So you want to start a T-shirt printing business but don’t have a printing machine? Guess what, you don’t need one. Some might think it’s crazy — after all, you can’t open up a restaurant without a kitchen, right? — but in today’s world, you can absolutely do it.
Behold the business models of print on demand and drop shipping.
Print on demand
As the name entails, this is a relatively new business model which consists of printing only when there’s an order. This allows printing a single unit or very few products without losses. This production method has only taken off in recent years thanks to the evolution of digital printing such as DTG printing.
It used to be the case that to sell printed T-shirts — or any other product for that matter — you’d have to produce it in bulk. With traditional printing methods, it is simply not profitable for the manufacturer. Print on demand offers a great opportunity for designers and entrepreneurs who want to start their own business.
This is when a company lets a third party take care of their inventory and deliveries. Drop shipping has become popular because it takes a lot of the production responsibilities from the business owner so they can concentrate solely on marketing.
When you combine drop shipping with print on demand, a world of possibilities opens up.
Find out why so many people have jumped on these business models.
One of the most attractive aspects of these new business models is the opportunity to launch a business that generates passive income. Imagine waking up and finding a message in your inbox saying that you’ve sold a T-shirt.
With print on demand and drop shipping, there’s no need to spend money on a printing machine or the rent of a place to hold all of your inventory. The expenses you’ll be making are those of a host (if you want your own domain) and the platform you choose to partner with.
Afraid your new venture might not work out? With little investment, come little risks. Since you won’t have a printing machine, there’s not going be any money wasted on it or its maintenance. There’s also no stock that won’t gather dust in some warehouse. The only precious commodity here is time and if the business doesn’t create a profit after all the hours you’ve invested, then at least you will have learned something.
Easy to get Started
Shopify and the other platforms like it offer a very easy-to-follow guide on how to build your own online store. It can take you less than an hour to create and publish a good-looking website. Printsome’s software is also easy to install and can attach seamlessly to any Shopify store.
Keep in mind that options change depending on the platform you use but for the most part there are no, or little, limitations on the number of products you can sell on your online store. Since you won’t be holding any stock, they won’t take any space.
No Constraint by Location
With an online business, your client could be literally anywhere in the world. Of course, you need to keep in mind that the farther away the delivery is, then the more expensive the shipping will be.
Print on demand and drop shipping sound pretty awesome — and they are! — but nothing so awesome comes without a price.
Usually, a print on demand and/or drop shipping platform will charge you for their services. Sometimes, these are monthly fees but, more often than not, they will get a cut of every item sold. Basically, you’re earning the difference between what the customer pays and what costs you to fulfil the order.
Shipping Fees can be Expensive
Nothing in this life comes for free. So when we see a message that says ‘free shipping’ that usually means that someone else is paying it or that you’re already paying for it in some shape or form. Drop shipping is convenient but that does not necessarily mean it is affordable.
Associated and additional costs
To the costs we’ve already listed, we have to add any apps the platform may advise you to install. For example, if you use PayPal to process payments, they will charge a fee too.
The problem with easy business models is that, well, a lot of people will do it. Because of their popularity and accessibility, T-shirts are some of the most sold items on the internet. If you want to get into the industry, you’ll have some tough competition ahead.
Limited Customer Service
Unfortunately, with these business models, you have limited access to customer data. When they call to complain about the quality of the final product or a late delivery you may take a while to reply because first, you need to get an answer from your supplier.
Lucky for you, here at Printsome we’re known for our awesome customer service. Find out more about our print on demand services.
Marketplace VS Your Own Store
Selling on platforms such as Amazon and Etsy (marketplace) means you’ll be able to capitalise on their online presence. These juggernauts receive millions of visits monthly which increase your chances of being exposed to your target audience. These platforms work with drop shipping but they have their limitations. For example, they won’t let you contact customers directly after the purchase has been made. This can become a problem if you’re working on building a database for your new business.
Woocommerce (a plugin for WordPress) and Shopify allow you to build an online store from the ground up. They allow for much more flexibility and to customise your site in any which way you want but at the same time, the responsibility of marketing relies entirely on you.
Note: If you want to learn how to build your very own online store, check out the blog post we wrote on the subject.
Building your own brand
In order to enjoy the full advantages of these business models and be successful, you’ll need to build your own brand. As we already mentioned, there’s a lot of completion out there. Nowadays, everyone and their mother wants to sell stuff online so in order to stand out from the rest, you’ll need to find a unique voice and a niche to appeal to.
Your Target Audience
Thanks to the endless data-analysing tools we seem to have in this day and age, today it is easier than ever to research and target a specific audience. Google Trends is a good tool to find out what people like and Quora is also a good place to see what everyone else is talking about.
Word of advice, work with a professional designer if you’re not one yourself. T-shirt design seems to be the fallback career nowadays. It is too easy to get lost in the group. In order to prevent this, the artwork must be not only authentic but also well done. With so much choice, customers have become spoiled and they will need a good reason to support you.
Printsome’s ‘Print on Demand’ Services
Here at Printsome, we’ve always supported creative endeavours which is why we’re proud to announce our brand new ‘print on demand’ service.
Thanks to our five years of experience in the apparel-printing industry, we were able to design a platform catered towards the needs of artists and designers who want to start their own T-shirt line. Printsome’s ‘Print on demand’ service has no minimum orders and can print any design with no colour limitations.
From the moment you connect your online shop (like Shopify) with our platform, anyone can buy one of your designs. We deliver all over the UK and Europe. Drop shipping has never been this easy.
Why worry about inventory or logistics when we can take care of that? We deal with the boring stuff so you have more time to do what you love. To find out more, simply visit our brand new website.