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Print on demand

Mastering Print on Demand: An Essential Guide to Maximize Earnings

Gemma Henry

How to Make Money with Print on Demand

Print-on-demand services are growing in popularity among dropshippers and online shoppers alike. It gives dropshipping stores the ability to be able to design and create custom products at a fraction of the usual cost given that you won’t have to incur all the costs that are part and parcel of manufacturing them on your own.

And so, when it comes to how to make money with print on demand, here we’ll outline all the key points you need to know to get started. Read on for top tips on how to make money, print on demand, and build brand awareness all at the same time.

What is print on demand?

Print-on-demand (also often abbreviated to POD) is a business model where popular products, including apparel, accessories, and homewares, are printed up with a design as and when an order is received. As such and much like dropshipping, POD eradicates the need for inventory management and keeps upfront costs to a minimum. 

In simple terms, a POD business enables designs to be digitally printed on-demand, allowing you to make money on demand by offering customization services through your dropshipping platform.

The pros of POD

There are many pros to print on demand services, not least of which being the potential to earn on demand. Here are some of the reasons that POD could be a good fit for you:

  • Add custom products to your dropshipping offering quickly. Once you have created the design, a mockup generator allows you to create the product and upload it to your dropshipping store in minutes.
  • Hands-off approach. The shipping and order fulfillment is all processed and completed by your partnering POD provider. So, when it comes to the post-purchase journey, all you’ll have to focus on is providing excellent customer service.
  • Minimal upfront costs. Just as with dropshipping, with POD you won’t need to shell out for inventory - or a storage space for that inventory - upfront costs are kept to a minimum.

The cons of POD

As with everything, there are certain drawbacks that anyone considering starting up a print on demand dropshipping business will need to be aware of. These include:

  • Lower profit margins. As you won’t be able to access the bulk buy discounts associated with standard retailing, your base product costs and the costs for the printing services will be higher. So when it comes to answering the question of how much can you make print on demand, unfortunately less than in standard retailing. But, given the substantially lower upfront costs, there is less risk involved.
  • Less control where shipping is concerned. Shipping costs can vary from one print-on-demand product to the next which can be tricky to navigate if you’re trying to keep your shipping costs consistent through your dropshipping store. It’s also wise to understand that as you’re not the one shipping the product, you won’t be able to contact the courier for tracking details. Instead, you’ll have to rely on your POD partner to do this on your behalf. So, it’s wise to choose one with a good reputation in terms of its customer service! You’ll also have limited opportunity to add your branding to and inside the packaging.

Tips for starting with print-on-demand

When it comes to how much can you make, print on demand is a world of opportunities where the only limits are those that you put in place for yourself. 

Convinced? Here are some things to remember as you embark on your “can you make money with print on demand” entrepreneurship.

1. Partner with a reliable POD provider

The first step in any successful business venture is choosing the right partnerships. But luckily, partnering with a reliable print on demand supplier is easier with Spocket.

We’ve made it our mission to eradicate the pesky problems often associated with alternative retailing models by thoroughly vetting every provider. Learn more about our vetting process here.

In choosing a POD partner, it’s important to consider the below factors and whether or not they are of importance to your business and brand:

Supported integrationsBase prices and profit marginsPOD product catalogShipping times (plus any restrictions)Eco manufacturing and order processing commitmentsCustomer service reputationPrinting quality - look at a provider’s reviews beforehandDiscounts for sample products

Once you’ve decided which of the factors are the most important to secure the success of your dropshipping store, you’ll be better placed to choose a POD partner. With a reliable partner in the world of print on demand, make money and become an entrepreneur.

2. Order samples

For those wondering how to make money on print on demand products, product quality assurance is key. You need to make sure that the physical POD product looks and feels as expected. Well, what better way to experience it than first-hand? 

Some POD services, such as SPOD and Printful, offer a product sample discount as a USP too. Use this discount to obtain a product sample much more affordably. The general consensus seems to be within the range of up to 20% off.

3. Consider shipping

When entering the world of POD, it’s wise to be a little bit strategic with your shipping plans. Though you won’t be the one shipping the products to your customer, you’ll be the one communicating the time frames and costs to them. And so, managing expectations is essential.

As shipping times and costs can vary, you’ll need to plan how to explain this to your customers. Many print-on-demand companies are completely transparent about their production and shipping timescales. But on sites like Printful, where ratings and timescales are averaged across the entire catalog, these can be muddy at best. 

Remember that you’ll need to account for printing and shipping times too. It’s clearer to your customer when this is detailed as a total. That way, they’ll know when to expect to receive their order. You can always add a star with a note in smaller print below that this includes printing. 

Managing expectations where shipping times are concerned helps to minimize the number of shipping queries you’ll receive too. Consider creating a shipping page on your website that breaks down the various intricacies and how long each item takes too. That way, you will have somewhere to direct those inevitable customer queries to as well.

4. Create effective mockups

A good and useful tool offered by many of the best print on demand partners is the mockup generator. A well-crafted mockup turns an idea into a visual. This helps your customers to visualize what the product will look like when they hold it in their hand.

Choosing a partner that enables access to a mockup generator can help you bring your designs to life.

5. Find a niche and identify your target audience

Given that your profit margins are lower with print on demand products, positioning your brand effectively is half the battle. And defining your audience can even help to minimize marketing costs and maximize profits.

But that all starts with choosing a niche. Your niche should make attracting and expanding your target audience easier. And once you have one, you’ll quickly see how much of an asset your audience can be. 

Remember to start collecting emails from site visitors from day one too. This will position you to be able to continue to market to them for free. Incentivizing your customers to sign up to email marketing works wonders for businesses big and small. Try offering 10% off their first order if they sign up to emails or something similar.  

Further down the line, you’ll find that your email list is very much your secret weapon.

6. Design, Test, Sell, and Grow

Print-on-demand services are readily accessible and a great place to start your side hustle or entrepreneurial ventures. They’re also handy for those wanting to try out a business concept ahead of going all in on their idea. 

Some combinations will always sell better than others. But in identifying those winning combinations, you could set yourself up for greater success in the future. It’s really simple to repurpose a design across several products using a free mockup generator.

And as your business starts to grow, and the number of sales your print on demand dropshipping collection sees climbs higher, you’ll have the opportunity to consider how best to expand. That could be starting to hold your own inventory, or investing your efforts into expanding your audience - it’s entirely up to you.

Can you really make money with print on demand? Final thoughts

Making money through print-on-demand dropshipping is simple. All you need to invest is time. You’ll need time to build your site, choose products and partners, market your products, reply to customers, and maintain SEO efforts. But you’ll also need time to create your designs. 

As with dropshipping, the best thing about the print-on-demand retailing model is its flexibility. You can focus on the growth of your business in whichever way you see most beneficial.

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Gemma Henry

Gemma has a passion for writing, an enthusiasm for eCommerce, and a flair for creating informative content that drives others to follow their dreams. Her work foundations are built on thorough research to allow you to find all the need-to-know info in one place.

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