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What Is Print on Demand: Understanding the Basics

By: Tasmia Sharmin

Are you looking to start your own print on demand business but unsure where to begin? Look no further, as we have got you covered! Here, we’ll walk you through the basics, like what is print on demand to how to open a POD business.

We will delve into the process of choosing the right print on demand supplier that suits your needs, exploring popular platforms like Printify, Redbubble, and Printful.

Additionally, we will provide insights into setting up a successful print on demand store on Shopify, Wix, and BigCommerce.

To ensure your business thrives, we will also share essential tips such as conducting niche research, selecting products with high market demand, designing an effective eCommerce website, and choosing a seamless integration for your print on demand service.

Get ready to turn your creative ideas into a profitable venture!

What is print on demand?

Print on demand (POD) is a business model where products, such as books, clothing, accessories, and home goods, are printed and produced only when an order is received.

Instead of having to pre-print and store inventory, POD allows businesses to fulfill orders on a per-demand basis. This means that items are created and shipped as soon as a customer places an order, eliminating the need for large production runs and storage space.

Print on demand is made possible through advancements in digital printing technology, which allows for high-quality and cost-effective printing with quick turnaround times.

This model has revolutionized the publishing and e-commerce industries, enabling individuals and businesses to create and sell customized products without the upfront costs and risks associated with traditional printing and inventory management.

Advantages of print on demand

  1. Reduced upfront costs: One of the significant advantages of print on demand is that it eliminates the need for businesses to invest in large print runs and inventory. Traditional publishing and manufacturing models require upfront investments in printing, storage, and distribution. With POD, businesses can start selling products without the need for significant capital investment.
  2. No inventory management: With print on demand, businesses do not have to worry about managing and storing inventory. Each product is printed and shipped as soon as an order is received, saving businesses time, space, and money. This also eliminates the risk of overstocking or being stuck with unsold inventory.
  3. Customization and personalization: Print on demand allows businesses to offer customizable and personalized products to their customers. From adding personalized names or messages to creating unique designs, businesses can cater to individual preferences and create a more personalized shopping experience.
  4. Flexibility and scalability: POD offers businesses flexibility and scalability. Since products are created and shipped on demand, businesses can quickly respond to new market demands and trends. They can test different products and designs without the risk of large-scale production. Additionally, as the business grows, it is easy to scale up operations without the need for additional production facilities or inventory management.
  5. Sustainability: Print on demand can also be more environmentally friendly compared to traditional printing methods. By printing only what is needed, businesses can minimize waste and reduce their carbon footprint.

With its many advantages, print on demand has become a popular choice for entrepreneurs, independent artists, and small businesses looking to bring their creative ideas to market without the upfront costs and risks associated with traditional printing and inventory management.

How Does Print on Demand Work?

How Does Print on Demand Work?

Print on demand process explained

Print on Demand (POD) is a business model that facilitates the creation of individualized goods without having to hold inventory or invest in expensive printing equipment. Here’s an overview of how the print on demand process works:

  1. Product Selection: The first step in the print on demand process is selecting the product you want to create. This can range from t-shirts and hoodies to mugs and phone cases.
  2. Design Creation: Once you have chosen your product, you can then design your custom artwork or logo using graphic design software or online tools. Make sure to create high-quality designs that will appeal to your target audience.
  3. Integration with Print on Demand Platform: After creating your design, you need to integrate with a print on demand platform. These platforms provide the necessary tools and services to automate the printing and fulfillment process.
  4. Product Listing: Once integrated, you can list your products on your website or online marketplace. Include high-quality images and detailed descriptions to attract potential customers.
  5. Order Processing: When a customer places an order, the print on demand platform automatically receives the order details, including the size, design, and shipping address. The platform then processes the order for production.
  6. Printing and Fulfillment: The print on demand platform uses its printing equipment to print the design on the selected product. Once printed, the product is packaged and shipped directly to the customer.
  7. Customer Satisfaction: As the print on demand platform handles the production and shipping, it is crucial to choose a reliable platform that ensures the highest quality standards. This will help maintain customer satisfaction and build your brand reputation.

Printing options and customization

Printing options and customization

Print on demand platforms offer various printing options and customization features to meet the diverse needs and preferences of customers. Some common printing options include:

  1. Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printing: This method uses specialized printers to apply ink directly onto the fabric of clothing items. DTG printing allows for detailed and vibrant designs that are long-lasting.
  2. Sublimation Printing: Sublimation printing is commonly used for products like mugs and phone cases. It involves transferring the design onto a special transfer paper and then using heat to permanently imprint the design onto the product.
  3. Embroidery: Embroidery involves stitching the design onto the product using colored threads. It is commonly used for products like hats, jackets, and polo shirts.
  4. Customization Features: With print on demand, customers can personalize their products by adding names, initials, or custom text. This level of customization enhances the customer’s experience and adds value to the product.

Print on Demand Platforms

POD platforms

Popular print on demand platforms

Print on demand platforms have become increasingly popular among individuals and businesses looking to create custom items without worrying about keeping stock or shipping them. Here are some popular print on demand platforms that offer a range of customization options:

  1. Printful: Printful is a widely used print on demand platform that integrates with various ecommerce platforms, such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and Etsy. They offer a range of products, including t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, and more. Printful handles printing, packaging, and shipping, making it convenient for sellers. They also provide product mockups and sample orders, so you can see and feel the quality before selling. Read Printful Shopify: The Ultimate Dropshipping POD Combo
  2. Printify: Printify is another popular print on demand platform that offers a wide selection of customizable products. They have a network of printing partners worldwide, allowing for faster shipping times and lower shipping costs. Printify integrates with Shopify, WooCommerce, and Etsy, making it easy to manage your print on demand business. They also offer a product designer tool where you can create custom designs directly on their platform.
  3. Redbubble: Redbubble is an international platform where creatives may sell their work on a wide range of merchandise, including clothing, home decor, and accessories. Artists can upload their designs, and Redbubble handles the printing, packaging, and shipping. Redbubble also offers a range of marketing tools to help artists promote their work and reach a wider audience.

Comparison between Printful, Printify, and Redbubble

Platform Integration Product Range Shipping Options Pricing
Printful Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy Clothing, accessories, home decor Worldwide fulfillment network Product prices + fulfillment fee
Printify Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy Clothing, accessories, home decor Worldwide fulfillment network Product prices + fulfillment fee
Redbubble Independent platform Clothing, home decor, accessories Worldwide shipping options Base price + artist margin


When it comes to choosing a print on demand platform, it’s essential to consider factors such as integration options, product range, shipping options, and pricing. Here’s a brief comparison between Printful, Printify, and Redbubble:

Printful: Printful stands out for its seamless integration with popular eCommerce platforms and its extensive range of customizable products. They also offer a worldwide fulfillment network, ensuring your products can reach customers globally. The pricing includes both the cost of the product and a fulfillment fee.

Printify: Printify also integrates with popular eCommerce platforms and offers a wide variety of products. They have a network of printing partners worldwide, allowing for faster shipping times and lower shipping costs. The pricing includes the product price and a fulfillment fee.

Redbubble: Redbubble is a standalone platform that focuses on art and design. Artists can upload their artwork, and Redbubble handles the printing, packaging, and shipping. Redbubble offers worldwide shipping options, and the pricing includes a base price for the product and an artist margin.

These are just a few print on demand platforms available in the market. It’s important to compare features, integrations, pricing, and reviews to help you choose which service best supports your desired outcomes.

Setting Up a Print on Demand Business

Setting up POD business

Once you understand the basics of print on demand, you may be interested in starting your own print on demand business. Here are the key steps you need to take to set up a successful print on demand business:

Steps to start a print on demand business

  1. Research and Planning: Research the market and identify your target audience. Determine the niche or market segment you want to focus on and plan your business accordingly. Read Target Market Analysis for Dropshipping: Detailed Guidelines for 2023
  2. Choose a Platform: Select a print on demand platform that suits your needs. Compare platforms based on features, pricing, product selection, and integration options with e-commerce platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce.
  3. Design Creation: Create or outsource compelling designs for your products. Ensure that the designs are unique, appealing to your targeted audience, and aligned with your brand.
  4. Product Selection: Choose the products you want to offer. Consider popular options like t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, phone cases, and home decor items. Select products that align with your target audience and have a high demand. Read Top 15 Winning Dropshipping Product Research Tools.
  5. Product Mockups: Create high-quality product mockups using design software or templates provided by your print on demand platform. These mockups will showcase your designs on the chosen products.
  6. Set Pricing: Determine your pricing strategy, considering factors like production costs, platform fees, shipping costs, and desired profit margins. Ensure that your pricing remains competitive in the market.
  7. Create a Storefront: Set up your online storefront using your chosen print on demand platform or integrate it with your e-commerce platform. Customize your store to reflect your branding and showcase your products effectively. 
  8. Marketing and Promotion: Develop a marketing plan to reach your target audience. Utilize social media, influencer marketing, email marketing, and other online advertising channels. Leverage the power of compelling visuals to attract customers.

Choosing the right products and designs

When selecting products and designs for your print on demand business, consider the following factors:

  • Market Demand: Choose products and designs that have a proven market demand. Research popular trends and seek inspiration from successful print on demand sellers.
  • Audience Relevance: Ensure that your products and designs resonate with your target audience. Consider their preferences, interests, and demographics to create designs that will appeal to them.
  • Quality and Sustainability: Select products of high quality that are durable and comfortable. Also, consider opting for sustainable and eco-friendly materials to cater to environmentally conscious consumers.
  • Brand Identity: Create designs that align with your brand identity and values. Consistency in design and message will help you stand out and build brand recognition.
  • Design Licensing: If you are using licensed content, make sure you have the necessary permissions or use royalty-free and copyright-free content to avoid legal complications.

By following these steps and taking into consideration these factors, you can set up a successful print on demand business and start generating revenue in no time. Remember to continuously monitor and adapt your strategies based on market trends and customer feedback to stay competitive in the industry.


Conducting Research to Find the Perfect Product Niche

Research is crucial when starting a print on demand business to find a profitable product niche. It’s important to look for products that have high demand and low competition, as this will increase your chances of success.

Factors such as target audience, trends, and market saturation should be considered when selecting a product niche.

Utilizing keyword research tools and analyzing competitor data can help you identify popular products in your chosen niche.

Remember not to limit yourself to just one niche – consider expanding into related niches or offering a variety of products to attract a larger customer base.


Marketing and Selling Print on Demand Products

Marketing POD Products

There are several strategies and platforms that can help you reach your targeted POD audience and increase your sales. Here are some effective marketing strategies and platforms to consider:

Effective marketing strategies for print on demand

Social media advertising: Advertisements on social media may be very effective since they can be tailored to a user’s precise demographics and interests. Create visually appealing ads that showcase your print on demand products and drive traffic to your online store.


Influencer partnerships: Working with influencers in your POD niche may increase your exposure and boost sales and generate buzz around your products. Identify influencers with a significant following and a genuine interest in your niche, and consider offering them free products or affiliate commissions in exchange for promoting your print on demand items.

Content marketing: You can boost your website’s organic traffic and position yourself as an industry leader by producing high-quality content that is relevant to your sector. Write blog posts, create how-to guides, and share informative videos that showcase the applications and benefits of your print on demand products.

Email marketing: Build an email list of interested prospects and send regular newsletters with updates, product launches, and exclusive offers. Offering incentives like discounts or freebies can help encourage conversions and repeat purchases.


Customer reviews and testimonials: Get your happy customers to write testimonials and reviews for you on your website and other online channels. Positive reviews not only help build trust with new customers but also improve your search engine rankings.

Selling POD products on different platforms

Selling POD products on different platforms

  1. Your own online store: Setting up your own online store using platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce allows you to have full control over your branding, customer experience, and marketing strategies. You can customize your store, integrate payment gateways, and track analytics to optimize your sales. 
  2. Marketplaces: Selling your print on demand products on well-established marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Redbubble can expose your products to a larger audience and give you access to their existing customer base. Each platform has its own rules and fees, so be sure to familiarize yourself with their policies before setting up your storefront.
  3. Dropshipping platforms: Some print on demand providers also offer integrated dropshipping services, where Everything from printing to packing to shipping is taken care of for you. Platforms like Printful, Printify, and Teelaunch make it easy for you to create and sell your designs without the need for inventory management.

Print on Demand Success Stories


Inspiring success stories from print on demand entrepreneurs

Print on demand has opened the doors for many entrepreneurs to create successful businesses without the need for large upfront investments or inventory management. Here are a few inspiring success stories from entrepreneurs who have found great success in the print on demand industry:

  1. The Dapper Dog Box: This subscription box service for dog owners started as a side project for its founder, Kerrie, who turned her passion for dogs into a thriving business. By offering custom-designed T-shirts, mugs, and other dog-themed products through print on demand, The Dapper Dog Box has grown to serve thousands of customers and has been featured in major publications.
  2. Six-Figure Tees: Created by Anthony Tran, Six-Figure Tees has managed to achieve six-figure annual revenues by leveraging print on demand to sell custom T-shirts online. With a focus on niche markets and targeted marketing strategies, Tran has been able to build a successful brand in the competitive T-shirt industry.

Tips for building a successful print on demand business

Interested in starting your own print on demand business? Here are some tips to help you get started and increase your chances of success:

  1. Niche Down: Instead of targeting a broad market, focus on specific niches that have high demand and low competition. This will allow you to stand out and attract a more targeted audience.
  2. Create High-Quality Designs: Design is crucial in this industry. Invest in creating unique and eye-catching designs that resonate with your target audience.
  3. Market Your Products: Having great products is not enough; you also need to market them effectively. Utilize social media, influencer partnerships, and targeted advertising to reach your target audience.
  4. Offer Personalization: Personalized products are extremely popular in the print on demand industry. Consider offering customization options, such as adding names or initials to your products, to attract more customers.

Print on Demand vs Dropshipping

While both print on demand and dropshipping involves selling products online without holding inventory, there are some key differences between the two:

  • With print on demand, products are usually customized and created after an order is placed. In dropshipping, products are pre-made and stocked by a supplier.
  • Print on demand allows for greater design customization, as products can be printed with unique designs. Dropshipping typically focuses on selling pre-made products.
  • Print on demand offers more control over the branding and customer experience, as products can be customized with unique packaging and branding elements. Dropshipping relies on the supplier’s branding and packaging.

Ultimately, the choice between print on demand and dropshipping depends on your business goals and the type of products you want to offer.

Types of Products in the POD Industry

The print on demand industry offers various products that can be customized with unique designs. Some popular product categories include:

  • Clothing: T-shirts, hoodies, leggings, and socks.
  • Accessories: Phone cases, bags, hats, and jewelry.
  • Home Decor: Throw pillows, canvas prints, mugs, and wall art.
  • Stationery: Notebooks, planners, greeting cards, and stickers.
  • Pet Products: Pet beds, bandanas, and bowls.

These are just a few examples, and the possibilities are endless. With POD, you can create and sell products that align with your target audience’s interests and preferences.

Common Challenges and Solutions in the POD Industry

While the print on demand industry offers great opportunities, there are also some common challenges that entrepreneurs may face. Here are a few challenges and their solutions:

  • Design Quality: Ensuring high-quality designs can be a challenge. Work with professional designers or use design tools to create visually appealing and marketable designs.
  • Product Quality: Find reliable print on demand suppliers that offer high-quality products and printing services. Read reviews and order sample products before committing to a supplier.
  • Shipping Time: Work with print on demand partners that offer fast and reliable shipping options to ensure timely delivery to your customers.
  • Competition: Differentiate your brand by offering unique designs, outstanding customer service, and targeted marketing strategies.

By being aware of these challenges and implementing effective solutions, you can overcome obstacles in the print on demand industry and build a successful business.

FAQs About Print on Demand

FAQs about What Is Print on Demand

How does print on demand differ from traditional printing methods?

Print on demand differs from traditional printing methods in several ways:

  1. Inventory management: With print on demand, there is no need to maintain inventory, as products are printed and shipped as orders are placed. Traditional printing methods often require large print runs and storing inventory.
  2. Cost and risk: Print on demand eliminates the need for upfront costs and reduces the risk of unsold inventory. Traditional printing methods require significant investments in equipment, materials, and storage.
  3. Design flexibility: Print on demand allows for easy customization and changes to designs, even after products are launched. Traditional printing methods often involve expensive setup costs and limited design flexibility.

What are some popular platforms for print on demand services?

There are several popular print on demand platforms that provide a wide variety of features and customization choices. Some of the well-known platforms include:

  1. Printful
  2. Printify
  3. Redbubble
  4. SPOD
  5. Apliiq Dropship.

These platforms provide user-friendly interfaces, integration with popular eCommerce platforms, and a wide selection of high-quality products.

Are there any upfront costs or fees associated with using print on demand services?

Most POD platforms do not charge upfront costs or fees to set up an account. Instead, they earn a percentage of the product’s sale price or charge a flat rate for each item sold. This allows individuals to start their print on demand business without significant financial investment.

Overall, print on demand has revolutionized the way products are created and sold. It offers individuals the opportunity to turn their creative ideas into tangible products with minimal risk and maximum flexibility. Whether you’re an artist, entrepreneur, or someone looking for unique customized products, print on demand can be the perfect solution for bringing your vision to life.


Key takeaways from understanding print on demand

In conclusion, understanding the basics of print on demand can open up a world of opportunities for artists, entrepreneurs, and individuals looking to bring their creative ideas to life. Here are the key takeaways to remember:

  1. Print on demand (POD) is a business model that allows individuals and brands to create and sell custom-designed products without the need for inventory or upfront costs.
  2. The process involves partnering with a print on demand platform that handles the production, inventory, and shipping of products directly to customers.
  3. Products in several categories, such as clothing, accessories, and housewares, are available for POD.
  4. Design customization is a key feature of print on demand, allowing individuals to create unique products by adding their artwork, logos, or text.
  5. Print on demand offers flexibility and scalability, as there are no minimum order requirements, and products can be ordered on-demand as customers make purchases.

Future trends in the print on demand industry

The POD industry is continuously evolving, and several trends are shaping its future:

  1. Eco-friendly practices: As sustainability becomes a growing concern, POD platforms are focusing on using eco-friendly materials and reducing waste in the production process.
  2. Improved customization options: With advancements in technology, print on demand platforms are likely to offer even more advanced customization features, allowing individuals to create highly personalized products.
  3. Expansion into new markets: Print on demand platforms are exploring opportunities in emerging markets, reaching customers worldwide and offering localized products.

For more details, read The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Print on Demand (2022) 

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