Print-On-Demand for Dummies (Part. 2): 6 Steps to Get Started with POD

get started with print-on-demand

In the recent years, print-on-demand has risen as one of the most developed sector of Dropship market. After Grand View Research, the custom t-shirt printing is worth 3.7 billion U.S. Dollars last year in 2020, since everyone tends to purchase aesthetic item and this trends is definitely growing.

So, what do you need to prepare before entering Print-On-Demand (POD) market?

If you want to know the answer, then keep scrolling down. This article can help you to understand what print-on-demand is and tips to get you prepared with this field.

What is Print-On-Demand?

Print-On-Demand (POD) is a process where you (as a merchant) work with a supplier to customize white-label products (like t-shirts, mugs or tote bags) with your own designs to promote and sell it on a per-order basis under your own store brand.

It means that you don’t have to pay for the product until after you’ve actually sold it. This helps you to reduce the inventory cost and also risk for backlogged goods.

Furthermore, because of the easy process and services (from printing to shipping) that are offered by providers, which is also called fulfillment services, POD merchants can focus on selling the products and generating as much orders as possible. Basically, you’re selling design and all the production and shipping process will be executed by your fulfillment provider. This definition can also be comprehended as a mutualism model in business, when one party can find customers and generate orders (retail merchants) and the other party can provide products and add-up services (fulfillment providers).

How to start business with Print-On-Demand?

So now that you understand what print-on-demand is. You need to get started on preparing yourself and your business to adapt with the market. To quickly help you in adopting this model, let’s dig in these 6 steps.

Step 1: Find a niche

You must be wondering why you shouldn’t try all the niches? Well, here are some convincing facts that you need to know:

1. A niche can help you to focus better.

I’m saying this because if you’re trying too many product concepts at a time, you can easily be overwhelmed and also confused by the wideness of this market. What I would suggest is you can research for design concepts or products that are regular on trend.
Furthermore, when you focus on one niche, it will help you to develop your design concept at your best. Simply by targeting in one field, you will expand your imagination of your work to that one concept instead of divide your intellectual source to different niches and designs.

2. You will find it easier to target the right audience.

Marketing activities need a clear audience. If you have a wide range of products or concepts, I can be closed to certain that your target audience will be a mess. Identifying one audience, its regular routine and favor is already a challenge, now, imagine you need to replicate that process 3 times or even more. The more specifications you have for your store, the more you will get confused easily because of all the different customer personas that you need to deal with.

3. Your customers can understand what you offer.

Think of your customers, if you visit a store for the first time and you see they provide a really wide range of product or services, will you count on them to place an order? Well, you can say that you will but that can only happen if your store is already popular with what you’re selling. Otherwise, the conversion rate might be real low. Moreover, if your store contains too many product type, it can easily confuse your customers whether they should buy. The more they got into confusion, the more chance they will abandon the cart or the purchase intention.

A niche can be any concept, product or design or even just a concept in theme. For example, if you choose pet to be your store product concept then your design will focus on pet ideas and your products should include pet design, or it should relate to pet like collar bone or bedsheet for pet, etc. Most importantly, a niche market is certainly the first thing you should consider to decide what kind of print-on-demand product that you will be selling.

>> Top 10 Print-on-demand Product Trends

Step 2: Find providers and product base

After you finish choosing a niche, it’s time for you to look for fulfillment providers that you want to work with and provide the product base that your niche needs. On the market, there are plenty of providers that you can look up “print-on-demand fulfillment services” easily on Google.

Assessment Criterion

There are a few important criterion that you can use for your assessment. Because there are too many of providers, you need to dig in information to assess their performance whether it meets your requirements on supplier quality. These criterion are the factors that can directly influence to your customers experience and satisfaction with your store, they are:

  • Product quality
  • Delivery time (including both production and shipping times)
  • Product prices
  • Fulfillment location
  • Shipping available destination and time
  • Refund policy
  • Customer support system

Amongst the 4 factors, you need to have attention on product quality and delivery time the most. Because not only it can affect your customer satisfaction, it can affect to your brand reliability as well. If one fulfillment provider can have 3 out of 4 factors (including 2 compulsory factors mentioned) with a quality rate above average, then it certainly matches your store.

Nonetheless, remember that don’t limit yourself with just one provider. You can sell various products from different providers, in order to take the initiative in controlling all situations that can happen to your store and customers.

Provider recommendations

Some qualified providers that I recommend you to look into are Printful, CustomCat, Dreamship, Picanova and Printify. These are the providers that offer a large range of common product base, such as t-shirt, hoodie, home décor, mug, facemask.

If you want to look for some creative product base, such as notebook, jigsaw puzzle, skateboard, etc., then you can take a look at Subliminator, Redbubble and Gooten.

Step 3: Create your own design

Moving on to the next challenge. Now after you finish choosing a niche for your store, you will need to come up with some unique designs for your product.

Source: Giphy

Research ideas

Since you are selling product design so this is the part that you should focus the most. Not only you need to catch up with product trends, design and style are also crucial. The easiest way that you can do is to observe what others are doing, I would recommend you to use Pinterest or Etsy to research for the designs.

Simply by typing in some keywords like “gift ideas”, “personalized gift”, “artwork for print”,… you can easily find very cool ideas on these two platforms.

Another channel that you can look for more design ideas is Facebook Community. Since beginners will tend to seek information and knowledge about the field where they’re going to enter, many communities related to print-on-demand have been created to gather all POD merchants together to grow as a place where everyone can ask for help, share knowledge and seek new information about the field.

Here are some Facebook communities that you can take a look at:

Last on the recommendation list, “spy” tools. These are the tools that can provide the winning products or designs directly for you to search easily. You can just look up for “print on demand research tool” on Google and it will suggest to you some good tools for research. A tiny minus is this method will cost you more, since you will need to pay for this services.

Make your own design

Those are the research channels that you can look for, but remember one thing: Research is research. You still need to come up with your own unique design in order to win the whole race. If you’re just a follower, maybe you can end up as a runner-up but that is just it. You won’t be the champion if the design is not yours, so keep this reminder closed to your heart and create something that is inspired by you only.

Step 4: Create and set up your store

Next up, you need now is an actual online store. You can hire some developers to build your dream store, but there are multiple platforms can help you create an online store quickly and at ease. I will name some highly stood-out based on market share and quality that you can check out: Shopify, Woocommerce, Amazon, Etsy, or Teespring. These are one of the most popular online stores platform that can support you with designing your own brand for print-on-demand. But if you ask me, I would choose Shopify. Why? Because many providers have already integrated with Shopify. Plus, their interface is super easy to use that even non-tech-savvy beginners can learn quickly.

Moreover, Shopify is also having 14-days trial for every new sign-up so you will have extra times and money to set up your store perfectly. If you wonder how to sign up, just go to this link: and fill in the required information.

Source: Shopify

Remember, you should come up with an unique store name because Shopify needs will generate your domain based on the store name you provided.

Step 5: Add-on services and experience

This is another competitive part that you can consider to set up on your store is extra services or experience for your customers. This can help to differentiate your store with other POD stores in the market. It can be an unique promotion deal, gamification campaign, or product personalization.

Source: teeinblue (Try out personalization)

No matter what your add-on services is, as long as it keeps closed to the store concept and goal, it can actually give out a good results in generating more sales.

Step 6: Consider your marketing plan

All the above steps can help you to launch a qualified store for print-on-demand. But if you want to advertise your product and your brand, you need to come up with a strategic marketing plan.

Marketing can actually solve this question for you. By delivering the right message to your target audience, you can make sales out of it. Since you will have an online business, digital marketing knowledge and skills are required for you to take action in learning and comprehending. Digital marketing for online stores can include advertisements via Facebook, Google, etc., search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing and email marketing. If you’re new to this field, I would suggest you to look up for quick course or Youtube video that can help to guide you through the basic of digital marketing.

Above is a quick step-by-step guide to help you in scratching print-on-demand market field. Do you think there is anything missed out in this article? Comment to me below and we can discuss about it. In my next article, we will be watching on the personalized print-on-demand trend and guide you further in each step.

Our team will be happy to receive any topic request for sharing knowledge, so if you have any idea in mind, let us know by commenting under this post or messaging us via Facebook.

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