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Print on Demand: Business Tips
Take all these things into account before you start.
Print on Demand (POD) is a low-risk business model that has become quite popular over the last years. This modality of dropshipping allows sellers to generate an income without assuming high costs. As in any business, it’s good to have some previous knowledge. In our Ultimate Print on Demand Guide, you’ll find all the information you need to take into account if you consider starting a POD business.
Please, take into account that these articles are meant to provide some general guidance. To get specific advice for your business, you should always contact a professional.
On this article:
Six steps to start a Print on Demand business
- Create a website for your store. If you are hosting your store in a marketplace, like Amazon Merch, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you’ll have to organize your store on a website. Platforms like WooCommerce, Squarespace, Shopify, or Wix can be useful for this purpose.
- Partner up with a POD fulfillment services provider. If you decide to start your POD journey in a marketplace, by opening an account on the site, you will have access to all the fulfillment services that it brings. If that’s not your case, you’ll need to open an account on a platform like Shopify or Gooten and connect it to your site. This way, your partner will be able to process all the orders you receive.
- Create a catalog of products. You need to provide some designs that you’d like to print on the items that you are going to sell. If you are a designer yourself, you’ll probably have that step covered. If that’s not the case, you can find a growing library of designs with a Full POD license here at Creative Fabrica. Another possibility is to hire a freelance designer through a platform like Fiverr.
- Set the prices of your articles. For this step, you need to take into account some costs like manufacturing, printing, and delivery. The final price should be higher than the sum of those so that you can get a benefit.
- Choose a payment system. This step is crucial because you need your clients to be able to pay for the products they purchase. Some popular methods, like PayPal or iDeal, allow you to reduce user friction during payment.
- Promote your store. Paid ads, e-mail marketing, SEO, Social Media… Many digital marketing procedures can help you reach your target and promote your business.
The initial investment for a Print on Demand business
Print on Demand is a low-risk business model, but there are some fixed costs that you have to assume before you can start selling. Here you have a list with some aspects that you should take into account.
- e-Commerce platform. To start a POD business, you’ll need to open a store on the Internet. You can do this through platforms like Etsy, WooCommerce, Wish, Shopify, or Squarespace. Most of these platforms will ask you to pay a fee for their premium services. WooCommerce is an exception, but as we’ll see next, this means you’ll have to assume some other costs.
- Hosting. Most of the platforms we have mentioned before include hosting as an added advantage for their clients. Others don’t, so you will have to assume this cost yourself.
- Domain. If you want to start an online business, you’ll need to buy a professional domain. This means paying for an annual fee. You could also launch your store without having a domain -technically, you can, but let’s be serious: it won’t look as professional and trustworthy as it should-.
- Developers. Unless you are familiar with web development, you’ll need to hire somebody to help you with the technical aspects of your platform.
- Branding and content marketing. Once again, if you have some notions of branding and graphic design, you can manage this yourself. Otherwise, you’ll need to hire somebody else’s services to get professional results.
- Design. Investing money on design can mean several things. If you create your designs yourself, you’ll probably have to assume the costs of the software (e.g., Adobe Suite, Procreate…). If you are hiring someone else, you will have to pay them a salary. And, if you decide to purchase designs with a Full POD license in a marketplace like Creative Fabrica, you will have to pay for a subscription fee.
- Trial order. As we already explained in this article, one of the most significant disadvantages of Print on Demand is that you won’t have control of the manufacturing process. That is why it is essential to make a trial order to get to see your final products. This way, you’ll make sure that your T-shirts, mugs, hoodies, or phone cases reach the quality standards that you would like to provide.
- Deposit. As we’ll explain in the next paragraph, your POD partner won’t charge your clients for the manufacturing and shipping costs. You’ll have to assume those costs, so it’s crucial to have some money on the credit card or bank account that you provide.
How to calculate delivery fees for your Print on Demand store
How do delivery fees work?
- By listing a product in your catalog, you set a selling price and a delivery fee that your customer will have to pay.
- When the customer makes a purchase, they pay for the price that you have established.
- When your partner receives the order, they charge YOU for the management and delivery. That is why you have to have an initial deposit that will pay for your first sales. Ideally, the final price will be higher than this amount that you are paying, so you can receive benefits.
Delivery pricing strategies
- Free delivery. This alternative is a reasonable claim if you want to attract customers. It can help you increase the demand for your products. Please, bear in mind that “free delivery” means the delivery is free for your customers, but not for you! You will have to assume these costs, so make sure there is some margin of benefit.
- Standard fees. If you want to make sure that the delivery costs are always covered, you can set standard fees. No matter how big the package is or how far does it go, your customers will always pay the same price.
- Based on weight. You set a “weight” value for every product in your catalog. The delivery costs will be calculated according to that.
- “Live fees.” Some platforms allow their delivery partners to calculate the delivery costs while the customer is making a purchase.
Important to notice
In doubt, always check your partner’s delivery fees. You get to pay these costs, so it’s your responsibility to set a final price that allows you to get benefits.
If you are shipping similar products, some partners like Printful will charge you less for the second or third unit. Please, take into account the original price of the first item when estimating the costs. Otherwise, you will lose money.
As we’ve said before, this guide brings general advice, with no focus on any specific cases. In doubt, always contact the Support service of your POD platform or partner.
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