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How to Start Print on Demand Business in 5 Simple Steps

How to Start Print on Demand Business in 5 Simple Steps

Minimum set up costs, zero inventory, no minimum order quantities, with high profile margins.

Does all this sound like a dream? Well, not with the print on demand business model. Whether you are an artist, designer, writer, or aspiring entrepreneur, the POD model is your alternative way to eliminate the huge investment and risk associated with inventories.

The reason why it is so popular is because of the flexible approach. All you need is to use your creativity to prepare product designs. As soon as you receive an order for your created design, your supplier takes care from printing the product to its delivery. That means you do not pay for the product until you sell it.

Now you must be thinking that I am not good at designs and still want to go for this model? Well, of course, you can! We have got the solution for that as well further in this guide.

So, if you are wondering how to start print on demand business but have several queries or don’t know where to start, brace yourself. This curated guide is your print on demand business plan to help you with literally everything you should know. Let’s get started!

A quick walkthrough of this entire guide:

Step 1: Study your Audience

Most of the time, people start with time researching and deciding the niche for their print on demand business. However, how would you be able to sell products without knowing which types of users would actually buy them? So, spend a good 2-3 days but make sure you are crystal clear about your audience. The best way of doing that is preparing a google sheet with parameters like niche, targeting keywords, country, and age.

How to Start Print on Demand Business Steps- 1

Now open Facebook insights and filter your audience based on keyword research. For example, search for the “Game of Thrones” keyword, and you will get the idea of what type of audience is interested in this niche.

This will give you filtered data based on parameters like age, gender that we have already listed in the sheet. Make a list of all the keywords and filter your audience. Once you are clear about your audience base, you can start exploring your product niche with a more targeted approach.

Step 2: Choose Profitable Niche and Products

Generating revenue without profit is worthless. When you start print on demand business, it is one of the most challenging things to choose a profitable niche. Have a crystal clear understanding of what niche and products you want to offer in your store. To find out your niche, there are two ways you can do it:

Product Niche

A product niche means you have to focus on a particular type of product you will be selling. For example, you can decide on selling t-shirts or mobile covers. In this case, you sell only t-shirts or mobile covers with different designs. So, every time you need to be innovative with your designs and set up product designs in your store.

Subject Niche

This niche allows you to be a little experimental. Here you can find out a trendy subject like “Women empowerment” or “how to be happy” and then create a range of products around that niche. It will be like a theme of your business. This way, you can include everything from t-shirts, pillowcases, bags, etc. The only difference is you get to offer a number of products with innovative designs.

Product Niche and Subject Niche

Some tips on finding trending product niche

  1. To find out what products are trending currently, you can checkout giants like Amazon, eBay’s best-selling products. This will help you understand what’s selling the most.
  2. User Google Trends. The best way to find out which products are trending. Based on the current numbers, you can determine which products you want to go with, which ones would give you more profit margins, etc.
  3. You can also try analyzing the products in the market. For example, T-shirts, tote bags, pet accessories, home decor items like mugs, pillows, wall art are also some of the most popular ones. You can analyze this through different platforms like Pinterest and choose the one that you want to get started with.

Starting any business needs a lot of research and patience. When you start print on demand business, you need to take care of technical stuff like getting the right product designer tool and website to offer products that users love. Team PrintXpand can help you choose the right product designer for your business. Click the link below to read more about the tool.


Step 3: Create your Store & Prepare Products

When you are working on your print on demand business plan, it is important to keep in mind that you are creating a brand. So, when building your online store, the first thing you need to do is go to GoDaddy and register your domain with some catchy name. It should be something that people would remember easily.

After making your domain official, it is time to put it to work. For that, the very first step is choosing an eCommerce platform. If you have chosen Shopify as your print on demand partner, you already have chosen the platform. Apart from that, you have plenty of options like Magento, WooCommerce to start your online store.

Magento Designer Tool: It is one of the most powerful platforms when it comes to hosting an eCommerce store. Especially when you are starting with a drop shipping model, Magento provides flexibility to grow your custom merchandise business online. It is SEO friendly, provides a secured interface and a free version to get started.

Team PrintXpand can make your job easier with our Magento based product designer tool. Customers can design your merchandise, and you can start earning profits from day one.


Shopify Designer Tool: Shopify Designer Tool is one of the most popular platforms among SMBs. If you are just getting started, Shopify offers plentiful features that you will need to get your e-store business started. When you start print on demand business, all you need is a good fulfillment service partner who also helps you with the online store part. And Shopify is your way to go!

The designer tool comes with innovative features that your audience may need to create products of your merchandise. As it is your brand’s merchandise, you will need certain features like a restricted design area, water markers, print-ready files. And you get it all here.


WooCommerce Designer Tool: WooCommerce is by far the most used eCommerce plugin in the market. Since it comes with plenty of plugins, it becomes easier for you to extend the store functionality. On the other hand, using the designer tool, you can enable seamless customization in your store.


Looking at the current demand, we would suggest you choose the Magento Platform as it is like a full package for your store. From a robust and secured e-store to customization functionalities, it would provide a great user experience the way you want.

Prepare Products – The Important Part

Once you have everything ready in place, it is time to prepare product designs and start uploading them to your e-store. The first part is to get your print on demand designs ready. For that, if you have the ideas in mind, you can start preparing. If you are not that good at this part, you can also hire external help. Exploring Pinterest, Reddit would also help you with some inspiration.

However, in both scenarios, you have to create designs yourself. But what if your created designs don’t do well as per your expectations? Also, hiring external help could mess up your investment cycle. Additionally, if you hire external help, there are chances of back and forth if the created designs are not as per your expectations.

As a solution, you can take it a step further and opt for a product designer tool. Not a mockup generator, it is a designer tool that you can integrate with your e-store. Once you integrate it, all you need to do is upload blank product designs. Your customers themselves design products the way they want and place orders.

You must be wondering what if your brand message gets diluted when different people are designing your products? However, you can easily bypass that with the right choice of tool. PrintXpand’ product designer tool comes with features like readymade templates, restricting the design area. This way, you can keep products ready to a certain extent, like placing your brand logos, and then allow users to design further.

The Important Part

This tool increases customer engagement in your store. When you prepare designs yourself, you need to validate them with people in order to make sure that people like them enough to make a purchase. Here, the scenario is that you are giving the design part in your customer’s hand. They will create the products as per their choices. This provides them with the freedom to experiment with their creativity. Hence, your job gets easier. You receive the print-ready order files from the store and send them to your fulfillment service. They prepare the product and take care of shipping.

Some of the tips you need to make sure when making the purchase:

  1. Check if the product designer tool has all the necessary features you need. It should have a good clipart library, readymade templates, preview options to make the designing part swift.
  2. It should be mobile-friendly. Today when people spend more time on mobile devices, it is paramount to have a tool that supports all the devices.
  3. A powerful admin panel is also an essential part. You, as a store owner, needs to have features from where you can take care of the front part smoothly.
  4. You want to make sure that customers get the exact print they wanted. Hence make sure it has CMYK color support. It will help you make effective and quality prints.
  5. Ability to edit images and other text items. It should have technical editing settings along with the latest filters. Users should be able to edit images as they want.


Step 4: Select a Print on Demand Service

Your POD partner is the one who fulfills your product requirement and ships the orders. So, make sure to choose the one that offers excellent quality products. Listed below are some of the great print on demand services you can choose from:

  • PrintfulPrintful, one of the best platforms for print-on-demand services, is known for its easy to use interface and process. Once you are set up with your store, you can simply sign up with Printful (free of cost) and connect your store. It’s that easy.

    They handle your printing, packing, labeling and will also ship the products to your customers under your label. Basically, your major cost would be for marketing, and Printful bears the rest of the costs.

    Once a customer orders your product, only then they charge you. You set the price, Printful charges you for printing and fulfillment, and the remaining is your profit. You can check out their products and pricing to understand their base price.

    It integrates with multiple ecommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, Prestashop, Weebly, etc.

    If you choose Printify as your print-on-demand service provider, they have an easy to integrate print-on-demand Shopify app. Get your Shopify e-store built with a feature-rich product designer tool and Printify as the POD service provider.

  • PrintifyPrintify is one of its kind print-on-demand service providers with over 200 products on which you can print on. They have a wide network of vendors worldwide, which enables them to have such a variety of products.

    With Printful, you don’t have to pay any price, but with Printify, they have a nominal cost of $24.99 for their premium package, which includes 20% off on all the products. Now, if you are a business looking to expand, then Printify is the best option.

    Printify also integrates with top ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Etsy, and WooCommerce.

  • ZazzleUnlike Printful, Zazzle is a marketplace where you can easily sign up as a designer and start selling your products. They have over 30 million visitors each month to their store, which can benefit you if you are just starting out.

    They follow an easy process. You create a Zazzle account, open a designer store for free with a unique name then upload your designs and artwork on their products. Finally, when a customer buys it, Zazzle will handle all the printing, packaging, shipping, etc., in the order fulfillment. And at the end, you get a certain percentage of the sale as agreed upon during the signup.

    Here’s how they calculate the price of your products for the Zazzle marketplace: Product Base Price + Your Royalty Percentage = Retail Price. And the best part is that they let you set your royalty price. You can ask for whatever you want, but I suggest you keep their audience and their purchasing power in mind.

  • Merch AmazonYou also have Amazon, which lets you upload your designs and sell them to their humongous customer base. They have quite a simple procedure that you can follow. You will need to upload designs, select the product type & color, add a product description, and they will do the rest – from creating a product page to handling production, shipping, customer service, etc.

    Just like with Zazzle, you will be in charge of the pricing part at Merch Amazon. Here, Amazon will pay you monthly royalties.

    The main thing to consider here is that it’s not open for everyone. You need to receive an invitation which you can request here. You will have to log in to your Amazon account, and then it redirects to the policies and agreements page. Once you click on agree, a screen asking to have these things handy will appear:

    1. Business contact information

    2. Bank account and routing numbers

    3. Social Security number or other tax identification number

    And after that, you can begin your application. The reason they have such a long process intact for merchants is that they don’t charge any costs upfront. Anybody can sign up. They understand their audience and know what sells and what doesn’t. So, it makes sense to have a straightforward process in place.

Enable Product Customization Tool and Let Your Shoppers Create Designs

Product customization is a trend that will continue to grow. Whether you want to set your store apart from the crowd or boost engagement, customization is an excellent way to do so. Product design tool by PrintXpand is easily integrable with print-on-demand service providers.

Here’s how PrintXpand and print-on-demand service provider integration works:

  • From a POD service provider’s catalog, choose t-shirts for customization.
  • Add those products on your Shopify/WooCommerce/Magento store.
  • With the help of our product design tool, your shoppers can design a t-shirt by adding text, clipart, images, etc.
  • POD provider takes care of order fulfillment and shipping after a customer places an order.

One of the biggest advantages of our tool is the preview. After a shopper designs a t-shirt, you need not waste time in sending proofs again to the customers. With the preview feature of the design tool, they can validate their design. This, in turn, reduces purchase returns and improves customer satisfaction.

Moreover, our tool has a responsive UI. Which means customers can design their products on any device. Check out the link below to get a complete understanding of how our Product Design Tool works.


Step 5: Promote Your Store

For your print on demand business, you need to create a pathway to let your customers know that your business exists. The online ecosystem is huge and unless you spread the word, it would become difficult to cope with the competition. Here are some quick tips on how to get started:

Set up Social Media Accounts: It goes without saying that your business has to be on social media platforms. And it is not important to be active on all the accounts. Based on your offerings, see which platform is most familiar with your audience and go with that. Some tips to make your social media game strong:

  1. Stay active and post regular content that interests your audience. For social media, your approach should be 80% about delivering content and 20% about promoting your business.
  2. You can create a hashtag and urge the audience to use it maximum. Another critical point is to communicate with your audience.
  3. With Print on demand business, influencer marketing can work wonders. Reach out to the influencers and make collaborative content that brings value to your store.
  4. Join community groups and stay active within those communities.
Set up Social Media Accounts

Optimize your Website: SEO remains an essential part of keeping your business afloat. It is all about optimizing your website as per Google’s guidelines to maintain higher rankings. It would help you fetch targeted audiences to your website. Make sure to target the right keywords and keep your technical game right.

Today, content is everything. Hence, make sure to keep your content game right. Write blogs on topics that are helpful for your audience. This way, you not only help your audience but also set your name as one reputed brand in the market. It not only increases customer engagement but also inspires them to make a purchase from your website.

Launching successful marketing campaigns remains critical for your business. Apart from organic marketing, you can also try your hands on Google Ads. By investing, you will receive instant results for your store.

Also read: Best Practices to Advertise your WooCommerce Web to Print Business


Print on demand business model is a great way for aspiring entrepreneurs like you to get started on a business journey. Without the need for product inventory, you can quickly get started. By adopting product customization, you go one step further and give your customers the freedom to create the products they love.

Team PrintXpand can help you in starting your online print on demand store from scratch. Having served the industry for more than a decade, we have launched many successful businesses like yours. Get in touch with us, and we would be happy to help you throughout your journey.

All product and company names are trademarks™, registered® or copyright© trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

Chandni Pandya

Chandni Pandya

With a certification in content marketing and vast experience of digital marketing, Chandni Pandya currently holds the position of Deputy Content Editor at PrintXpand. She loves writing printing-related blogs and keeps reading about the printing industry from various sources. A firm believer of equality and a lover of poetry, she encourages everyone to lead a healthy lifestyle. Offer her green smoothies and not coffee. Smoothies are her love!

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