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Blog / Beginner's handbook / 30+ Tools for a Successful Print-on-Demand Business

Beginner's handbook

30+ Tools for a Successful Print-on-Demand Business

30+ Tools for a Successful Print-on-Demand Business
Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

17 min read

In the evergrowing world of ecommerce, print-on-demand (POD) arose as a game-changing solution for aspiring entrepreneurs and established businesses alike. With POD, there’s no need for inventory and no upfront costs.

Through print-on-demand, ecommerce businesses can create items like custom t-shirts, custom hoodies, wall art, and beanies, which are only produced once a customer places an order.

But leveraging print-on-demand tools is vital to turn your business into an ecommerce powerhouse. These tools will help you save time, allowing you to concentrate on business growth, create exceptional designs, and develop meaningful customer relationships. To see how print-on-demand tools can elevate your business, explore the first-hand insights and recommendations from successful print-on-demand stores.

In this article, we’ve compiled over 30 print-on-demand tools to set you on the path to success, categorized into eight sections for your convenience. Let’s delve deeper into each tool’s features, pros, cons, and pricing.

1. Market research tools

Before starting your print-on-demand dropshipping business, you should conduct market research to find your target audience and determine what products you should sell. These tools are a great place to start.

Think with Google

a screenshot of a computer

Source: Think with Google

This all-encompassing market research tool is entirely free. It includes Google Trends, a tool that gives you insights into search behavior, like what topics and keywords people search for during a specific time or in a particular region. You can use Google Trends to research keywords, boost your SEO, develop a winning content strategy, and much more.

Besides Google Trends, Think with Google also includes:

  • Find My Audience, also called Google Insights. An excellent print-on-demand tool to explore your audience’s interests, uncover search trends, and unlock new ways to reach them.

  • Grow My Store. This tool evaluates your retail site, gives you an overall score, and provides in-depth analysis and suggestions to help you grow your company.

  • Market Finder. With this tool, you can find new potential markets, learn useful operational information, and sell both locally and internationally.

Temper

a screenshot of a computer

Source: Temper

Temper is an excellent print-on-demand tool for optimizing customer experience over time. You get insights into customers’ moods by inserting quick questions on your website, emails, apps, or any platform they use. This way, you constantly have current customer feedback and know what areas to improve.

Temper doesn’t offer a free plan, but they offer a 60-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with their services.

Find more print-on-demand tools for market research in our article 32 Useful Market Research Tools for Your Business. Now, let’s look at the next invaluable print-on-demand tool category.

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2. Business name generators

Namelix

a screenshot of a business name generator

Source: Namelix

Coming up with a catchy and original business name is paramount to your business’ success. Your business name should reflect your brand identity and closely relate to your services or products.

Luckily, you don’t have to spend tonnes on branding—there are AI-powered tools that can do it for you. Research.com team has compiled a list of the 15 best AI business name generators, so head over to their blog to find a business name generator that suits your needs. The coolest part is that many of them are free of charge.

3. Ecommerce platforms that integrate with print-on-demand

Ecommerce platforms simplify the creation and management of online stores and can be directly linked with your print-on-demand service provider. Their features include editable templates, secure payment gateways, inventory management, marketing tools, and more. Plus, you get to showcase your brand on a dedicated website.

When choosing a print-on-demand service provider, make sure you’re satisfied with the print quality and methods, range of products, customer service, shipping costs, and turnaround time. We always recommend ordering product samples before listing a product online. At Printful, we value quality above all, and our stellar reviews speak for themselves.

Below is a list of ecommerce platforms that integrate with Printful.

WooCommerce

a screenshot of a software platform

Source: Statista

As of July 2023, WooCommerce, integrated with WordPress, is the leading ecommerce platform. It’s best suited for developers and large retailers. You can try to manage everything on your own, but hiring a WooCoomerce developer can save time on a lot of tasks like:

  • Choosing a hosting account. To set up a website, you need an active hosting service. The speed and reliability depend on the provider, and a WooCommerce expert can help you choose one.

  • Installing WordPress. WordPress is the content management system that will power your new online store.

  • Installing WooCommerce. This plugin is what turns a regular WordPress website into an online store.

  • Installing plugins. Plugins are key to WordPress websites’ functionality. Installing the right plugins will ensure everything runs smoothly—payment processing, page building, campaign launching, etc.

  • Setting up a theme. Your website’s look can make or break its success, so choose a solid theme. Here are 5 Great Examples of Clothing Brand Website Design for inspiration.

  • Ongoing maintenance and development. Ensuring your online store is up to date will improve the user experience. That way, you’re more likely to attract loyal customers. 

Check out this article on how to build a powerful software development team by hiring remote developers. Use YouRate to investigate hourly rates at software development agencies in 35 countries by location, tech stack, and years of experience.

Find out more about WooCommerce features and pricing here.

Shopify

screens screenshot of a website

Source: Shopify

Unlike WooCommerce, Shopify is easy to set up and perfect for small and large businesses. The service is cloud-based and hosted to provide access from any connected compatible device. However, Shopify offers limited design options and customizability, and the service may exceed your budget.

Check Shopify’s price tiers to see more features. They offer a 3-day free trial and the first three months for only $1/month.

Wix

a screenshot of a website

Source: Wix

Wix offers over 500 beautiful website design templates, but you can also create your own website from scratch. This platform is ideal for small businesses and can be set up quickly. All plans include a custom domain, your own branded storefront, and 24/7 customer care, but the features, like plug-in options, themes, and customizations, are limited compared to WooCommerce.

Squarespace

screens screenshot of a computer

Source: Squarespace

Squarespace is an easy-to-set-up ecommerce platform that’s well-suited for artists and beginners. Like Shopify and WooCommerce, it allows you to sell on social media and automatically updates listings when products are out of stock. But, compared to other platforms, it has limited customization options and poor SEO performance.

A big plus—Squarespace has an affordable business plan that currently costs $17/month.

BigCommerce

a screenshot of a website

Source: BigCommerce

Another excellent print-on-demand platform for small businesses, BigCommerce offers many advantages, like beautiful website designs, smart solutions, multiple sales channels, and strong SEO features. Check out their plans here. We’ve also compiled a list of the best BigCommerce apps to help you sell more.

Visit our page to see the complete list of Printful integrations.

Note: Besides ecommerce platforms, there are many other ways to sell online. You can use marketplaces, social media, and more. Find out how to sell online and choose a channel that fits your business and needs.

4. Graphic design tools for your print-on-demand business

A large part of running a successful print-on-demand business is creating visually appealing custom product designs that captivate potential customers. Here’s where graphic design print-on-demand tools come in handy. Let’s dive right into some of our favorites.

Canva

a screenshot of a website

Source: Canva

Canva is an outstanding free tool for beginners. They offer thousands of fonts, icons, and recent photography that you can use to create social media posts, banners, emails, and more. Check out their pricing and features for each plan.

Of course, Canva has some limitations—for example, creating unique elements or moving design units from one design to another is impossible. But it’s ideal for those who are just starting out.

Photoshop

a mountain with a blue sky and text

Source: Adobe

Adobe Photoshop is arguably the number one design tool for professional graphic designers. What can you do with Photoshop? Anything from photo editing, graphic design, photo restoration and retouching, photo-realistic drawings, video and animation creation, and matte paintings. Photoshop uses raster graphics, meaning that images are made of tiny pixels, making them resolution-dependent and best used for creating photos.

This is one of those print-on-demand tools that takes a lot of time to get accustomed to, but it’s a good investment. If you don’t have time to master Photoshop, you can always hire a professional. Find out more about Photoshop’s pricing here.

Adobe Illustrator

a jar with shoes on it

Source: Adobe

While Photoshop makes raster graphics using pixels, Adobe Illustrator is vector-based, which allows you to create resizable graphics. Illustrator is perfect for creating scalable designs. This app is mostly used by illustrators.

Like Photoshop, there’s a big learning curve, but once you get the knack of it, you can create stunning illustrations for your print-on-demand products and website content. Check out Adobe Illustrator’s price and features here. They also offer a free 7-day trial.

Inkscape

a cartoon of a plane with a city and buildings

Source: Inkscape

Inkscape is a free version of Adobe Illustrator with fewer options and a limited file format. The app’s native file format is SVG, making it more appropriate for design graphics displayed on screens, not printed. But you can still import and export various formats, including PDF, EPS, and PNG.

Inkscape has a learning curve as well, but it’s easier to pick up than Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. It’s a solid option for anyone looking for print-on-demand design tools on a budget.

GIMP

a collage of images and text

Source: GIMP

This list of print-on-demand design tools wouldn’t be complete without mentioning GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). This absolutely free cross-platform image editor is loved by professional graphic designers, illustrators, and photographers. The app is feature-rich and can be enhanced with third-party plugins. It offers various tools and features comparable to paid image editing software.

On the flip side, the user interface isn’t as polished as some paid alternatives, and it has a limited CMYK color mode (the color mode used in commercial printing to create full-color graphics and images).

Printful’s Design Maker

a screenshot of a pink hoodie

Source: Printful

Printful’s Design Maker allows you to create stunning designs and mockups for your online store. You can choose from over 791 fonts, 20,496 clipart graphics sorted by themes, and 668 colors and patterns that guarantee high-quality, consistent prints.

When creating designs for your prints, it’s important to follow our print file guidelines. You can find our Guide on Preparing the Perfect Print File here

The built-in tools in Printful’s Design Maker (Clipart, Text Tool, Quick Designs, etc.) are a hassle-free and fail-proof way to make solid print files.

Now that you have plenty of print-on-demand graphic design tools, where do you find free images to work with? Head on over to our article with 15+ free image resources for print-on-demand.

If you need help finding a designer, check out our article 7 Ways to Find a Designer to Create Your T-Shirt Designs.

5. Mockup tools for your online store

When selling custom products, your product photos make or break your success. Taking real-life photos of every product can be incredibly time-consuming and expensive. That’s why sellers who use the print-on-demand dropshipping business model and offer many variants of the same product can benefit from mockup generators.

First, let’s look at what Printful offers.

Printful mockups

a woman standing in front of trees

Source: Printful

Printful offers product templates that you can use to create product photos without any physical products. All you need is a free account with Printful. You can choose the model, add your design, and choose either one of Printful’s backgrounds or upload your own.

Find out more on how to create product photos with mockup generators.

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Placeit is another excellent mockup generator that offers free (albeit limited) templates. They currently offer 12 pages of commendable free templates, but upgrading to the paid version grants you access to an unlimited array of premium-quality templates. You can check out their monthly plan and pricing here.

Figma

a screenshot of a website

Source: Figma

Figma is a vector-based design, project management, and collaboration tool with free mockup plugins you can use to create product photos in seconds. You can easily share whatever you’re working on with your team and invite others to collaborate. They offer a free starter plan and even their professional plan is free for students and educators.

Find out more about Figma’s tiers here.

Now, on to the most powerful marketing tool—emails!

6. Email marketing tools

Email marketing has the highest return on investment (ROI) out of all the marketing strategies —3,600%, meaning you get $36 for every $1 spent. That’s an incredible profit since a 5:1 ROI is already considered good.

We’ve previously shared a list of email marketing strategies for better results to kick off your marketing game. And if you’re wondering how to develop an effective marketing strategy, we’ve got you covered.

With advances in AI technology, you don’t even have to write the emails yourself. Use the following tools to run effective and successful email marketing campaigns and unlock the huge potential of email marketing.

Mailchimp

a screenshot of a website

Source: Mailchimp

Mailchimp automatically sends emails to customers along their journey, creates optimized content with AI, gives valuable insights on customer activity, and identifies and targets your most loyal customers. Their free version allows you to send and schedule emails, but it may be worth upgrading to access all the features.

You can start with their 1-month free trial to see if the results are worth it. Learn more about Mailchimp’s pricing, subscription plans, integration options, and features.

Klaviyo

screens screenshot of a phone

Source: Klaviyo

This is another outstanding email marketing tool that you can use to collect email addresses and send emails to your target audience. Klaviyo also features advanced analytics, but what’s truly remarkable is that their free plan accommodates up to 250 email subscribers, allowing you to send them up to 500 emails a month.

Their premium tier includes emails and SMS notifications for up to 1,500 contacts. But, their pricing leans on the expensive side. Another downside is that learning how to use the software swiftly can take some time.

Hubspot

a man sitting at a table with a mug and books

Source: HubSpot

HubSpot is a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that scales along your business. HubSpot CRM platform offers marketing, sales, customer support, operations, and content management services for businesses of all sizes.

They also offer a free email marketing tool connected to their CRM. You can use it to craft engaging emails with AI tools, send personalized emails, create targeted email campaigns, and increase your click-through rates.

Check out their tiers and features in the pricing section.

7. Social media tools

These print-on-demand tools are game-changers when managing your social media channels. Imagine not having to remember to publish posts, knowing what content works best, and being able to generate content in a fraction of the time. Let’s explore the best social media tools for your print-on-demand business.

Hootsuite

a screenshot of a website

Source: Hootsuite

Hootsuite is an excellent social media management tool that supports Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, and Pinterest. It allows you to schedule and publish content across all your social profiles, track performance in real-time, and amplify the reach of your top-performing content.

The app includes a social media calendar to see and organize all your social media posts. Plus, you can follow trends, keep an eye on competitors, and always post on time with scheduled posts. They offer a 30-day free trial to get started. Check out Hootsuite pricing here.

Buffer

a screenshot of a website

Source: Buffer

Buffer is another excellent social media management tool compatible with Facebook, Instagram, Google Business Profile, YouTube, LinkedIn, Mastodon, Pinterest, Shopify, TikTok, and Twitter. This app includes tools that help you publish posts, boost engagement, follow analytics, and build a landing page.

They also offer integrations with popular tools like Canva, Unsplash, Google Drive, and Dropbox, allowing you to have everything in one place. Buffer even has a built-in AI assistant to help you create faster.

Remarkably, they offer a free plan, and their essentials tier costs only $6/month. Check out Buffer pricing and tiers for more info.

Tailwind

a screenshot of a website

Source: Tailwind

While Buffer supports up to 10 channels, Tailwind supports only three—Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. But their free plan already offers many amazing features like 20 posts a month across all three platforms, 20 post designs a month, basic analytics, unlimited email contacts, 20 email sends a month, and more.

Of course, you get even more benefits with their paid plans. Check out Tailwinds’s pricing and features to see if they fit your print-on-demand business.

Meta Business Suite

a screenshot of a phone

Source: Meta Business Suite

Previously known as Facebook Business Suite, this set of free print-on-demand tools allows you to manage everything related to your brand’s presence on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.

With Meta Business Suite, you can publish feed posts and stories for Facebook and Instagram without switching accounts, easily manage your inbox, create ads for Instagram and Facebook, track insights and trends, see all activity at a glance, and access helpful tools.

The best part is that this social media management tool is entirely free.

Now, you have a beautiful website, and you’re reaching your target audience with engaging content. How do you turn all that traffic into sales? That’s where our next category of print-on-demand tools comes in.

8. Conversion optimization tools

Conversion optimization tools will help you turn followers into customers. A key criterion for optimizing conversions is establishing a trustworthy brand identity that fosters customer loyalty. Use conversion optimization tools to see what your competitors are doing, find out what works, and outdo their offerings.

Google Analytics

a woman sitting at a desk typing on a laptop

Source: Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the most prevalent and robust tool available at no cost, ideal for measuring your store’s online performance and tracking conversions. It lets you measure your advertising ROI and track your Flash, video, and social networking sites and applications. You can also see where traffic comes from, get content insights and custom reports, and turn on ecommerce tracking—a valuable tool for print-on-demand dropshipping businesses.

The problem with Google Analytics is that it’s not the most comprehensive app, and the overwhelming amount of data can leave you questioning what’s relevant and what’s not. That’s why we put together a Google Analytics Guide Specifically for Ecommerce Business Owners to help you get started.

Unbounce

a screenshot of a website

Source: Unbounce

A solid landing page with a strong call to action generates high conversion rates. According to a study in 2023, 82.6% of landing pages need optimization. Unbounce allows you to build and optimize landing pages before publication. The app also produces impressive copy written for you, using AI to help you transform your ideas into successful campaigns.

You can try Unbounce for free with their 14-day free trial. Learn more about their pricing and features here.

Hotjar

screens screenshot of a website

Source: Hotjar

Optimizing your conversion rate requires understanding your customers’ behavior. With Hotjar, you can analyze how customers interact with your website and collect user behavior data. Using this data, you can optimize your web pages.

Hotjar’s features allow you to track how users click, move, scroll, and navigate your website. Additionally, you can collect data through surveys. HotJar also provides smart suggestions to make your website more user-friendly and convert better.

The best part, you can use Hotjar for free with their basic plan or upgrade to scale your business. Check out Hotjar’s pricing here.

Make sure you’re complying with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

When using tools like Google Analytics, make sure you check with your local authorities concerning data collection regulations. You must take several precautions to ensure compliance with data protection regulations and the privacy and security of your website visitors.

Complying with GDPR (the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation) is the best way to keep your customers’ data safe because the GDPR is the strictest data protection policy to date. Find out more about GDPR and what it means for your online store.

When in doubt, it’s best to consult with legal experts specializing in data privacy. 

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Leverage the power of print-on-demand tools

Running a print-on-demand dropshipping business can be a breeze when you learn how to automate tedious tasks and processes. With increasing competition in the ecommerce world, keeping up with the latest tech is how you’ll stay ahead of the game.

To recap your action plan:

  • Start with conducting market research and establishing a business name.

  • Then, build a gorgeous website and create stunning product photos.

  • Finally, generate traffic and interact with your customers. 

Remember, when choosing print-on-demand tools to run your business, it’s crucial to consider your budget, objective, technological preferences, and projected return on investment. We hope this list will help you find print-on-demand tools that fit your needs.

Did you find this article helpful? Let us know in the comments below!

author

By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa on Oct. 12, 2023

Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

Guest author

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.