10 Crucial Print on Demand Tips for Budding Entrepreneurs
With virtually no set-up costs to worry about, no need to manage any inventory, and endless ways to customize your products, you can create a phenomenal business in no time. In fact, POD has become one of the most popular business models in the modern world for these reasons.
The Print-on-demand market is currently growing at a rate of 26% CAGR, driven by the rise of the creator economy, increasing interest in customized products, and new shopping trends.
Of course, while the POD business model may have a lower barrier to entry than some other entrepreneurial opportunities, it’s not without its challenges. That’s why we’ve created this list, featuring our top tips for any ambitious individual looking to launch a POD store.
Let’s dive in.
The Top Print on Demand Tips You Need to Know
Print on demand businesses are growing increasingly popular, as a sustainable, low-cost, and high-profit solution for creating custom fashion items and unique products. But like any business model, your chances of success depend on a number of factors.
Here are the most important tips you’ll need to keep in mind when creating your store, designing your products, and selling to customers worldwide.
1. Plan for Sufficient Cash Flow
There are many reasons why POD selling is growing more popular among business owners, from the sustainable and eco-friendly advantages of the print-on-demand process to the rise of useful tools for automating sales and order management. However, perhaps the main reason many businesses choose print on demand, is that it offers a low-cost way to start creating custom garments.
You don’t have to produce your own products, purchase expensive machinery, or even deal with packaging and shipping items. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t costs to consider. You’ll need to do your research to determine exactly how much you’re going to be spending on production, shipping fees, and any extras (like custom packaging).
This will ensure you can set the right prices for your products, to boost your chances of maintaining a consistent profit margin. It’s also worth thinking about the extra costs you may incur when running a POD business, like the fees for ecommerce software, marketing tools, and even paying designers to help you produce incredible patterns. Planning your cash flow and considering all of your outgoing expenses will ensure you’re not going to end up in too much debt.
2. Choose Your Print Provider Carefully
Not all POD companies are the same. The provider you choose to create your products and ship them to customers will make a huge difference to your ability to thrive and compete in this growing market. Always do your research into available printing companies before you commit to a partnership. Learn as much as you can about:
- Sustainability: Working with an eco-friendly POD provider can help you to differentiate your brand, and appeal to an increasing number of customers searching for sustainable products. Find out if your chosen company uses environmentally friendly materials, inks, and packaging options to protect the planet.
- Print quality: The quality of the prints provided by your vendor will influence how customers perceive your brand. Make sure you’re working with a company that can offer exceptional quality, rich colors, and support for versatile designs. You may even want to look into less common printing options, like all-over prints.
- Customer support: The best POD provider will work with you to ensure you can deliver the best experience to your end customers. They’ll be on-hand to answer any questions you might have, and should offer a range of resources and tools to help you, such as blog posts, guides, and even an intelligent mockup designer.
3. Diversify Your Products
Some products are definitely more popular in the POD market than others. Many up-and-coming entrepreneurs start their journey into this space focusing on things like t-shirts and stickers. However, it’s important to remember that the right vendor will give you a lot more options to choose from. Experimenting with a variety of different products can be a great way to differentiate yourself from other companies, and earn the loyalty of your audience.
Research your target market to find out what kind of items your ideal customers are buying, and consider building those products into your portfolio. It’s also worth looking at what competitors in your industry are selling, to see whether there are any areas where you can differentiate yourself.
For instance, if your competitors offer simple printed t-shirts, opt for all-over print products instead. Explore complementary products like hoodies and sweatshirts, or accessories like tote bags, phone cases, and even notepads. The more products you create, the more revenue you can earn.
4. Choose Designs That Appeal to Your Audience
Once you know what kind of products you're going to be selling on your POD store, the next step is making sure they stand out, with stunning designs. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to ensure every design you create is going to resonate with your audience. The best thing you can do is get to know your target market. Research your audience, look at the current trends in your industry, and pay attention to the kinds of patterns on your store that earn the most sales.
Developing a set of user personas or “buyer personas” which outline the core demographics, behavioral characteristics and needs of your target customer can help here. No matter what kind of theme or style you choose for your design, make sure your patterns look professional.
You can use the AI designer on NovaTomato to experiment with trendy patterns without having to hire a professional designer, and even post mock-ups of your designs on social media to find out what customers most want to buy from you.
5. Use the Power of AI
Speaking of AI for print-on-demand, intelligent tools can be extremely valuable when you’re launching your POD store. Depending on the tools you’re using, you can leverage artificial intelligence in a variety of different ways. For instance, Shopify can give you access to AI-enhanced analytics and reports, so you can track which of your products are selling best.
You can also use AI-enhanced design tools, such as the solution available from NovaTomato, to automatically ensure the patterns and designs you choose for your products work well together. Your mock-up designer will also make it easier for you to determine whether the designs you choose work well on the products you select.
Remember, not every design will be the perfect fit for every product. You’ll need to think carefully about which patterns and images make the most sense for each item you produce.
6. Pay Attention to Trademarks and Copyrights
While many POD vendors give members of the creator economy and business leaders the opportunity to add virtually any design to a garment or product, you still need to be careful you’re not stepping on the toes of other companies. Using someone else’s intellectual property without their permission can get you into a lot of trouble, both legally, and financially.
Remember, just because an image or character from a television show or movie is well known, doesn’t mean you have the right to use it in your designs. Additionally, if a creator publishes a piece online without letting you know it’s “free to use” you shouldn’t copy the same design.
Copying other people’s work won’t just put you at risk of lawsuits, it could also make it harder for you to build your own distinctive brand identity. Take inspiration from other brands, but make sure you add your own unique spin to everything you create.
7. Ask for Constructive Feedback
The easiest way to create a profitable POD store is to design and sell the products customers actually want. While market research can help you to pinpoint the most potentially valuable items and designs, few things will drive your company towards success more than simply listening to your target audience. Collecting feedback from your existing customers can give you a behind-the-scenes insight into the patterns, designs, and products they love most.
This means you can focus more of your attention on products that are going to generate real revenue. What’s more, asking for feedback is a good way to show your customers you care about their opinion, which could mean they become more loyal to your brand over time.
You can even use the reviews and testimonials you receive from customers in your advertising campaigns, sharing them on your website and social media posts. Consider running polls online, sending out customer surveys, or just asking clients to rate your products.
8. Order Samples to Prepare Good Product Photos
Ordering samples is a great way to protect and support your POD business. First, when you order samples from your POD vendor, it gives you an opportunity to examine the quality of the item yourself, before you start shipping anything out to customers.
As an added bonus, when you order samples, you’ll be able to take more compelling and engaging photos to showcase on your website. Taking pictures of your garments and POD products in use by real people makes it easier for customers to visualize what the product will really be like.
You don’t necessarily need to have an amazing photography studio to grab great images too. You can use your own smartphone and some basic editing tools online to transform simple photos into professional product images in no time.
9. Make Your Products Irresistible
In today’s world, one of the biggest challenges POD business owners can face is actually getting customers to purchase their products. Choosing a beautiful design for your product, and making sure your manufacturer uses high quality materials can help with this. But you may need to experiment with a few other strategies too. For instance:
- Create amazing product pages: Design product pages that showcase your items from multiple angles, so customers know exactly what they’re going to get. Write engaging and powerful descriptions highlighting all of your products core features, and make sure your customers can contact you if they have any questions.
- Use FOMO: The fear of missing out can be a powerful sales tool. Using a stock counter on your website to show scarcity for a product could be a good option if you know how to use the strategy correctly. You could also run limited-time sales and discounts.
- Appeal to core values: Make sure you focus on highlighting your ability to adhere to the core values of your customers. For instance, if you know your customers are committed to eco-friendly brands, showcase your own dedication to sustainability.
10. Plan Your Marketing StrategyFinally, remember that simply creating amazing POD products isn’t enough to make sure they actually sell. You’ll also need to ensure you’re getting your items in front of as many potential customers as possible. Before you launch a new collection, think about how you’re going to actively market your POD items. Good options include:
- SEO and content: Use content marketing, blogs, and search engine optimization to ensure your customers can find you when looking for crucial keywords online. Blogging is a great way to boost your store’s visibility, and demonstrate your thought leadership.
- Work with influencers: Working with influencers helps to give your growing brand a stronger sense of credibility, so you can earn the trust of your target audience. Consider finding micro influencers in your space and sending them free samples of your products.
- Use social media: Highlight your brand regularly on social media with videos, photos, and posts to your latest blogs. Consider running competitions, and using branded hashtags to draw attention to your most popular products.
You can also experiment with a range of other strategies, such as using guest posts on other websites to draw attention back to your site, or creating an email newsletter to keep customers up-to-date on the latest products you produce.
Master Print on Demand With NovaTomato
Running any kind of store, even a print on demand business, comes with its challenges. However, choosing the right partner for your venture can make the process a lot simpler. Here at NovaTomato, we work with the best manufacturers and producers around the world, to create high-quality garments that combine sustainability and style.
With our help, you’ll be able to create an eco-friendly business that appeals to the values of your target audience, and delivers exceptional quality every time. What’s more, with our AI-powered design tools, you’ll have no problem bringing your ideas to life.
Contact NovaTomato today to learn more about how we can help you make the most of your new print on demand enterprise.
Still have questions? Here are some of the top queries we receive from companies looking to create their own print on demand business.
What Are the Mistakes I Should Avoid for My Print-on-Demand Business?
There are numerous mistakes you can make when running a POD company, from designing your products without a target audience in mind, to choosing the wrong products for your designs. Some of the biggest mistakes you can make include:
- Not asking for feedback and listening to your audience
- Failing to order samples to check product quality and take photos
- Not investing enough time into marketing and promoting your business
- Failing to account for the expenses of running your business
- Working with the wrong POD vendor
What Are Some Best Practices for Managing Finances and Cash Flow in a Print-on-Demand Business?
Managing finances and cash flow in a POD business can be relatively straightforward, as there aren’t as many upfront costs to worry about. The best thing you can do is make sure you have access to the right funds to produce your products. Research the costs of production and shipping in advance, and use technology to keep track of your transactions and profits.
What Are Some Effective Marketing Strategies for Promoting Print-on-Demand Products?
There are plenty of ways to draw attention to your print on demand store in today’s online world. The best options include using SEO to boost your search engine rankings, showcasing thought leadership with content creation, and actively engaging with customers on social media. You can also use testimonials from customers as social proof, work with influencers to boost your credibility, and even consider paying for pay-per-click advertising campaigns on Google and Facebook.