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Blog / Style & trends / Is Print-on-Demand Profitable? Insights for Dropshippers

Style & trends

Is Print-on-Demand Profitable? Insights for Dropshippers

Is Print-on-Demand Profitable? Insights for Dropshippers
Karlina Rozkalne

By Karlina Rozkalne

11 min read

Looking to start your own business and want to know—is print-on-demand profitable? You’ve come to the right place. This guide will equip you with the tools, knowledge, and confidence to launch your print-on-demand business today.

In this article, we’ll answer some key questions about the print-on-demand model, cover crucial steps for your print-on-demand business to make money, and look at 4 real-life examples of profitable print-on-demand businesses.

Let’s get started!

Is print-on-demand profitable? 

Yes, print-on-demand can be profitable if you choose the right on-demand company, craft unique, high-quality designs, and create persuasive marketing strategies. 

At the end of the day, print-on-demand is just a fulfillment method, and it does not determine how successful you may become. Success comes from attracting and retaining customers through appealing products and smart promotion, ensuring revenue exceeds operational costs.

Valuable read: Is Print-on-Demand Worth It in 2024?

Is print-on-demand good for passive income?

Print-on-demand can be a good source of passive income, as it allows you to sell custom products without needing inventory or hands-on fulfillment. However, it initially takes time and effort to design products, set up your online store, and establish channels for getting customers.

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How can you make your print-on-demand business profitable in 2024?

Making your print-on-demand business ideas profitable will require a blend of creativity, market insight, and strategic finesse. Let’s cover some key steps to make your print-on-demand business profitable.

1. Choose a reputable print-on-demand supplier 

Since your chosen print-on-demand partner owns the entire fulfillment process and controls the product and print quality, your reputation is directly impacted by them.

When researching print-on-demand suppliers, consider their reshipment rates, reviews, and product variety. These are critical indicators of their reliability and service quality. 

Printful’s reshipment rate is only 0.24%, thanks to the vigorous 3-step quality check.

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Another important factor is whether the print provider owns the production. Some companies, like Printful, are fully responsible for product selection, inventory management, and fulfillment services. Others only act as middlemen and can’t guarantee consistent product quality, making brand building harder.

Choosing the right pricing strategy for your print-on-demand dropshipping store involves setting prices that cover your costs and generate a healthy profit margin. To ensure profitability, calculate your total costs (including production, shipping costs, and any platform fees) and add a markup to determine your selling price. A well-thought-out pricing strategy balances affordability for your customers with sufficient margins for your business, ensuring sustainability and growth.

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Here’s a simple formula for pricing your on-demand products.

a blue background with white textSource: Printful

To get lower product prices, you can get Printful’s Membership. Try it for FREE for 14 days, and if you like it, buy it for $24.99/month. If your sales exceed $12K over 12 months, you get it for free.

a screenshot of a computerSource: Printful

Visit our pricing guide to learn more about Printful’s product pricing, what’s included in it, and your potential profit.

Focusing on a single target audience allows you to tailor your designs and marketing efforts to the specific needs, preferences, and behaviors of a particular group, increasing the likelihood of your products resonating with your target market. To focus on a niche market, conduct research to identify demographics, interests, and trends within your niche. Use this information to create designs that appeal to them and choose marketing channels where your audience is most active. This targeted approach can significantly improve your store’s relevance, attractiveness, and, ultimately, profitability.

Valuable read: 32 Useful Market Research Tools for Startups and Established Businesses

To deepen your connection with your customer base, actively engage with your audience through social media, surveys, and direct feedback. This interaction allows you to understand their changing preferences and needs. Building a community around your brand refines your offering, cultivates loyalty, and encourages repeat purchases. 

By continuously adapting your product lines and marketing efforts based on real-time insights and trends, your online business remains relevant, attractive, and primed for growth.

Unusual, creative designs grab people’s attention, make your print-on-demand store stand out, and boost the perceived value of your products, allowing for premium pricing. 

POD business owners can find inspiration for unique designs anywhere:

  • Trending topics and social media: Stay updated on current trends, memes, and popular culture by following relevant hashtags and influencers on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.

  • Customer feedback and requests: Engage with your audience through surveys, social media interactions, and customer feedback to understand their preferences and unmet needs.

  • Niche markets and forums: Dive into forums related to your market on platforms like Reddit or niche-specific online communities to discover what enthusiasts are talking about.

  • Art and design websites: Visit websites like Behance, Dribbble, and Pinterest to spark new ideas.

  • Historical and cultural themes: Explore different cultures, historical periods, and art movements for themes and motifs that can be reimagined in a contemporary context.

  • Books, magazines, and publications: Look at literature, fashion magazines, and design publications for inspiration and insights into various styles and trends.

  • Collaborations: Partner with artists, designers, or other brands to blend different styles and perspectives into your product range.

You can also draw inspiration for your custom designs from Printful’s blog.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Printful

The on-demand model is getting more and more popular by the day. And with the growing popularity, the need for stand-out designs increases, too. So, take the time to develop original ideas—it’ll help you stand out in a ​​saturated market.

High-margin products offer advantages, such as absorbing marketing and operational costs while yielding significant revenue. To justify a higher price point for your own online store, you must consider how you position and describe your products. Plus, your images are extra important.

How much buyers will be willing to pay for your products depends on their perceived value (e.g., their uniqueness), quality, trendiness, and scarcity.

Valuable read: 11 High Profit Margin Dropshipping Products + Examples

To get higher profit margins, you can choose premium products from Printful’s product catalog.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Printful’s catalog

You can turn regular products like custom t-shirts or custom hoodies into premium pieces by: 

  •  Using premium-feel fulfillment techniques (e.g., unlimited color embroidery)

  • Crafting a one-of-a-kind design your customers can’t get elsewhere

  • Choosing eco-friendly or recycled materials

For design inspiration:

Selling high profit margin products is one of the simplest ways to keep your on-demand store profitable.

There is no one-size-fits-all marketing strategy because the success of each tactic will fully depend on your audience and products. The best approach is experimenting with different marketing tactics to discover what works for your own store. Mix and match the following tactics to build your marketing strategy.

Valuable read: How to Develop an Effective Marketing Strategy

Social media advertising is a valuable tool to incorporate into your strategy because social commerce revenue is expected to double in the next 5 years. Use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok for highly targeted campaigns to showcase your print-on-demand products directly to potential customers.

Email marketing remains a solid tool for engaging existing customers with personalized offers and updates, encouraging repeat business. Plus, it has the highest return on investment (ROI) of all the tactics—the average ROI for $1 spent on email marketing is $36

SEO optimization for your online store ensures visibility in search engine results, driving organic traffic. Plus, it’s free, which means you can increase your store’s visibility and attract more customers without adding to your marketing expenses. SEO helps build a long-term foundation for your online presence, making it an essential and cost-effective strategy to generate sales.

Is print-on-demand saturated?

The print-on-demand market has been growing steadily, leading to increased competition. While some niches may appear saturated, print-on-demand still offers many opportunities to succeed for those who can find unique angles, target specific audiences, and offer distinctive designs that stand out.

Let’s look at some real-life examples of how on-demand businesses can succeed.

4 profitable print-on-demand store examples

1. FIERCE 

Fierce Pulse is a highly profitable business that uses the print-on-demand model to sell bright, eye-catching leggings, tops, swimwear, and more. 

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Fierce Pulse

Their focus is on quality, community, and innovative designs. 

We’re going for quality and doing what our competitors haven’t done before. We’re just going the extra mile.

Nenad, CEO and co-founder of FIERCEPULSE

Because they’re a community-focused print-on-demand business, they emphasize customer reviews on their website and social media. 

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Fierce Pulse

This strategy builds trust with potential customers and showcases real-life satisfaction and engagement with their products. Highlighting positive feedback and stories from the community helps reinforce the brand’s commitment to quality and customer service, making it more likely that visitors will convert into loyal customers. By placing customer experiences at the forefront, they build reputation and appeal in a genuine and impactful way.

Read more: Building and growing a FIERCE brand with Printful

Dogecore is a print-on-demand business that specializes in selling meme merchandise.

a screenshot of a shirtSource: Dogecore

Dogecore was built on a nearly decade-old meme page on Facebook. And social media is one of their main traffic and revenue drivers to this day. 

The owners of Dogecore found the print-on-demand business model attractive because it required close to zero starting capital and was a very low-risk business model.

Print-on-demand (POD) is great for low-capital, high-risk sales. I could run a very successful t-shirt company, but I’d always entertain the idea of using POD services to try out new designs. It reduces the scary thought of having 400 t-shirts piling up in your garage that you can’t sell.

Dominic, Dogecore co-founder

Another highly successful marketing tactic for the brand is email. Dogecore has an astounding 42% email open rate. Their success highlights how humor, connecting with your audience, and being authentic can lead to remarkable results and customer loyalty.

Read more: Dogecore: Success through Humor and Authenticity

Match Kicks is an online store where customers can find apparel and accessories that perfectly match their sneakers. 

a man standing next to a couple of shoesSource: Match Kicks

Match Kicks didn’t start as a print-on-demand business. When they first launched, the owners thought it would be cheaper and better to print everything in-house. But keeping up with inventory, managing employees, and dealing with operational hiccups like broken printers was challenging. After deciding to switch to print-on-demand fulfillment services, Jose and Kody, Match Kicks’ founders, went through 3 or 4 printing services before eventually landing on Printful.

There are some things we might be able to do in-house, but in the end, we’re never going to match the type of service that [Printful] can bring to the table.

Jose and Kody, founders of Match Kicks

Read more: Why This 7-Figure Ecommerce Shark Partnered with Printful

Itsjusta6 is an automotive-focused brand that creates videos all about racing, building, and breaking cars. They have a massive audience of 1.2M YouTube subscribers, 250K Facebook followers, and 350M Instagram followers.

a screenshot of a carSource: Itsjusta6

For the itsjusta6 creators, building a clothing brand was as integral to their business as growing their channel on YouTube. While having boxes of t-shirts in their college bedroom was fine initially, it was hard to keep up with the demand once the brand really started growing. That’s when the itsjusta6 brand became a print-on-demand business. 

I wanted something that easily integrated with Shopify. And after going through 6 or 7 different options, Printful was the Goldilocks fit—it met all of my requirements. The user interface was friendly, which is a big deal. It may not seem like a big deal, but having a good, easy-to-navigate user interface is incredibly important for internal operations. So honestly, just from my own research, and after getting hands-on with the software and trying it out, Printful stood out as by far just the best option.

Nic, one of the itsjusta6 co-founders

By partnering with Printful, the business has the ability to experiment fearlessly without risking losing money. Plus, it allows for total flexibility; itsjusta6 can launch products in minutes and adapt to fluctuating customer demand.

Read more: How itsjusta6 Scaled While Staying Flexible with Printful

Conclusion

Understanding the real print-on-demand worth shows it’s a highly profitable option for those interested in creating a business with low risk and minimal investment. Success in print-on-demand, as in almost any other business, requires know-how, determination, and creativity.

Know-how can be learned, and creativity can be cultivated. So, the question is—how determined are you?

Read next: Is Etsy Print-on-Demand Profitable in 2024?

author

By Karlina Rozkalne on Feb 19, 2024

Karlina Rozkalne

SEO Content Writer

Karlina is an SEO Content Writer specialist at Printful. As a firm believer in attitude over aptitude, Karlina gives her 100% whenever she works on something new. Karlina spends her free time reading, traveling, and doing yoga.

Karlina is an SEO Content Writer specialist at Printful. As a firm believer in attitude over aptitude, Karlina gives her 100% whenever she works on something new. Karlina spends her free time reading, traveling, and doing yoga.