If you’re looking for a great side hustle of even a full-time online business, print on demand eCommerce is an opportunity you shouldn’t overlook. This innovative and easy to start business can make you hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month, depending on how much time and effort you’re willing to put in. Here’s what you need to know about how you can earn a passive income with the print on demand model.
First Off, What Is Print on Demand?
Before discussing how to make money, let’s begin with a basic definition of what print on demand really is. Under this business model, customers can buy items designed by a business owner from an online store. A third-party service then prints the item and ships it to the customer. The beauty of this concept is that the item is never printed until a customer actually orders it, meaning that the business owner doesn’t have to pay for any inventory up front.
While many people associate this business model only with t-shirts and other kinds of apparel thanks to sites like Teespring, the print on demand ecosystem is actually fairly diverse. Designs you create can be printed on coffee mugs, phone covers or even canvas prints intended for use as wall art. As long as you can find a printing service that can add your design onto an item, you can place that item in your store and sell it to customers.
How Can You Make Money With Print on Demand?
Just as there are a number of different products that can be created and sold on a print on demand basis, there are several different ways to make money with this business model. Below, you’ll find three different methods for making money as a print on demand entrepreneur.
Sell Your Designs in a Print on Demand Store
The most prominent and profitable way to make money with print on demand is to create designs and offer them to customers through your own store. In this capacity, you’ll be in charge of having designs created and offering them for purchase.
The first step in creating a print on demand business of this sort is to create a few high-quality designs. If you’re good at graphic design, you can do this part yourself. Otherwise, it will be worth your while to hire a good graphic designer who can create designs for you.
If possible, try to have some kind of a theme for your designs that will appeal to customers in a particular niche. For example, if you think you would like to market to people in the self-improvement niche, you might create a series of t-shirts featuring famous motivational quotes alongside compelling graphics. Creating multiple designs around a single theme will make your marketing easier and create the opportunity for multiple sales per customer.
Next, you’ll need to find your print on demand service provider. This is the person or company that will actually create your items when a customer places an order. Popular print on demand service providers include Printful, Printify and JetPrint. If you’re just getting started, you may want to consider hosting your designs on a third-party service’s store. Sites like Teespring and Zazzle will allow you to put designs up and earn royalties when they’re purchased. Although your goal should ultimately be to have your own eCommerce store, these sites are beginner-friendly and can be a good way to get started making passive income with print on demand.
Speaking of which, it will also be necessary for you to set up a store for your products. eCommerce platforms like Shopify can make this process fairly painless. If you prefer, there are also plenty of good WordPress themes that you can use to create a great eCommerce store with minimal web design expertise.
Once you’ve created your designs, found a printing service and gotten your store up and running, it’s time to think about marketing. This is perhaps the single most important part of succeeding with print on demand, since it’s very difficult for customers to find your store if you aren’t actively promoting it.
Fortunately, creating a marketing campaign for a print on demand store can be relatively simple. Facebook and Instagram are both great platforms that will allow you to promote your products through free posts or paid advertisements. Facebook, in particular, is a good option. Features such as pages and groups are great for building up large audiences that you can market your designs to. This marketing method is why it’s a good idea to create designs centered on a specific niche. By creating an interest-specific page or group, you can begin to build an engaged audience that will be interested in the types of designs you produce.
Of course, you can also create more intricate types of marketing campaigns. For example, you could pay a micro-influencer with a few thousand followers on Instagram to create a post that features one of your prints. YouTube can also be an excellent channel for marketing your business. Creating a niche channel and then promoting your designs to your subscribers will take some time, but it can provide you with a steady stream of sales.
Once you’ve got everything in place for your print on demand business, you can focus on scaling up. One of the best parts about this business model is that you only have to create a design once for it to earn you a recurring income. To scale up the business, you can create more designs and continue to market your existing ones. Over time, you’ll end up with lots of designs for your customers to choose from and effective channels for attracting new buyers to your eCommerce store.
From this point forward, the sky is the limit on how much money you can make. Adding designs to your existing lines, creating entirely new lines of products or adding new types of items to your store can also boost your income as a print on demand business owner. Keep in mind that it will take quite a bit of time and lots of hard work to see a high level of success. During your first few months, you might only see a handful of sales each month. Over time, though, you can build your print on demand business into a very lucrative income stream.
Offer Graphic Design Services
Needless to say, running a print on demand store isn’t the only way to make money in this business. If you have the skills and don’t feel like you’re ready to juggle all of the responsibilities of running your own eCommerce store, you might consider becoming a graphic designer for other print on demand entrepreneurs.
Depending on your level of skill and the complexity of the designs you’re working on, you can easily charge $50 or more per hour for your expertise. The success of any print on demand business hinges on having great designs that people will actively want to buy. As a result, business owners are usually willing to pay top rates to skilled designers who can produce high-quality graphics for their prints.
To get started as a freelance designer, you’ll want to create accounts on one or more popular freelancing platforms. Sites like Freelancer, PeoplePerHour and Upwork will allow you to offer your design services to customers without having to build your own site or handle payment processing. Be sure to have some samples of your work ready to post on your profile, since you’ll always do better if buyers can see what they’re getting before hiring you to create their designs.
As you begin to attract more customers and get positive reviews for your work, you’ll find that providing graphic design services can turn into a nice sideline income. You’ll also be able to produce logos, infographics and other pieces of visual media, allowing you to expand your business outside of the print on demand space. For some people, freelance graphic design can even turn into a full-time job, although it will take some time to build it up to that level.
Another advantage of offering design services to print on demand business owners is that you’ll get an inside look at what types of designs are successful for other people. If you eventually decide to branch out and start your own print on demand business, you’ll be able to start out with a good understanding of which print designs are most likely to be successful. You’ll also be able to save money, since you should have more than enough experience to create your designs yourself instead of having to hire them out.
Make Money as a Marketer in the Print on Demand Niche
Just like graphic design, it often pays for print on demand business owners to outsource their marketing to professionals who can promote their businesses effectively. If you have experience with social media, video or content marketing, there’s a good chance you can make money by helping print on demand businesses promote their products.
Although it’s a bit trickier to get started as a freelance marketer, the basic principle is the same as offering graphic design services. You’ll need to get on one or more freelance marketplace sites and find customers willing to pay you for your expertise as a marketer. Ideally, you should be able to show potential customers at least one campaign you’ve created in the past and the quantifiable results it produced.
The most valuable skill that business owners are usually willing to pay good money for is that of social media marketing. While most business owners can figure out how to put a pay-per-click campaign together, many don’t have the experience necessary to create successful social media campaigns. If you can generate buzz around a product by creating content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat and other platforms, you can reasonably charge $60 an hour or more for your time.
Your marketing skills may also allow you to earn some extra money by promoting print on demand services as an affiliate marketer. Most large printing services have affiliate programs that allow marketers to earn a commission when new print on demand business owners sign up. Though it probably won’t end up being a huge part of your income, affiliate commissions from these companies can provide a bit of extra cash on top of your freelance marketing fees from individual business owners.
How Much Can You Expect to Make in Print on Demand?
One of the most common questions aspiring print on demand business owners have is how much money they can reasonably expect to make. While this is a perfectly valid question, it’s also one that there’s no set answer to. The amount of money you’ll make in print on demand will vary by the quality of your designs, how well you market them and how much effort you actually put in.
If your goal is to make a few hundred extra dollars each month by running a print on demand business as a side hustle, you have a fairly good chance of success. Even 100 orders per month can translate into several hundred dollars of income, depending on how much profit you make on each item. Thanks to the power of social media, getting 100 orders is a relatively simple task, especially if you have several designs people might be interested in.
While earning a bit of side money is relatively easy, it will take serious effort to grow your business into a full-time income. With that said, making $3,000 or more per month is definitely achievable, provided you’re willing to put in the time. Getting to this stage is mostly a matter of marketing your items successfully and consistently. It may take you several months to find a marketing formula that produces a reliable ROI. Once you do, though, you can invest more time and money back into it and scale up your business fairly quickly. With a few years of consistent growth under your belt, making up to $10,000 per month is possible.
Of course, there are a tiny percentage of print on demand business owners who see enormous success that goes far beyond the $10,000 per month range. That said, these entrepreneurs are outliers who have either created incredibly successful marketing campaigns or gone viral online through sheer good luck. Print on demand definitely has the potential to earn a business owner multiple six-figure revenues annually, but the number of people who make it to that level of success represent a tiny minority.
So, Should You Start a Print on Demand Side Hustle?
As you can see, print on demand offers a good way to make a side income or even a full-time living on a largely passive basis. If you’re looking for an opportunity to make money online and diversify your income, print on demand may be a good option for you. As mentioned earlier, you can also get started by offering skilled services to print on demand business owners. While this approach isn’t as passive, it can provide you with a nice sum of extra money once you’ve found a few good clients.
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