After owning multiple print-on-demand businesses, I can position myself as a person who knows important tips that other sellers should follow. I gained a lot of knowledge and experience after the first two posts, and I am going to share them here.
The first thing I want you to know is that it is INCREDIBLY EASY to create, own, and operate a print-on-demand business.
Print-on-demand: This is the business model where you work with a supplier (or suppliers), and you design products online using their catalog. This can include t-shirts, mugs, leggings, etc. However, you DO NOT hold inventory because they do it for you, and you only pay AFTER your product has been sold because they print your designs on your products after the order has been placed.
↑ This gets rid of inventory costs, and you will not have to worry about products not selling because nothing is created until after an order is placed. Consider this model risk-free when it comes to testing product ideas.
It really is that simple. All you need to worry about is designing, uploading, and promoting. They handle shipping and warehousing for you!
Ready for step-by-step instructions?
Step 1: I use Printful as my one and only supplier. They are amazing! Aside from being free, their customer service is exceptional and their products are HIGH-QUALITY. Plus, you get to brand your products with your own logo. The first step is creating your FREE ACCOUNT with them. (Note: they guide you every step of the way, and also have a library full of tips and resources).
Step 2: Pick an e-commerce platform. For that I use Shopify. Shopify offers a 14 days FREE trial, which gives you plenty of time to create your store from the ground up and get some traffic going. Claim your free trial here and start building your store. (Note: they also guide you every step of the way, and also have a library full of tips and resources).
Step 3: Link Printful and Shopify. You cannot skip this step because this is the only way your store will be automated, which means that the products you design on Printful can transfer over to Shopify with just a few clicks.
Step 4: Decide what you want to sell, and then design your products and push them to your store. You can do this directly within Printful by using their built-in design system, or you can take an extra step and design your products using Photoshop (paid) or Canva (free).
Step 5: Adding to the previous step, I use Canva to design my products. Although it is a free service, I recommend you sign up for their FREE 30-days trial of their premium version so that you can have access to hundreds of free designs. (Pro tip: grab their free trial and design as much as you can for free ).
You’ve spent $0 so far!
Step 6 (optional): It’s up to you if you want to purchase a domain for your store or not. Personally, I believe it gives your store a more professional aspect, and buyers will know you run a legitimate business when it has its own domain. I purchased mine from Shopify directly for just $14 for a whole year. It’s a one-time investment.
Step 7 (Optional): Create mockups for your products. People are more likely to purchase products after seeing lifestyle pictures of them. To create those mockups, you can use Photoshop (hard, for me) or simply a service like Placeit.
You can create mockups for anything including mugs, hats, books, t-shirts, leggings. You name it, they got it. This service is not free, but for a low monthly fee of $14, you can create unlimited mockups and download them all.
Step 8: Since your store will have products by the time you get to this step, it’s time to get traffic. I do this two ways:
Step 8 Part A: Instagram account. I have created Instagram accounts for all of my stores, even the ones I’ve sold. This is insanely simple to do and also free. Just head over to Instagram and create a business account (they will show you how). Make sure you also create a Facebook page so that you can link both. After that’s done, start to upload pictures of your products as well as nice quotes and memes (for engagement purposes). You can also apply for product tagging within the app so that you can tag products on your pictures.
About engagement: You want to create an engaging community of customers, so you must remember that they are humans first, buyers second. This means that aside from posting pictures of your products, you also want to be relatable and make them have an emotional response to certain pictures which may include memes, quotes, or simply your pretty face. Post no more than 4 times per day. Use hashtags related to the picture.
Step 8 Part B: Facebook ads. Don’t get freaked out. Seriously. My strategy was fairly simple: I would create $5 a day campaigns, and if I was not getting the results I wanted within 3-5 days, I would kill the campaign and create a new one using a different audience.
About targeting: Create a list of stores that sell products related to yours, and include them in your targeting. Facebook will target people who are engaging with those stores. Additionally, you can target interests and behaviors such as ‘engaged shoppers’ for those who are known for shopping from Facebook (always recommended), and ‘coffee lovers’ for those who love coffee. Get creative!
Step 9: Market your store! Continue to create products, push them to your store, post on Instagram, promote with Facebook ads, collect emails and send promotional campaigns. Seriously, the sky is the limit!
Step 10: Secure the bag. Keep growing.
Thanks Ele, but what are the pros and cons of printing-on-demand?
|-You do not hold inventory|
-You only pay after you make a sale
-If a product doesn’t sell, you can just delete it
-Little to no startup costs
-Can be done from anywhere
-A lot of products to choose from
-You get to white label them (brand them)
-Always test new products to see what sells
-Shipping is taken care of (just lay back)
-Create products quickly
|-No control over shipping fees or time|
-Lower profit margins per product
Now, let’s move on to questions before you ask them. (I just read your mind)
They have a lot of free resources and articles on their website! Simply click here to be taken directly to their blog. They have everything from marketing tips to a beginner’s handbook for your success!
Printful is free. Free. Always. Free.
Aside from guiding you every step of the way, they also have a “learn” section where you get access to a lot of business tools. Under that ‘learn’ tab, you will see something called ‘Shopify Academy.’ It’s free! Sign up and learn how to grow a successful store with their courses (they even have a course on printing on demand). Start your free trial here.
Shopify Academy has you covered, as mentioned above.
Shopify Academy also has a course for that. Just claim your free trial here, and get access to the Shopify Academy forever, even after the trial 🙂
I hope this updated article helped you. Please, do not hesitate to leave a comment if you have any questions, or if you would like to add something else. Also, let me know if you would like a part 2 to this updated article!