WHAT IS PRINT ON DEMAND?
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Today I have a fun interview to share with you that will show you how to start a print on demand business with little to no start-up costs from the comfort of your home! I had the chance to interview Mandy from A Girl’s Gotta Eat, who explains how this can be a possibility for you.
Mandy has been working online since 2009 as a freelance writer. She also had been selling digital prints on Etsy but didn’t start taking it seriously till 2017.
She now has multiple shops offering digital prints and Print on Demand items that make her anywhere from $1500-$6000 per month, depending on the season.
After dedicating a lot of time at the start, Mandy is now able to maintain her print on demand shops with just a few hours a week while seeing a steady income!
She has a free guide, How To Use Print On Demand To Start An Online Business, that will help you learn how to make money using Print on Demand as well!
If you are looking for a real work from home job or a way to start a legitimate online business that makes you an actual income- starting a Print on Demand store might be for you.
Here’s How To Start A Print On Demand Store:
1. Please give us a little background on yourself, how you started your own POD business and how POD is going for you right now.
I first started working for myself as a freelance writer back in 2009. In 2017, I knew that I needed more passive income to prevent burnout, so I started selling digital files of my photography on Etsy. I had been selling prints for years and the sales would trickle in, but I wanted to see if there was more of a market for digital products over physical. There definitely was, and I started making more sales on the digital files than on prints, so I started to take the digital shop more seriously.
Eventually, I branched out from photography and added a few prints featuring quotes by my favorite feminists to my shop, and that’s when it really started to take off. Eventually, people were asking me if I could print for them instead of just selling them the digital, and that’s when I discovered print-on-demand (POD). I wanted to figure out how to keep my shop passive while also offering physical prints, and POD allowed me to do that. The supplier I was using also printed t-shirts, mugs, bags, and other products, so I decided to put my designs on some of those and see if people were interested in buying. It was like a whole new industry and way of making money opened up for me, and it made freelance writing so much less stressful. Most months I make more money from my shops than from my freelance clients.
2. Where do you sell the items you create?
I mainly sell on Etsy, but after about a year of growth, I also opened a Shopify store. I also have some of my designs for sale on Society6 and RedBubble because they’re even more low maintenance, but I don’t make as many sales or put in as much effort with those as I do with Etsy or Shopify.
3. What’s your best selling item on Etsy?
My Ruth Bader Ginsburg posters are consistently popular. One of the first non-photography products I listed was her quote “fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” It’s one of my favorite quotes, so I’m always happy when someone else loves it enough to buy my print.
4. What exactly is Print on Demand? Can you explain what it is that you do?
Print-on-demand, or POD for short, is a printing process where you outsource all the production and shipping to a third-party fulfillment center. It costs slightly more than a wholesale concept because you don’t have to order a certain quantity of inventory, you just place an order once a customer makes a sale and pay for the product’s base price.
I create all my own designs, then upload them to my POD supplier (I use Printful), add the design to a t-shirt, mug, poster, and whatever else I want it on, and then sync them to my Etsy shop. Printful makes it super easy by syncing to Etsy, Shopify, Amazon, and other marketplaces, so your orders will automatically go to Printful when someone makes a purchase. It’s almost entirely automated, so I spend less time printing the products and standing in line at the post office, and more time creating new designs and marketing my products.
5. How do you make a living through POD?
Create new designs consistently, add them to multiple products (you can easily make a dozen products with one design), research trends related to your niche, get REALLY GOOD at SEO, and be patient! It takes some trial and error to understand what’s worth your time and what types of designs are most likely to sell, so be adaptable. After a while, you’ll start to evolve your brand as you better understand what your customers are looking for, so it’s important to have patience, especially in the beginning!
6. What do you like about POD and selling on Etsy?
I love that I run an entire business from my couch! All I need is my laptop and an internet connection to create a brand selling products that people love enough to share on Instagram. I sell a lot of political stuff so people buy my shirts for protests, events, and things like that. It feels good to create things that reflect my values, and it’s even better knowing that people feel the same way and like my designs enough to give me money for them.
7. If you don’t mind sharing, how much do you make per month? How much can the average person expect to make on a full time or part-time basis?
My shops make anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000 a month, depending on the time of year. It’s impossible to say what anyone could potentially make as it depends on so many factors: the quality of your designs, the number of products in your shops, your niche and what people who are passionate about it, whether there’s a global pandemic going on… this is all why it’s important to research and be adaptable.
8. How does someone start a POD business?
You can start your own print-on-demand store by signing up for Printful and syncing it to an Etsy store. From there you can create a design, add it to as many products as you want, and start selling all those products in your shop right away.
9. How much time does it take to start and maintain a POD business?
The startup takes some dedicated upfront work as you decide on your niche, create some designs, and write quality SEO-friendly listing titles and descriptions. I’m not really sure how much time I spent on it in the beginning, I know I was obsessed with this process once I learned about it, so I probably slacked off on other work to play on Etsy. Once I had 100ish items in my shop I started seeing more consistent sales whether I was promoting and adding new products or not. I have several hundred items in my shop now so I make sales consistently and probably work on it a couple of hours a week, at most, while I focus on other projects. It’s also important to look at your stats regularly so you can make new designs based on what people are favoriting, buying, and searching for.
10. Who do you typically sell to?
Most of my products are in the feminist and political niche, so I mostly sell to women (of all ages) with similar values. The benefit of this niche is that it’s a VERY passionate audience (especially right now) and that’s key to getting people to say “OMG I need that hoodie immediately!” as they click the “add to cart” button.
Politics is definitely not the only niche with a passionate fanbase, though. Think of anyone who loves their pets, or who loves coffee. Or beer. There are passionate niches to be found all over the place. Maybe you’re incredibly passionate about something specific that you’re thinking about right now. Chances are lots of other people are too.
11. How much does it cost to start a POD business and how much on a monthly basis to maintain it? Are there any other tips you have for someone who wants to start a POD business?
I started mine with only a paid subscription to Canva (it’s $12.95 per month) and the 20 cent Etsy listing fees. That’s really all you need to get started, but you can also outsource any part of the process if you’d rather spend money than time. There are lots of designers on Fiverr who would be happy to create some of your first designs.
Are you interested in learning how to start a Print on Demand store to make money from home? Check out Mandy’s free guide: How To Use Print on Demand To Start An Online Business.