand products to sell?
It is difficult to say what is best and it is a decision you must make to suit your designs. Not all designs that look good on a t-shirt will look good as wall art. It is best to do your research on all products to find the best suit for your niche.
If you are talking about the best products from a sales point of view then following trends is the suggestion but the problem with this is that the competition is higher. You have to hit the trend early and with quality designs before they become saturated.
If you are looking for the best products as evergreen best sellers then I would suggest sticking and expanding one niche only in order to remain dominant on the platform.
The 5 top preferred print on demand products for beginners are
- Wall Art
These are popular because they are in demand and a beginner are more likely to get the first sale from one of these products quickly. Although margins are small on these sales does not take too long to come in if your designs are of good quality.
How can I start my own print on demand business?
Although you can upload any amount of images to start with I suggest that you have at least 10 designs ready for uploading after you have created your account.
Starting your own print on demand business from home is super easy and you can start selling within the next 15 minutes.
To start selling is a simple 4 step process
- Create an account
- Set up your storefront
- Upload images
- Market your store
Create an account
For the purpose of this article, I will use my favourite print on demand service which is Teepublic because it is the simplest process for a beginner to start a business with.
Create a new account here at Teepublic
Receive confirmation notice in your mail
Verify and log into your new account
Set up storefront
Before you start uploading images you have to set up your storefront.
This can be done by completing the following:
- Store Details
- Display preferences
- Sales notification email
- Social links
Next, you must make sure that your account settings are in order so that your registration can be recognized by Teepublic.
To complete your account set up you have to select a payment method which you can do under the My Sales tab. Unfortunately, Teepublic only accepts Paypal and Payoneer as payment methods but getting a Paypal account is very easy.
Now it is time to start uploading your images to your account. For now, don’t worry about setting up your albums until you have a few designs listed and you can start sorting them into categories. Creating albums is an important part of making sales so do it later without fail.
The process to follow when uploading is simple so just make sure you complete everything required. I will launch a step by step tutorial later about the uploading process but it is simple and quick.
If you have any questions for now leave them in the comments below.
Market your store
Now all you have to do while waiting for your storefront to get some organic traffic is to build your inventory by adding more designs and of course to market your storefront on all the social media platforms.
As a beginner starting you will have to do marketing manually until you can afford to buy automation software. It is not a problem as there are several tools with free options that can help out with your marketing. Most people with some blogging experience will know how to use social media for content promotion. If you don’t have any experience there are enough free social media tutorials that will get you going in no time.
Both Facebook business and Twitter have scheduling software available so I suggest you start there. Just grab the link for your product in the address bar and share it together with an image and description on social media. Don’t forget the hashtags is very important on social media. Once you have a large portfolio you can switch by just marketing with the store link Teepublic provide.
What are the benefits of using print on demand services?
For a beginner to an online business POD is perfect because of the benefits it offers to complete beginners.
- You keep no physical inventory
- The service provider takes care of production, distribution and after-sales.
- No limit to designs
- Big variety of different products
- Some will market their platform including your designs
- Platforms get crawled by Google SEO
- Very low-risk business
For a beginner in online business, this is ideal as you can spend more time on building your business instead of taking care of all the other functions that will require more time or more resources. It will be hard work to set up but will be worth the while.
What are the negatives about print on demand?
Although print on demand is a great way to start your business it is important to know that there are several negatives involved in this type of business. Being aware of this will protect you against future disappointments.
- Unless you buy samples you will never see end result
- You won’t know who is buying from you as you have no contact so no re-marketing opportunity
- Most platforms control the profit margins
- You have no guarantee that the platform will be around long term
- One miss-step can have your account shut down permanently
- No control over listing placement
- Some such as Spring don’t promote your store at all
As an example: When I started off with POD I chose a platform and started loading designs on a daily basis in order to get 100 designs up quickly. After my 3rd month and 46 designs, I suddenly received an email to say the platform will be closing down. A week later they were gone and I didn’t even have the opportunity to make even one sale.
This could be devastating if it was your only online income stream but as a beginner with the online business this crushed some dreams but I never gave up. I started on Teepublic and immediately decided to cover myself by uploading my designs to two other platforms.
Since then Teespring changed its business model which I didn’t like so I shut that down and moved on to a new platform. With print on demand never put all of your eggs in one basket if you want to maintain an income stream. As a matter of fact, this is a principle you should follow with any online business that you start. Duplicated income streams on different platforms is the only way to survive.
How much does it cost to start a print on demand business?
Starting your own print on demand business cost you nothing when you opt for having an online storefront with one of the service providers. The only time you will spend money is if you want to purchase resources to assist in building your business. This however is not necessary as everything from setting up your store to marketing your products can be done by yourself with a bit of effort.
There are some print-on-demand operators that do not have the graphic design skills to produce quality content or they do not have the time to sit and create hundreds of designs. In this case, you will have to purchase designs or hire freelancers to create designs for you. Buying packages can be risky as it is sold to many other creators and it might already be listed on POD sites. Getting a freelancer is a more expensive but better option as your designs will be unique.
Start a print on demand business from home – Conclusion
For a pure beginner to online business, I can recommend print-on-demand as your first income stream. This way you will learn some new skills that will be beneficial when you start branching out to other online businesses. That is because it is 100% free and it will teach you to be consistent with quality content.
Although margins are small it will provide you with some income that you can use to invest back into your business. Soon your business will be self-sustainable and you can start thinking about your online future as a home business owner.