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What is Print On Demand Dropshipping?

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What is Print on Demand?

We all know the traditional “make to buy” business model. In this case, the manufacturer manufactures the product(supply) and stores it in its inventory. Then they market the product and wait for customers(demand) to buy it.

Here, we first create the supply and then wait for the demand. (high risk of inaccurate demand forecast)

In this situation, there are added costs of inventory. There is a huge risk of unsold inventory loss.

Print on demand is a “make to order” business model. In this business model the manufacturer or the supplier manufacturers the end product only after the customer places an order for the product.

Here, we wait for the demand, then create the supply. (virtually very low risk)

This helps the suppliers keep their inventories at minimum levels. The inventories are approximately nil.

There is no risk of unsold inventory because the product is manufactured (supply) only after there is an order (demand) for the product.

This makes print on demand a low capital-intensive business. Which means, you can start a print on demand business with a free hundred dollars, or even less.

What is dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a business model best described as follows. 

The customer places an order with the retailer (The drop shipper). The retailer places the order to its supplier. The supplier fulfills the order and ships to it the customer. The customer will receive the order with your retailer branding. The customer will never know of the supplier.

New to dropshipping? Read this article first. This will help you understand the concept of dropshipping. 

What is print on demand dropshipping?

Well, speaking Naively, combine dropshipping with print on demand business model to get print on demand dropshipping business model. Haha!

In print on demand dropshipping business, you don’t manufacture the product yourself when you receive the order.

You rather pass it on to your supplier who then manufactures the product for you and ships it to your customers directly.

The best part is, the supplier will manufacture and ship product with your brand name. This ensures the customers will never know about your suppliers and feel that the product is directly coming from you.

Is there an easier way to create your brand? I don’t think so!  Trust me, you can get started to build your brand, your own fashion clothing line in just a few hours, or maybe just an hour.

Watch me as I give you the demo! 

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How to start print on demand dropshipping?

Now that you know what print on demand dropshipping is, let me take you step by step to build your first print on demand dropshipping brand.

Note: This is a detailed guide so it can get pretty lengthy. Pocket this article or bookmark it for your easy reference.

To start your print on demand dropshipping business, you need to follow these steps. I will explain these steps in detail.

  1. Select the platform to build your online ecommerce store.
  2. Select the print on demand suppliers.
  3. Select the type of products you want to sell.
  4. Create the designs for your products.
  5. Place your designs on your products. (with supplier integration)
  6. Add product images, descriptions to your product pages on your store.
  7. Advertise your products.
  8. Fulfill your orders. 
print on demand dropshipping

1. Select the platform to build your online store

Select the Platform

An online store is the backbone of your print on demand dropshipping business. The quality of your online store can make or break your print on demand business. Thus, I would advise you to invest in building a quality online store.

I have a few recommendations from my own experience for the best platforms to build your online store. They are,

  • Shopify
  • BigCommerce
  • WooCommerce 
  • Wix
  • 3dcart

There are many other online store platforms you can choose. But, ensure that you have compatible supplier integrations for these online stores to effectively automate your print on demand dropshipping business. Also, scaling your print on demand dropshipping business with these online store platforms is easier.

Some other platforms to build your online store are,

  • Joomla
  • Magento
  • Shopmatic
  • Instamojo

Check these options for your knowledge. Due to my lack of experience on these platforms, I would not recommend these.

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What this video tutorial to help you build your online store with Shopify.

Select domain name

To make your print on demand dropshipping brand look authentic, you need a custom domain name. Choose a domain name that resonates with your brand. Also, a domain name that is easy to remember, easy to search is valuable.

As a best practice, try to get a domain name with your brand name in it, it will help you with your organic traffic strategies.

Check out these domain registrars to get your domain at a much cheaper rate,

  • Hostinger
  • SiteGround
  • Namecheap
  • Hostgator
  • Google Domains

Since I have 6 domains registered with Hostinger, I would strongly recommend it. They offer effective & fast service, easy to find domains at much cheaper rates. I am their happy customer.

As an alternative, SiteGround is also a viable option.

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If you choose to build your online store with WooCommerce, you would need a separate web hosting as well. The domain registrars mentioned above also provide hosting services. Do check them out and select the one that matches your requirements.

Again, I have a personal bias towards Hostinger & SiteGround. This very website is hosted with Hostinger!

2. Select Print on demand suppliers

Print on demand dropshipping is a lucrative business because it can be automated to a large extent. To facilitate the automation of your business, you must choose a supplier or set of print on demand suppliers that are compatible with multiple online store platforms.

This helps you reduce the risks of limited supplier integrations with various online store platforms.

Some of the best print on demand suppliers are,

  • Printful
  • Printify
  • TeeLaunch
  • Pixels
  • Kite
  • InkThreadable
  • Gooten
  • Spreadshirt (SPOD)

In no way this list is exhaustive. There are many print on demand suppliers you can choose from. 

The best way to search for more print on demand suppliers is to visit the app store of your online store platform, for example, Shopify.

You’ll find many companies offering print on demand services. You can choose anyone that suits your needs. Check out the Shopify app store here. 

My recommendation would be to go with Printful or Printify. These are seasoned print on demand suppliers with their warehouses strategically located at global locations. 

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This helps you maintain lower shipping times irrespective of the region where you sell your products. These print on demand suppliers have seamless integration with major online store platforms which would make your life easier. You can check them out for free!

3. select the product type

Choosing the print on demand product is entirely your choice. Choose a product you know inside-out. This will help you design the product well and assess the quality of the product effectively.

Most people who are just starting their print on demand dropshipping start their business by selling t-shirts. Why not, t-shirt business is a massive market. However, there are many other products as well that you can choose.

See the images below for a possible list of products you can sell with your print on demand dropshipping business.

printful products
POD Product Categories

For a detailed products list, simply visit the supplier website to get the details about different products you can sell with your print on demand business.

You can also order a few samples for a discounted price to assess the quality of the products.

As a rule of thumb, choose the product you understand. Also, ensure that the product you choose has a sizable demand that you can leverage.

Use Google Trends to conduct preliminary research about the demand.

4. Create the designs

This is the most important aspect of your print on demand business. Your designs, to a large extent, determine the success of your print on demand business.

 I have a separate blog post to give you relevant information to effectively research before you create your designs. 

 Well researched design ideas ensure you create designs that have an existing demand. Read how to research design ideas for your print on demand business.

How to research design ideas?

Know what your audience wants, know their interests, and then create designs in that niche. A niche where the audience is passionate is very easy to sell.

For example; Football, Web Series such as Game of Thrones, Money Heist, memes are some of the best niches to create designs for your products. They sell well!

Note: Do not use brand assets, trademarks, copyrighted assets because it can land you in legal trouble. Create your designs.

So, make sure that whatever designs you wish to sell have a sizable market. Even the best designs will fail if there is no one to buy them.

how to create designs?

When I started my print on demand business (www.fabclothing.store), I started it to bring out my creative acumen through my designs. I knew photoshop so designing was easier for me. It was more of a hobby than a business. But as the sales grew, I took it seriously and started creating designs that had an existing appeal to my audience.

To create designs, you can do it in two ways,

Create Designs Yourself

To create designs yourself you can use the following tools,

10068 811166
Create Unlimited Designs

  • Placeit
    I use Placeit to create product mock-ups. This comes in handy while promoting and advertising your print on demand products. 

    Not everyone has access to models to conduct a professional photo shoot of their products. This is where Placeit provides huge value by providing ready to edit mock-ups with human models. 

    This gives your social media profiles a better look with real humans showcasing your products. Cool, isn’t it!


    Check out Place.it here and avail their free trial plan to create a few designs.

  • Adobe Photoshop
    For some of you, the Canva functionality may seem limited. Such people can create their designs using photoshop. Beware, it can be time-consuming if you are new to Photoshop.

There are more tools that you can use. I have recommended these tried and tested tools which are completely beginner-friendly (except Photoshop).

Feel free to use tools that you are comfortable with. After all, you cannot be forceful in bringing out your creative acumen.

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Outsource Design Creation

Not an issue if you are not into creative stuff. Print on demand business is for everyone, not just creative people.

You can outsource your design creation. You can find quality graphic designers who can create designs for you for as low as $5 or less.

Best places to find quality graphic designers are,

  • Fiverr
  • Upwork
  • Freelancer

These freelancing marketplaces will help you connect with the top and experienced graphic designers.

You can mutually decide the price for the number of designs. Just provide them your design ideas. The best part is, you only pay the designers once you receive an acceptable quality of work.

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5. place your designs on your products

Now, you should place your designs on your products. For example, consider the case of a t-shirt.

You can place your design on the front side, backside, or choose to have an all-over design for your t-shirt. You need to resize your design on the t-shirt to ensure the prints do not overflow on your t-shirt.

By overflow, I mean, ensuring that the designs are well placed so people will be able to see them clearly on your t-shirt when you wear them. It should not be too small or too large!

You would get required assistance from your suppliers while placing your designs on your t-shirt or any other product. Follow the guidelines of your print on demand supplier and you are good to go.

You will have different procedures to place your designs for different suppliers. Do make it a point to read their guidelines.

Design your first few products and order them for yourself. This will give you an idea about the colors, print quality, print sizing. This information is very crucial before you start selling your products.

What the video below to learn how to generate hundreds of product mock-ups in a few minutes.

6. add product images, descriptions

You can directly push the product images, product details from your supplier dashboard if it has direct integration with your online store. However, those images are not always attractive and you wouldn’t want to compromise the visual appeal of your store.

I would recommend you to create your own product mock-ups, images. You can control the quality and visual appeal of your product images. This is not possible if you use supplier generated product images.

One place where you can create tons of product mock-ups with a variety of options is Placeit. I have not found any better alternative to place.it for creating product mock-ups.

Create visually appealing images, videos, mock-ups, and many more on Placeit. Upload these images to your store to make it look beautiful. Remember, visual appeal helps in selling more!

Be careful while designing product images, mock-ups. The color code of your product and the color code of your product images should be the same. 

You can also check out this awesome tool by Printful to generate mock-ups!

Along with product images, you must also edit the product information, product details. You should present this information in a better way. How you write your product information depends on how good you are at convincing people to buy your products.

7. Advertise

Before you start advertising your products, make sure your store is live and fully operational.

Refer to this checklist to ensure your store is fully operational.

If you advertise without a fully operational store, the consumers may visit your store and may not be able to make purchases. This is a poor experience for consumers. Hence, you will lose out on a few precious customers. Beware!

The mindset

By now your store must be fully operational. The next logical step is to advertise your products. Take your products to your customers. Make them buy!

The thing about dropshipping is, it is driven on impulse purchases.

Have you ever thought why would people buy from me when they have Amazon? Well, I always thought that until I Learnt about consumer behavior.

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Generate Demand

Whenever a consumer wants to buy a product, they would search on Google, or they would search on Amazon and buy what they want.

In such a manner, it is highly improbable that the customer will land on your store before they land on Amazon. Hence, you would hardly make sales.

If you think you will build an online store, conduct SEO, and develop organic traffic to your store which will help you sell more, then, you are on a slow(wrong) path, my friend!

You are waiting for consumers to arrive at your store when in reality you can take your entire store to your customers. This is the benefit of selling online!

The basic idea behind dropshipping is to take your products to the customers rather than waiting for consumers to search for a product and then arrive at your store.

Dropshipping drives on impulse purchases.

So, how would you take your products to your consumers? Simple, advertising!

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the process

It is clear that as a drop shipper, you must advertise! How would you do so?

Leverage social media. Investing in search advertising is good, but it should be your long-term strategy. If you want instant results, advertise on social media.

Leverage the power of social media advertising. Use platforms such as,

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest (My Favourite)
  • YouTube

I would recommend you choose only 2 social media platforms to advertise your products. Otherwise, you would burn yourself out.

Choose a social media platform where your target audience spends maximum time.

For example, if you are into women’s fashion products then it is a no brainer to go with Instagram and Pinterest. If you are selling business security systems then Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can be your choices.

Choose your social media platform carefully, and advertise the hell out of it.

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Do not shy away from building communities on social media. Your audience is what you will always monetize, be serious about building your audience.

So, your short-term strategy should focus on social media advertising. Your mid to long-term strategy should focus on search advertising and organic traffic generation.

Long-term strategies may be slow to give you results, but if you plant the seeds now, you’ll rip the fruits after years, delicious fruits!

The most important aspect is to get started. With experience and a few mistakes, you’ll learn more. Don’t shy away from making mistakes, no one is perfect.

Browse through these courses to see what works for you the best. Get in touch if you want personalized advice from me.

**Refer to this step by step video guide to help you with Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest advertising**

**Read this complete article, guide on how to use social media advertising for promoting eCommerce products**

8. fulfill Your orders

You’ll be on cloud 9 when you get your first order. Enjoy that moment, cherish it. Take a deep breath and get back to the work.

Getting an order is a result of your advertising efforts. Now, you have to double your efforts to fulfill your orders.

Fulfilling orders include everything from

  • Providing the order details to your supplier.
  • Tracking the status of the order & communicating it with the customer.
  • Ensuring effective & timely delivery of the product.
  • Handling product related queries, returns, refunds, quality issues.
  • Handling customer queries, providing utmost quality support.
  • Handling payments.

Despite having a quality product, you may fail in your dropshipping business if you do not provide effective & quality customer service.

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Customers will judge your business based on the service they receive than only the product. So, make sure to invest heavily in customer service.

You have made tons of efforts to arrive till this point, don’t ruin it with poor customer service.

The idea of quality customer service is not to have state of the art customer service which is best in the industry, no, not at all!

By quality service, I mean, being truthful and responsive to your customer. That’s all. You don’t need anything else.

Even an agitated customer will be happy if you are truthful to her and prove timely responses to her queries. After all, we are all humans, not machines. Be empathetic!

**You may need these tools to make your customer service highly effective. They will save you tons of time & improve your service delivery. Check them out**

Conclusion

Once you start with your print on demand dropshipping business and you have customers coming in to buy your products, you must develop a strategy to scale your business.

The beauty of online businesses is that they can be scaled with comparative ease. This is because of many ways in which you can scale your easily accessible business.

However, the sheer availability of many avenues to scale your business can overwhelm you. This can lead to burnout. Avoid that.

Develop a clear and sound strategy to scale your business. Stick to one strategy, implement it, analyze the results.

If the results are favorable, well you are lucky (because of your efforts), else, modify the strategy and implement it again.

The world of the internet has no fixed way of scaling business. It is a constantly evolving world. Hence, be flexible enough to understand what works for your business and what does not.

The trial and error strategy works best, because, on the internet, doing something is better than doing nothing.

So, do not over the plan, get your hands dirty by doing things yourself. It is the best way to learn and grow. Remember, Learn, and implement.

I have described the 8 steps to building your print on demand business in great details. I may have missed a few pointers, feel free to comment them below.

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Vishal G.

Vishal G.

I bring with me a highly detailed experience in Internet Marketing & know a few hacks to survive within this IM jungle. I am a marketing professional with years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies.

3 thoughts on “What is Print On Demand Dropshipping?”

  1. Pingback: Print On Demand Dropshipping In India • Ultimate Guide 2020 • Digital Lives

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