How To Make Money With Print on Demand

man printing a shirt for a print on demand store

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Hey there! Are you looking to make money with print on demand? In this post, I'm going to talk about how to make money with print on demand stores. If you're wondering how much you can make with print on demand, I'll go over that as well.

I'll cover what a print on demand store is, how to set one up one to design and create products, and how to make thousands of dollars a month making money online once your store is up and running.

You can start this type of ecommerce business with under $100, but it may take longer to get started. Some people are able to design and sell merchandise online for free, but this also will take longer to get started.

What is Print on Demand?

Print on demand is a process in which individual copies of items are created at the time of order, eliminating the need for inventory and stock. It's a form of online retail where online shoppers can buy a wide variety of products with designs printed on them.

Print on demand (or POD for short) is a profitable business model because you don't need to ship anything yourself, nor do you need to have an inventory. Everything is handled through the printing companies. In other words, the print on demand companies handled order fulfillment for you.

You can use print on demand to create and sell clothing such as t-shirts and hoodies, and you can also use it for selling phone cases, paintings, shower curtains, bags, mugs, tote bags, canvas prints, wall art, and more.

Print on demand sites can be an excellent side hustle or full-time endeavor. If you're successful, print on demand can lead you to a steady stream of passive income.

When deciding if you want to start a print on demand business, you'll have to figure out whether you're going to hire a graphic designer to do your custom designs, or if you'll do them yourself.

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Can You Make Money With Print On Demand?

You can absolutely make money with print on demand. Through setting up a store, working with a print on demand company, creating designs that your audience is looking for, it's very possible to earn a living with print on demand.

Making money with print on demand requires you to not only have great products, but also have an effective way to reach your target audience. This could be through social media outreach, SEO, or through paid advertising.

When you create a profitable print on demand business, you'll be able to earn money in an almost passive fashion. You'll need to keep up on offering special discounts and offers here and there, but most of the business can be automated.

This makes print on demand an amazing source of income once you get up and running and have products that are selling really well.

How Much Money Can You Make With Print On Demand?

The amount of money you can make with Print on Demand is highly based on what kind of products you sell, your target audience, and how well you reach them through marketing. If you make one sale per day, you may profit around $5-$8 per day, assuming the customer buys a single t-shirt. This comes out to approximately $150 to $240 per month in passive income.

Through paid advertising, it's quite possible to make multiple sales per day, which may multiply your income several times over.

You can really make money with print on demand with a powerful paid advertising campaign. Some big shops make several sales daily and pull in over a thousand dollars per month in profit.

The short answer to how much money you can make with print on demand is that it varies greatly on your designs, your advertising techniques, and your prices. Some stores may not earn much at all while others may earning tons of money.

Print on Demand Companies

To get started, you'll need to find a website that will manage printing your designs and shipping them out to your customers. I recommend the print on demand company, Printify, personally. Printify allows you to create stores on Etsy, eBay, WooCommerce, Wix, and Shopify. Their print on demand service is free as well, though if you sign up for premium at $29 per month, you'll save 20% on all of your orders.

When using Printify, you'll first create a store picking the platform you intend to sell on. Once your store is set up, you'll be able to pick from clothing and other apparel to upload your designs to. They offer loads of custom products and various shipping options.

men's t-shirts from printify.com's website

Each printer has different printing and shipping rates. You can select which printer you want to use on this screen.

print providers from Printify

As a US-based company, we do all of our printing and shipping from the US to get our products to our customers as quickly as possible.

After you've chosen a printer, you can move on to the screen where you upload your design and customize the design further (such as adding color to clothing fabric if you're designing clothes). When you've completed that, you can add a description and finally you'll be presented with the cost to make the item and be able to enter your selling price.

Pricing information for various sizes and colors of a t-shirt on Printify

Once you've added all of your designs, you'll be able to export them to your store. Printify handles the drop shipping, billing, creation of product, and everything else for you. You just need to create the design, price the product, and market it to your audience.

An alternative to Printify is Printful who also sell similar products.

How to Start a Print on Demand Business

To make money with a print on demand business, you'll first need to have some designs, right? How do you get started designing products to sell? The best place I can think of for designing high quality products is the website Canva. Canva has a free and paid version.

You can certainly make some great designs with the free version however the paid version will give you more freedom and let you download PNG files with a transparent background – a must have.

When creating designs on Canva, it's essentially to make them has high resolution as possible. When my wife and I make designs, we use a 4000 x 4000 canvas. This allows us to make the highest resolution designs required for Printify.

Canva design that says Ideas Are Contagious

What goes into a design you might ask? When it comes to making clothes, there's a few ways to go about it. One is coming up with catchy phrases like you've certainly seen in online t-shirt stores. Another technique is to use eye-catching imagery with your shirt to create a unique design that people will want to buy because they won't find it anywhere else.

Shattered Ice Women's T-Shirt

Our strategy is to mix both. We come up with clever phrases while mixing in some imagery to go with the phrases.

Once you've created a design that you like, you'll want to download it as a PNG with a transparent background and prepare it for Printify or your printer of choice. You may also want to make a mock-up, which I cover below.

Creating Mock-Ups for Your Designs

When creating a print on demand product, it's often a good idea to create mock-ups of your products on real people. This allows you to have your products shown in real-life situations and is great for sharing on social media.

You can use a website such as PlaceIt to get started. PlaceIt is a subscription-based website that allows you to upload your designs onto clothing and other apparel with people in real-world situations. This will draw in potential customers that you want to sell your products to.

If you go down the paid advertising route, you will definitely see more results by providing a mock-up with someone wearing or holding your products versus just showing a picture of your product in a plain image.

How to Price Print on Demand Products

A critical aspect of learning how to make money with print on demand is, well, how to price your t-shirts and other products! You might think offering the lowest price compared to your competitors is the only way to make sales. This is a common misconception.

The truth is, you can often price your products somewhere in the middle of your competitors' prices. That is, find your lowest and find your highest competitors and pick a middle-ground.

There's studies behind why this works, which is out of the scope of this post, but the gist of it is that when people have three or more choices to choose from, price-wise, they often find that the least expensive priced product may be considered “cheap” or low quality and that the most expensive priced product may be a “premium” product. Therefore, many people who want a “regular” product will choose one priced in the middle.

When coming up with a price, you'll need to think about your profit margin. Remember that your price must cover your printing costs, your shipping costs, tax where applicable, and PayPal fees (or your preferred payment method).

When you add up these costs, you still need to make a profit that covers your overhead costs, such as any costs involved in running your business. This may include your web hosting, subscriptions to websites that help you make the products (as discussed earlier in this post), anyone you hire to help you, and so on.

How To Market Print on Demand Products

To market your print on demand shirts or other products, you’ll need to get yourself out there. You can do this through SEO or through paid advertising, such as on Facebook.
For SEO, using product tags and SEO-friendly product descriptions will help you get more traffic. To make SEO-friendly descriptions, you could include things such as the product color, the benefits the product provides, the fabric, and more. 

Here is an example of how to market a print on demand colorful t-shirt with a unique and vibrant pattern on it.

“This blue and green captivating patterned t-shirt will turn heads as you walk down the street. A comfortable and soft silk tee that you’ll enjoy wearing on cool summer nights, hanging with friends.”

In short, you’ll want to explain what the customer will feel when they own your print on demand products. What will it do for them personally? It’s key to list benefits more than you list features.

With Facebook ads, or similar paid advertising, it’s important to know who your target audience is, so that you can target them specifically. For example, you may market a bathing suit to 25-35 year old women who live in warmer states on the coast. Perhaps it’s winter but you want to sell your bathing suit to a crowd that still swims in the winter – a place like Florida or southern California might be a perfect example.

By targeting as specific a you can, you’ll save money on ad spend, which can get you more profit per dollar spent on advertising.

Providing Excellent Customer Service

Remember, print on demand is an online business, which means you will, at time, have to provide customer support to customers who have questions or who may request a refund or exchange. Make sure you have an email address dedicated to inquiries and that you always respond professionally and as quick as you're able to.

If you're uncomfortable with working directly with customers, you may want to hire a virtual assistant to check and reply to your emails once or twice a day.

The Overall Workflow of a Print on Demand Business

Once everything is up and running and you're ready to open your print on demand business, here is a walkthrough of how things will go:

  • Customer orders a product from your store.
  • You get paid and an order alert will activate on your printer's site. If you have automated orders set up, you won't have to do anything further, but if you're doing orders manually, you'll have to approve the order.
  • After the printer processes the order, you'll be charged the costs to your credit card on file.
  • The printer will then create the product and ship it.
  • You use the money you received as payment to pay off your credit card that you're using to cover costs, and you pocket the difference.

This process can be fully automated by having your printer automatically process orders, having a system where your payments automatically go to your bank account, and your bank account autopays your credit card bill. Just keep an eye on everything and you could have a fully automated business.

Where to Sell Your Products

You can sell your products in a number of locations, including:

  • Etsy
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Your own print-on-demand website

3rd party websites take a cut of your proceeds but you get a lot more exposure on them. You'll face a lot of competition but the added traffic is often worth it.

When you make your own website, you'll have more freedom as to how you want to sell your products, but it will often take a lot longer to get noticed. My recommendation? Do both. Sell on both 3rd party websites and also sell on your own website.

As you gain traction, you can start pulling traffic only to your own website if you choose, thus eliminating 3rd party websites from taking a cut of your profits. My favorite way to make money with print on demand is through my own personal website but I do see the value in spreading out among other sites to get traffic early on.

Advertising on Social Media

We mainly use Facebook Ads to advertise Pebblebrook Apparel. If you don't have the budget to use paid advertising, another great way to spread the word of your print on demand store is Pinterest and Instagram. By posting daily pins and posts, you can attract customers to your brand.

Having a Facebook page and Twitter account will also allow customers to find you as well as interact with you.

What Are Top Print on Demand Sites?

Top print on demand sites where you can start creating an online shop for your future customers include:

There are more popular print on demand sites out there but those are five to get you started. My personal print on demand site of choice is Printify, though other companies like Printful, Teelaunch, CustomCat, and Lulu Xpress are great as well. This company is the one I've used to create all sorts of custom t-shirts and more.

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How to Handle Print on Demand Returns

Most print on demand companies, like Prinitfy, will only refund a purchase if the product itself is defective, or if the print on demand company made an error. If the customer made an error or is unhappy with the product, you will have to make a decision on how you want to handle it.

Here are some options:

  • No refunds: This option means that if a customer makes a mistake or is dissatisfied, that you’re unwilling to take the product back. This saves you the most amount of money from returns, but will make for some unhappy customers over time. Sometimes it’s worth offering refunds under specific conditions to keep customers happy.
  • No refund, but store credit: This is a popular option and grants unhappy customers all or partial credit to buy another item, should they return the item they are unhappy with. When an item is returned to you, you can either keep it, or find a way to sell it yourself. If you sell it yourself, you’ll be on the hook for packaging and shipping.
  • Partial or full refund: With this option, you allow your customer to send you back the product they’re unhappy with, and you refund them your money. This will generally make for happy customers, but it can get costly if you get a lot of returns, especially at the beginning when sales may be low.

How you handle returns may affect future sales or word of mouth about your business, so think strategically when thinking about how you want to go about it.

How to Succeed with Print on Demand

Succeeding with print on demand comes down to making products that your audience is interested in buying, pricing it correctly, and marketing it to your audience in a way that entices them. There's a lot that goes into setting up a print on demand business, but once you get all the cogs in place, this type of business can be a steady source of passive income.

Many print on demand businesses start up with around 2 dozen products and test them out to see which sell and which don't. For those that sell, other similar products are made. Products that don't sell can be removed after some time has passed.

Wrapping It Up

There you have it. In this post, you learned how to make money with a print on demand business. The startup process can be a little daunting, but once you get going, print on demand businesses can do quite well. Before you know it, you'll be designing and selling products and making passive income every month.

Have you made money with print-on-demand? What types of products do you sell?

4 thoughts on “How To Make Money With Print on Demand”

  1. Looking forward to seeing where this takes you guys 🙂 Great in-depth guide. I think the hardest part is marketing/sales.

    1. Thanks! Yes, marketing/sales is tricky and we’re working on it day by day to improve our outreach to potential customers! 🙂

  2. Mike K

    I just went to PebblebrookApparel.com and it says the site has been shut down indefinitely. Sorry to hear that. I hope everything is OK. If it was business related I would be interested in finding out what you learned. Thanks, Mike

    1. Hey Mike! We took the site down because my wife and I wanted to focus more on this blog, her new blog, and my SEO business. We simply didn’t have time to manage the print-on-demand business too. I’ll have to update this post soon regarding that. If you have any questions about print-on-demand however, please feel free to email me and I’ll do my best. dave(at)thedollarblogger.com 🙂

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