Print on Demand
Print on Demand, or PODs as they are commonly called, is a business model where you can get a t-shirt, book, or other items printed by another company one at a time as you sell them and they will ship your products directly to your customers.
This makes it very inexpensive to start a business and eliminates the need to store inventory or take a chance on purchasing products that may or may not sell well.
Tshirt POD companies will print your design on tee shirts, art prints and other canvas and paper products, mugs, shower curtains, hats, pillows, rugs, clocks, phone cases, and up to 450 other items, and deal with all the logistics including packaging, figuring out what to charge for postage, shipping, processing payments and even customer service before and after the sale.
Most offer a personalization option, where your customers can add a name or something personal to your basic design.
There are also PODs that specialize in publishing books and magazines, CDs and DVDs, and games and RPG.
Promotion of your products
Most PODs maintain some kind of common marketplace on the Internet, where they will help you promote your products, along with the products of everyone else using that fulfillment service. Some even supply you with an online store to showcase just your own products, without competing directly with all the other members of that POD, and without knowing much, if anything about coding.
Many have gadgets and widgets that make it easy to add your products to your website and popular social media websites without knowing how to write the coding yourself.
Many Print on Demand services have an affiliate program to encourage other people to help promote your products for you. Some allow you to join the affiliate program and link to your own products with an affiliate link, while others exclude your own products.
Fees for this service
Some charge you a monthly or yearly fee for your personal store, and others provide this service for free. Some PODs leave it up to you to buy your own domain, design a website, and do all the promotion of your products.
How You Make Money
Print on Demand services have a base fee for each product they print and may pay your commission for your art and photography and time to upload your designs as a flat-fee markup per item, percent of net sale, or let you set your own profit margin. Some let you charge a separate fee to let other people use your design on their own products.
Some services allow you to link to your own products with affiliate links, so you earn a commission for the design and additional commission for the affiliate program.
Some PODs offer a volume bonus program where you get an extra percent of your sales if you sell a certain number of items each month. This is usually tiered, so the more you sell, the higher the percentage your volume bonus pays.
Direct Printing and Heat Transfer each have distinct benefits that you will want to consider. Please note: Sometimes, CafePress only offers one printing style on certain apparel items. On other items, they allow you the choice of printing techniques. Each has certain advantages and the choice really comes down to a “matter of taste.”
Explanation of common terms used in Print on Demand processes.