Launching a Shopify store would be a great choice for those looking to start a print-on-demand service whether as a way to grow an existent business or begin a side hustle to earn some passive income.

Here we try to take you step by step through the process. But, first, let’s take a look at some necessary questions and definitions.

What is print-on-demand? How does this business model work?

Print on demand is a business model where you as a business owner could customize a range of different products based on what you customers want in terms of design, style, size, etc.

But the more interesting aspect of this business model is that the creation part of your business is completely done by a white-label product supplier which you could work with to send orders to.

In other words, you receive orders from your customers and send them to the supplier so that they send the items with your designs printed on them to your customers.

In a way, this business model is very similar to dropshipping, since there is no need to hold an inventory of products or buy items in bulk.

You just need to market the items (such as coffee cups, t-shirts, tote bags, and so on) with your designs.

The rest of the work will be done by your supplier, including printing the design, packaging and shipping the items to your customers.

Advantages and disadvantages of print on demand services

These are some of the key benefits of starting a print-on-demand business:

  • Ability to sell small number of items: unlike mass production, which requires lots of investment, inventory space, and human resources among other things, when you launch a print on demand service, you could actually control the scale of your business, meaning that no matter you want to sell, say, one wall art or thousands of bags, you could decide the number of products you want to sell at a given time.
  • Niche product creation: another great benefit of print on demand services is that you could almost create a product for any industry and audience. Just find out about the latest trends in the market of your audience, and create an interesting design inspired by that, and you could be almost sure that you’d be successful with selling some products with your designs printed on them.
  • Business ideas evaluation: when you want to test an idea for a business or launch of new line of product but you’re not sure whether it’s successful or not, you could try out print on demand and customized products without risking a large amount of money.

Most business models come with their own set of pros and cons, and print on demand is no exception.

Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons.


  • Low risk & investment: testing ideas, adding or removing items, or even approach pivoting is easily done since there is no need to have any physical inventory.
  • Third party order fulfillment: much like the dropshipping business type, aside from receiving orders and designing, everything else is handled by your supplier. These include order fulfillment, packaging, shipping, etc. But remember that customer service is also your responsibility, when you’re order is done and the sale is finished.
  • Quick product creation: it could take just minutes to put a product for sale, with your design. You just need to have your design ready beforehand and prepare the product photos with your design depicted on them.


  • Limited customization control: depending on your supplier and its products, you could customize the products as far as you’re allowed to. In other words, you need to know your limitation when you decide how to do your customizations. These include available colors/sizes/styles, minimum costs/order amounts, and other options.
  • Lower profit margins: that’s in part due to the fact that you don’t buy your products in bulk and also because shipping costs are set by your supplier. In other words, depending on the products you choose for your print on demand service and the supplier providing them for your, you’ll be charged different costs for shipping.

Top print on demand products

There are lots of products which could be used to include your designs and be sold to the customers.

Other than custom t-shirts which are very popular (and sometimes saturated) in the current print on demand market, there are lots of other ideas which could act as great options for those wanting to start their print on demand business.

Here are some of the best products which you could use to print your designs on and sell to your online store’s visitors:

1) Fanny packs

They’re called bumbag (in the UK) or belly bag (in the US) as well, and when it comes to the print-on-demand items, they’re in fact among the best selling products.

Part of the reason is that fanny packs have been made cool again because of the fact that many well-known fashion brands have created their own belly bags, and as a result adding to the popularity of these useful and cool fashion items.

It’s interesting how some sellers try to provide more novelty value by using designs which are more creative and trendy.

Consequently, they could demand higher prices for their print on demand fanny packs, gaining higher profits.

2) Tote bags

Your online store for print on demand products could benefit a lot from having tote bags on it.

Since these items mostly require designs which could cover a rectangular, flat surface, it’s so easy for you to repurpose, adapt or scale already available designs from other items on your store.

Plus, as part of a cross-selling or upselling strategy, these tote bags could be offered to your customers as matching items when they’re checking out other products from your print-on-demand store.

3) Posters

Posters are among the most obvious options for print-on-demand businesses, but still neglected to a great extent.

These items are especially suitable for designs which are more artistic and suitable for hanging on walls.

Just never forget that although you’re not selling costly abstract canvasses or oil paintings, but still image quality is of great importance when it comes to poster designs.

So, unlike customs mugs or t-shirts which could be done using images with lower qualities, printed posters need much higher resolution in order to be acceptable for most people – 300 dpi, at least.

4) Custom jewelry

Often lightweight and small, jewelry is one of the ideal options in terms of shipping. In addition, due to its many sizes and shapes, plenty of customized engravings and designs could be used on its blank slate.

You don’t have to limit yourself to one category too. You could create bracelets, earrings, necklaces and so on.

As long as you have cool pictures and texts to engrave on to them, you’ll find out that your customers would love to order print-on-demand jewelry with customized designs on your store.

Besides, when combined together with proper marketing, such as influencer marketing, jewelry products could have a great impact on building trust and awareness for your brand.

As a result, you’ll make more sales on your store for your fashionable and cool print on demand jewelry.

5) Hoodies

Hoodies are among the trendiest clothing items which we’ve seen over the past years.

With that being said, when you combine a great design with a popular product like hoodie, you’ll have something which is desired by lots of customers. That’s especially true for print on demand hoodies with allover print.

Another reason for the popularity of this great item would be that hoodies are present in the merch clothing collection of many celebrities and influencers.

Just remember that when you decide to price print on demand hoodies, allover print hoodies are more expensive than standard ones. That’s because of more complexity and cost required to create and sell these hoodies with printed designs.

Besides, since print on demand hoodies seem unique and pretty, they could easily stand out in most clothing collection and fashion showcases. That might act as another opportunity for you to make even more profits selling these trendy print on demand fashion products.

6) Mugs

When it comes to print on demand products, mugs, along with tshirts, are some of the classic examples for this type of online business.

High usage by people and a great range of styles and designs for these items are some of the top reasons why these products are so popular with clients all over the world.

If you want to choose mugs for your print on demand business, don’t forget to browse lots of mug designs and models throughout the web. This way you’ll have better understanding of your market, as well as getting more prepared to create your own designs for your print on demand mug store.

Another great tip for beginners would be to place their picture in the right side of the design template of the mug. That means, choose right side or left side of the cup, but not the middle of it.

This will help your mug to be more visible to anyone around when someone tries to drink from it.

7) T-shirts

Many successful online sellers who started a print on demand store, launched their business with selling print-on-demand t-shirts.

These clothing items are very popular partly due to the fact that there are lots of great designs for different tastes and occasions. Also, people are looking to purchase t-shirts in all seasons, unlike many seasonal clothing products such as swimwear or jackets.

In other words, in colder times like winter, t-shirts are usually worn along with heavier items, while in the summer or spring, they’re the only wearable layer.

Using a sizing chart on your website is a great idea when selling print on demand t-shirts. This is to prevent confusion and to have higher satisfaction among your customers which could lead to more sales in the future.

To make the sizing information more visible to your customers, you could make it more accessible from your product page.

Anywhere near the product description, for example, would be a great place to put the size guide so that the users could see it with no hassle when trying to choose their right tshirt size.

How to sign up with Shopify (step by step guide)

1) Sign up with Shopify

The first step is, obviously, Shopify setup, which is very simple.

All you have to do is opting in for the 14 day trial offered by the website. No credit card is required, and after the trial is finished you could decide to extend your subscription or not.

Creating an actual store with Shopify needs a separate guide which you could find anywhere on the Internet.

What you need now is the minimum requirements for a Shopify store such as a theme, a logo, the right color set for your store, important pages such as ‘Contact Us’, ‘About’, ‘Terms & Policy’, and the Shopify Payments.

Please note that you could set up collections or add products to your store later.

2) Choose a print on demand service

There are lots of provides for print on demand services available throughout the web. Many of these services could be integrated with your newly created Shopify store.

The important thing to remember when choosing a print on demand service for your business is the shipping time offered by the service.

Normally, you’d like a service with the fastest time possible for your store customers.

So, before adding any of these providers for your print on demand business, take your time to search completely through their websites to learn as much details as you could about their prices, shipping times, available locations, refunding terms, and so on.

Among the Shopify apps for print on demand services you could find names such as Printify, Printful, Kite, Pixels, and Print Aura.

3) Create designs

Most of the time, designs are what the customers might choose one seller over another when it comes to competitive markets such as print on demand stores.

So choose wisely according to important factors such as your competition, market trends, potential customers and more.

When it comes to getting designs for your print on demand products, you could generally choose one of these three options:

  1. Ready-made professional designs: these designs could be found through websites such as Etsy or Fiverr. Usually, these are created according to trends seen on the market, although you should be careful and do your homework before purchasing.
  2. Order-based designs: this option is very similar to the first one. You just need to choose a professional designer and give them accurate details regarding your order. This could be quite expensive especially if you hire better designers who charge more.
  3. Designs made by yourself: be careful with this option as it might not work for everyone. Just if you’re sure with your designing abilities you could get results in the end. Otherwise, your brand could suffer much from poor designs from the start of your print on demand business.

4) Add products

This is where you add your products with your designs to your POD store. In fact, although you’re creating your products inventory, you don’t actually carry any physical inventory for your products.

Depending on the print on demand service you chose on the previous steps, you should read and follow the according documentation through their website on how to add products to your store.

Generally speaking, it’s better to add products little by little.

What we mean by that is that you don’t have to add 100 or 50, say, t-shirts at first to your clothing store. It’s better to start with much lower numbers such as 10 or 5 items.

The reason is that, this way have more time and energy to focus more on getting visitors for your store and attracting more customers. This could be done through marketing strategies which we explain more later.

5) Open your online store

After completing previous steps, you’re ready to launch your print on demand store officially.

Just make a review of each detail from start to end in order to make sure everything works great on your website. You could even order an item on your store to see if it takes you through required steps to the point which you have to pay.

On the other hand, if you face any issue or problem in your tests, just be patient and try to solve it via lots of available help, answered questions and documentation across the web.

6) Do marketing for your business

Marketing is a general terms which could include a wide range of tools and methods from social media and content marketing to PPC advertising and even running ads on TV.

Like what we said before about adding products to your store, you could start your marketing activities from small and then grow as you scale your business.

One of the best starting points is marketing through social media. This could be done by creating accounts across different social media networks such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram and trying to build a target audience on them.

Little by little, you could grow your efforts on each network to see better results.

At the same time, don’t forget to create and add more designs to your print on demand store in order to better appeal to the newly built audience which come to your store and expect a quality collection.

Over time, when you start getting orders and your total sales number increases, you could invest a part of your revenue in paid advertising.

PPC ads are among the best options for advertising, especially if you have tight budgets which you don’t want to lose fast without any good results.

You could try running ad campaigns on Google Shopping and Instagram. Later, with more experience, or professional managers, you could try Facebook Ads as well, which requires more knowledge and experience.


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