• Derick Ho

7 Steps to Take Before You Start a (POD) Print-on-Demand Business

I have always liked doing Print-on-demand as compared to your traditional AliExpress dropshipping. It is one of the few business where it gives you the opportunity to expand your creativity and sell your custom-printed products. Most importantly, it allows you to quickly make yourself stand out as a brand.

But as ‘sexy’ as it may sound, it’s important to remember that Print-on-demand is a real business.

If you do not treat it like one, the chances of you succeeding at Print-on-demand are slim because it’s likely that you will make a lot of decisions that is not what a successful business should be doing.

You need to take to ensure that your Print-on-demand business is properly set up and ready to sell.

That is what this article is about. Here, I will explain 10 important steps that you need to take before you start a Print-on-demand store.

If you follow these 10 steps, not only will you be prepared to start selling, but you’ll also avoid the common mistakes that beginners make when starting a Print-on-demand business.

So, let's get down to it!

#1: Only Add a Maximum Of 5 Variants of Colours To Your Products

Offering customers multiple variations of your products such as different colours is a great way to increase your conversion rates.

But there comes a point where you will cross the line and give customers too many options to choose.

Well, this is never a good idea. With too many options to choose from, customers easily start to experience something called analysis paralysis.

Analysis paralysis is the state of over-thinking about a decision to the point that a choice never gets made. Because there are too many options or too much information in front of you. You just can't decide which is the best one out of so many.

We’ve all experienced this before, from trying to decide what to order from a restaurant menu or what movie to watch at the cinema.

We want our customers to be decisive about their decision of buying, to make the sale as fast as possible with the least amount of time considerations.

So ideally, a maximum of 5 product colours variations is sufficient.

One tip I would like to add on would be choosing the most common colours would be the safest choice. Whether what kinds of specific common colours depends on the nature of your products.

For example, T-shirts that are darker shades, like grey or black, typically perform better in sales than lighter shades.

#2: Make Sure That You Have a Credit Card or Money Set Aside

Be it dropshipping or Print-on-demand business, one thing to take note of is the money that you receive from a customer could take several days to arrive in your bank account. With PayPal, it can even take up to 21 days to receive your money, especially when you are first starting out. This time period also varies depending on what country you live in.

So, it’s important to make sure that you either have a credit card or money set aside so that you can purchase items in the meantime.

Credit cards are usually the best option for this, because you normally have a month to pay off the balance before any interest is added. By then, you will receive your payment way before that happens.

#3: Avoid Copyrights and Trademarked Phrase and Designs

You may have come across a certain design, or a catchy phrase that you would like to test it and sell it for your own product.

Well, according to the law, any piece of artwork or phrase is subject to copyright the moment it is created. This means that you can’t duplicate the same design and sell it in your store.

BUT… we can kind of use the design or inspiration and then create your own version of it by tweaking the design a little bit. This is actually 100% legal, because, while the content may feature the same words or design, it visually looks different — and it is the VISUAL appearance of the artwork that is copyrighted (not the content).

As long as you redesign or tweak it with your own style, it is perfect legal to sell it on your shopify store.

#4: Using Lifestyle Images for Your Products

To be honest here, using general mock-ups or stock photos as your product images doesn't look enticing enough for people to convert. One word – boring.

Let me show you an example here.

Above the image here is an example of an general mock-up photo of a T-shirt.

Now, I will show you another example below.

Above the image is an example of an lifestyle photo.

Using lifestyle photos, rather than general mock-ups on a white background, is a powerful way to attract more customers, increase engagement, and boost your sales.

Because you are indirectly making the buyer picturing themselves wearing it.

So, you might be thinking, “Does this mean that I have to take photos of myself or engage influencers to have them wear my newly designed T-shirt and upload them?"

Well, Yes and No. "Yes" is because in the olden days, that's the only way to do it. "No" is because now, there is an amazing website called Placeit. By utilising its service, you don’t have to go through the trouble of doing it on your own!

From T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, tote bags, and even pillows. This amazing service allows you to take your own artwork designs and place them onto lifestyle images that feature real-life models. They have lifestyle photos for a variety of products for you to choose and customise.

Below here is an example of how Placeit works:

With over thousands of lifestyle image to choose from, it will be close to impossible not to pick a perfect one that you like. Heck, I even had difficulty in limiting my own product images on my product page.

#5: Don't Just Sell Only T-Shirts

While T-shirts alone can be extremely profitable, it is always a good idea to expand your product line by selling other types of products.

For example, you can add on other products such as bottoms, dress or leggings as well. They do sell equally as well as T-shirts. Based on my experience, they can command a much higher price point than T-shirts because sometimes, their value is ambiguous.

You see, it would be easy to put a price point on leggings because you would have probably seen them several times at a clothing store, so you will know where is the average price point.

But what about these unique leggings that can glow in the dark? Chances are that you’ve never seen these before, so therefore you would be able to command an even higher price as compared to normal leggings.

So yeah, if you were to sell these unique leggings in your store, you would have a lot more flexibility when setting your price. In my experience, customers would usually be too lazy to ‘price check’ your design against similar ones (that is why the e-commerce industry is worth trillions of dollars!!!). And that will be your chance to have a bigger profit margin per sale!

So remember, do not just limit your store to just sell only T-shirts. Other products can be just as profitable, if not even more. And with more variety you can also appeal to a larger audience who would maybe want leggings or coffee mugs.

#6: Add Scarcity — BUT DO NOT OVERUSE IT

Scarcity is one of the most powerful "psychological triggers" in a marketing strategy to convert sales faster.

But, if you overdo it and claim that every product in your store has ‘limited stock’ available, customers will sense that something ‘fishy’ is going on.

Remember the infamous countdown timer?

It used to be a very good marketing strategy until some people just simply misused it by putting it all over their product pages.

No don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that implementing a countdown timer is a bad marketing strategy. But it should be used sparingly and with proper strategic implementation, it will be one of the most effective scarcity marketing strategy.

Understand that scarcity is already a powerful sales tactic as it is, so there’s no need to apply too much of it in your store.

Instead, find the right balance so that the scarcity seems realistic.

#7: Check to see if your niche is banned on Facebook

When promoting a product on Facebook, you'll want to make sure that your product that you are selling is acceptable under Facebook Advertising Policy.

You can check out their policy here.

The last thing that you would want to do is to build a POD store, only to find out that your products do not meet Facebook’s standards.

Make sure to go through Facebook’s advertising policies and be sure to take a look at what type of niches and products are either prohibited or restricted.

#8 Get honest feedbacks from your friends and family

Sometimes, it's very difficult to step back and be objective about some of the products that we create.

This is because of something called illusory superiority: the normal tendency for people to overestimate their abilities.

And trust me, even I have that too.

This is also why it is never wise to rely solely on your own opinion, as you are naturally likely to see things from a biased point of view.

Seek out other people's point of view or opinions to get a different perspective on how your store or product designs look.

In fact, you can just simply ask for your friends or family's opinion.

Sometimes, they might show you a different point of view that you might not be aware of.


Whether you have a POD store, or are looking to start one, it’s critical that you follow the 8 steps outlined in this article. And I wish you the best of luck in your POD store.

Talk soon,