Want to make money online using a simple technique that requires no expert knowledge or experience?
Print on demand could be just the thing.
With a print on demand business model, your own custom designs are printed onto a third-party supplier's blank products for you to sell exclusively in your store.
The print on demand supplier does everything for you, from printing the products to packing and shipping them. And because each item is made to order, you’ll never have excess stock lying around leaving a dent in your profits.
Starting a print on demand business is pretty straightforward. All you need is some creativity (for designing your prints), a reliable print on demand supplier and an ecommerce store like ShopWired to market and sell your delightful creations.
Sounds good, right?
Whether you're an ecommerce veteran or a complete newbie, on demand printing could be the fastest and easiest way to make money online.
So, keep reading this guide to find out more about print on demand, including how to source and sell your very own custom-designed products.
Table of contents:
What is print on demand?
Print on demand has been growing in popularity over recent years. And it's no surprise given that it’s an exciting strategy for making money online that doesn’t require too much effort.
But how exactly does print on demand work?
With print on demand, your custom designs are printed onto blank products that have been produced by a third-party supplier. These ‘white label’ products are essentially blank canvases, ready to have your unique designs printed on them before being sold, exclusively by you.
You can sell almost anything with print on demand. From t-shirts, blankets and shoes, to skateboards, mugs and stickers. If it can be printed on, and if someone can produce it, you can sell it!
One of the greatest advantages of print on demand is that the printing, packaging, and shipping are all handled by your print on demand provider. And better yet, items are sold on a per-order basis, meaning the supplier will only print, package and ship an item after it’s been ordered.
All you need to do is select a blank product, upload a design and add the final product to your ecommerce store. Easy!
What are the benefits of print on demand?
Print on demand has boomed in popularity recently, with the global print on demand market expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 26.1% from 2022 to reach $39.40 billion by 2030.
These rising figures are no surprise given the benefits of on demand printing, including:
- It's a low-cost and low-risk way to start a business.
- It's a great way to build an e-commerce brand without the need for a large upfront investment.
- It's a great way to offer a wide variety of products without the need to hold large inventories.
With just a few clicks, you can select products, upload designs and watch your creations come to life.
And better yet, running your own print on demand business is now even easier than ever with ecommerce platform integration. ShopWired, for example, offers seamless integrations with popular UK print on demand providers like Printful and Printify.
You can easily add print on demand products to your ShopWired store, manage inventories and process orders- all straight from your ShopWired account.
Here are some more benefits of selling print on demand products.
Make products fast
Well…technically you’re not making them yourself. But that’s what makes it so fast. Once an item is purchased, your print on demand provider will fulfil the order with speed and efficiency.
Most orders are processed, produced and shipped within 2-5 days, letting you keep customers happy with fast turnarounds. And with more spare time on your hands, you’ll be able to focus on product development and other important aspects of the business.
Simplify storage and shipping
Print on demand providers like Printful and Printify handle the production, storage, and shipping of your products, so you don't need to worry about any logistical details.
All you need to do is focus on building your brand, marketing your products, and growing your business while the print on demand provider takes care of the operational side of things.
With printing on demand, because each item is made to order, you don't need to invest a lot of money upfront in inventory, meaning you can test out different products and see what sells without a large financial commitment.
For example, want to test out a new line of bucket hats for the summer featuring your branding? Simply upload your design onto a bucket hat and advertise it on your website. If it doesn’t sell, it won’t be physically produced, and you won’t be out of pocket.
That’s why the printing on demand model is perfect for smaller businesses and individuals with less budget.
Easy to scale
As your business grows, it's easy to add more products to your store without worrying about the added cost and complexity of managing an increased inventory. Simply add more products to your ecommerce store, and let your print on demand supplier handle the rest!
The best print on demand suppliers use expert equipment to produce high-quality prints that are sharp, vibrant, and true to the original design. This is particularly important for businesses and individuals producing high-end products, such as art prints, photographic reproductions, or marketing materials.
There are numerous benefits to print on demand. With the ability to print custom designs on made-to-order products that are shipped directly by the supplier, print on demand presents a low-risk and hassle-free strategy for making money online.
How to find the best print on demand suppliers?
There are plenty of print on demand suppliers to choose from. The best print on demand site for you will depend on your specific needs. You’ll have to explore each supplier carefully to determine whether they’re the right fit.
Key things to consider are:
- Do they have the products you want to sell?
- Are the products high quality? (Be sure to check current reviews).
- What are the turnaround times?
- What are the shipping costs? (Also consider overseas shipping).
- How much does the product cost and what will you sell it for?
- What customisation options are available?
Two of the most popular print on demand suppliers in the UK are Printful and Printify.
Both companies offer a wide range of products with a variety of customisation options, high-quality printing, and a user-friendly platform for creating and managing orders. Additionally, they both have a global shipping network which allows businesses to reach customers worldwide.
Selling and sourcing print on demand products with ShopWired
ShopWired integrates with both Printful and Printify to give you full control of your print on demand business from within your ShopWired account.
Simply download and install the Printful or Printify app to connect your ShopWired store so you can import your custom products and automatically export orders to your print on demand supplier.
Here’s a brief outline of how you can get started.
Select your Print on Demand provider
First, you need to decide which print on demand provider to choose.
ShopWired offers seamless integration with Printify and Printful, so these are the two you’ll need to research. You could always try using both Printify and Printful to begin with. You might find this gives you the best of both worlds if, for example, one provider offers products that the other doesn’t.
Of course, using both could also become quite complicated as you’ll have to keep up with orders on multiple platforms and spend extra time experimenting with which products work best to sell. Both Printify and Printful have free plans, so taking advantage of these to test the waters isn’t a bad idea before committing to a paid plan.
(For a more in-depth look, be sure to check out our Printful vs Printify article where we compare the pros and cons of each platform).
Link to your ShopWired account
Once you’ve made a decision, simply download the Printful or Printify App from your ShopWired account to start selling print on demand products.
Check out our Printful and Printify help guides for a walkthrough on connecting your accounts and using the apps.
After you've installed your chosen apps and linked your accounts, you can start sourcing the blank products you want to print your designs on and sell.
The range of products you have to choose from will depend on your chosen print on demand provider. Generally, the majority of products are the same on each platform,
For example, here’s Printful’s catalogue of product categories:
Printful Product Categories
Printify Product Categories
As you can see, the product categories are nearly identical. However, there are some variations between the actual products that each platform offers, so if you’re looking for something a bit more niche, you’ll need to check out each platform’s whole catalogue of products.
Alongside clothing and hats, some of the most popular products on Printful include gaming mouse pads, mugs and iPhone cases, whereas some of the most popular products on Printify include posters, stickers, and personalised décor.
In doing your product research, be sure to check what each product will cost you, how long it'll take for the product to be produced and shipped, and any product reviews.
Design your products
Next, it's the fun part! It’s time to get creative and make the designs for your product! Use the product configurator for your chosen platform and create some great products that will appeal to your audience.
This is the stage where you can really let your creativity flourish with your own unique custom designs, or you could opt to go for pre-made designs available for commercial use.
Order product samples
It’s crucial that you order some product samples before you start shipping the product to customers. This is the best way to examine the quality of the final product, including the quality of the print.
Testing samples is a good way to decide whether you want to stick with your chosen provider. Switching providers at this stage will be a lot easier than it would be once orders start rolling in.
Check all aspects of the product as though you’re the paying customer. For example, if you’re selling custom-printed t-shirts, how does the material feel? Are the colours as described? Do the printed graphics look top quality? Will it survive a spin in the washing machine?
If you're selling custom-printed phone cases, does the material feel durable and protective? Does the colour match the online image? Are the graphics printed in high quality? Does the case fit the phone and are the button and port cutouts in the correct positions?
While it might seem like an unwanted, added expense to starting your business, testing product samples before you put them to market really is essential if you want to avoid complaints and negative reviews further down the line.
Once you’re entirely satisfied with the end result, you can start selling the product on your ecommerce website.
Once you’ve chosen a print on demand supplier and designed products to sell, it’s time to start making money. And luckily, it’s now easier than ever to get started with ecommerce platforms like ShopWired offering seamless integrations with print on demand suppliers.
ShopWired: On Demand Printing Made Easy
Simply connect ShopWired to Printify or Printful and import your print on demand products into your ShopWired account. It just takes a few clicks.
Beautiful store themes
Create a stunning website with your own branding using one of ShopWired's free themes. Display your delightful print on demand products however you choose.
Built-in marketing tools
With dedicated built-in marketing tools, ShopWired will have you set up for success. From SEO and conversion tools to email marketing apps and social network sharing, the range of marketing tools on hand will ensure you get your print on demand products in front of the right audience.
No transaction fees
ShopWired's starting package is £26.96 + VAT per month. Unlike other ecommerce platforms we don't charge transaction fees on your sales.
Print on demand product examples
With so many options, it can be hard knowing what products to sell. To give you some ideas, here’s a selection of some of the most popular print on demand products in 2023.
T-shirts are one of the best niches for print on demand. They are versatile, easy to design and always in demand. From vintage-inspired designs to bold graphic prints, the creative possibilities are endless. You can create your own designs or work with artists and designers to offer a wide range of options for your customers.
Both Printful and Printify offer a range of t-shirt styles, including:
- Regular T-shirts
- Long t-shirts
- Polo shirts
- Long sleeve t-shirts
- Sports t-shirts
- Vest tops
The online marketplace is full of successful merchants selling a range of print on demand t shirt styles to different audiences.
Who doesn't love a good hat? Whether it's a cool cap for the summer, a warm woolly hat for the winter, or a novelty hat for some fun times, hats are a must-have accessory for everyone. And when it comes to selling hats, print on demand is the way to go.
With print on demand, you can offer a wide variety of designs, styles, colours, and sizes to appeal to different customers. You could choose to capitalise on current trends by selling in-demand hats. Or you could sell hats based on the seasons, with novelty Christmas hats in the winter and baseball caps in the summer.
Mugs are another hugely popular print on demand product.
Being a nation of tea and coffee drinkers, there’s a solid demand for mugs all year-round in the UK.
Get creative with your mug designs. From funny slogans and inspirational quotes to custom illustrations and anything in between. Offer a variety of mug styles, such as travel mugs, ceramic mugs, flask mugs and more, to cater to different needs.
Phone cases continue to be hugely popular.
Phone cases are a great way to personalise your device while protecting it from scratches and accidental damage. Both Printful and Printify offer phone cases for a range of different phone models. Simply upload your custom design and start selling.
Phone cases offer an excellent way to further market your brand for free. By offering unique designs that customers will carry in public, your brand will be seen by a wider audience. This simple yet powerful approach can be a great way to boost brand recognition and drive sales.
Tote bags aren’t just a stylish way to carry personal belongings, they make the perfect canvas for showcasing your designs and logos
They’re also environmentally friendly as they reduce the use of single-use plastic bags. Investing in custom tote bags as a marketing strategy will not only promote your brand but also contribute to sustainable living; a great way to appeal to eco-conscious consumers and show that your brand is socially responsible.
ShopWired's Final Thought
Print on demand can be a low-risk, simple and convenient way to sell your own custom products online.
Simply choose a supplier, choose source blank products from their catalogue, upload your custom designs, and sit back whilst they handle the printing, fulfilment, and shipping for you.
The global print on demand market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, making now a great time to get started selling your own custom-printed products. And with seamless integrations with ecommerce stores like ShopWired, running a print on demand business is easier than ever.
What is print on demand?
Print on demand lets you create and sell custom products without needing to do the printing, packing, or shipping yourself. It’s all handled by your print on demand supplier. Orders are only printed and fulfilled as they come in, making it a cost-effective way to grow your business.
How does print on demand work?
You simply select the products you want to offer, upload your designs and set your prices. Once an order is placed, the print on demand provider will handle the production, packing and shipping of the product to your customer on your behalf.
What are the benefits of using a print on demand service?
Print on demand eliminates the need for upfront inventory costs and the risk of unsold products. This lets you easily sell custom-designed products without having to worry about storage, waste or financial losses.
How do I choose the right print on demand provider for my business?
When choosing your print on demand supplier, consider factors such as product selection, print quality, fulfilment speed, and customer service. If you’re using an ecommerce platform, check if they offer print on demand integrations. For example, ShopWired offers integrations with Printful and Printify.
What are the costs associated with using a print on demand service?
Costs vary by provider but typically include a base cost per product and additional costs for things like shipping and handling. Because products are made to order, you can easily keep costs under control without worrying about excess stock that won’t sell.
How do I create and upload designs for print on demand products?
Most providers have design templates and creator tools for you to make custom designs. Once you’re finished, you can upload the design to see how it looks on your chosen products.
How long does it take for my print on demand products to be shipped to my customers?
It varies by provider, but some can ship products within 24 hours of an order being placed. Most providers also offer order tracking for both you and your customers.
How do I handle customer service and returns for print on demand products?
It depends on the provider, but some handle customer service and returns on your behalf, while others provide guidelines for you to handle it.
What are some popular print on demand products?
Clothing, accessories, home décor, and phone cases are popular products for print on demand.
Can I use print on demand for my existing business or just for starting a new one?
Both existing and new businesses can use print on demand to increase their product offerings and reach new customers.