Print-on-demand has been around for some time. But only recently has been getting a lot of traction as more and more Youtube videos have been showing up online on how you can generate some insane amounts of cash using these services. Making a million dollars is not uncommon using print-on-demand platforms.
If you create a design that goes viral and people find you, you will be rolling in cash very quickly. Is it easy to get a breakthrough in the print-on-demand market? Is making a million dollars easy? No, it isn’t. If you don’t know what to look for and what to sell on these platforms. There are rules and trends in place, which you have to follow to gain the following and market share you are after.
What is a print-on-demand service
Print-on-demand or POD serves as a shop for creative people to publish and produce their own products with no physical stock of whatsoever. The service model really does serve the creative people in an extremely efficient way. You can basically start to sell your designs in a matter of hours.
No need to set up distribution channels, manufacturing, nothing. You just upload your creations (usually graphics, illustrations, designs) to a POD store and start making money.
Printing t-shirts on demand are probably the most popular service model there is. Countless companies have gone this route and more than 100 000X creatives have published their work in those marketplaces.
If you want to read how this image was made head over to this blog post: How to Draw One Massive Illustration | Combine Artworks Into One
Definition of print on demand
Print-on-demand is a service model where a designer, artist or a creator publishes a design or artwork and that work of art gets printed when customer creates a demand for it.
If you are just starting out and have some awesome designs in your folders waiting for the world to see. Print on demand is an excellent choice to get started selling your very own merchandise and start making money online. Passively may I add.
What options are there?
Like mentioned before there are countless opportunities for you to make money with the print-on-demand service model.
Here’s a small list of companies offering this kind of service:
A bit more advanced solutions but increased profit and customization:
The things you should be the most focused on are
- Ease of use
- Product catalog
- Quality of products
- Customer service
Royalties and quality of the products being the most important from the money aspect. Royalties determine how much money you get for each product sold. Quality, on the other hand, determines your brands’ values. If the product is low on quality, your customer will be disappointed and the sales will stop there.
There are easy options to get fast to the print-on-demand market but the paid royalties are low. This means you would have to sell a bunch of products daily to get an income level you desire. I guess it is more than $1K. If you get around $3/t-shirt sold. Think about how many t-shirts you should sell to get that $1000. More than 300 units. That is a lot of t-shirts for a month.
It can be done and many are doing it. So do not give up if you are going this route.
Advanced options to sell your products on demand
The reason I use advanced rather than different option is that you should have at least a basic knowledge on running a business. This means you should know about branding, marketing, sales to begin selling on these platforms. Printful is a great example of an “advanced” solution to sell products.
You need your own payment gateway or other words E-commerce platform which could be Shopify, Woocommerce, Etsy etc. The basic idea is that you sell your products through your own E-commerce platform but the rest is taken care of by Printful.
The best part with these services is branding and royalties. You create the storefront and set the price. Let’s say Printful takes around $12 for every t-shirt printed. You decide to sell that shirt for $20. You just got $8 of income opposed to $3 and that was only because you decided to set the price to $20. Why not charge more?
Pros and cons of using a print-on-demand service
With every service out there, there are always things that are good and things that are bad with the selected service. So is the case with PODs’. The following list is a general list of things you can see as an advantage and as a disadvantage.
- You don’t have to have a stock of products to sell them when there becomes a demand for it
- No manufacturing or distribution of the products, fewer costs, and maintenance inside the supply chain. This is a huge plus
- Create various products fast and with ease. Uploading a photo, illustration, design is basically the time it takes to begin selling your products
- Worldwide distribution instantly at your fingertips
- No customer service needed. This good and bad. Good when you have bad customers, but bad when you have good customers. You are in the service of providing products to your customers, so you should know them
- You can easily sell various products, like coffee mugs, prints, shower curtains, t-shirts, clocks, tote bags and so on. The product catalog seems to expand in time within certain companies. So there is always more products to cover the expanding needs of your customers.
- Competition inside the marketplace you are in. Getting your design to the front page requires a massive amount of sales and exposure worldwide
- Royalties. You only get paid a fraction of the selling price. You have to sell a lot of products to cover your monthly expenses. This is a big minus
- Branding (excluding advanced options talked earlier). Even though you can upload a banner and avatar to your store. The website address always starts by the companies name you are selling your items through
- Quality. This is an advantage and a disadvantage. You are not totally in control of the quality produced by the POD company you are working with. The advantage being that there is someone else looking after that, so you can focus on creating more and more awesome products
- You don’t get to meet your customers. How cool would it be to know the ones you are selling to. Build relationships that last. Not just to make money of them more, but also to know them as persons. People are awesome when they are awesome
- Sometimes you can’t implement your design exactly as you want to the product at hand.
- Colors on t-shirts, for example, might not fit exactly what you had in mind.
- You are limited to certain looking designs. Print on front, print on back. What if you would like to place details to the sleeve area?
As we can see there are a bunch of pros that really do matter, like the distribution and manufacturing which are the most important ones out there. As these things do take some effort to set up. Although not impossible to set up but something that requires a bit of guidance at least.
Cons, on the other hand, are more related to product presentation and limits the store has for your products. The biggest disadvantage being the royalties. With some stores, you really do get a very small commission from the sale. So do keep this in mind when choosing your path with these. I will most likely go the route of using Printful, just for the sake of branding.
A closer look to Design by Humans
Design by humans is mainly a t-shirt selling print-on-demand company. DBH is a great place to start your POD business if you want to start out easy and take small steps to online business and having your own passive income source #1.
DBH has many things going on. Regular contests for various topics some being very lucrative money wise. Some well-known brands like Assassins Creed, Diablo 3, Clash of Clans (which I attended, see the design here or click the image below for more information) and others present a challenge for the artists to create a new design with a set of rules and ideas on their mind.
You can be sure to get some very nice exposure for your work and a good experience by attending those challenges. The prize money is also something to go after, even though you will be getting some awesome sales and more importantly the exposure you need to get income for your business.
Attending those contests is fun and gives you a small taste of working with a client. The only difference being that you can design what you want and not be bound by too many rules.
DBH is regularly featuring artists and designers in their site, and the best part is that the featured article will be sent to customers all around the world by email. If you get your face and art to be featured in the site, you will gain excellent traction to your business and more than likely increase your sales more than ever.
People also post images of themselves wearing a t-shirt they bought from DBH. How cool would it be to see your design wore by someone? Yeah, that would be awesome! I can proudly say that people do wear my t-shirt designs and that feels quite fantastic.
DBH has done well for me, and I have always liked the quality aspect of the t-shirts (wearing them myself, so I know). They feel soft and long-lasting material. SO I can recommend them from that perspective.
Only thing I don’t like is the fact (as with many other companies) that you don’t get to know the customer, not even his/her name. That is because the sale is entirely handled by DBH and not by you. You are the designer and artist, not the seller.
A closer look to using Amazon as your print-on-demand platform
We all know how huge Amazon is and also how convenient it is to use Amazon and their service. It would only make sense to be there and sell items through their venue.
But how to get there? There are multiple ways and next, I will show some of the easiest ones out there.
Selling shirts on Amazon
Now, I have been using Design by Humans service for a while now, and they do list your items on Amazon for you. Now, that is a super easy way to be seen on Amazon. So if you are selling merchandise like t-shirts, an easy way is to use an already established company to do the work for you.
You can check how all look behind this link: Design by Humans store on Amazon store.
So the only thing needed from your side is to create the design and upload it to the Design by Humans store. And that’s about it. They will then further distribute it as an Amazon listing. I think this is as easy as it can be. So you really don’t have to do that much to be seen in Amazon.
This way you also gain more visibility by being in different stores across the world.
There are a lot of other companies who do the same as Design By Humans, like Redbubble and Society6. So DBH isn’t the only choice you have. I don’t list here all the dozens of possibilities out there, just some I have some connection with. So if you are unsure on how to move forward, an easy way is to do it through a company who is already selling items in Amazon.
But then again, if you just want to use Amazon straight away, go and use Merch by Amazon.
This is a service you can also use to sell shirts of many kinds with your beautiful artwork in them. I think of this as an alternative fast lane to Amazon sales. You set up your account and just start selling your artworks through them.
Merch by Amazon does make it simple for you to sell t-shirts online, however, what is difficult is the part on how to get the needed exposure for your designs.
You also get some nice royalties when doing it straight with Merch. So do take that into account.
Selling print-on-demand books through Amazon
Now if you are more into creating your very own physical book or ebook. I would check a service called Kindle Direct Publishing which gives you the option to sell and print your books on demand on Amazon. So if you were to publish your own book I suggest you check out the Kindle Direct Publishing, some examples can found from the published comic and graphic novels.
You don’t have to worry about shipping, manufacturing, nothing really. It really is that simple.
This is precisely why I personally love print-on-demand services. Companies only create the products if there is a demand for it. This way you don’t have to do any guesswork on how much you should manufacture and what size of a stock you should keep. It is always based on demand.
So as we can see, there are opportunities out there, and Amazon is one of the biggest there is, if not even the biggest.
So it would only make sense for you to go for Amazon and set up a store there or sell products through them. Either do it through another company like Printful or then set up your own store via Merch by Amazon. Both options are viable. It is up to you, which kind of business model you would like set up. Please don’t forget to take into account the paid royalties as they differ from store to store.
A final note
All in all, it’s always a numbers game. So do calculate which path gives you the most money. However, do also take into account the fact of how much work is required to get the items to sale. If you are ready to do the work, you can always expand your artworks in a way, where you sell the same artwork in multiple storefronts.
I have set up few stores for myself, like Design by Humans, Society6 and Inprnt. There is no reason why you couldn’t go out of your way and set up like 10 stores.
If you are into selling merchandise and think your artworks are something people would like to buy, go for it!
Here is one tutorial on how you can create your very own t-shirt design from scratch: How To Create Your Own T-shirt Design
So how do we know whether your artwork would sell on a t-shirt? We don’t! What we do know, however, is that there are always trends going on. And if you tap into those trends, you make some serious $$$.
Market research is needed as well as some form of artistic view to design a winning piece.
Print-on-demand business is not easy, and you shouldn’t expect high success right after you have posted your very own poster or t-shirt design online for sale. It is easier if you have a massive following as then you can sell to your followers just by posting those design and products to your social media channels. It’s that easy.
So the only thing left is to create those designs, Right? If you are like many of us, you already have some beautiful designs in your folders that just need to be taken to the daylight. If you feel like, why would anyone buy my stuff? Leave that thought out of your life. Trust on yourself and more importantly, be proud of your drawings.
Show you drawings to the world, and as an artist, you have the right to ask for something to return from those designs and drawings of yours. So make merchandise from those drawings, sell them and be happy about the way you make a living. We artists are often taken as these “art fighters,” we defend our creativity but at the end, fail to ask anything in return for being creative.
There is no reason why you couldn’t feel proud when you sell your art printed on various products.
So go on and share your creativity! People are waiting for you to do that.