All round the internet, you probably must have heard that a print on demand business is something that can make you a fortune. So, you have chosen to start POD shop to sell custom merchandise. Here is a 3-step guide to get your store up and running.

1# Choose the Right Product and the Right Buyer.

When starting a print on demand venture, this the most crucial step that, unfortunately, most people skip. Your success in this kind business almost entirely relies on this step. It basically involves researching for low competitive products that there’s huge demand for.

In other words, it is finding selling products which don’t have many sellers but have a considerable number of buyers.

It is arguably the trickiest part of the process but it will pay off if you do it right.

How do you go about it?

You can start from your hobbies. It will be fun to sale products that are linked to an activity, profession or a topic that your like. Well, this process is commonly known as niche selection.

Once you’ve found a niche, check the kind of products that are selling. It is worth noting that, some products are extremely competitive while others have low competition depending on the niche you have chosen

High competition means that the demand for the products is high but chances of making sales are low especially if you are just getting started. Low competition may mean that your competitors are few but it may also mean that the demand for that product is low.

According to some POD veterans, one best strategy to curb the high-low competition puzzle is to combine niches. For instance, creating a product that target a nurse who loves coffee as well football is definitely more specific and effective than a general design that is targeting nurses!

Having said that, it is up to you to look around for a niche is that can possibly make you some backs. Printful has published a good resource with a couple of niche market ideas to get your started.

Tips to discover niche/product ideas

  • Use tools like social media (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram to find out what people in your chosen niche are passionate about then come up with designs linked to the ideas
  • Check Niche specific online forums
  • Use google trends to find the latest happenings in your niche
  • Go to events that related to your niche and pick up ideas
  • Check print on demand marketplaces like (Redbubble, Spreadshirt etc) to see the top selling ideas

After collecting enough selling ideas, the next task creating designs.  If you’re a designer you can start right away. You can use paid for industry standard tools like Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator or opt for free tools like Gimp, Inkscape or Pixlr.

You do not need to be a professional designer to make sales. Some designs contain just text and simple graphics but they still sell. But eventually you will have to learn design to stay on top of the game.

If designing is not your craft find and experienced designer or artist either on Fiverr or Upwork

2# Choose Where to Sell your Products

Once you’re comfortable with product/niche, the next step is to decide where you are going to showcase your designs as you wait to make sales.

There a couple of options.

Option #1 POD Sites/Marketplaces

If you’re just getting started the best platforms are the POD websites or marketplaces that allow you to upload your designs free of charge. This option is not only the best for newbies but also pro artists and designers.

This is a good option since you will not have to spend your cash on coming up with an online store. The marketplaces already have an establish audience that is waiting for unique designs.

These platforms will allow to test what is actually selling and you will not have to bother with manufacturing, shipping and customer care services.

All you need is to sign up, upload on the right product mockups, do a few edits on the fly and start selling.

Some of these marketplaces(Redbubble, Spreadshirt, Etsy etc.) will allow you to create shop on their platform. You can customize the shop and promote it exclusively.

Option #2 Create your Own POD Store

If you’ve been around in the POD industry, you would probably go for this option. This is especially good for entrepreneurs who want to build a brand. This is option is however quite involving. Before setting up a store you should have clear answers to the following questions;

  • Do you have enough resources to get the raw materials, handle the manufacturing and shipping?
  • Are there fulfillment companies that can manufacture your chosen product (in the first step) at reasonable prices?
  • Are there companies that can handle shipping at reasonable prices?

If you do not have enough resources to manufacture and ship you items then find established fulfillment companies that can handle this part of the process. Be sure to check their products and services just to be sure that quality is guaranteed.

If you can manufacture but you lack means to ship lookout for dropshipping services.

And finally, if you can handle everything, congratulations! This means you understand the materials needed for manufacturing, printing machinery and techniques, skilled labor, shipping and customer support services. It is not an easy task if you are just beginning.

Now that you have the answers the next task is to come up with an online store. The most popular and easy to use platforms on the market are WooCommerce and Shopify. Which is the best option will depend on how you will with to run the business. Find out details in this piece that compares the two eCommerce platforms.

Step by Step Guide to Set up a POD store with Shopify

Shopify one of the best ecommerce platforms that is easy to use and comes ready with most the features you will need to manage your store.

Below is a video showing all you need to get shop up and running

Step by Step Guide to Set up a POD store with WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an app that you can install to an already running WordPress websites. It is free and flexible.

Below how to set up WooCommerce

Integrating WooCommerce with fulfilment/dropshipping comapnies

3# Promote

This the is the last step. With the existing competition, which in fact is ever growing, there is no way you can be discovered especially if you have chosen to come up with your own store. Even in the case of marketplaces, you will still have to make an effort to promote your products.

Promotion is whole topic of its own and it can be free or paid for. Here are some ideas

Bonus: Evaluation and Improvement Strategies

After successful going through the above crucial steps, all you need is to closely monitor how you wonderful store is performing.

Be keen to note what is working and what is not working then make some adjustments which will serve as improvements. This should be a consistent and continuous task. Further reading: 11 clever ideas to skyrocket your POD profits