I think we all had a friend who tried to start a home-printed apparel business. And if we don’t, then we’re the ones who did. It used to be a lot more complicated to add your designs to pieces of clothing and sell them, but these days and with the help of the internet we can just prepare our design, and let another company do the rest.
This business model is called print on demand and is one of the best business ideas you can try right now. The best part is that you don’t need to be an artist for it to work. All you need is a connection to the internet.
How exactly does print on demand work?
Instead of preparing an inventory and buying your products upfront, you’ll only have to create the said product when you receive an order. And when I say create, I mean adding the info to your POD company of choice.
For example, you have created an online shop and listed some products. When someone finds one or more of them and makes an order, you receive the info. All you have to do is go to your POD account and add it there. The company will then print it, prepare it AND ship it to your customer. Some print on demand companies have integrations that can automize the process so you won’t even have to add the orders manually.
How to start a print on demand business
Pick your products
You’ll have to decide what types of products you want to have in your shop. One of my favorite print on demand fulfillment companies is Printify. They have great products at great prices and can help you build a successful online business fast.
As you can see below, they have all kinds of products. My favorite category is by far the Home&Living one. You can add your design to all kinds of products from mugs to posters and even bedsheets!
You can start an apparel shop or you can start a multiple niches store with many types of products. Both will work well if you know how to brand and market them.
Pick your niche
My advice on this one would be to follow the trends. That’s how you make the most money out of it. You can check out social media and see what niches and products are doing well. Etsy is also a great place to check, along with Pinterest.
A profitable and evergreen niche is camping. Even now, with a pandemic, people can still go camping even though I suggest you only do that with people from your household.
You have products such as personalized cans, blankets, t-shirts, and hoodies. I suggest you search the keyword “camping” on Etsy and see what you find.
Another good niche example is business. You can look through the catalog on Printify and pick products that would fit. For example, you could add motivational quotes on mugs, notebooks, and t-shirts.
Pick your print on demand fulfillment company
My favorite one by far is Printify. They have great reviews, fast shipping times, and high-quality products. Their printing is the best one you can find, and their platform is extremely user friendly. You can check them out HERE. Plus, they have full integration for Etsy, Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, Amazon, eBay, and so many others. This means your orders will be fulfilled automatically, your store will be connected to your Pirntify account, and your business will run smoothly.
Create Your Products
Once you have an idea for what products you want to promote and a niche, it’s time to design your products. If you are an artist then I don’t really have to tell you how to do it. If you are not, though, then I suggest you start with Canva.com.
They have thousands of great designs that can be used for commercial purposes. Play with the elements until you find something you like and then download it.
If this option doesn’t suit you for some reason, then you also have the option of using websites that offer images and graphics for free for commercial use.
Here are some of the best ones:
You could edit them in Photoshop or use a free program such as Picsart or Canva to prepare your design.
The third option is to pay someone to design it for you. Creative Market, Fiverr, or Upwork are all great places where you can find your artist. Instagram isn’t just for photosharing. You can find some artists you’d like to work with there and send them a message to see if they’d like to collaborate.
Printify has a guide for each product type, so you’ll have to check the measures if you want your products to come out perfect. You can check them out HERE.
Create your store
The best platforms for a print on demand business are Shopify, Esty, Amazon, WooCommerce, and eBay. If you decide to sell on platforms such as Etsy or Amazon, I advise you to start a shop on Shopify or WooCommerce as well, and here’s why. Your Etsy account could be completely closed any day, same with the other platforms. I’ve heard horror stories where people lost their businesses overnight.
If you have a Shopify or WooCommerce shop, on the other hand, you own it and no one can take it away from you. We have a step by step guide on how to start a Shopify store HERE, and one for WooCommerce HERE.
If I were you, I would start a store on Etsy and one on Shopify or WooCommerce. Then I would make sure to create an Instagram account for the brand. This way your business will be safe even if your Etsy account gets banned.
If you plan to sell on Etsy, then I suggest you do your keyword research before listing the products. Let’s say you created an enamel mug that is personalized with the name of the customer. You should go on Etsy and type ‘customized enamel mug”. Pay attention to the title and the description you find on the first page. Which are the words that keep on coming up? Those are the words you should also use for your product.
If you want to sell on Shopify or WooCommerce, then I suggest you use Pinterest for free traffic. We have a full guide on how to bring traffic to your website with Pinterest and you can find it HERE.