A print-on-demand business requires you to carry zero inventory, has very minimal start-up costs, and does not require you to be responsible for fulfillment. It seems like a near-perfect business idea at the outset, but you need to know how to do it right to succeed. 

Here are the five steps you need to know to launch a print-on-demand business:

Step 1: Carve out a niche

Instead of selling t-shirts like most people do when they launch a print-on-demand, you can choose a niche and create custom products. 

For instance, if you have a good design sense, you can create unique designs and custom print your own stickers to sell online. That is a great differentiator, and even if you don’t have a vast following, you will see more conversions when people look for your specific service.

Once you narrow down a niche that works for you, find out what people are saying online. Remember, marketing is not about creating demand. It is about capturing demand.

Next, check common marketplaces to see if someone is already selling a similar product. 

You don’t have to be the first business in that niche. Instead, aim to be first to market better.

Step 2: Create a website

Some brick-and-mortar stores offer print-on-demand services as an add-on. But you don’t have to go the retail route. In fact, creating a website may be better.

71% of shoppers believe they will get a better deal online than in stores.

There are tons of no-code website builders that you can use to create a website and create an eCommerce store in no time. 

You can look into using stock photos, creating simple mockups, or commissioning freelancers to create a logo or some design templates for the design.

Step 3: Choose the print-on-demand partner

Most print-on-demand providers offer plugins you can integrate with eCommerce platforms like Shopify so that you can connect your store and make order-handling easier. 

Choose a partner that is available in your geographic location and can cater to your intended audience’s demographic. 

Step 4: Create a marketing and promotion strategy

How do you plan to share your website? How will you make sure that once someone lands on your website, they make a purchase?

These questions will be answered with a solid marketing and promotion strategy.

If you don’t have a marketing background, there are plenty of websites offering online courses that you can take.

Once you acquaint yourself with marketing, you can use SEO, SEM, or SMM to capture demand. For promotion, you can join niche groups, social media platforms, or do giveaways. 

Even for a print-on-demand business, content should be at the core of your strategy. 

Next, you want to use social proof through reviews and testimonials and then think about collaborations with adjacent domains. 

For instance, if your niche is phone cases, you can collaborate with small phone case manufacturers to see if they would be interested in a revenue-sharing model.

Step 5: Analyze your performance and make adjustments

Maybe getting organic clicks is your goal. You want to track that through Search Console, which is free to use, and then experiment till you understand how to boost organic clicks. 

If your secondary goal is to improve traffic to customer conversion, think about the copy and design. You can use Google Optimize to A/B test till you see an improvement in conversions. 

Four advantages of print-on-demand

1. Easy to set up

You can be a one-person army and figure out how to create design, a website, and sell products. You don’t need to hire someone to get your business up and running. 

2. Startup cost is low

A minimal amount of $100 is enough to get you started with print-on-demand. Compared to eCommerce, where startup costs are obviously high, a print-on-demand business is ideal for people looking for a side hustle.

3. Zero inventory

You don’t have to manage inventory. Your print-on-demand supplier manages everything for you so that you can focus on marketing and promotion. 

4. Product launch is easy

For an eCommerce business, launching a product means countless sprints of making sure they test the market, identify the right segment and have a solid promotion strategy. For a print-on-demand business, if you see an item that is selling really well, you can always put your spin on it and add the new design to your store. If it does not work out, you typically don’t stand to lose any revenue. 

All in all

A print-on-demand business is relatively easy to set up, poses minimal risk, and does not require you to spend a lot of money on resources. This is ideal for people that are just starting out or designers and creators looking for an additional revenue stream.