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Print on Demand Business

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Print on Demand Business Model Explained

Sample Print on Demand Product

What is Print on Demand?

Print on Demand, or POD, is a business model where you can create designs and then add them to a large variety of products which you can then sell.  Third party fulfillment companies will print your design on their products and ship them directly to your customer.  POD is a great business model for artists, designers and entrepreneurs alike.  

There are many different fulfillment companies that carry different products depending on what you want to sell.  You can also multiple multiple vendors to increase your range of inventory.  Popular POD products include t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, jewelry, canvases and much more!

POD is similar to the dropshipping business model in that you don't need to carry any inventory and don't have to worry about fulfillment (shipping the products to the customer).  Your focus will be on marketing your store and customer service.  A POD business allows you to create your own unique brand as you're able to add your logo to the product designs and with some merchants, to the labels, inserts and other packaging.

A POD business has low startup costs since there is no need to buy/store inventory (the largest expense for most e-commerce businesses), print the products, invest in fulfillment supplies, etc...  Once you have a design (which you can create yourself or outsource), you can apply that same design to a number of different products.  So in essence, 1 design can create dozens of different products.  This allows your customers to have a greater choice in the products they want to buy. 

How It Works

There are several steps to start your own Print on Demand business:

Niche Selection

Conduct keyword research to help identify your target market and determine your niche for the business.

Research & Design

Research/spy on competitors to identify designs that your target market would be interested in purchasing.


Create your POD e-commerce store, integrate with POD fulfillment centers and add products to your site


Use Google Adwords, FB Ads, SEO and other marketing methods to help promote your new POD business.

Pros & Cons of Print on Demand

See below for a comprehensive list of the advantages and disadvantages of a Print on Demand business


  • Low startup costs - No inventory fees, storage fees or printing expenses
  • Branded products and packaging
  • Shipping handled by fulfillment center
  • One design can be applied to many products
  • Large selection of POD products available
  • Can be run remotely from anywhere with an internet connection


  • Requires creative and quality designs
  • Margins can be lower than printing in bulk and storing inventory
  • Less control than producing the products yourself
  • Requires time/money investment into marketing and advertising
  • No guarantee of success

How Much Can You Make with Print on Demand?

The amount of money you can make with a Print on Demand business is directly proportional to the time and effort that you put into business.  You can run it as a side hustle to make an extra few hundred dollars a month or you can completely replace your full time income and even scale it to multiple 6 or 7 figures in revenue.  It all comes down to your specific goals and willingness to invest in learning how to properly run this type of business.

The barriers of entry to a POD business is low which means you'll need a few things to stand out and be successful:

  1. A strong understanding of your target marketing
  2. Unique, creative designs that your target market will want to purchase
  3. The ability to market your website to increase visibility of your products and brand

If you're interested in seeing how successful some POD websites can be, have a look here for some examples.

Popular POD Categories

There are 2 main strategies that when building out a POD business.

1.  One Product Type - Many Categories 

In this method, the website focuses on one specific product time (for example, only t-shirts, or mugs, or canvases) and creates designs around many different topics and categories.  



The advantages to this method is that you're able to attract many different customer types.  However, the disadvantages here is in the marketing - with this method, it's more difficult to narrow down your audience because it's so wide making the marketing efforts more difficult.

2.  Many Product Types - One Niche

In this approach, you target a specific audience or niche (e.g. dogs, crossfit, humor, cars, etc..) and create many different products all related to this niche. 



This is generally the preferred method because:

  1. it allows you to create a brand for that niche that will resonate with that specific customer base
  2. conversion rates can be higher because of the target market
  3. marketing efforts are easier because you only have one niche to target