Print On Demand: Everything You Need To Know

Do you have a great idea that you think is a winner, but you can't seem to sell to the big companies? Perhaps you're a writer that has written the next great novel in its genre, but you can't get past the slush pile at the major publishing houses. No matter your creative endeavor, printing on demand could put you on the path of success.

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What Exactly is Print On Demand?

The middle ground between doing it all yourself and working with an established company, Print on Demand is a means of bringing an idea to life and putting it up for sale. Through the print on demand process, custom products based on your design, such as books and t-shirts, can be produced as a one-off prototype, or made available to the public to sold and shipped on a per-order basis.

What Can Print On Demand Services be Used For?

Print on demand is often used as a proving ground for products and ideas, as it's a means of creating limited copies of a product. For example, many writers will use print on demand to test their print formats before submitting to an agent or even use it as an alternative path to traditional publishing. It allows the author to keep full control of their work. The concept is the same for graphic designers and artists, as it allows for the creation and sale of products featuring their artwork without selling intellectual property rights. 

Pond Threads offers Print On Demand services for clothing ventures. See what we can do for you.


What Are the Benefits of Print On Demand?

The benefits of the print on demand model are numerous and include low investment cost, the ability to control the price of your product, and its availability to the public. Other benefits include no upfront purchases or fees, meaning you won't be required to buy your product to sell, nor will you be charged for shipping and production until a sale has been made. The supplier also handles the post-sale duties such as printing and shipping, allowing the seller to focus on their next book, shirt, art print, etc.

The most significant benefit of the print on demand model is keeping the rights to your work. The loss of creative control, while disheartening to most creative minds, is common in the business world, especially in graphic design and publishing. At the cost of doing quite a bit more work in pursuit of a sale, most would agree that keeping the rights to their work is an even trade.

What’s Not?

Due to the nature of print on demand being the middle ground between do-it-yourself and professional service, the drawbacks lie with the overlooked labor involved in selling a product. While a traditional book publisher or clothing store will have a website, and possibly a storefront to sell your product to the public, presenting it to the public rests entirely on the creator. This extra burden generally involves developing a marketing plan, building a website, and creating a social media presence. All of which would have been handled by an established company.

As well as having to take on the marketing of your product, other issues some might find with print on demand publishing include lower profit margins, limited customization options, and little control over shipping. These issues are primarily due to the higher costs associated with printing on a per-order basis and trusting the service to handle shipping and handling in your stead.

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Tips for Starting Your Own Print On Demand Business

Find Your Target Market

social media apps on iphone

Print-on-demand covers many industries, and it's difficult, if not impossible, to accommodate them all. The best approach would be finding the audience you feel you can benefit the most. Whether that’s writers, t-shirt designers, or artists in need of a printing service, the best way to decide is through marketing research.

To define your audience, you'll need to go to the modern town square, better known as social media. Depending on the industry you’re targeting, you’ll want to spend time seeking out groups and pages on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. These are the big four social media platforms, but this could change at any moment, keep an eye and ear on the latest rumblings, and follow the crowd to the next big platform.

Create Mockups & Always Order Samples

Whenever you’re creating something with the intent to sell, you're going to want to produce the best product possible. Usually, this would be a job handled by the company providing your product, but with printing on demand, this is your task alone. Most print on demand services offers a means of seeing your final product without physically producing it first.

You can view a mockup of your finished product through an easy-to-use program provided by the print-on-demand service. Using a mockup is a great way to ensure everything is looking right before selling. However, a mockup may look great on your screen but completely different in your hands. 

To avoid selling a less than stellar product, be sure to buy a sample or two of your product. If these samples meet your expectations, then, by all means, make your product available to the public and begin your next project.

Shipping

 

Be Smart About Shipping 

Printing on demand holds its fair share of unseen variables for beginners, and one such variable is shipping. When using such a service, it's best to research not just the shipping costs and time, but also production costs and time. Disclosing the exact production time separate from your expected shipping time can significantly aid in a sale.

For ease and clarity, detail the expected shipping and production times on a dedicated page such as FAQs page or a page solely dedicated to explaining the shipping and production process. Doing so should help keep emails to your support account to a minimum.

Don’t Forget About Marketing 

As mentioned earlier, printing on demand requires you to do your marketing. Fortunately, you already have an idea of approaching this task from when you researched your target audience and created a mockup of your product.

By utilizing social media and connecting with influencers in your market, you can reach hundreds, thousands, even millions of prospective buys. However, you must first develop a brand that includes a name for your product line, a logo, and website and social media pages. As well, the occasional banner ad will help, but the word of an influencer travels far and can be as cheap as sending a piece of your merchandise to review or showcase.

Print On Demand Services

Pond Threads

Catering to apparel manufacturing, Pond Threads also offers full-service print on demand. Services include digital pattern making, sampling, roll to roll fabric printing, cut and sew bulk orders, and digital cutting. As well, they offer consumer fulfillment services such as integrating e-commerce sites with a cloud base platform. 

Lulu Express

Geared toward authors, Lulu Express offers print-on-demand with a wide range of services and customization. Notable services include a large selection of format templates, binding types, book sizes, and the ability to choose paper and print quality. As well, Lulu features a pricing calculator and shipping options, so you know how much your book will cost to produce.  

Printful

Marketed primarily toward the clothing design, Printful offers a wide selection of products and services, including Direct to Garment, Cut and Sew, and Embroidery. As well, Printful offers name brand material such as Gildan and American Apparel and features a user-friendly mockup generator, so you know precisely how your final design will look. 

Gooten

Offering print on demand services for a variety of products, Gooten has an extensive and unique catalog of items from calendars to dog beds. And similar to Printful, Gooten offers a mockup service that allows the user a virtual view of their final product. However, due to the international network of vendors used for their products, quality and shipping rates vary.

Printify

Like a few other companies listed, Printify offers a wide range of products it can service from everyday items like hoodies and t-shirts to more unique items such as shoes and water bottles. It currently boasts over 200 products, and while free to use, Printify offers a premium membership that includes 20% of all products.

Additional Tips

When selecting a print on demand service, always be mindful of what the service offers you and your customers. Long production and shipping times, high production, and shipping costs should be avoided. As well, do well to research a company before deciding to work with them. Customer reviews, especially those from the Better Business Bureau, are a great way of determining quality companies and products if located in the United States.

different color t-shirts

 

Closing Thoughts

While print on demand is a viable option for getting your product out to the public, it's not the easy path to getting rich and successful overnight. By cutting out the marketing power, purchase discounts, and other benefits associated with working through an established company, you're essentially building a company from the ground up and doing a lot more legwork. Nonetheless, print on demand is an excellent way to realize an idea for a product, test the waters for your novel or poem collection, but not without its pros and cons. Many have found success this way, but it's a path hinged on dedication and perseverance.

For more information on our services, visit us at the official Pond Threads website.