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A Comprehensive Guide to Starting a Print on Demand Business with Printful

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

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Introduction If you're an entrepreneur looking to dive into the eCommerce world, starting a print-on-demand (POD) business with Printful may be the perfect choice. POD is a unique business model where products are created only after a customer places an order. This model removes the need for large upfront investments and reduces risk associated with unsold inventory. This article will provide a step-by-step guide on how to leverage Printful's platform, with examples of using their Amazon, website, and Etsy integrations.

What is Print on Demand? Print on Demand (POD) is a business model where products are not created until an order is placed. This means no inventory or storage costs, making it an attractive option for new entrepreneurs. With POD, your main role is to design the product, promote it, and let the POD service like Printful handle the rest, including manufacturing, packaging, and shipping.

Pros and Cons of Print on Demand Pros

  • Low Startup Costs: There's no need for large upfront investments.

  • Reduced Risk: You won't be left with unsold inventory as products are only created after an order is placed.

  • Flexibility: You have the freedom to experiment with different designs and products.

  • Product Flexibility: There are many types of products your able to design or white label, such as custom puzzles, lotions, shirts, backpacks. Here's a quick summary of some of the items you can print on demand:

  1. Apparel: This includes items like t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, tank tops, and more. The type of apparel offered can vary widely, from casual clothing to more formal attire.

  2. Accessories: Printful also offers a variety of accessories. This can include items like hats, bags, phone cases, and more. These items can be customized with unique designs and branding.

  3. Home & Living: Items in this category can include things like posters, mugs, pillows, and other home decor items. These items can be customized to match a specific aesthetic or design.

  4. Collections: Collections are typically groups of items that are designed to go together. This could include a line of clothing or a set of home decor items that all have a similar design.


  • Lower Profit Margins: Since the POD company takes care of manufacturing and shipping, they take a larger cut of the profits.

  • Limited Customization: You're somewhat limited to the products and customization options offered by the POD service.

  • Dependence on the POD Service: Your business is reliant on the POD service for production and shipping, so any issues on their end could potentially affect your business.

  • You have to front the processing cost for the product when the order is placed, and since your customer pays online it may be a few business days before the payment settles.

Step-by-Step Guide to Starting a Print on Demand Business with Printful

Step 1: Sign Up for a Printful Account The first step in starting your POD business is to create a Printful account, which you can do by clicking here or the banner below to get started. **Please note, this is an affiliate link and we may earn a commision at no additional cost to you.

Step 2: Choose Your Niche and Design Your Products Next, you'll want to choose a niche that aligns with your brand and interests. Once you've chosen your niche, you can begin designing your products using Printful's mockup generator.

Step 3: Select Your Sales Channels Printful offers integrations with a variety of eCommerce platforms, including Amazon, Etsy, and many others. Choose the platform(s) that align with your target audience and business goals.

Integration with Amazon With Printful's Amazon integration, you can reach millions of customers on one of the world's largest online marketplaces. To connect Printful with Amazon, simply go to your Printful Dashboard, navigate to "Stores," select "Choose Platform," and pick Amazon.

Integration with Your Website For those who have their own website, Printful offers integrations with popular platforms like WordPress (WooCommerce), Shopify, Wix, and others. To integrate, navigate to the "Stores" section on your Printful Dashboard, select "Choose Platform," and pick your website platform.

Integration with Etsy Etsy is a great platform for selling unique and creative products. To integrate Printful with Etsy, navigate to the "Stores" section on your Printful Dashboard, select "Choose Platform," and choose Etsy.

Step 4: Set Up Your Pricing Next, you'll need to set up your pricing. Remember to factor in Printful's costs, your desired profit margin, and what your target market is willing to pay. Make sure to also keep in mind the cost to ship the product along with quantity. I have found the best way to keep track of this and to make sure your store is profitable to create an excel/google sheet that has the printful cost, shipping for single and multiple orders, and your cost followed my % profit/margin. This gives you an overview of your overall store. Keep in mind to include cost from the platform you might be listing on such as Amazon or Etsy.

Step 5: Ordering Samples for Quality Control

One key aspect of running a successful print-on-demand business is ensuring the quality of your products. It's one thing to create a stunning design on your computer screen, but how does it translate onto a physical product? That's where sample orders come into play.

Printful offers the option for business owners to order samples of their products. This is an invaluable opportunity to see and feel the quality of the materials used, and to see how your designs look in real life. This not only gives you a chance to assess the quality of the printing and the materials, but also to get a feel for sizing, colors, and overall product presentation.

When you receive your sample order, scrutinize every detail. Is the print quality up to your standards? Does the color match what you saw on your screen? Is the material comfortable and durable? If there's anything you're not satisfied with, it's better to know now than after your customers have made a purchase and reduce returns.

In addition to quality control, samples can serve other purposes in your business. You can use them for promotional photos on your website or social media channels. They can also be useful for getting customer feedback or reviews, and they can be a great way to test new product ideas before adding them to your store.

Ultimately, ordering samples is a small investment for you to review your product to ensure you yourself would purchase your product but it also helps you maintain high standards for your products, which can contribute to customer satisfaction, positive reviews, and repeat business. So, while it might seem like an extra step and additional cost, it's an integral part of ensuring the success of your print-on-demand business.

Step 6: Promote Your Products Once your products are live, it's time to start promoting. Utilize social media, email marketing, SEO, and #'s for your niche or business.

How to Promote Your Print on Demand Business Promoting your products is crucial to the success of your business. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Learn Your Target Audience: Before you start promoting, you need to know who you're marketing to. Your target audience will consist of segments that like your products but have slightly different preferences. Understanding your audience's preferences and pain points allows you to create personalized marketing campaigns that they'll be more receptive to​.

  • Create a Social Media Presence: Social media is a powerful tool for promoting your business. Create business accounts on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Use these platforms to share progress on designs, announce new products, and promote discounts or sales. Remember to engage with your audience by responding to their comments or questions to foster customer loyalty​.

  • Optimize Your Store: Make sure your store is easy to navigate and has a good balance of text and visuals. Use SEO strategies to make your store more visible on search engines.

  • Ask for Product Reviews and Use Them as Testimonials: Customer reviews can serve as powerful testimonials to attract new customers. Encourage your customers to leave reviews and feature positive ones on your store.

  • Pay for Advertising: Consider using paid advertising methods such as Google Ads or social media ads to reach a larger audience.

  • Do a Contest or Giveaway: This can attract new customers and encourage existing ones to engage with your brand​​.

Step 7: Fulfill Orders Once you start receiving orders, Printful will automatically fulfill and ship them for you. You can track the process in your Printful dashboard. Please note, you will be charging your customer for the order upfront, however this may take a couple days to settle in your account based on your payment processor. In addition, you pay printful upfront for the materials/printful pricing and then you get reimbursed essentially once the payment settles. (this is a note missed often, versus them taking the difference from the purchase).

Step 8: Provide Excellent Customer Service Lastly, always strive to provide excellent customer service. Respond to inquiries promptly and handle any issues professionally. This will help build your reputation and retain customers.

Conclusion Starting a print-on-demand business with Printful can be an exciting and rewarding venture. With low startup costs and the flexibility to design your own products, it's a business model worth considering. Remember to do your research, choose the right niche, design compelling products, and promote them effectively. Best of luck on your print-on-demand journey!


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