Is Print-on-Demand still profitable?

Is print-on-demand still profitable?

Print-on-demand, abbreviated as POD, is a form of dropshipping where creatives advertise their designs (mocked-up on products like mugs and t-shirts) on various online marketplaces, like Teespring, and only print the actual product when an order is made.

What does ‘profitable’ mean to you?

I don’t want the essence of this article to be washed up in semantics, but you need to understand your meaning of profitability before you carry on. For some people, a profitable venture passively makes them $100 per month. They don’t have to lift a finger to make it happen. They are happy with this; good for them.

However, if you are hungry for money, success, or wealth, $100 is not profitable. You need $10,000, $20,000, or more, real money that can change and sustain your life.

Is this possible to achieve with print-on-demand? Of course, it is. Let me explain.

Each year, a new individual graduates from college, another turns 25, and another becomes a mother or father for the first time. That thing that made sense to you when you were 25 but no longer does because you are 40 will make sense to the new 25-year-old. In other words, there will always be a new market, and the only difference is trends. What was trendy 5 years ago might take on new forms. Everything evolves.

How to become profitable with print-on-demand


As a print-on-demand entrepreneur, your job is to spot trends and use them to your advantage. You can pick something up that was trendy 15 years ago and figure out how to make it work for the prevailing market.

Certain skills must be acquired to achieve true success. If you are lazy, this will not work for you; I explain this in detail in an article I wrote a while back. You have to be motivated more than the ordinary Joe. You have to be open-minded, and more importantly, you have to be resilient.

There are two ways to approach print-on-demand, you can be a pioneer or a follower. By being a pioneer, you create new markets and become the leader. By being a follower, you identify what other sellers are selling on the internet and try to replicate their tactics; this is easier but more frustrating.

Below is a list of steps you should take to guarantee perpetual success as long as you are invested in the business.

1. Test products and designs as fast and as much as you can.


Your print-on-demand approach aside, this is the most important step in this business. You can have all the designs in the world, but without testing, you will never know which one’s a winner. Create designs and test them as soon as possible, scale what works and dump the rest.

It goes without saying that you should vet your designs carefully to avoid splurging. Otherwise, you will be dead broke before you know it.

2. Observe trends, but don’t get carried away

Trends are another crucial element of this business. They keep you in touch with reality and help you identify products that will work well with certain designs. For instance, if you notice that more people are working, start looking into products people going to the gym are most likely to need, and then work on inspired designs that these people would like on their products.

Don’t get carried away and create designs that will make you cringe in 2 months; longevity is key. The design should inspire someone to work out 3 years from now. Additionally, it will ensure that you’ll still be in business even if the workout trend dies down.

3. Figure out what your superpower is and capitalize on it

There are three crucial processes in print on demand. The research process, where you identify a suitable niche, products and designs for that niche. The testing phase, where you run ads or collaborate with influencers to check the feasibility of your products, and the last phase, customer support.

Figure out what your area of strength is and focus on that. Delegate anything else that will cost you too much time and energy. After all, the goal is to realize maximum profitability. If you are a good designer, focus on creating as many designs as you can and testing them. If you are good with ads, pay more attention to that and find ways to lower the cost of testing.

With time, you will learn that the cost of delegating or outsourcing is less than the cost of doing everything yourself.

4. Take advantage of SEO

Always optimize your content for search engines. Free web traffic is the most profitable traffic since you get to keep any profit from conversions resulting from this traffic.

Which platforms should you sell on?

This depends on your experience, budget, commitment, and goals. Some platforms have lower barriers to entry, while others are more demanding upfront.

On a budget, you should consider starting on print-on-demand websites like Etsy, Zazzle, Teespring, and Redbubble since they have no upfront financial implications. Most of these websites simply require you to create an account and upload your designs to their website. They handle fulfilment and shipping for you.

On the other hand, platforms like Shopify are a little more difficult to deal with. First, there is the cost of subscribing to their basic monthly plan, which costs $29 as of August 2022. Then there is the cost of buying a domain, which costs $10. Up to this point, you do not have a website, just the right to be on the platform.

If you don’t have development experience, there’s a steep learning curve for developing a website yourself. If you wish to contract a developer to do it for you, it will cost anything from $100 to develop and can go as high as $2,000 depending on your requirements. Developers can be found on Upwork, Fiverr, or

Then there is the cost of advertising to test your products and designs, attract buyers to your website, or collaborate with influencers. All these are costs you should include in your budget. Make sure you have enough cash to last at least 3 months before you start, then stick to the budget once you start.

Final Thoughts

I believe no field is oversaturated. The only fields with less competition are those with a low barrier to entry, and even then, there are all sorts of organizations and individuals willing to come together and get in. The world has over 8 billion people, and the population keeps growing. If you are afraid of competition, you are not going to prevail.

Your grit and creativity will determine your survival as an entrepreneur. Stop doubting yourself. You have what it takes to be successful. Get in, own it, and press on. The sky is not the limit.

So, are you going to take action or are you going to sit around and ask more questions?

All the best!

Duncan Kishira

Software engineer cum eCommerce entrepreneur and writer. Professional Shopify dropshipping store developer (5 years of experience). I share the knowledge I've acquired through years of practice and also offer professional services on this website.

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