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.

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

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

So, if you are wondering how to start a 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, helping you with literally everything you should know. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Research 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 an idea of what type of audience is interested in this niche.

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

Step 2: Choose a Profitable Niche and Products

Generating revenue without profit is worthless. When you start a print on demand business, choosing a profitable niche is one of the most challenging things. 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 focusing on a particular product you will be selling. For example, you can decide to sell only T-shirts or mobile covers with different designs. In this case, you sell only T-shirts or mobile covers. So, you need to be innovative with your designs and set up product designs in your store every time.

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 to pillowcases to bags, etc. The only difference is that 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 check out giants like Amazon and 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 would give you more profit margins, etc.
  3. You can also try analyzing the products in the market. For example, the most popular are T-shirts, tote bags, pet accessories, and home decor items like mugs, pillows, and wall art You can analyze this through different platforms like Pinterest and choose the one that you want to get started with.

Starting any business requires a lot of research and patience. When you start a 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 remember 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 a catchy name. It should be something that people will remember easily.

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

Magento Designer Tool: Magento is one of the most powerful platforms for hosting an eCommerce store. Especially when you are starting with a drop shipping model, Magento provides the flexibility to grow your custom merchandise business online. It is SEO-friendly, provides a secure interface, and offers 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 start your e-store business. When you start a print-on-demand business, you only need a good fulfillment service partner to help you with the online store part. And Shopify is your way to go!

The designer tool has innovative features that your audience may need to create your merchandise products. As it is your brand’s merchandise, you will need certain features like a restricted design area, water markers, and 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 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 everything is ready, 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. If you have ideas in mind, you can start preparing. If you are not that good at this part, you can also hire external help. Exploring Pinterest and 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. It is 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 can then design products the way they want and place orders.

You must be wondering if your brand message gets diluted when different people design your products. However, you can easily bypass that with the right choice of tool. PrintXpand’s 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, allowing users to design further.


This tool increases customer engagement in your store. When you prepare designs yourself, you need to validate them with people to make sure that people like them enough to make a purchase. Here, the scenario is that you are giving the design part to 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.

Here are 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. It should have a good clipart library, readymade templates, and 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 essential. As a store owner, you need features that allow you to smoothly manage the front part.
  4. You want to make sure that customers get the exact print they want. Hence make sure it has CMYK color support. It will help you make effective and quality prints.
  5. It should be possible 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:

  • Printful is one of the best platforms for print-on-demand services. It 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, and labeling and will also ship the products to your customers under your label. Your major cost would be 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.

  • Are you planning to create a web-to-print store like Printful?

    Can you believe that Printful started out in a garage in California?
    It’s amazing how far they’ve come!
    Selling motivational apparel and posters, Davis Siksnans and Martins Liberts (founders of Printful) saw a gap in the print-on-demand market; they were unable to find a business that could deliver quality materials quickly.

    Read More.

  • Printify is one-of-a-kind print-on-demand service provider with over 200 products 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.

  • You would also like to read a guide to creating a print on demand marketplace like Printify.

  • Unlike 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, and upload your designs and artwork on their products. Finally, when a customer buys a product, Zazzle will handle all the printing, packaging, shipping, etc., in the order fulfillment. In 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. The best part is that they let you set your royalty price. You can ask for whatever you want, but I suggest you keep your audience and their purchasing power in mind.

  • Merch Amazon You also have Amazon, which lets you upload your designs and sell them to its huge customer base. It has quite a simple procedure that you can follow. You will need to upload designs, select the product type and color, and 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 to everyone. You need to receive an invitation, which you can request here. You must log in to your Amazon account, which 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

    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. Anyone 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. PrintXpand’s product design tool is easily integrated 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 to 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 orders

One of the biggest advantages of our tool is the preview. After a shopper designs a t-shirt, you need not waste time 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. This 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 to 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 as much as possible. Another critical point is to communicate with your audience.
  3. With print on demand businesses, influencer marketing can work wonders. Reach out to influencers and create collaborative content that adds 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 according to Google’s guidelines to maintain higher rankings. This will help you attract 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 purchase from your website.

Launching successful marketing campaigns remains critical for your business. In addition to organic marketing, you can also try Google Ads. By investing, you will receive instant results for your store.

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


The print on demand business model is a great way for aspiring entrepreneurs like you to start a business. 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 start your online print-on-demand store from scratch. Having served the industry for over a decade, we have launched successful businesses like yours. Contact us, and we will gladly 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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