Creating your own brand and selling custom products in an online store is now easier than ever, thanks to print-on-demand. It’s no longer necessary to have a large investment budget to begin selling custom products. You sell your products on a per-order basis, and there are usually no order minimums. This means you pay for a product when you sell it and there’s no need to stock up on inventory or buy in bulk. Many people have been able to convert their ideas into products and monetize their skills using print-on-demand. You, too, can profit without putting your money at risk.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to start a print-on-demand business and be successful.
What is print-on-demand?
Print-on-demand is a business model where you, the seller, cooperate with a supplier (a fulfilment company) who will print your designs on products and pack and ship them when an order for your custom products is placed. As the seller, you are in charge of everything else related to running an online store, including customer service, marketing and branding.
There are no limits to how much money you can earn with a print-on-demand business model. Many people consider their print-on-demand business to be a side hustle, and they are content with whatever profits they generate. However, in order to earn some serious money, you need to put in a lot of effort and make your POD business a full-time job.
Advantages and disadvantages of the print-on-demand business model
To be realistic, you should understand the benefits and drawbacks of the print-on-demand business model before opening an online shop.
- You can create and start selling a product quickly.
- Your supplier handles printing and shipping.
- You don’t have to deal with managing inventory. You can add or remove products from your catalogue without fear of financial loss, which gives you the freedom to experiment with different items.
- Profit margins vary and may be lower.
- Shipping prices and times vary for different products.
- Your creativity is affected by the supplier (customisation options and printing techniques) and products (materials and sizes).
Starting with a profitable niche
Begin your business journey by choosing a niche, something that a specific group of people is passionate about. Even if you already have a niche that you know a lot about, it is always a good idea to research in-demand products. When doing research, you might come across new trends that are on the verge of becoming popular. It is especially useful to check best-selling products across various eCommerce platforms.
A profitable niche is the foundation of a successful business. Consider either a product-based or a subject-based niche.
A product-niche business sells a single type of product or several similar products. For example, you can focus on selling T-shirts with your cat’s image on them.
A subject niche business focuses on a single theme and aims to create a line of products with designs that fit that theme. You can, for instance, personalise T-shirts, tote bags, phone cases, mugs or any other product with your cat’s image.
Creating designs for your print-on-demand business
Cool and unique designs are what sells custom products. Two similar companies, for example, may sell mugs of equal quality, but their designs will set them apart. Before opening your online store, create some designs to put on your products. Remove backgrounds from your designs and export them in PNG format to get high-quality mock-ups later on when you upload your designs to the print-on-demand supplier’s portal.
If you are an artist, you probably won’t have problems creating innovative designs that you can print on various products. However, it is up to your target market to decide whether your designs meet their needs or desires. You should always keep your audience in mind when designing and have your work appraised by your target audience. Post your designs on social media networks and in online forums where your prospects circulate, ask for feedback and be prepared to receive constructive criticism.
You shouldn’t be discouraged if you don’t feel particularly artistic. Check our blog about design inspiration sources to learn about great tools and sites you can use to create, find and purchase designs. You can begin with just a few design ideas and work your way up once you’ve set up your online store.
Setting up your online store
1. Create an online store
You can create an online store with Shopify, WooCommerce, PrestaShop or a similar eCommerce platform. These platforms provide both free and paid templates that allow you to set up an online store in a matter of minutes, but if you have a flair for web design, go ahead and design it yourself to give your store a distinct look. You will have to create all of the necessary business pages, such as a homepage, shipping details page, contact page and payment details page. If you don’t feel like doing this yourself, you can always hire a professional web designer to do it for you.
2. Integrate a print-on-demand service supplier into your store
Reputable print-on-demand suppliers usually have POD plugins that connect directly with popular e-commerce platforms with a few clicks.
How to choose a print-on-demand supplier
Finding a reliable print-on-demand supplier is critical to your business’s success because any mistakes made by your supplier will affect your reputation. You should first decide what products you want to sell in your store and then look for a provider who sells those products. Take into consideration shipping costs as well. All print-on-demand suppliers should have a design tool where you can upload your designs, create mock-ups to see how your print-on-demand products will look and then publish them to your shop.
When looking for a good supplier, consider the following:
What do their customers think of them? It’s not enough for a company to say they’re fantastic; you want to see testimonials to back up their claims. They need to have a good reputation among their customers and partners.
A company’s experience is reflected in the efficiency of its processes as well as the quality of its results.
- Consistent quality
When choosing a supplier, look for someone who is committed to consistently producing high-quality products.
- Good communication
Communication is essential to achieving success and ensuring the satisfaction of partners and customers. A good company will have a team dedicated to resolving questions, concerns or inconveniences as soon as possible.
Why choose Camaloon as your print-on-demand supplier
Camaloon has been designing and manufacturing personalised products for businesses since 2011. We provide a wide range of high-quality products, use cutting-edge printing techniques and provide error-free fulfilment services. Most importantly, our prices allow you to have good profit margins.
We offer seamless integration with the most widely used eCommerce platforms. Once connected, you can sync your chosen products to your store, including any associated content such as images, prices, descriptions and tags. The plugin ensures that customer orders are automatically routed to us.
You can create mock-ups by uploading images and adding text in a variety of fonts and colours to a product using our user-friendly online design tool.
How exactly does print-on-demand work with Camaloon?
Here’s an example:
- You create a design featuring your kitty.
- Using Camaloon’s online tool, you upload the kitty design onto a coffee mug mock-up image.
- You add the kitty mug product to your online store on Shopify, WooCommerce, PrestaShop or a similar eCommerce platform.
- A customer orders your kitty mug.
- The order is automatically assigned to Camaloon, where your kitty design is printed on a mug.
- Camaloon then packs the order, puts a shipping label on it and sends it to your customer.
- The order tracking number is available in your Camaloon account.
Providing customer service
Excellent customer service is a prerequisite for success and a key component in building brand loyalty. Simply having customer service is not enough, and poor customer service can kill an online business. Lack of face-to-face communication can pose a challenge, but you have to answer customer questions and address their needs and concerns before, during and after sales.
Here’s what you can do to provide excellent customer service:
- Be available and respond to your customers in a timely manner.
- Offer different contact options such as social media, email, live chat support, text message customer service and/or toll-free phone numbers.
- Humanise your interactions with customers and provide personalised service that makes each customer feel special.
- Include as much detail as possible on orders (shipping and return policies, warranties, guarantee, etc.)
- Actively listen. Clarify and rephrase what your customer is saying to ensure that you have a complete understanding of what they are saying.
- Address issues right away.
- After an issue has been resolved, follow up to ensure the customer is satisfied with the solution.
Marketing your products
Success in eCommerce does not come as easily as simply opening an online store. How will your customers buy your products if they are unaware of your existence? You need to get noticed. Your print-on-demand supplier will handle all of the logistics of producing and shipping products, but it’s your responsibility to create and implement a marketing strategy to get customers. Experiment with various marketing strategies to see what works best for your business.
Optimize your site for search engines
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a powerful tool that can help your company appear on the first page of search engines like Google or Bing. You need to find specific keywords related to your niche and optimise your eCommerce website by including those keywords in its content. It’s not easy, but before rushing into hiring an SEO expert, try to learn how to optimise your content to generate traffic and sales on your own using the free content available on YouTube and Google.
Use social media
Use social media platforms to promote your business and connect with your target customers. Create a business account on major social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. It is critical to have a social media presence, but the key is to be present where your target customers and prospects are. Being present on a platform that your target audience does not use is a waste of time and money.
Here are some simple tips for making the most of social media:
- Post regularly and make sure your content is relevant and of high quality.
- Interact as much as possible with your followers to build rapport.
- Use hashtags that are relevant to your niche. Create a hashtag for your store and tell your customers to use it when purchasing your products.
- Use paid social media ads and work on improving your ad copywriting skills.
- Join groups to stay up to date on the latest trends and needs of your audience.
- Use influencers to promote your products.
Create a blog
To increase traffic to your eCommerce website, create a blog and publish valuable content on a regular basis. Blog about what you do, promote your products and give your readers advice. Optimize your blog posts for SEO to boost organic traffic, and then share them on social media or via email.
Writing is a difficult skill to master, especially if you need to include keywords relevant to your niche. If you don’t feel confident about writing your blog on your own, consider hiring a professional content writer to ghostwrite it for you.
Conventional eCommerce businesses are risky because they require a large upfront investment. You also have to deal with product packaging and shipping. With print-on-demand, all you need is a laptop and internet connection to set up an online store and find a reliable fulfilment company. You can use your skills to establish your own brand, start creating designs and make unique products to sell to your target market. Manage your store from home or anywhere in the world without having to worry about logistics. Camaloon helps you bring your ideas to life while saving you the trouble of packing and shipping products to customers, allowing you to focus on other aspects of being an entrepreneur.