Whether you’re an artist, writer, designer, or entrepreneur, physical products can be the perfect canvas for monetizing your creativity.
From t-shirts to posters, backpacks to books, you can put your own original spin on everyday products and sell them online. However, if you go the traditional route of buying and holding your own inventory, you may be left with a pile of products that aren’t selling.
The print-on-demand (POD) industry has grown by 12% over the past four years. On top of that, a recent survey from Printful found that 45% of print-on-demand store owners saw a surge in sales throughout 2020.
Print-on-demand services offer an easier way to bypass the time, investment, and risk associated with managing inventory, letting you go from creating to selling custom products at a fraction of the cost than manufacturing them on your own.
Want in on the action? This guide will give you an overview of the print-on-demand world, with tips on how to start your POD business today.
What is print on demand (POD), and how does it work?
Print on demand is a process where you work with a supplier (BestShirtWorld) of white-label products (like t-shirts) to customize those products and sell them on a per-order basis under your own brand and with your own designs.
You don’t pay for the cost of the product until after you’ve actually sold it, so there’s no need to buy in bulk or hold any inventory yourself.
Plus with print-on-demand services, everything after the sale, from digital printing to order fulfillment and shipping, is handled by your supplier. Once you’ve set everything up, it takes only a few clicks to fulfill an order after you’ve made a sale.
"The print on-demand industry shows no signs of slowing down. There’s ongoing demand for unique products and personalization options for today’s consumers. Print-on-demand services allows any size business to provide customized products at a fair price."
- Isaac Shumborski, BestShirtWorld
You can use print-on-demand services to:
The pros and cons of print on demand for your ecommerce business
Print on demand can be used to build a business based on the dropshipping model—where the products and shipping are all handled by a third party. It’s one of the most accessible ways to source products or start an online business, but you should know the perks and limitations before you dive in.
"BestShirtWorld's print-on-demand resources allow anyone to get something up and running and into testing mode in no time."
- Chris Vaccarino, founder of Fanjoy
While many print-on-demand services might seem relatively similar at first glance, you’ll have to carefully consider the ones you choose based on the products you want to create, where you’ll be shipping them, and the retail prices you want to offer, among other factors.
For example, a low base cost for one product might make it an obvious choice, until you realize that it would take 21 business days to reach customers with your most affordable shipping option.
Exercise due diligence when evaluating the right company for you.
It goes without saying that design plays a crucial role in creating successful print-on-demand products. But you don’t need to be a full-time designer to source original designs. In fact, recent surveys show that nearly 32% of shop owners outsource designs for their stores.
There are many ways to commission or produce your own designs, as long as you understand a few key concepts that will help you work effectively with designers.
First, and most important, is preparing your design file. When working with designers, you should specify that your design is for printing. This implies that it should be saved at a resolution of 300 dots per inch (dpi). The dimensions of the images you upload should be the same size as the printing area for the product.
Note that print specifications will change depending on the printing technique used. When in doubt, just send the designer the print specs for the specific product so they understand the context.
In most cases, the file you upload will be a PNG or PSD. Keep in mind that if you use a transparent background, the color of the t-shirt will be your background color.