How to make money with print-on-demand

What is print on demand?

How it is possible to have a t-shirt business without printing shirts or carrying inventory?  There are businesses on the internet that do what’s called “print on demand.”  Utilizing the latest technologies, these businesses are able to print shirts as they are ordered.  They have a system that is capable of printing shirts with such speed and agility that they are able to wait until someone orders a particular design, size and color of shirt before they print it.  This agility keeps them from having to carry an inventory of every possible combination and keeps you from having to purchase this inventory in advance.  Many of these companies not only print shirts, but also bumper stickers, buttons, coffee mugs, hats and a wide assortment of other products.  So, you should not consider yourself just in the t-shirt business because you now have access to any product these companies offer.  This is a tremendous benefit because your product offering now has a range of price points and the potential to satisfy more customers, increasing your odds at a sale with each visitor. 



These companies do more than just print the products for you.  They offer a dedicated website for your products, a method for you to upload and store digital images to be printed on products and provide some assistance in marketing your products.  And additionally, they manage all the ordering, shopping cart, payment and shipping of your products.  They also manage returns and refunds if the need arises.  Once you get this set up and put in motion, you will literally make money while you sleep.
There are a number of these print on demand companies and, since they are competing with each other for your business, each has a little different approach to the market and offers different features.  I have also noticed that the product offerings and agreements pertaining to commissions, markups, etc. can change over time.  Here is a list of the most relevant businesses and encourage you to do some brief research into each one and decide which is the most attractive.

Examples of Print On Demand Websites:

This is in no way an all-encompassing list.  Feel free to search the internet for more print on demand companies.  It is possible for you to post your products on more than one of these websites but you will eventually need to pick one because your marketing efforts will be focused on only one website address (more details about this on the marketing page).

When doing your brief evaluation of these companies it would be beneficial to answer for yourself the following questions about each company:

Each print on demand company is going to have a little bit different process to get your virtual store set up.  Each company’s website should walk you through the steps on how to set up an account and make your products available for purchase. The basics of how these websites work are the same so it might be helpful for you to have a glimpse of the overall process.  A general overview of the process is as follows:

  1. Set up an account.
  2. Create your image(s) – more about this later, not as hard as it sounds.
  3. Upload your images to your account in the print on demand website.
  4. Tag your images with keywords so they can be found through internal searches.
  5. Choose which products on which you would like each image to be printed: for example, t-shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, etc.  I recommend that you carefully select which products you will offer, rather than selecting everything.  Too many products can be overwhelming for your shoppers and if an image doesn’t look good on a particular product then it can taint your shop’s professional appearance.
  6. Set pricing levels (if possible).
  7. Write product descriptions  

    The steps listed above will get your products uploaded, presented on the website and ready to be purchased.