How to Make Money With Print on Demand

Want to turn your creative passion into a steady stream of income without the headaches of managing inventory? Print on demand could be your ticket to entrepreneurial freedom. This rapidly growing industry is empowering artists, designers, and creatives from all walks of life to transform their hobbies into profitable online businesses.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of print on demand, exploring success stories, top platforms, marketing tactics, and proven strategies to build a thriving brand around your unique designs. Get ready to join the revolution and make money online by print on demand!

What is Print on Demand and Why it’s a Game-Changer

Print on demand (POD) is a retail model that allows you to customize products with your original designs, with the items being printed and shipped only after a customer places an order. No more storage fees, wasted inventory, or upfront costs eating into your profits.

With POD, you (the creator) upload your artwork to an online platform. Customers browse your virtual storefront and purchase products featuring your eye-catching designs. The platform then prints and ships the order directly to the customer’s doorstep.

This brilliantly simple concept eliminates many traditional barriers to launching a merchandise business. As the creator, you can test new product ideas with zero risk and focus entirely on design and marketing rather than logistics and overhead.

The Explosive Growth of the Print on Demand Industry

The POD model’s appeal is reflected in its staggering growth trajectory. According to Grand View Research, the global print on demand market was valued at $3.1 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach a whopping $10.24 billion by 2027, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.3%.

This meteoric rise can be attributed to several key factors:

  • E-commerce adoption: Online shopping is now the norm, providing easy access to unique, custom merchandise.
  • Personalization craze: Customers crave products that express their individuality, fueling demand for personalized items.
  • Low barrier to entry: POD enables aspiring entrepreneurs to test business ideas without major financial risks.

With consumer trends firmly favoring on-demand personalization and e-commerce convenience, the POD industry shows no signs of slowing down. For creative entrepreneurs, the timing couldn’t be better to claim your slice of this rapidly expanding pie.

Real Success Stories to Inspire Your Journey

While statistics are promising, real-life case studies offer the most powerful inspiration. Let’s look at two individuals who transformed their creative hobbies into booming POD businesses:

Sarah, The Niche Pet Portrait Artist

As a graphic designer with a knack for quirky animal illustrations, Sarah discovered POD in 2019 and swiftly capitalized on the burgeoning pet market. Recognizing the demand for custom pet portraits, she focused on creating adorable mugs, phone cases, and tote bags featuring people’s fur babies.

By strategically targeting online pet communities and leveraging social media’s marketing power, Sarah built a raving fan base and now enjoys a lucrative full-time income from her beloved POD business. Her secret? Narrowing her niche to a specific passionate audience.

David, The Retro Gaming Culture Connoisseur

With a corporate marketing background and nostalgia for classic video games, David identified an opportunity in the pop culture market. He launched a POD business selling t-shirts and phone cases emblazoned with iconic, pixelated video game designs from his youth.

Through savvy influencer collaborations and targeted social ads, David tapped into a fervent community of gamers and 80s kids, rapidly growing his POD business into a booming full-time venture centered around his beloved retro passions.

Both entrepreneurs validated the power of finding a niche, delivering outstanding visuals, and connecting with an existing passionate customer base.

Finding Your Niche: The Key to Standing Out

Speaking of niches, identifying yours is the critical first step to POD success. With an over-saturated market of generalized designs, zeroing in on your unique angle is how you’ll attract a loyal following and stand out.

As Sarah and David demonstrated, the most profitable niches are built around specific interests or demographics with devoted fan bases, such as:

  • Pop culture: Movies, TV shows, music, vintage trends
  • Special interests: Sports, hobbies, professions
  • Identities: Ethnic/cultural pride, parenthood, fandoms
  • Locations: City/state/country pride, travel themes
  • Causes: Social/political movements, charitable organizations

To pinpoint your niche, make a list of your interests, passions, and areas of expertise. Research Facebook groups, subreddits, and other online communities to gauge audience size and engagement levels. Analyze the competition and identify any gaps you could fill with a fresh perspective.

Creating Irresistible Designs That Sell

With your niche selected, the next step is bringing your creative visions to life through captivating visuals and designs that inspire customers to whip out their wallets.

While natural talent is always an advantage, you don’t need to be a graphic design prodigy. With intuitive tools like Canva or Adobe’s product suite, anyone can create compelling compositions with practice. If stuck, consider outsourcing to skilled freelance artists and study design trends in your chosen niche.

Keys to designing products customers crave:

  • Offer unique, creative twists on established themes
  • Research popular styles, typography, color palettes
  • Tell compelling brand stories through striking visuals
  • Study competitors and identify what’s missing in the market
  • Solicit feedback to improve designs and gauge demand

Remember, attention-grabbing designs are the heart of a successful POD business, so invest time into honing your creative craft and developing a signature brand aesthetic customers will instantly recognize.

Choosing the Right Print on Demand Platform

With your niche selected and designs prepped, it’s time to choose your POD platform – the service that integrates with your online store to handle the production, printing, and shipping of customer orders.

The right platform will offer the product catalog, profit margins, and tools you need to test concepts and scale your business efficiently. Let’s look at three industry leaders:


One of the most comprehensive POD platforms, Printify seamlessly integrates with top e-commerce solutions like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Etsy. They offer an expansive all-in-one product catalog spanning apparel, accessories, homeware, and more. With a free plan available, Printify is an optimal choice for beginners to test the POD waters at minimal risk.

Pros: Wide product variety, free plan option, intuitive interface

Cons: Lower profit margins for premium products


As an established marketplace in addition to a POD platform, Redbubble is a powerful solution for both creating and selling your custom merchandise. While they charge higher fees, Redbubble owns the entire customer experience and provides a ready-made audience for your designs.

Pros: Built-in marketplace, seamless customer experience

Cons: Higher fees that cut into profit margins


If you’re focused primarily on art, photography, and design products like wall art, home decor, and lifestyle accessories, Society6 could be your perfect match. They prioritize stringent quality control with a curated artist community.

Pros: Premium product quality, art/design emphasis

Cons: More limited product catalog

When evaluating platforms, consider the available product types, base prices, profit margins, product quality, and integration capabilities with your desired sales channels. Many POD entrepreneurs utilize multiple platforms to diversify income streams.

Building Your Online Store Storefront

With your platform selected, it’s time to construct your virtual storefront and product listings that convert window shoppers into buyers. Most POD platforms conveniently integrate with leading e-commerce solutions such as:

Shopify: A user-friendly, all-in-one platform for building an online store, processing payments, and managing inventory. Seamlessly connects with Printify and other POD apps.

WooCommerce: An open-source, customizable e-commerce solution for WordPress websites. Plugins facilitate easy integration with POD catalogs.

Etsy: In addition to its popular marketplace, Etsy offers robust tools for creators to launch their own standalone e-commerce store.

Beyond the technical setup, investing time into crafting compelling product listings and an intuitive user experience is paramount. Elements like high-quality photographs, detailed descriptions, customer reviews, and bundle offers will boost sales and customer satisfaction.

Marketing Mastery: Driving Traffic to Your Products

With your store and products prepped, the final key to success is implementing a strategic digital marketing strategy to drive targetted traffic and sales. Leverage a mix of organic and paid tactics, such as:

Social Media Marketing (Organic)

Organic social media is an indispensable tool for building brand awareness and connecting with your niche audience. Identify the platforms your target customers frequent most, whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or TikTok.

Showcase your product photography, share captivating branded visuals, offer sneak peeks of new designs, and engage authentically with your community. Social proof and influencer collbaorations also work wonders for expanding your reach.

While organic reach is powerful, strategically investing in paid advertising can rapidly accelerate your storefront’s growth and sales. Facebook and Instagram ads allow you to laser-target audiences based on demographics, interests, buying behaviors, and more.

For steady branding, consider allocating a portion of your projected profits to an ongoing ad budget. Just be sure to test and optimize your campaigns continually for maximum ROI.

Email Marketing

An oft-neglected yet highly effective channel, email marketing nurtures customer relationships and drives consistent sales. Capture emails through lead magnets on your store or social accounts. Share newsletter updates about new products, promotions, and helpful content your audience craves.

Content Marketing

Speaking of content, developing a blog, vlog, or multimedia content hub positions you as an authority in your niche while driving organic traffic to your products. Offer design tips, tutorials, and behind-the-scenes peeks. Regularly publishing value-added content boosts credibility and sales.

Leveraging the right blend of marketing tactics from day one will ensure your POD storefront quickly gains visibility and traction within your target market.

Pricing Strategies to Maximize Profits

One of the trickiest aspects of any product business is setting the right pricing to maximize profits while remaining competitive. With print on demand, you’ll need to factor in:

  • Base product costs from your POD platform
  • Per-item printing/production fees
  • Marketplace/platform commission percentages
  • Advertising/marketing expenses
  • Your desired profit margins

Do diligent research on pricing trends, study competitors’ positioning, and survey prospective customers to find that sweet spot. A general rule of thumb is to price items with at least a 40% markup above your landed costs.

If your POD business takes off, consider implementing bundle deals and strategic discounting to increase average order values and customer loyalty. Volume pricing, flash sales, and exclusivity can also help maximize profits.

Scaling Up: Taking Your Business to New Heights

As your POD business gains momentum, it’s time to explore scaling strategies to capture more market share and multiply revenue streams:

Expand Your Product Offerings

Most POD platforms offer a wide range of product types beyond the basics of apparel and accessories. Consistently analyze your sales data and customer feedback to identify opportunities for new product lineup additions.

Home decor such as wall art, pillows, and bedding are an example of adjacent categories to explore. Or you could expand into complementary verticals like stationery or backpacks to bundle with popular apparel items.

Develop Content and Info Products

Leverage your niche authority and creative expertise to develop digital information products. Launch a premium video tutorial series, design templates, graphics packs, ebooks, or online courses. These passive income streams help diversify your business.

Pursue Wholesale and Licensing

As your brand gains a loyal following, you may get approached for wholesale orders from boutiques or licensing requests for your original designs. These business-to-business opportunities can be lucrative revenue drivers, especially for designers with customer merchandise appeal.

Apply for Marketplaces and Affiliate Programs

Being accepted as a seller on curated marketplaces like Etsy or joining affiliate programs for relevant products and services exposes your brand to vast new audiences of qualified buyers. Just be diligent about not overextending and compromising on product quality.

Automate and Outsource

To free up bandwidth for strategic growth priorities, explore opportunities to automate repetitive tasks and outsource time-intensive processes to skilled contractors or agencies. From automating social media to outsourcing graphic design or coding tasks, smart delegating is essential for scalability.

Keep revisiting these levers to take your business to new heights while staying focused on what matters most: delivering exceptional customer experiences.

As your POD brand expands, it’s crucial to protect yourself by understanding the legal and intellectual property guidelines for this industry.

First and foremost, you must own full legal rights and licensing to any third-party imagery, logos, typography, or trademarked assets incorporated into your designs. Copyright and trademark laws prohibit selling merchandise that infringes on others’ intellectual property.

If using stock assets, read the fine print and purchase appropriate licensing or royalty-free bundles. Many POD platforms have teams dedicated to detecting and removing copyright violations, but being proactive keeps you out of legal hot water.

For original graphics and artwork, consider registering your brand identity elements like logos and slogans for trademark protection. As your business matures, having legal entity types like LLCs or corporations helps mitigate liability and facilitate growth opportunities.

Lean on your POD platform’s legal resources, consult professionals, and do your due diligence so your hard work isn’t jeopardized.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of products can I sell with print on demand?

The possibilities are virtually endless across apparel, accessories, home decor, tech gear, stationery, and beyond. Platforms like Printify offer catalogs spanning over 250 different product types you can fully customize.

How much money can you realistically make with POD?

Earnings vary considerably based on factors like niche competitiveness, product volumes, price points, and your overall business strategy. However, many established POD entrepreneurs routinely generate $3,000+ per month from their businesses, and six-figure outliers are increasingly common.

How long does it take to be successful with POD?

There’s no definitive timeline, as success depends on your commitment, execution, and market demand for your products. Some creators gain rapid traction within months, while others treat their POD business as a low-risk side hustle to validate ideas before going full-time after 1-2 years.

What equipment or special skills do I need?

Aside from basic computer/internet access and graphic design skills (which can be self-taught or outsourced), POD entrepreneurs don’t require any special equipment or technical skills to get started. The platforms handle production.

How do I drive traffic to my POD store?

Successful traffic strategies include optimizing your store for search, leveraging social media and influencer marketing, running targeted paid ads, email marketing, content marketing, and more. Building an engaged audience is key.

Start Your Print on Demand Journey Today

The print on demand model opens up a world of possibilities for anyone with a creative spark, entrepreneurial ambition, and willingness to execute. By narrowing your niche, developing captivating product designs, and implementing smart marketing tactics, you can steadily transform your passion into profits.

With industry growth projections soaring and success stories inspiring dreamers worldwide, the future of print on demand businesses has never looked brighter. So what are you waiting for? Define your unique angle, start uploading designs to a platform, and launch the online merchandise brand you’ve envisioned.

The path to financial freedom and lifestyle flexibility awaits those who muster the courage to take the first step. Will your brand be the next POD empire to take the e-commerce world by storm?

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