Have you ever wanted to sell custom-printed products? Maybe you’re an artist in love with the idea of seeing your work on items people can use and appreciate daily.
Perhaps you’re a budding fashion designer looking to build your own brand. Or maybe you have a gift for humor and keep a notebook full of ideas for funny T-shirt slogans. No matter what drives you, if you’re interested in selling custom-printed products, several options are available.
Websites like CafePress, Zazzle, Redbubble, and Teespring allow you to upload designs to be printed on demand. You could also make a name for yourself by submitting designs to Threadless.
For a brand-new designer with little to no budget, these are decent options and can help your work get discovered – although all these platforms have drawbacks along with their advantages. It’s hard to build a real brand when your designs are just some of many, sold by thousands of different creators on the same platform, and you have very little control over how your work is presented.
If you’re truly ambitious, or you just want more control of your storefront on the internet, creating your own eCommerce website is your best choice.
How Print-On-Demand Works
Print-on-demand is a dropshipping fulfillment model for custom-printed products that doesn’t involve minimum order quantities or the need to keep inventory in stock. Instead, your designs are printed and shipped when a customer places an order. All the websites we mentioned above offer print-on-demand services.
The benefits are obvious: you don’t have to invest in inventory or warehousing space or pack and ship orders yourself. For many designers, this convenience is worth the sacrifice of selling their products on a crowded marketplace. Still, print-on-demand services also exist for independent creators with their own eCommerce websites.
What You Need: A Print-On-Demand Service
Starting a business begins with sourcing your products, so it’s better to choose a print-on-demand supplier first. The service you use should depend on a few factors:
- Which products you want to sell
- Quality of the available products
- Additional services like white label dropshipping (your brand is shown on labels and packing slips, not the printer’s)
- Ease of use
Printful is a good example of a white label print-on-demand service that offers a wide range of high-quality products and can meet the needs of most creators. Their website also includes numerous tools to help with the design process, along with optional services like in-house product photography.
What You Need: A Compatible eCommerce Platform
Your eCommerce platform is the software that runs your website and online store. You’ll want to use one that’s integrated with your chosen print-on-demand service, but you should also keep the following in mind when you compare eCommerce platforms:
- Limits on products, bandwidth, and images
- Features included
- Ease of use
- Quality of website templates, including mobile-friendly design
There are hundreds of eCommerce platforms available, some of which connect well with print-on-demand services. 3dcart is one such eCommerce platform, with a customizable store builder and numerous features useful to small businesses including integration with Printful.
Building and Launching Your Store
Once you’ve signed up with your eCommerce platform and print-on-demand service, build your website by choosing a template that matches your brand and making any customizations needed. The process will vary depending on your platform, but most have tutorials available.
You’ll create your products in the print-on-demand website by selecting the items you want to be printed and uploading your designs. When your products are ready, the integration between your eCommerce platform and print-on-demand service will allow you to import them into your online store. If you’re selling a lot of products, make sure your categories are set up conveniently for customers.
When you receive orders, the integration kicks in again to automatically forward them to the supplier for printing and fulfillment. You can also import new items into your store whenever you set them up on the print-on-demand website.
Of course, there’s much more to learn about running an online business, but you’ve already accomplished something significant by breaking free from print-on-demand marketplaces and launching your own site. Now it’s up to you to continue your eCommerce education so you can build your brand into something unforgettable – and most importantly, always keep creating.