Print on Demand: Your Guide to Sell Custom Merchandise

Monetizing creativity should not be a problem, thanks to print on demand. Custom merchandise, such as t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, and caps, have a place in the market so long as you add your own twist to it to appeal to a target audience.

Having said that, it is not recommended to take the traditional route of buying or even manufacturing merchandise. Doing so comes with risks, particularly failing to sell the goods. 

To avoid products from piling, take the approach of starting an online business with no inventory instead. 

With print on demand, you do not have to pay for products in advance. No, the cost comes after you actually sold merchandise, meaning there is no need to worry about bulk orders and other similar problems.

Your supplier handles printing and shipping, which allows you to focus on promotion. It takes a bit to set up the store, but order fulfilling after is pretty much hassle-free.

Advantages and disadvantages of print on demand

Just because you can run the business based on a dropshipping model, it is still necessary to familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of print on demand. 

One benefit that stands out a lot is the fact that you do not have to invest a lot, meaning that there are fewer risks. Testing various ideas and seeing which type of merchandise sells and which does not is easy when you are not the one holding the inventory.

It also helps that you can add designs to products quickly and get to selling. Finally, as previously mentioned, logistics are in the hands of a supplier, meaning that POD store owners can dedicate their resources to customer service and product quality.

Now, as for the negatives, you rely on the supplier for pretty much everything, and finding one that offers high-quality services is not that simple.

Product limitation is another disadvantage. Different suppliers will offer different options as far as product customization, sizes, models, and costs go.

Creating designs for products

You might be interested in a print on demand venture but find yourself not actually pursuing the idea because you lack graphic design skills.

It is a given that a print on demand merchandise will not sell if it lacks attractive designs. But does this mean that you need to be a full-time graphic designer in addition to being in charge of other processes, such as marketing? No.

These days, it is common for businesses, regardless of their size, to outsource various services, and graphic design is not an exception. 

Sure, learning graphic design and mastering would be valuable, but becoming a professional from scratch does not make a lot of sense from a business perspective. Instead, it is better to seek outside help.

Behance, 99designs, Fiverr, Upwork, social media groups, and other relevant channels have a plethora of eager designers looking for work, both experienced and not so much. 

Since running a print on demand business is a difficult operation, it becomes even more complicated once you start scaling it; seeking help is a common thing. Finding a graphic designer or two will prove valuable. Also, do not shy away from seeking help in other areas of the business if necessary.

General print on demand tips

A print on demand store is easier to manage than a traditional online shop, but the business still comes with its own challenges. Overcoming them with a little bit of creativity is one of the best approaches. Here are some general tips to help you tackle potential problems you might encounter with a POD store.

A clearly defined audience

It is necessary to be strategic about your approach. You do not want to invest in a random idea without carrying out the necessary market research. 

Use different channels, such as social media and online forums to identify your demographics. For example, you could target cat owners or gamers and figure out how to narrow the niche from there to define the audience more precisely.

The narrower the niche, the less competition you have. So, let’s say that you stick to the idea of cat owners. Instead of general cat designs, you could pick a particular cat breed, such as Siamese.

Or, if we are talking about gamers, select a particular video game title or a gaming platform, such as PS4 or Xbox.

Sample ordering

Be smart and make sure that your customers are going to get quality goods. Order samples from your supplier and do quality control yourself. 

It is common to get samples before striking a partnership with a supplier, so do not hesitate to experience the products.

In addition to getting the feel of the quality, holding samples also let you take product photos that you can then use on social media or a website if the stock photos from the supplier are not to your liking.

Shipping and being upfront

You are not going to ship the products yourself, but it does not mean that you can just ignore this business aspect and leave everything in the hands of your supplier.

To avoid potential questions from customers about shipping, create a policy where you provide shipping TAT with a few days as a safety net for production and other processes just to be safe.

Be honest and do not promise what you cannot deliver (this applies not just to shipping TAT). Otherwise, it will backfire.

One last thing about shipping is that you should utilize the free shipping option. It is a good way to sweeten the deal and increase sales. Both general free shipping and conditional free shipping (order X products or spend X or more dollars) are appreciated by consumers.


Print on demand offers flexibility and is a low-risk business opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs. You have hundreds of white label products to choose from and add a design to.

If the business picks up and you can grow it, switching to the idea of holding your own inventory becomes an option as well, but it is not mandatory to scale the venture and attract new customers consistently.

Interesting Related Article: “Choosing the ideal screen printing management software