Print-on-Demand shops have been around for years. So will they remain profitable in 2022?
What is Print-On-Demand?
Print on Demand (POD) is the fulfillment model that allows a variety of suppliers and services, such as Printify or Printful, to place your unique designs on products for you. You create the design and choose the product, they fulfill the order and ship it directly to the customer. This is the perfect model for someone who wants to start a business, but doesn't have the time to create products and ship them out to customers. Here's a graphic on what the POD process looks like:
What can I sell using Print-On-Demand?
An appealing aspect of POD is the huge variety of offerings available. Printify offers over 400 products, while Printful offers over 230 products. Depending on who you'd like your target market to be, you can browse their catalogs to see which service may be best for you. Check out some examples below:
Is Print-On-Demand still profitable?
I looked at google trends to see the past 18 years of print-on-demand trends- and it's clear that POD is still very much a hot trend that doesn't show any signs of slowing down! While the trend did lose steam at one point, it picks up again in in the last few years likely due to the pandemic. Take a look below!
You can also see the other trending topics related to POD from Google search:
The term "Etsy Print on Demand" has recently exploded as well, signifying just how popular POD has been as of late:
So with the popularity of POD, how can you compete?
The most important aspect in running a successful POD shop is remaining unique and offering a set of products that shoppers can only find with you. This does take a lot of time, creativity and dedication! There are an abundance of POD products on Etsy right now - but 70% of them are either the exact same or extremely similar to one another. Look at this quick page of POD items that are more or less the same, all from different sellers, and all of which are right next to each other in the Etsy search system:
Why is it like this?
A large majority of POD shops on Etsy are "copy cat" shops. This means that a shop owner more or less "copied" the designs of a similar shop in their niche. These shops generally put 40-70 quick and easy designs in their shop and then don't continue adding any more items, keeping up with trends, or marketing on any other platforms. So while you will see a large amount of POD designs on Etsy, it wont be as hard to get ahead of them in the search system as you may think. Especially not if you're willing to put in the time to create unique products and fine-tune your shop to be exactly what your target market is looking for!
What else can I do to break the POD mold?
Find your target market:
You CAN break out of that POD mold to offer unique, profitable, and successful designs! The first step is finding your target market, and offering designs that are unique to your shop and which follow both short and long-term trends.
You must implement a strong SEO system in order to get found in a diverse range of searches in the Etsy search system. This means using your titles, tags, and descriptions to incorporate keywords that will get your listings in front of your target audience.
You want to establish a shop that is cohesive. This means offering around 10-15 different product types, with 3-5 unique designs per product. This will prevent you from looking too scattered and getting off track from who you are your business are. POD is convenient and low-risk, but it's still a business. The best businesses have a strong sense of who they're appealing to, and how to continue appealing to them long-term.
Remaining active on social media and establishing your presence on Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, and Facebook are all extremely important when you're trying to set yourself apart from other POD shops. This is where you can get more creative with photos, and continue establishing your brand recognition as mentioned above.
Quick Pros & Cons of POD
You can focus strongly on your target market
Provides the ability to start a business without up-front costs
You can adjust quickly to keep up with current trends
Lower profit margins
Order fulfillment can take longer
You depend on your printing partner instead of yourself
Yes! POD shops are here to stay. You can create a successful business by offering unique designs, establishing brand recognition, utilizing Etsy SEO, and marketing on social media effectively!
How can I help? Sign up for your POD Shop Set-Up plan today.
If you're interested in opening up a Print-On-Demand shop on Etsy, I am here to help! I offer a complete top to bottom Etsy shop set-up for clients who want to start selling on Etsy but aren't sure what the first steps to take are. We start at step one, where I find the best product types for your niche, and we go from there over 4 shop planning sessions. You can read more about that here, and feel free to contact me if you'd like to discuss more if this plan would be a good fit for you!