How to start a print-on-demand business

Today, with endless digital apps and online resources available, the opportunities for creative entrepreneurship are almost unlimited. 

And one popular business many people have been earning money from in the past few years is print-on-demand. 

Print-on-demand enables you to monetise designs without the need for inventory or upfront costs. So if you are an artist, graphic designer, or just have a flair for creativity, print-on-demand could be an exciting business option. 

Let’s explore the potential of print-on-demand further, and examine the six steps you need to take to turn your creativity into profit.

How does print-on-demand work?

With print-on-demand, products are created according to customer demand. So, rather than manufacturing products in bulk and storing them in a warehouse ready for orders, items are produced individually as orders are placed. 

This business model removes the need for inventory management and reduces the risk (and cost) of manufacturing products that don’t sell, as you only produce products once you have been paid for them. 

Companies such as Printful give you greater flexibility in design options as you don’t need to restrict your designs to two or three lines you know will sell. Instead, you can offer a limitless selection of choices, as you only pay for what people actually order.

Six steps to starting your print-on-demand business

Let’s now walk through how to set up a print-on-demand business, step by step.

1) Decide on your business niche

Your first step for print-on-demand is the same as in every business: you need to decide on your niche. It’s always better to focus in one area, as it simplifies your marketing and you can more easily build a reputation and loyal customers. 

So think about what your interests and skills are, and what gaps there may be in the market. For example, is there a band or type of music you love with a large fanbase? Or do you fancy creating pet accessories or designing a T-shirt range? 

The key to getting your niche right is finding one that is narrow enough for you to specialise and build a name and following for yourself, but large enough that there is enough business to sustain you. 

2) Create sellable designs

The heart of your print-on-demand business are your designs. So spend time researching what will sell, and creating unique art work that stands out from the competition. 

If you don’t have the skills yourself, Printful has a Design Maker, or it may be worth investing in professional help. Remember: it’s the design that is actually going to sell your products. 

3) Choose the right right platform for your printing

One of the most important decisions you need to make when embarking on your print-on-demand entrepreneurial journey is what platform to use. 

Platforms like Printful offer a wide range of products and printing options for your designs. When researching, look for things like variety of products, quality of printing, pricing, and how easy they are to use.

4) Create your online store

Your next step is to create your online store – the place where you showcase your products and through which customers will, hopefully, buy them!

Take time to properly customise and brand your store, so it attracts your ideal customers and really sells your designs. Craft compelling product descriptions and make sure your store is optimised for search engines, to help customers find you. 

5) Market your designs 

In order to attract customers to your print-on-demand online store, you will need to do some kind of marketing. This can be a simple as organic social media promotion and email marketing. Or you might look at influencer or brand collaborations and even paid advertising. 

6) Review and revise 

As your print-on-demand business becomes more established, it is important to track your sales and analytics and understand what’s working and what’s not. 

Experiment with different designs, products, and marketing strategies and see how that impacts your results. With Printful, you can test out different techniques like embroidery, all-over print. Find the winning design and try out different things.

Over time, by doing more of what works and dropping what doesn’t, you can refine your business so it’s more profitable and easier to run. 

Ready to start a print-on-demand business? 

Printful offers an exciting opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to start a side hustle or full-time business with minimum risks and outlay. Just make sure you take the right steps to give yourself the best chance of success.