Print on demand services popularly called POD are printing technology and business processes in which book copies and other print merchandise do not print until the company receives an order, allowing prints of singular or small quantities. Instead of buying large amounts of inventory or investing in production equipment, the entrepreneur can concentrate on products design and marketing while his POD partner will be responsible for all the printing, handling, packaging, customer care and shipping of the merchandise to the customers.
Are you planning to start your own T-shirt business, Book publishing business, etc. but lack the required capital to do so? Then print-on-demand service is the solution you have been looking for; a solution that allows you to start your business with little or no capital. The technologies are improving every day and cover an ever-expanding list of products and merchandise. To get started in this line of business, you will have to consider some basic steps.
First – Define your niche: Here you need to make up your mind on what type of Print-on-demand (POD) products you will be concentrating on. Very successful products include – books, T-shirts, Stationery, etc. Once your mind is made up, you have to make basic research into the current market trends prevailing on that product category – if there are sub niches and best practices, etc. Once you have done this, then you can follow the fairly well defined Print-on-Demand cycle.
Following the Print-On-Demand Cycle
- Prepare your Product: If you choose to produce books, then you better concentrate on being a good writer in your category, If you choose to produce T-shirts, you sure have to concentrate on producing designs that will captivate your clients and bring in the sales, This applies to many other merchandise categories. In fact, on many POD delivery platforms, you will have to develop significant designs skills across available merchandise.
- Prepare and implement your marketing plan: POD service providers allow you create an online store on their website with which you can promote, advertise and sell your merchandise. You can have a much more robust strategy involving your own online e-commerce platform, promotional blog, etc. Or you can develop your products as licensed partnerships with established brands. You can pre-order some for sampling and marketing in your area.
- Logistics & fine details: In the case of large orders, the print-on-demand service provider helps with warehousing and logistics. Saving you overhead costs like cost of storage, handling, and shipping. POD service provider receives payment on your behalf and handles customer delivery. Then they send your paycheck of your profit at the end of every month. Some service providers charge you membership fees while some others offer different membership levels. And on some websites, you would be expected to pay manufacturing and designing costs while some do it for you without extra costs.
There are many POD service providers across the internet. Some of them are more competent in some product lines and some have patented technologies and several service features that stand them apart. Examples of POD service providers to watch include – www.blurb.com (for books), www.zazzle.com (general merchandise), www.cafepress.com (general merchandise), www.teespring.com (T-shirts), etc. The industry is huge with so many service providers across several product categories.
When selecting a service provider, give consideration to the following:
- Service and product quality reviews
- Pricing structures
- Currency conversion rates and implications
- Marketing and customer support
After considering the factors listed above, you should try to order a sample from the company so that you can see and feel the quality of their work, this helps you understand how your designs translate to products. Avoid copying other people’s work so you don’t end up with a lawsuit on your hands. If you don’t know how to design, there are websites such as www.bigstockphoto.com, www.colourbox.com, etc where you can buy stock photos and designs.