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Print on Demand: The beginner’s guide

Learn how to open your POD store and start making money!

Print On Demand: The Beginner's Guide
Print on demand is a business model that has become popular in the last years. It is a great way to generate passive income at low risk. And it can be a lot of fun!
To document our beginner’s guide, we partnered up Christina Sisson, co-owner of Merch Money, a print-on-demand training community. Print on Demand is on-demand printing of apparel, stationery, books, and much more.
Years ago, if you wanted to sell merchandise with your designs, you had to print a whole stock. This move is a high-risk decision to make. Why? Because if nobody buys your products, you won’t have benefits and you will lose all the money you invested.
With Print on Demand (from now on, POD), that risk does not exist. If there are sales, there will be benefits. If there are not sales, you won’t lose your money. The process is safe and straightforward.
You have an idea for a product. You develop that idea and upload your design to a printing partner website. If a customer places an order, your partner will print it and ship it. You won’t have to face any upfront cost, and there is no need for an inventory.
To our expert, Christina, these are the biggest perks of the model. With this type of retail e-commerce, there is little to no upfront investment. You have to create customized designs for products that you’ll never have to touch or ship. With POD, you won’t print a product until a customer places an order. Also, even when a customer places a request for a product to print-on-demand, there is no work for you. A third party will manage the whole process.
Print On Demand: The Beginner's Guide
One of the biggest perks of POD is that you don’t need to store your products.

Types of POD Business Models

There are two types of POD business set-ups. POD fulfillment services and POD marketplaces.

POD fulfillment services

POD fulfillment services will manage orders that you receive through your website. You can also integrate them with Shopify or Etsy.
The first step is to create or buy a design. Then you’ll choose the products you want to offer with that design printed on them. The company will give you a catalog to decide. The last step is to upload them onto your website, your Shopify store, or your Etsy store.
With a POD fulfillment set-up, you are the “seller of record.” Taxes become your responsibility, and you also provide customer service. Other than that, your POD fulfillment partner handles the rest.

Three well-known POD fulfillment services are Printful, Printify, and Gooten, although there are hundreds of others with different products available all over the world.

  • Printify. One of the biggest perks of this platform is its mockup generator. This tool allows you to check how your design will look like on the final product.
  • Printful. This platform is the best partner if you want to deliver worldwide. There are no order minimums. They also allow you to create custom brandings for your tags and envelopes.
  • Gooten. This company has a prominent manufacturer’s network. They manage all the processes with their third-part providers, so you don’t have to worry about it.

POD marketplace

POD marketplaces offer many services. First, they provide the website and customer service. They also manage the marketing, printing, and shipping. The only thing you do is to create or buy designs and upload them to the site. You will collect a royalty every time somebody buys your product.
When working with a Marketplace, you are not the “seller of record.” This means you do not have to provide any customer service. Also, you won’t have to manage taxes.
There are several POD marketplaces, but here is a list of the most popular and best well-known:
  • Merch by Amazon. It is the only marketplace in this list that has a basic application and approval process.
  • RedBubble. This platform is a Marketplace for independent artists. It gives you total control over the final products and prices.
  • Spreadshirt. This company works well with printed apparel and accessories. They have a particular focus on ecological production practices.
  • Teepublic. Since 2013, Teepublic has hosted the artwork of independent creators. Quality of product and respect for the environment are two of their biggest perks.
  • Zazzle. One of the best options for stationery. Here you can find designs from popular brands as Pixar, Universal, or Sesame Street.
  • TeeSpring. This platform has gained access to Instagram Checkout. It’s the only POD website that offers that service.
  • CafePress. A great choice if you want to print on apparel. Their mission is to create a human connection. They do it by inspiring people to express themselves.
  • Fine Art America. Specialized in Wall Art, Home Decor and Lifestyle, it’s one of the best options to sell posters.
  • Society6. This platform restricts sales to artists who post their unique original designs. They make every final product to order.
  • Designs by Humans. They have curated some beautiful sections about anime, comics, gaming, and cartoon designs.
  • SunFrog. It covers every sale with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
  • Kindle Direct Publishing. This is the ideal tool to self-publish your eBook from scratch. You can reach millions of readers on Amazon, and earn up to 70% royalty.
  • Ingram spark. You can use this website to publish hardcovers, paperbacks, and ebooks in color or black and white.
Print On Demand: The Beginner's Guide
You can pick the model where your partner will print your products.

Kinds of POD licenses

POD is also a business option for those who can not create their designs. At Creative Fabrica, we have curated a whole section with products that include a POD license.
If you want to use third-party designs, dedicate some time to check the legal requirements. To use any artwork, you must have a license. There are two kinds of POD licenses: Basic POD and Full POD.

Basic POD license

Basic POD license allows you to create and upload graphics to POD sites. But there is a condition: they have to differ from the original. This means you have to make clear modifications to the design you buy. Your final design must have unique, distinctive elements.

Full POD license

When you buy a design with a Full POD license, you can upload it to POD sites with no modifications. You can use the original design as it is.
The only boundary you have to respect is that you cannot make the digital files available to anyone else.
Print On Demand: The Beginner's Guide
POD is the easiest way to turn your designs into apparel.

How to Get Started in Print-On-Demand Today

Christina Sisson recommends choosing the marketplace model to start. The reason is that, according to her, this option is easier.
For most of the marketplaces, the first step is to go tho the website and create an account. Some sites will call you a “seller”; others will call you an “artist. There are no known marketplaces that ask for the exclusivity of the artwork. so this means you can upload and sell the same design on many POD websites.
First, create an account. Make sure to read the terms of service and policies for the POD marketplaces you are using. This will give you the details you need for the requirements for the artwork you will be uploading.
If you are an artist or graphic designer, you may already be familiar with design software. You can use programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign. You can create designs in any software you like to use. The only condition is to follow the file and sizing requirements of each POD marketplace.
If you aren’t an artist or graphic designer, there are many options for you as well! Creative Fabrica’s POD category includes over 40.000 designs with a Full POD license.
If you have learned to edit graphics, you’ll also be able to use the files that come with a Basic Pod license. But remember to make significant changes to the original. Otherwise, it won’t be legal.
You can also import these POD assets into easy to use web-based design software. Some examples are Canva, PixTeller, Design Wizard, or Merch Informer Designer. You can resize the files to fit the standards of any POD marketplace and upload them immediately.
When a customer buys your designs on the marketplace, you’ll start receiving commissions.


Print On Demand: The Beginner's Guide
POD is also the easiest technique to sell and ship wall art.


Extra resources

POD can help anyone earn extra money with a flexible schedule. It’s a great way to supplement your income. It could also be a chance to leave your day job behind to work as an entrepreneur. The more time and focus you put into a print on demand business, the higher the reward.
Creative Fabrica’s community members have shown their interest in learning more about POD. That is why we’ll tackle the topic often here at The Artistry.
Maybe you also want to have hands-on advice from POD entrepreneurs. For that, you can check Merch Money’s podcast and YouTube channel. There, Christina and her partner Helen Kinson will share their best tips and tricks with you. 

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