Print-on-demand Vs Affiliate Marketing Ultimate Comparison

Print-on-demand Vs Affiliate Marketing Ultimate Comparison

print on demand vs affiliate marketing

Print-on-demand vs affiliate marketing offers lucrative opportunities to earn money online, but success doesn't happen overnight. Understanding these approaches thoroughly helps you choose the best-suited one to begin with. Dive deeper into this topic with Teeinblue by exploring cost, earning rate, and risk comparisons and helpful tips to kickstart your journey.

Print-on-demand Vs Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

Print-on-demand vs affiliate marketing differ in some aspects: definitions, initial costs, profitability, risk levels, and required skill sets. Let's explore each difference in detail now!

What Are They?

Print-on-demand is a business model that allows you to create and sell your own product without inventory, storage, or logistics. You work with third-party companies to handle the printing and shipping of products directly to buyers. In particular, these providers only produce on-demand custom items upon orders you send.

With affiliate marketing, you are going to promote other’s products by introducing them to your audience. Your role is to encourage purchases through your referral link, earning a commission for each sale. The key to a successful affiliater lies in driving traffic and mastering conversion rate optimization.

definition of print on demand vs affiliate marketing
Understand your role before diving into print-on-demand vs affiliate marketing

Startup Cost

Print-on-demand stands out for its minimal upfront costs by eliminating substantial investments in factory, inventory, and logistics. Launching a print-on-demand business requires modest expenses such as online store setup, product design, and print-on-demand platform fees.

Similarly, the affiliate method is appealing due to its low cost to start making money online. Initially, you'll incur hosting and domain fees for establishing a website. While joining most affiliate programs is free, some may entail associated costs or deposit requirements.

In terms of initial cost, affiliate marketing tends to be cheaper than print-on-demand. It involves promoting existing products without the need for product creation or investment in design tools.

affiliate marketing vs print on demand requires minimal upfront cost
Both affiliate marketing and print-on-demand requires a minimal upfront cost

Earning Rate

Print-on-demand presents profitable opportunities with a general profit margin ranging between 15-20%. Print-on-demand sellers have the flexibility to adjust prices and optimize profit. As sales accumulate, especially with loyal buyers, the potential for earnings increases significantly.

Affiliate programs typically offer fixed commissions from 5-30% of the sale. Its initial income is lower as you take time to attract audiences and refine effective marketing strategies.

Overall, print-on-demand often boasts a higher profit margin compared to the other. Selling your own product often allows for quicker income generation. While customers may revisit a print-on-demand store multiple times, they might not return to the same affiliate link for a repurchase.

lucrative chances with print on demand vs affiliate marketing
Both print-on-demand and affiliate marketing promise unlimited income

Potential Risks

Among business models, print-on-demand is known for its relatively low financial risk due to minimal initial investment. However, running a print-on-demand store comes with challenges in lacking direct control over products. Subpar product quality and shipping issues can result in negative customer experiences. Additionally, navigating copyright concerns is crucial to avoid legal troubles.

Success in affiliate marketing hinges on the products and services you promote. Displeased reviews can undermine the trust you've built and damage your reputation. Moreover, violating advertising and disclosure regulations may lead to legal consequences or bans from affiliate programs. Ensure you have a clear understanding of policies and seek counsel if needed.

Both print-on-demand and product referral hold specific risks. However, being well-prepared with strong strategies and adaptability to changes helps you to overcome challenges and capitalize on success.

affiliate marketing vs print on demand low-risk
Evaluating the risk level is important for both approaches

Skills & Tasks

As a print-on-demand seller, basic graphic design skill is essential to craft or modify compelling artwork. Proficiency in market research, including staying updated on trends, market changes, and customer preferences, helps you create customer-aligned products. Additionally, a fundamental understanding of e-commerce platforms and marketing makes it easier to turn potential customers into buyers.

On the other hand, affiliate marketing demands content creation skills, encompassing tasks like writing blogs and editing videos to promote products or services. Mastery of SEO and email marketing attracts a larger audience to your blog, effectively driving traffic to your affiliate links. Understanding analytics is also crucial to evaluate metrics and optimize marketing strategies.

Despite requiring distinct skill sets, both of them present challenges that depend on your skills, resources, and strategies. Print-on-demand tends to be more time-consuming due to the nature of its operational aspects. This model involves a broader spectrum of work, from product creation, and store management to marketing and promotion.

print on demand and affiliate marketing have specific skill sets
Creating engaging video content to introduce about product

Affiliate Marketing Vs Print-on-demand: Pros and Cons

If you’re still confused between affiliate marketing vs print-on-demand model, let’s dive into the pros and cons of each one.

Affiliate Marketing

Here are some key benefits and downsides of the affiliate approach.


  • Low initial cost and minimal risk level
  • No after-sales hassle
  • Easy enrollment in various affiliate programs
  • Diverse free learning resources and forums


  • Low and unsteady commissions earning
  • High competition since no barrier to entry
  • Risk of reputation damage from promoting untrustworthy products
  • Heavy dependence on product changes and program policies
  • Vulnerable affiliate links to be hacked or removed


Let's also consider the advantages and disadvantages of the print-on-demand model.


  • Begin with low investment and minimal risk
  • Sell custom products without inventory, fulfillment, or shipping concerns
  • Build your own brand with a budget
  • Scale effortlessly with diverse product offerings
  • Immediate payments upon customer order placement


  • Intense rivalry in a crowded market
  • Limited control leads to bad quality and shipping delays
  • Involvement in handling customer issues, impacting time and resources
  • Time-consuming setup and higher upfront costs than referral marketing
affiliate marketing vs print on demand pros and cons
Weighing the pros and cons of each make-money-online method to make informed decisions

Print-on-demand or Affiliate Marketing: Which is Better to Start?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to whether print-on-demand or affiliate marketing is better to start with. The right path depends on your individual strengths, interests, and goals.

  • Print-on-demand caters well to artists, designers, entrepreneurs, or anyone seeking a low-risk way to turn creative ideas into unique products. This approach allows you to unleash your inner creativity, and establish your own brand to generate lucrative income.
  • Affiliate marketing suits bloggers, influencers, or individuals who already have existing audiences in specific niches. By leveraging your existing reach and credibility, you can offer valuable recommendations of products or services to your audience. At the same time, you earn commissions for generated sales or leads via affiliate links.
  • Combining POD and product referral methods is a powerful strategy to diversify income streams. You can create a funnel between two models by establishing a niche-specific print-on-demand store and then joining relevant affiliate programs. Within compelling content to entice the audience, you can integrate your affiliate links for products alongside your own POD offerings.
print on demand requires more creativity
Print-on-demand is an excellent choice if you have a passion for design and creativity

Start Selling Print-on-demand Products With Shopify and Teeinblue

Launching a print-on-demand business with Shopify and Teeinblue is an excellent head start, thanks to their intuitive interfaces and budget-friendly options. The Teeinblue Product Personalizer app specifically allows you to effortlessly create and sell one-of-a-kind personalized products with live preview features. This capability often leads to significant profit margins and higher revenue.

Hold in hand some practical steps to start:

  • Create a Shopify store for only $1 in 3 first months
  • Select a POD company and create an account on their platform
  • Install Teeinblue Product Personalizer to launch personalized products
  • Promote products, get and send orders to fulfill in the Teeineblue app

Get ready to elevate your print-on-demand experience with Teeinblue through this tutorial below.

In conclusion, this article has explored the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of print-on-demand vs affiliate marketing. With the right mindset, you will choose the approach that aligns best with your skills and goals. Beyond information shared by Teeinblue experts, you should consider additional blogs or opinions to make an informed decision. To gain more valuable insights into the print-on-demand market, join the Teeinblue Global Community now!


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