How to Start a Print-on-Demand Business in 2020


how to start a print on demand business

Printing on things is a relatively new invention: it is only 15 years old. Despite its short development path, digital printing technology today is used both for creating high fashion collections and for designing things from our everyday life: t-shirts, caps, bags, souvenirs, and other products that need to be printed.

Most modern areas of entrepreneurship are aimed at creating unique things and this approach can bring a good income.

Let’s see what you need to make a successful print-on-demand startup.

Steps to Starting a Successful Print-On-Demand Business

Any business is built on key components that need to work perfectly. A new business is a serious step for anyone, that’s why it is important to consider every aspect.

It is best to start with a business plan. You will need to conduct market analysis, research google trends, hire qualified personnel who will be responsible for the operation of the printer, designing ideas, and interaction with clients, rent a room to place all the needed equipment, etc. 

Let’s see what else you need to do before starting production:

Choose your niche

To start your own print on demand business and make it profitable, you must first decide on the direction of your activity in printing depending on your existing professional skills, artistic taste, composition of the clientele and wallet size.

  • Printing on ceramics. Creating unique ceramic tiles, plates, cups by applying a customer’s drawing on it is a profitable direction. You can get deals with companies that want to make their own merch. A mug is a practical thing that can be used every day, and can by a present in any situation: as a gift from an enterprise, or as a wedding, birthday or another holiday gift.
  • Printing on phone cases. Nowadays, almost everyone has a smartphone. Accessibility and the desire to update your style more often create demand. The profit of companies that sell accessories is sometimes comparable to the profit of companies selling smartphones themselves.
  • Printing on shirts. A business associated with printing images and text on T-shirts is really attractive from a financial point of view. Original clothing is popular among people of all ages because it combines the convenience and the ability to express yourself. Everyone has a whole set of T-shirts: for work, for gym, for a picnic, for specific weather or even mood. And of course, many companies and social movements use t-shirts as branded clothing and for advertising purposes. Therefore, both large organizations and ordinary people can be among your clients. Companies will purchase the same t-shirts in bulk, and for ordinary customers, it is sometimes required to create original drawings.


The success of your business depends on the quality and reliability of the equipment you choose for printing. It is better to get a complete production solution from a global manufacturer of printing equipment. In this way, you will get an official partner for the sale and service, supplies for your print volumes, the ability to engage experts at the stage of training the staff. 

Today, there are two main ways of digital printing on fabric: 

  1. Direct image transfer method. It involves printing the image on special paper and then transferring it to a co-liner under the influence of temperature and pressure on the fabric. This type of printing makes it possible to print on virtually any material, including glass, wood, metal, and ceramics, previously coated with a polyester varnish. Such specialization will require large investments in additional needed equipment and an increase in rental budgets.
  2. Inkjet printer. For organizations, this can become a significant source of income. The functioning of such devices is automated and as simplified as possible, that’s why the process of printing images is not complicated. There are two main types of applying printing technology. The first one is the use of various types of media for applying paint. You can use paper or film. Images are first applied directly to the medium itself and then transferred to the fabric. The second method is based on the use of special devices that are able to stain fabric with various inks. Silk-screen printing paints have a certain structure, which has a glow effect or a swelling effect. Digital printing allows you to apply the image quickly and is mainly used for the manufacturing of single copies.

Create your design

Choose a software like Photoshop and learn to use it to make your own designs. Sometimes you can take ideas from the Internet but it is always better to provide something special for your customers that will raise the demand. 

Be sure to get a large catalog that will display all kinds of prints you can make. Often, regular people who are not designers do not know what kind of print they want, just that they need  “something cool”. Exactly for this purpose, you need a prepared catalog to help them make the choice. 

Set up a POD store

After you have chosen a niche comes the time to start a print on demand store. This is not easy but because of its popularity within users, it will bring profits. The main thing is to approach the matter with all the seriousness and responsibility: develop a business plan, follow all the points and order a good advertising campaign. In a short period of time, you can get your business to pay off.

Promote products

Firstly, do not just do the work mechanically: try to delve into each project and think about how to make it even better. Advise, correct errors and inaccuracies, provide test samples, interact with the client to make them happy in the end. Try to focus on low prices and high quality. For drawing, use high-quality ink that does not wash out fast. Satisfied customers are the best way to advertise because they will personally recommend you to others.

Secondly, we recommend creating a website, making business cards and starting a group on social networks. If the latter is an easy process that can be done by anyone, creating a website is hard and long work that only professionals can do. Multi-programming will carefully take into account all your wishes and make the best product ever. Our web development company has emerged as a top agency of choice for entrepreneurs who want to set up exceptional e-commerce websites. The developers will do their best to create a website with high-quality content and advertising support.

Another option is starting from an account on Shopify or another ecommerce platform.

A Comprehensive Guide to Choose eCommerce Platform

Finally, hire an employee who will answer calls, take orders and get feedback. Always improve your service and give your customers the opportunity to feel important. Invest in marketing, research keyword demand, or entrust this to professional service providers.

Remember: the faster you establish yourself as a reliable partner and a quality manufacturer, the sooner you will have your own customer base.

Launch an app

Another effective tool for promoting your company can be your own application that will help users flip through the entire range, get acquainted with prices, contact you and make orders in one click. In addition, this will expand your business throughout the country. The employee who works in the store will have more time for prints and you will increase the profits. Multi-programming will help you develop a top-level application.

How to Launch an App: Steps to Be Successful

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Print on Demand Store?

Your most important starting capital is knowledge and experience. We recommend allocating about 30-40% of the initial capital for advertising. The most important thing at the start of any business is getting a flow of customers. Equipment, consumables, and even a room – everything else is secondary. You can’t sit and wait for customers in an excellent office, with expensive printing equipment, with a large warehouse of consumables, etc. 

If we talk about starting a print-on-demand business, then a novice entrepreneur needs about $15,000. This will include needed equipment, a thermal press to fix the pattern, and an ink set. You will also need a mid-level computer that will work with graphic packages. 

The main expense item is the purchase of special equipment. It is important to choose good equipment to make high-quality products. Of course, it can be pretty expensive, but the main advantages of great printers are high speed and lower ink consumption. If you are going to make lots of prints, it is the best choice that will make your life easier. Purchasing from a print on demand supply company will help you save a little more.

The price of equipment for printing on t-shirts

Of course, you should try to save. If your starting capital is not large, then it is vitally important to conduct strict planning of costs, all kinds of expenses and projected income. We recommend studying the consumables market, carefully comparing the cost of needed equipment, and not rushing to spend money. You will need a PC, a scanner, a printer, and a camera – all this you can take on a loan, or purchase used equipment first.

Such equipment can cost from $1000 to $5000. If you aim for quality and a large flow of people, then we advise getting a thermal printer for about $2000 and buying t-shirts for bulk on Amazon.

Speaking about specifics, a Polyprint TexjetPLUS, Alfatip Toucan, Polyprint TexjetPLUS textile printer will be a good choice as well as thermopresses Insta HTP 138, Dix-Standart 40 × 60.

The price of equipment for printing on cups

The start of any commercial activity begins with calculations. The entrepreneur should know the estimated payback period of the business and when it will be able to get the long-awaited profit. 

The equipment needed for printing on mugs costs from $1000 to $4000. Just like t-shirts, it is better to buy mugs in bulk. This time you will need inks for printing, a personal computer,  a scanner, an inkjet printer – around $1300, and a professional camera, starting from $400, if the customer would like to take a picture and print it instantly.

The price of equipment for printing on phone cases

The minimum set required to get a business running includes a vacuum press, a printer, ink, special sublimation paper, and of course blanks themselves. You will spend the largest amount on equipment and supplies, which will cost from $1000 to $5000$. But in the end, you can double or even triple the profit.

One of the simplest printers suitable for this work is Epson Workforce 30, the cost of which with CISS (continuous ink supply system) is $1000. Besides, you will have to constantly buy sets of jars of sublimation ink and sheets of A4 sublimation paper. 

Print on Demand: the Best Way to Carve a Niche in the Online Retail Market


Print-on-demand services are a profitable business niche with relatively low initial investments required. Use our guide to choose your niche, create your website and app, advertise, and start making money and growing your business.

For ClientsJanuary 23, 2020
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