Print-on-demand (POD) is a popular ecommerce business model where you sell customized products without keeping hold of any inventory.
When a customer places an order, the print on demand service prints your design onto products like t-shirts, mugs, and phone cases. Then the order is shipped directly to the customer.
With this business model you don’t have to invest in equipment or materials until a sale is made. This is why print on demand businesses are an incredibly accessible way for anyone to start an online business with a very low amount of financial risks.
The accessibility also has downsides, lots of competition…
Is Print on Demand Profitable in 2023?
Yes, print on demand is a profitable business model in 2023. In the next couple of years, this will only increase more and more according to the estimated statistics.
The print-on-demand industry is expected to grow from $8.0 billion in 2023 to over $10.2 billion by 2025.
Top POD entrepreneurs are earning 6-figure/7-figure incomes, proving the high profit potential.
The Advantages of a Print on Demand Business
One of the best things about starting a print-on-demand business is that it has very low startup costs compared to a traditional manufacturing business.
Low Starting Costs
With print on demand, you don't have to invest in any machinery, warehousing space, or inventory. The POD supplier takes care of all these difficult obstacles, this way you can launch your business for less than $20 in most cases. All you need is a website and some decent design skills.
No Inventory Needed
Since products are only printed when ordered, you don't have to worry about forecasting demand, overstock, or wasting money on unsold inventory sitting around.
Integration with Major Platforms
Top print-on-demand platforms such as Printful seamlessly integrate with ecommerce sites like Shopify and Etsy. This makes the technical side smooth and allows you to sell on multiple channels quickly.
Top Print on Demand Platforms
When starting a print-on-demand business, one of the first decisions is choosing the right platform. Here are three of the best and most popular POD platforms available today.
Printful is one of the leading print-on-demand dropshipping platforms. They offer integration with various ecommerce sites and great print quality for shirts, mugs, hats, and more. Printful handles fulfillment and has decent profit margins.
Shopify isn't solely a POD platform but it's a great option for setting up your online store. Shopify offers a user-friendly website builder and full integration with multiple print-on-demand suppliers. Besides that, you also get powerful ecommerce features and support.
Redbubble is a marketplace for independent artists and designers. You can upload your designs and have them printed on items such as t-shirts, stickers, phone cases, and other similar products. Redbubble also handles fulfillment and has a large built-in audience of buyers.
The right POD platform for you depends on your goals and technical abilities. However, Printful, Shopify, and Redbubble are all excellent choices with many successful user cases.
Best Print on Demand Products
One key to success with print-on-demand is choosing profitable products to sell. Here are some of the best products that tend to sell well and earn good margins.
T-shirts, hoodies, tank tops and other clothing are very popular print-on-demand items. On clothing you can print creative, eye-catching designs that customers love to wear.
Profit margins on clothing are high. However, keep in mind that this product has lots of competition, so you really need to stand out to make a chance.
Hats are another great POD item. Baseball caps and beanie hats can be printed with creative designs and text. They are affordable with great profit potential.
People love decorating their homes with customized throw pillows featuring funny quotes, cute pet photos, and inspiring phrases. Pillows are low cost to produce and sell at higher price points if you make the design feel more "premium".
Stickers are fun personalized items that customers can use to decorate laptops, water bottles, phones, and more.
Sticker sheets are extremely cheap to produce, easy to ship, and provide great value.
The production costs of mouse pads are low while retail prices remain high for these customized desk accessories.
Another great thing about mouse pads is that they have relatively low competition compared to the other items.
It's a unique item, and definitely a great one to start selling on your print on demand store.
7 Print on Demand Tips
Launching a successful print-on-demand business takes some strategic effort. Here are 7 tips to drive sales and profits with your store.
Clean Website Design
Create a professional, visually appealing website to inspire trust and engagement. Good web design increases conversions.
Optimize for SEO
Use search engine optimization best practices like meta descriptions, tags and strategic keywords. This improves discovery so customers can find your products.
Research Popular Products
Analyze competitors and industry trends to identify winning products people want to buy. Use sites like Etsy for more insight.
Run contests and giveaways for free products to gain subscribers on your email list. Later you can send these people an email when there’s a discount on your store.
Promote on Social Media
Market your products on TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest and other platforms. Advertise to targeted demographics who will buy.
Outreach to relevant influencers and offer free products in exchange for reviews and promotion to their audience.
Write Blog Content
Create blog posts around your products to establish expertise and improve SEO. Answer audience questions.
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about starting a profitable print-on-demand business.
How much does it cost to start a print on demand business?
To start a print on demand business, you can launch for less than $20 in most cases. You just need a website, graphics software, and nominal platform fees. Inventory and manufacturing costs are handled by the supplier.
What are the profit margins for print on demand?
Profit margins vary by product but generally range from 15-40%. Simple apparel has lower margins while home decor and accessories earn higher profits.
Is print on demand worth it in 2023?
Absolutely. As an easy, low-cost business model with built-in demand and integrations with major platforms, print-on-demand is still very much worth it in 2023.
How do I make designs for my print on demand products?
What are the biggest mistakes you can make?
Some common mistakes are poor quality designs, trying to fulfill orders yourself, not marketing enough, paying for tools you don’t need, and investing too much upfront before testing products.