Over the past few decades, the t-shirt has quickly evolved from something to be worn under a button-down to a staple in casual wear. It is a universally accepted article of clothing for both men and women alike. Not only are they a classic piece of casual wear, but they also present a beautiful, blank canvas for artists and entrepreneurs alike. Because of their ubiquity, the possibility of infinite graphic customization, and the low costs of starting a t-shirt business, selling t-shirts online has become a popular business choice- you can launch your first store for less than $40!

The times when you needed to hire a professional to help you build a website are decades in the past. So is the time when you need to purchase stock, deal with printing companies, manage packaging dilemmas and negotiate with shipping companies. Now, there are many companies who can take care of everything from printing the t-shirts, setting up the website, to fulfilling orders for you.

All you have to do is let these companies help you make some money on the side by getting customers to want t-shirts with your designs. If you have an internet connection, you can get an online t-shirt business up and running – even just from your smartphone. Here’s how it works.

What’s Print on Demand?

With the print on demand (POD) model, your designs are printed on products only as orders come in and only in the quantity that the order asks for. Similarly to the dropshipping concept, POD means that you don’t need to buy large quantities of products when you get started – each order is printed as it comes in.

The Process Looks Like This

  • You choose a print on demand website and upload your design to a product or several products. Almost no monetary investment whatsoever.
  • A customer sees your design on a product he/she likes and decides to purchase.
  • With the customer’s money, the Print on Demand company then prints your design on the selected product.
  • They pack it up and ship it to the customer.
  • You, as the seller, will receive the accorded profit margin and the customer his/her product with your design on it.

Let’s say you pay $8 for a t-shirt with your custom design on it. You list it on your website or third party platforms such as Etsy or Ebay for $25. A customer buys it, and your production partner takes care of the rest. You sold it for $25, paid $8+ $4(shipping cost) to the supplier and took home $13. Simple, isn’t it?

Pros and Cons of Print on Demand Business

POD sounds like a gold mine, but there are drawbacks and benefits to it that must be considered before making a move.

The Pros of POD

  • Setup takes minutes. You do not need to have any knowledge about how to create a website.
  • There are little or no starting costs. Since you do not have to have the product on hand, you do not have to pay for it – you only make money when it is sold. You also do not have to bear the upfront costs of buying and managing a screen-printing machine, or learn how to operate one. This alone could easily cost you 6 figures to start.
  • You have instant exposure. Choosing a good POD website means that you gain access to a huge global base of customers. Figuring out how to get traffic is one of the hardest parts of online business. An established POD can help you sell your products.
  • You can have fun with your designs. Since products are only printed on demand, you never have to worry about throwing away product that does not sell. If customers do not dig an experimental or unusual design, all you have to do is remove it for sale from your store.
  • You can use one design on many products. Most POD sites don’t stop with t-shirts. You can also print on hoodies, tank tops, mugs, puzzles, bags, throw pillows, phone cases and more. When you created a single design, you instantly have dozens of products that you can sell.

The Cons of POD

  • You are one among many. Most POD platforms have lots of designs, so your designs can get crowded out from among the rest. It distracting customers from purchasing your designs.
  • You can price out customers. If you want to make a big profit margin, you can end up making products too expensive for customers.
  • Customers might want their t-shirts faster. T-shirts created via POD can take 5-9 business days to fulfill – or almost two weeks.
  • You lose some control. Printing on demand means you never see each product yourself before it goes out the door, so you just have to trust that the printer will perform quality control themselves.
  • You are at the mercy of your printing partner. Every POD company has a different stable of suppliers they work with to source products. If any part of the supply chain breaks down, your products may become unavailable to sell.
  • You might have to do customer service. Returns can be unwieldy for dropshippers. Before you start, take time to set up a return policy that is fair to your customers and makes sense for you financially.

In my opinion, the pros of POD completely outweigh the cons. There’s remarkably less risk and hassle compared to opening a regular e-commerce store. Although the concept sounds simple, but in practice, there is a little more work than just upload your designs online and hope for money to start rolling into your bank account. You will have to come up for profitable design ideas, get the designs created either by you or hire a graphic designer, select a good platform to sell your products, get your listings noticed, marketing your products, handle customer service, etc.

If you want to learn how to make money online with Print on Demand, then download my FREE e-book “Make Your First Dollar Online Selling T-Shirts – The Ultimate Guide For Complete Beginners” where I’ll walk you through step by step on how to build a successful Print on Demand business. And yes, the e-book is 100% FREE. I also included free resources where you can learn all the necessary basic skills required to kick-start your business. 

In summary, if you are someone who’s creative, or enjoys designing then this is the perfect business model for you. Even if you are not, but want to make some extra cash on the side, this is arguably one of the easiest ways to make money online.

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