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Making Money with Print on Demand (2021 Guide)

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Bryan Higgins
About Bryan Higgins

Bryan is an online profit-preneur focused on creating multiple streams of income. With experience in just about every online business type he shares his experience to help others start and scale their online business.

Making Money with Print on Demand

The print on demand companies have been around for almost as long as the time social media and online marketing was first introduced to our lives. With most of businesses going online, the importance of e-commerce and print on-demand products has increased even more. 


If you’re an artist, designer, or an aspiring entrepreneur, you may have entertained the idea of starting a print on demand Shopify business by now. It is the ideal model for monetizing your creativity and entrepreneurial skills. In this article, we are going to explore the potential of print on demand businesses and how you can start making money from it in the upcoming year. 


Before we dive into the details, let’s first get some clarity on what print on demand actually is. Keep reading to learn more!

What is Print on Demand

Print on demand is a business in which you customize white-label products, such as t-shirts, hats, bags, mugs, etc., with your own or curated designs and prints. You work with a supplier during this process and then sell the products under your brand’s name on a per-order basis.   

This business model ensures that you don’t pay for the product before it’s sold. It means there’s no need for an inventory or bulk-buying. Moreover, the entire process from printing to selling to shipping is managed by the supplier you work with. When you’ve streamlined the process, it only takes a few clicks to complete an online sale. 

Print on Demand with Dropshipping

Dropshipping is an excellent business model for running a print on demand venture. With this model, both the products and shipping are handled by the third party, such as print on demand Shopify. It is a very convenient and quick way of initiating an online store because you make money from an already existing marketplace with a large number of customers. It is easier than creating your own website and start attracting customers from scratch. 


Although it seems without flaw at first, dropshipping doesn’t come without its own share of cons.So, before we move forward, let’s learn more about the potential benefits and drawbacks of print on demand with dropshipping.

Benefits of Dropshipping in the context of Print on Demand

The three major benefits of starting a print on demand business with dropshipping are as follows:


  1. Make products instantly: One of the biggest benefits of this business model is that when you have a designat hand, it’s extremely convenient and quick to print it on the product. You’ll have your product ready for shipping in no time. 
  2. Low-risk model: Dropshipping is a low-risk modelbecause you don’t have to worry about having an inventory or the bulk of unsold products going to waste. It saves you the cost of managing the physical space of an inventory. Moreover, it gives you the freedom to test different things with your creativity.  
  3. You don’t need to worry about shipping: Since the logistics are handled by the third party, you have very little to stress over. All you need to do is make the sale and offer excellent customer service to thrive. 

Drawbacks of Dropshipping in the context of Print on Demand

Now, let’s look at the three main drawbacks of using dropshipping as the model for your print on demand business:


  1. Limited options for customization: When your vendor, the third party, is handling the logistics, you’ll be limited in your ability to customize as per your will. You will have to take into consideration the costs, printing techniques, the available fabric, and sizes, etc.
  2. Lower profit: In comparison to products made in bulk, on-demand production is more expensive. Since you are supposed to share the profits with the vendor, the margin on print on demand products may become lower depending on how you price them and how many sales you make.
  3. No control over shipping: There are some drawbacks to leaving the process of shipping up to the vendor. This is mainly because you lose control over the costs of shipping for different products. Moreover, your ability to create an unboxing experience for your customers will also be limited.

Choosing from the Types of Printing Options

 Once you have decided the model for your business, then you’ll have to get to the actual work. First, you’ll have to choose a credible vendor. One aspect of assessing the right vendor is to see what method they use for printing the products. There are different techniques for printing designs on products. You’ll have to understand these methods whether you’re outsourcing a vendor or creating your own online store.


Take a look at the three types of options for print on demand t-shirts that you can choose from.

Printing with Heat Transfer

In this method, the image of the design that you want to print is put on a heat transfer paper. The image is then cut from the paper and pasted on the fabric. With a big heating iron, the heat transfer paper melts into the clothing and becomes a part of the fabric, printing a clear image on it. This method is very quick and convenient for printing color images on t-shirts.

Screen Printing Method

The screen printing method is better suited for vibrant and darker designs. With this method, a printer uses different screens or stencils to apply different layers of ink on the fabric. The screen printing method is ideal for bulk printing. Otherwise, it becomes an expensive method.

Printing with Direct-to-Garment Method

During this method of printing, the ink is printed directly on the fabric with an inkjet printer. This method requires you to use a special type of ink called water-based ink. You have your design on the computer, and you directly transfer it on the fabric with the help of the inkjet printer.


This method is the cheapest of the three that we have mentioned, mainly because it involves no setup cost.However, it’s not ideal for bulk printing, as it takes time more time to print designs.  

5 Tips to Start and Run a Print on Demand Business

To help you start a print on demand business that is set for success, we are providing a list of tips that will put you on the right track from the get-go. Take a look at them below:

1. Start with a Sampling

 Before you start selling your products, it’s essential that you ensure quality assurance. The best way to do this is by putting yourself in the customers’ shoes. You must make sure that the design you see on your computer is printed exactly on the product. If it gets distorted and looks even minorly different from the image you advertise online, it will jeopardize your credibility in your target audience. 


Therefore, sampling is of paramount importance. If you notice any error in the final printed product, make sure you reach out to your vendor and figure out how to fix it. The final product that you’re shipping out to your customer needs to look and feel exactly as they do in the images. You can also use the final samples to take photographs and use them for online marketing. 

2. Don’t Take Shipping Lightly

Even if you’ve outsourced your shipping process, you still need to ensure that your customers understand what they are getting into and your vendors need to understand what’s expected of them. You’ll need to be clear about the shipping times and any additional costs that may be attached. For that, you’ll have to discuss the procedure with your vendor and understand it, so you can be straightforward with your customers about shipping time and costs.


Consider including the shipping costs into the retail price of the product if possible. Many customers get discouraged from making the order when they see added costs while checking out. Moreover, you can entice your customers to buy the product by advertising the “free shipping” option. Here’s how the feature of free shipping can help boost your sales:


  • Free shipping is a great incentive for customers to try out your products. 
  • If you can’t offer free shipping for all, consider introducing “conditional free shipping. For example, you can offer shipping on orders that cost higher than $25. This will encourage your customers to buy more and will boost your sales along with better total shipping cost. 
  • Free shipping can be used as a justification for a longer waiting time. Customers are more accepting of delayed shipping if they are getting a discount or saving money on shipping. 

3. Partner with Influencers to Promote Your Products

When your products are ready to go in the market, you’ll have to market them strategically. Since you don’t want to put too much money in advertising, consider partnering with influencers to promote your products. You can offer them free products that they’ll wear or display on their social media accounts. This will increase the visibility of your new endeavor, and people will be enticed to order from you. 


Another option that you can avail is to use free mockup templatesto showcase your products. They are an easy, efficient, and quick way of bringing your products to life with no cost. 

4. Identify Your Niche and Make Social Media Accounts

To design and run an effective marketing campaign, you’ll first have to identify your niche. What is a niche you ask? It’s your target audience. It’s essential to have a defined audience to market to because a vague campaign is not likely to succeed. 


The biggest advantage of knowing your target audience is that you’ll save a lot of cost in advertising. It’s easier and cheaper to run social campaigns targeted to a specific audience. It also increases the potential of making sales. Once you have a clear understanding of your target market, you’ll have an easy time introducing and promoting the sales of new products.


Here are a few tips for marketing to your target audience:


  • Create business accounts on all major social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Create content that your target audience responds to the most. Build your audience and use different campaigns to increase your followers. Engage with your audience to create a relationship.  
  • Run targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram with the pictures of your products and the best customer reviews. The social media platforms offer many options in terms of cost for your campaigns. 
  • Ask your interested audience for their contact information and collect emails from website visitors and customers. This way you can advertise your future products to them for free. 
  • Offer limited-time discounts and promo codes, so your audience has the incentive to buy. 

5. Ask for Reviews and Feedback

Always reach out to your customers for feedback. Ask them to share their reviews online. You can use positive feedback as social proof of the quality of your products and the credibility of your brand. Potential customers like hearing reviews of other customers who have used your products. It is a great way of building credibility.

Final Thoughts

Print on demand business is likely to take flight in the upcoming year. If you do it right, you can build a sustainable model that brings high-profit margins. Print on demand t-shirts are also a great model for new entrepreneurs to test out their ideas with minimal investment. By following our guide, you can start a print on demand business with a high probability of success.

Bryan Higgins

Bryan Higgins

Bryan is an online profit-preneur focused on creating multiple streams of income. With experience in just about every online business type he shares his experience to help others start and scale their online business.

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