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How Does Print-On-Demand Work?

Before I get started with how print-on-demand works, let us first know what exactly it is print-on-demand so that you have a clear idea of what this article is about.

What is print on demand?

Print-on-demand (POD) is a publishing model that allows books, merchandise, and other printed materials to be produced only when an order is received, rather than in large print runs. This model eliminates the need for publishers and authors to invest in large printing runs and inventory, reducing the risks and costs associated with traditional publishing.

When using print-on-demand, a book or other printed item is only printed after a customer orders it. This means that the book is not printed until it is sold, allowing publishers to avoid the upfront costs of traditional publishing, such as warehousing and inventory management.

Print-on-demand has become increasingly popular in recent years due to advancements in digital printing technology, which allows for high-quality, cost-effective printing of small print runs. Independent authors and self-publishers have also embraced the model because it allows them to distribute their books without the help of traditional publishers by using print-on-demand services.

You can use print-on-demand services to:

  • Test a business idea or new product line for an existing business without the risk of buying inventory. It also makes a great side hustle.
  • Create original products for a niche of customers (such as t-shirts for people who are extremely passionate about long-distance running). Print one-off or small batches of print-on-demand t-shirts, books, shoes, bags, wall art, phone cases, clocks, laptop skins, mugs, and other merchandise. Test ad creative: With print on demand, you can run ads to see which designs and products get the most attention because you don’t have to pay upfront for the cost of the goods. You can double down on the creativity and spend more on advertising if you get a lot of orders!
  • The advantages and disadvantages of print-on-demand for your e-commerce business Print-on-demand can be used to build a business based on the dropshipping model, in which a third party handles the products and shipping. It’s one of the most available ways of obtaining items or beginning a web-based business, however, you ought to know the advantages and restrictions before you take a plunge.
  • Pros: Produce goods quickly. You can quickly create the product and sell it once you have the design.
  • Order shipping is taken care of. The control of shipping and fulfillment now rests with your supplier. You only have to provide customer service after the sale.
  • Low risk, low investment It’s easier to change your strategy, test new ideas, and add or remove products when you don’t actually hold any inventory.


  • Lower margins. Naturally, your costs per item will be higher than if you buy in bulk.
  • fewer options for shipping. Shipping costs can be tricky because they can vary between print-on-demand products. Your choices are likewise restricted if you have any desire to make a champion unpacking experience.
  • Limited offerings. The vendor and the product both influence your ability to personalize products. When choosing a print-on-demand vendor, you will need to take into account base costs, customization options, and sizes available.

The best print-on-demand services for creating custom products

Although many print-on-demand services may appear to be very similar at first glance, you will need to carefully choose one based on your desired products, shipping location, and desired retail prices, among other things. The number of print on demand businesses on the market has increased in tandem with the rise in print on demand’s popularity.

For instance, if a single product has a low base price, it might seem like the obvious choice until you realize that your cheapest shipping option would take 21 business days to reach customers.

When evaluating print on demand businesses, conducting due diligence is crucial. Your best allies are Google and other review sites. If you choose the wrong print on demand company, it could cost you money and even hurt your brand’s growth.

We’ve compiled a brief list of some of the most popular print-on-demand websites that cover a wide range of topics to be of assistance to you. In addition, they integrate with your Shopify store and are all free to set up (you only pay for a product order).

Let’s take a look at some of the best sites for print-on-demand.

  1. Printful

Due to its extensive selection of high-quality products and brands (such as Gildan and American Apparel), Printful is a favorite among print-on-demand sites. mockup generators that are simple to use and options for branding the unboxing experience. It  offers a number of printing methods for apparel products that you should be aware of, for example, you can directly print your graphic onto any apparel without any difficulty. Also, another option, the cut and sew option, offers to print a design on the entire item without the requirement of cutting and sewing pieces of cloth together. This allows you to create a more expensive product that may sell for more, despite the fact that the base costs may be higher. This should not be confused with “sublimation printing,” which produces an all-over print but is less accurate but more cost-effective.

Due to the fact that the final product is actually a threaded design with a 3D effect, embroidery is probably the most difficult printing method. This works best for products like hats and simple designs that only use a few colors.

  1. Lulu Direct

This is a self-publishing platform with a lot of the tools you need to print and distribute your own books and ebooks. It’s one of the most well known print on request organizations.

Lulu Direct is its print-on-demand service. It lets you build your own book product by choosing from a wide range of book sizes, binding types, and page/print quality.

Lulu Xpress offers templates that can be downloaded to get you started, but there is no built-in editor for designing your book. It even has a straightforward estimating mini-computer to assist you with costing out your undertaking, including different delivery choices.

  1. Gooten 

This, like Printful, provides a wide selection of customizable goods, some of which, like dog beds and calendars, are exclusive to Gooten.

However, because Gooten prints its products using a global network of dropshippers and vendors, the print quality and shipping of its products vary significantly. However, this also indicates that shipping and product prices are likely to decrease as well.

  1. Printify 

Printify is yet another print-on-demand service that offers the standard assortment of hoodies and t-shirts. Printify stands out for its international vendor network, which enables a variety of exclusive white-label products like watches, shoes, water bottles, and jewelry that you won’t find anywhere else. In fact, the platform offers printing options for more than 200 products.

While Printify is allowed to utilize it, a top notch membership is accessible that gives you 20% off of all items for $29 per month, which is a strong choice in the event that you’re hoping to increase later and further develop your net revenues.

Tips for getting started with print on demand Although using a print-on-demand service might be easier than managing your own inventory, there are a few things to keep in mind about this method. There are, thankfully, creative solutions to the majority of these difficulties you will encounter.

Here is some of the best advice for printing on demand.

  1. Continuously request tests

Item quality affirmation is fundamental when you’re utilizing print-on-demand administrations to sell on the web.

The best way to make sure your physical product looks and feels the way you want it to is to be your own customer, so you can see firsthand how it feels to receive it. Make sure to utilize any sample discounts or free shipping that some services, like Printful, may be providing.

In addition to guaranteeing the quality of the product, samples are useful for taking your own product photos for your website and social media profiles.

  1. Be strategic with shipping 

Even if you don’t ship your own products, shipping still comes with some complexity in terms of shipping times, costs, and how to set the right expectations for customers. The best print-on-request organizations will be straightforward about delivery and proactive about sharing data on any likely deferrals.

When it comes to shipping, you’ll want to ensure you account for printing times. Be sure to add two to four days for production, or more, depending on the product, regardless of the shipping times.

If you don’t always disclose shipping times, your support inbox will be full of shipping questions. Create a separate shipping page to explain shipping to customers or outline what to expect on your FAQ page.

If you can, try to include shipping costs in your retail price in some way or another. Studies have demonstrated, year after year, that customers may be discouraged from making a purchase if they discover unexpected shipping costs at the time of checkout. Additionally, free shipping supports a number of your other marketing strategies, including:

Even if you can only offer free shipping to certain areas, it is still a great way to increase sales and give customers another reason to buy.

Contingent free transportation (e.g., “Get free delivery when you burn through $30 or more”) urges clients to add more to their truck to arrive at the limit and, for the most part, assists you with accomplishing a superior all-out delivery rate by delivering everything together.

Free shipping can be used to justify longer wait times. If they know it will save them money on shipping, many customers will wait a little longer for their order.

  1. Mockups

This lets you showcase your products and is an effective alternative to using models to take compelling individual photos. However, mockups will be a prominent feature of your product pages.

Many print-on-demand administrations can assist you with making your own mockups, showing your items individually or flatly. However, there are different administrations and a lot of free mockup formats that can likewise rejuvenate your items.

Because these mockups are what customers will use to buy your products, going above and beyond can actually pay off. PlaceIt is a mockup generator that is simple to use and lets you make photo and video mockups for $8 each. Alternatively, templates can be found on Mockup World or Behance if you are familiar with the fundamentals of Photoshop or other photo editing software.

  1. Track down your specialty and assemble a group of people

Since your edges will be a bit more slender with print-on-demand items, you’ll need to be very careful about how you position your image. Because your targeting will be much more precise, having a clearly defined audience, such as dog owners, can actually help you lower the costs of acquiring customers and maximize your potential profits.

Having a niche makes it simpler to expand an audience, which eventually becomes a benefit. You can start using the following marketing strategies right away:

Create and curate content for your Instagram account to serve your target audience.

To get started, spend $10 on Facebook ads to test your products with your target audience.

You can continue to market to visitors for free by collecting their email addresses.

Building a long-term print-on-demand or other business requires expanding an audience.

  1. Start your own online store 

If you’re just starting out in print on demand, you can sell your custom designs on a variety of marketplaces. When you create a store on RedBubble’s or Zazzle’s platforms, for instance, you can take advantage of POD services. Custom products can also be sold on Etsy, eBay, and Amazon.

There are some advantages to these markets: There are 300 million active customer accounts on Amazon alone, which means more eyes on your products. Over 80 million active buyers use Etsy. Since its inception in 2005, Zazzle has listed hundreds of millions of products, earning it a favorable reputation.

Shoppers have a variety of options and an easy way to find products in marketplaces. However, they do not offer you control over your shopping experience. You get a one-of-a-kind chance to start something new here.

You can control the user experience when you build a branded storefront on top of an e-commerce platform like Shopify: how people interact with you, how they discover your brand, and how your store looks and feels. Additionally, it offers integrations with leading POD services so that everything can be managed from a single dashboard. Besides, owning your own store will save you money on fees.

It might be fun for shoppers who aren’t devoted to Amazon or Etsy to get to know your brand and browse your website. It’s easier to stay in touch with them and build a relationship that goes beyond the market with your email list, remarketing ads, and social media profiles. Having your own site can be staggeringly useful in laying out your image further too.


Print-on-demand services let you design, test, sell, and grow your business. This makes it easy for new entrepreneurs and people who just want to test an idea before investing in it to get started. You can create your own white label products from thousands of existing options, and you won’t run out of designs to pair with them.

Although it is relatively simple to repurpose the same core design for multiple products, some combinations will undoubtedly sell better than others. You always have the option of switching from print on demand to holding your own inventory or continuing to use these services while figuring out new ways to expand your audience if your business idea succeeds and you start making a significant number of sales. The most significant benefit of the print-on-demand model is the flexibility it grants your company and the time it frees up for growth.

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