Print on Demand 2020 Guide

This sharing is considered to be a sharing of the whole process of a POD project from 0 to 1. The chat is not too deep, but it basically includes the complete process.

I buymeacoffee in my shop and will continue to share more knowledge about POD. When it comes to buymeacoffee, in addition to sharing some of my practical experience, there will also be good cases I have seen, and some tutorials or tools I bought myself. These things are not suitable for public sharing and can only be shared in small circles. For example, the only great meeting minutes pdf in the coffee, I personally think it is worth $1,000, although I bought it with very little money.


POD project analysis

Although the catalog is more detailed, it is basically a big frame. As I said before, it may not be too deep, so let's start with.

table of Contents
  1.   Basic knowledge of Print on demand
  2.   Choose niche (audience)
  3.   Site cold start (Shopify)
  4.   Product cold start
  5.   Flow cold start
  6.   Case Sharing
  7.   Related Information

The first part is the basic knowledge of POD. Considering that there may be friends who are not familiar with POD, I will briefly talk about POD yesterday, today and tomorrow, so that everyone has a comprehensive understanding of POD.
The second part, share how to choose niche for POD projects.
The third part is to share with you how to use Shopify to start a POD website. This part is relatively simple.
The fourth part introduces how to choose products and some precautions.
In the fifth part, briefly share how to measure and expand the volume.
In the sixth part, share a few cases.
The seventh part is some information that may be used.


1 Basic knowledge of Print on demand

1.1 What is POD

1.2 The development of POD at home and abroad

1.3 Why are POD products popular

1.4 Comparison of POD and other stand-alone modes

1.5 Print ondemand demand trend analysis

(the trend in the United States and other regions)

Originally, I thought this part was not important and could be ignored, but when I later thought that I was doing it in one direction, especially when I did not do well, I often wondered if the direction I chose was a problem. In fact, I still didn’t treat myself. There is 100% confidence in the selected model, so understanding the basics and considering the overall situation of a model can strengthen your confidence. It's not like changing directions with a shot. Not only POD, but also other projects.

1.1 What is POD.

POD, Printondemand literal translation is printing on demand. Let's take it apart, on-demand means that after the user places an order, the seller takes the order and starts to make the product. This mode requires a short product production cycle, so printing is very suitable. There are many new on-demand categories that we will mention later.

The biggest advantage of the POD model is "on demand" and there will be no inventory problems. They are common POD products: clothes, blankets, drinking glasses, art paintings, leggings, etc.

Customization is another matter. We can sell products that we have designed patterns in advance, or we can let users customize patterns. The picture above is a customized POD product, or design.

This is a schematic diagram of the POD model I found from the Internet, I simply modified it. In the first step, the seller places an order from our shop. Our stores can be self-built sites such as Shopify and WordPress, or open stores on platforms such as Amazon and Etsy; after the user places an order, the second step, according to our settings, the order is automatically or manually synchronized to the POD platform. The POD platform may have its own factories, or it may be just a platform with some factories. After the factory received the order, it began to produce products. After completion, the third step is to pack the order for delivery through logistics channels. Finally the user receives the product.

This is the standard process of the commonly referred to POD model. There are also some gameplay methods, such as self-produced products and self-delivery, which can be regarded as POD mode. But the POD mode we usually mention basically refers to the mode of using the POD platform to ship goods.

 1.2 The development of POD

Foreign: The United States is the most demanding market for POD
Domestic: great potential

This section learns about the development of POD at home and abroad.

The United States is the most demanding market for POD. Americans like individuality and have strong spending power. So POD products have always been very popular. At the same time, there are many large and small POD platforms in the United States.

I mainly work in the United States, Canada, Australia and Britain. The culture and language of other regions are very different from those of the United States.

There are no mature POD platforms and sellers in China, but with the increasing demand for individualization of Chinese people, the domestic POD market will be very large in the future.

For example: Necessary Mall is already making POD products. For example, he has a hot coffee and can print his photo on the coffee cup. And it is necessary to help traditional factories to make flexible production lines, which are worth learning and learning from.

Speaking of flexible production lines, when I made this PPT, I only cited necessary examples. However, there is a domestic news in the past few days that is quite shocking. On September 16, Ali’s Rhino Intelligent Manufacturing Factory was officially put into production in Hangzhou, which seems to have been in a closed beta state before. The flexible manufacturing system developed by giants like Alibaba should be worth looking forward to. Although he may be a seller in the domestic market, I think we should find some opportunities in it. May wish to pay more attention.

1.3 Why are POD products popular

•Show personality
•Express attitude
•Express love
•Enhance the sense of belonging
• Motivate yourself
• Motivate others

Knowing why users like POD products can make us clear the direction of product selection. It's nothing more than these points: show personality, express attitude, express love, enhance the sense of belonging, inspire yourself, inspire others, etc.

In addition, POD is mainly a term used by sellers, and users actually see POD products as ordinary products.

1.4 Comparison of POD and other ecom website modes

There is no standard classification for the stand-alone station mode. If you roughly divide it, it can be Dropshipping, boutique station, and DTC brand station.

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of POD compared with other standalone modes. Relatively speaking, different models are not much comparable, and the one that suits you is the best.

Advantages (relative):
• No inventory, free shipping (Dropshipping also has no inventory)
•Quality is guaranteed (anyone can do this)
•Short logistics time (also available in overseas warehouses)

Disadvantages (relative):
• Lower profit
• I can’t control the order fulfillment (I can’t personalize packaging, returns and exchanges, etc.,
Lead to a poor user experience guarantee)
•Fixed product cost
•Fixed product form, limited space for play

The advantages of POD, for example: no inventory, free shipping. In fact, POD can also be regarded as a kind of dropshipping, after all, someone else helps us deliver the goods. This is the biggest advantage of POD mode.

Quality is guaranteed, which is also relative to dropshipping. The quality requirements are relatively high, so the quality of most POD platforms is guaranteed.

The logistics time is short. This is also based on the foreign POD platform. If the POD platform of the target country is shipped, it is equivalent to the local factory. The speed is definitely fast, but if you use the Chinese POD platform, China will ship. There is no such advantage.

In terms of disadvantages,
First, the profit is low. Foreign labor costs and raw material costs are relatively high, resulting in low profits.
Second, I cannot control the entire order fulfillment process. For example, most platforms cannot personalize packaging, and most platforms are inconvenient to return and exchange goods. However, in order to compete, the POD platform is also improving in these areas. For example, supports brand customization and packaging customization, which can help you highlight your brand and increase personalization.
Third, the product cost is relatively fixed. Some platforms will have some tiered prices, and discounts can be applied for most of them. However, the product cost of most POD platforms is fixed, and it is difficult to reduce the cost.
Fourth, the product form is relatively fixed. You can only choose a good product developed on the POD platform. If you want to develop your own product and put it on the shelf, it is not easy to achieve.

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of POD is so that we can think about how to use its advantages, and how to make up for the disadvantages, and ultimately gain a competitive advantage.

1.5 Print on demand trend analysis

In this section, let’s take a look at the changes in the demand for POD. After so many years of development, what is the prospect of POD? Let's look at the US market. Specific statistics such as overall POD sales are also available online, but I didn't find it. If you are interested, you can search it yourself. We can clearly see the answer from Google Trends.

print on demand google trends 5 years

This is the search volume for the keyword Print on demand in the past 5 years. It can be seen that the search volume has increased steadily. Of course, businesses search for this keyword more. But it also proves that the demand for pod products has been huge for a long time. POD is an evergreen project, there is no doubt about this.

This is the trend in the United States over the past year. It is also relatively stable, and it started to soar in July and August this year. Because there are many categories of POD products, products such as beach towels are seasonal products, but most of the products, such as drinking glasses, canvas shoes, and T-shirts, are basically non-seasonal products, so except for normal Christmas, other times The demand is relatively stable.

2 Choose niche (audience)

2.1 Choose niche keyword: passionate

Choosing niche is the first step for most sellers to start independent stations. POD products are basically not functional products, most of which are impulsive consumer products. It's best to choose the kind of niche with enthusiastic fans, so the core keyword for choosing niche is passionate. For example, common pets, cartoon images, special groups (veterans, nurses, teachers, etc.), golden sentences, religion, hobbies (camping, yoga, fishing)

2.2 Blue Ocean and Red Ocean Strategy

When making specific choices, I personally suggest two directions: blue ocean and red ocean strategies.
We generally lean towards the blue ocean and the competition is small. The common way to find the blue ocean is to subdivide and find a blue ocean with relatively small competition. For example, the niche mentioned above are basically very broad and can be further subdivided. For example, pets can continue to be subdivided by dogs, cats, horses, etc. These are common niches. If they are not common, such as hens and cows, they are also very good subdivisions. Segmentation of special groups, veterans, nurses, teachers, firefighters, etc. It is easier to measure products with better conversion in subdivision areas. After accumulating users, you can continue to expand to the upper niche.

But the reality is that it is often difficult to find the perfect blue ocean niche. That is another strategy, the Red Sea strategy. The Red Sea is not terrible. From another point of view, the niche of the Red Sea shows that there is money to be made. The key point is how to find the entry point, or the blue sea in the Red Sea. For example, there are many people who do horse riding niche. But if we can innovate in niche products or in pattern design, we have found an entry point.

In fact, how to choose niche is a commonplace question. Whether it is an independent website, Amazon, paid traffic, or SEO, Pinterest and other traffic, you need to choose niche first. The ideas and methods for choosing niche are the same. Personal experience and personal interest are the two common directions for choosing niche, that is, the niche you are good at or the niche you like. For example, if you have made pet products, you may be familiar with pet lovers, and it is relatively easy to do it. For example, if you are very fond of camping, if you choose this niche, you are more familiar with camping-related culture on the one hand, and you can also do it Not too boring.

3 Website start

3.1 Choose Shopify or WooCommerce?

The first is the selection of website platform. Choose Shopify or other website building program WooCommerce, or choose POD platform, like Teespring, Gearlaunch?

I personally recommend starting from Shopify and WooCommerce, because Shopify and WooCommerce are simple and easy to use, and the ecology is perfect. Almost all well-known POD manufacturers or platforms are seamlessly connected to Shopify and WooCommerce. Install the POD APP, you can start the website immediately.

Another advantage is that with the help of some APPs of Shopify and WooCommerce, POD products can be simultaneously pushed to other platforms, such as Amazon and Etsy. It is very convenient to expand sales channels later.

3.2 APPs for customized products

It is also very convenient to use Shopify to make customized products. Two applications are

Customily can be used for almost any POD category that needs to generate pictures. The pictures required by the POD platform can be generated according to the format and size specified by us. So it can satisfy most customized products. The disadvantage is that the installation requires official cooperation, which is slightly more troublesome.

Product Personalizer (ShopifyAPP)

The Product Personalizer function is also very complete, the installation and use are relatively simple. There are also many customized apps, you can try more.

4 Product start

The website is done. In Chapter 4, we will talk about product cold start.

4.1 Product selection (look for idea)

Idea source: Spy tools (,, Etsy, Pinterest:, Ins, Amazon, competitors, etc.

The first step is the selection of products. The selection of POD can be said to be the process of finding ideas. This process is the most important link. For the POD model to succeed, the key is to be able to continue to learn and have the ability to continue to find and come up with good ideas.

When looking for an idea, we must consider which products it can be applied to. idea+product=POD product.

Like other independent station modes, you can also start with spy when looking for idea. There are some special spypod product tools, you can also use traditional spy tools, like adspy. In addition to tools, etsy, pinterest, ins, and Amazon are all good places to find ideas. There are competitors. I will give a simple example of finding ideas in a moment.

After finding the idea, the next step is to test whether the POD product is popular and whether it can be sold. There are several common test combinations:

The first type: new idea + new category, this is the best combination, but it can't be met, this combination can enjoy the dual bonus of new idea and new category.
The second type: new idea + old category, this is a common combination, most sellers will be doing this combination most of the time, so you have to keep looking for new ideas. Use the new ideas in categories that are in high demand, such as T-shirts and water glasses.
The third type: old idea + new category, this combination will also have opportunities,
The fourth type: old idea + old category, the chance of this combination is slightly worse.

In the final analysis, it depends on the combination of design and product to make differentiation.

Go back to find idea. After we have selected the niche, we can go to the areas just mentioned to find ideas.
We use the improved pinterest tool to search for dog lovers gift, and find a post with a relatively recent publication time and a good collection, and we can go and see if we can use this dog moms idea to continue to play on its basis.
The method of finding ideas is very similar to the method of selecting products. There are only a few sources of ideas. After you find more, you can develop a few good products, and you will gradually feel it. After you feel it, you can try to play it on your own, such as brainstorming and other development methods, and make real originals yourself.

4.2 POD category

Conventional categories: such as clothes, water cups, blankets, canvas shoes, etc.
New categories: such as jewelry, masks, photo books, etc.

In fact, we mentioned earlier that when looking for an idea, we must consider what category the idea is suitable for. Therefore, we must also have a good understanding of the POD category. Common categories such as clothes, drinking glasses, blankets, canvas shoes, etc. New categories are like jewelry, and jewelry is not too new anymore. Masks are a new category that only appeared this year because of the epidemic. The demand was too low before, but it has soared this year. POD masks are standard on most POD platforms. Many websites have launched POD mask products. The photo book is also a new category. I don’t do too much. I think this category is very good.

Let me talk more about the development of new categories. This is another big topic. There are roughly several directions to consider:

First: understand the trend. For example, the current mask POD is very popular, but when the POD platform is making masks, the competition is already relatively high. If you can seize the trend and find the supply chain before the POD platform has made masks This category can enjoy the bonus. .
Second: Research on hot products, including platforms like Amazon and hot products on independent sites, which can be made into POD products.
Let's look at a fresh case. Looking at the picture, you can see that a new category of POD came out this year, namely masks. Therefore, like other independent station models, the development of new categories is very important. The new category has a huge dividend period. There are many categories of POD products that can be developed. For example, after the technology is mature, 3D printed products may become as common as current water cups.

Searching for print on demand in Google Trends, you can see that the search volume for print on demand face mask is soaring. Looking at the search trend of print on demand face mask, the search volume has soared since March. Before that, the search volume was almost zero. It can be said that there is no POD mask category.

4.3 Design

(idea to design, design to product)

Do it yourself: Unless you are a designer, it is not recommended to do it yourself, it wastes time, and the effect is not good.
Recruit full-time designers
Design outsourcing: It is very important to find excellent designers. In the early stage, you can cast the net widely, test more, and screen out long-term cooperation designers., 99designs, Upwork, Fiverr, Taobao,
Find a ready-made design: Material website:, you can use to save money. In order to circumvent copyright issues, you must use Commercial License included! materials and purchase authorization
Copyright issues: fonts, design. Try to be original. The idea from spy should be redone by your own designer.

With the idea, the next step is to design the picture, and then make the picture into a product map and put the product on the shelf. Idea is the most important, but without a good designer, you will lose a lot of points. The design can be divided into several situations, the first is that you can design yourself, then do it yourself. Otherwise, it is not recommended to do it yourself, it will waste time, and the effect will not be good.

One of the thresholds for POD is that most sellers are not designers and have no design capabilities. In this case, you have to do it according to your own situation. The budget is sufficient and full-time designers can be recruited. If you have a small budget, you can consider design outsourcing and find a part-time designer to do it. Designers can be found on common outsourcing websites like Upwork and Fiverr, but if you want to find a designer with high cost-effectiveness, you can only try more. Here I have a little trick. You can go to the behance website to search for the design we are looking for. For example, we want to make some Hawaiian-style designs. You can go to behance to search, and after you see a design you like, you can contact the author. You can find the contact information of the author. The efficiency of finding this way is much higher.

Another source of design is to directly purchase ready-made designs. Take the Hawaiian-style design as an example. We can go directly to the material website to search to see if there is a design that meets our needs.
There are many material library sites on the Internet, most of the needs can be met, and authorization can be purchased. For example, looking for Hawaii-style pictures, there are a lot of ideas and ready-made designs.
Some materials have a limit on the number of PODs, that is, this picture can only be used on, for example, 500 products. You have to add more money. Please also pay attention to this. It is best to use fully commercially licensed materials, and there is no limit to the number of them.

There is also a common problem: the copyright issue of such materials as animation and characters. Animation has a third-party agency that can purchase licenses, but generally we small players are not willing to spend this money. For materials like Disney, in my experience, as long as they don’t copy other people’s original products, no one cares about them. But this route is not encouraged, after all, there are many alternative directions.

Characters are also a direction, and there are also copyright issues. This is to measure the risk by yourself. Like the example on the PPT, the image of Kobe used by the seller, this is also a gray area.

4 Product cold start

4.4 Select POD supplier

Choose according to your needs, and list a few representative ones:
Printful: All products
Gooten: Platform type, complete products, covering a wide area
CustomCat: Low price
ShineOn: Special category

After the design is completed, the next step is to put the product on the shelf. In fact, according to the normal process, when designing the picture, the supplier and product type have been selected, and the design should be based on the size of the product pattern on the platform. I have disrupted the process here. Put the supplier here, everyone knows it.

Each platform has its own characteristics. Here are only a few of the more representative ones. Friends who don't know much about POD can check it out. At the end of the PPT, I posted an article, which basically analyzed all the POD platforms on the market for your reference.

POD suppliers can be divided into two categories. As we said before, one is that the POD platform has its own factories, and the other is that the POD platform is an intermediary that connects to many factories. One thing to note is to know the shipping address of the product. Like CustomCat, his factory is in the United States, so if there are orders from other countries, he sends international express. Like Gooten, he cooperates with many manufacturers, and has suppliers in the United States, Britain and other places. You can choose the right POD platform according to your own situation.

Many products on the POD platform are actually shipped from China, and some platforms have no special instructions. This should be noted. If they are shipped from China, we must indicate the production time and logistics time on the website to avoid later dispute.

4.5 Personalized customized products

Personalized customized POD products have become popular in the last two years.

There is a lot of room for imagination of customized products. What we want to solve is the problem of creativity and system automation. For example, the cat’s product just now requires manual cutouts. If you can use technical means to realize automatic cutouts, the efficiency can be much improved. Simply put, it is how to automate the personalized customization process. If this problem can be solved, it will have a great competitive advantage.

All POD products can be made into customized products.

5 Traffic start

5.1 Facebook

Facebook ads are very suitable for the drainage of POD products. At the beginning of the website, it is recommended to use precise interest groups to test ads. After Pixel has accumulated data, it can gradually try to relax the interest group and use machine learning to find potential users. For volume expansion, CBO is recommended, which is simple and easy to use.

5.2 Pinterest

It is highly recommended to use pinterest to attract traffic. Pinterest is very suitable for the drainage of POD products, especially natural traffic. You can use tailwindapp ( to automate the management of posts.

5.3 Google Ads

Not to mention Google ads, shopping ads are a must. One of the biggest advantages of POD products is that they can use a large number of sku to layout a large number of long-tail words, so it is very suitable for Google shopping ads. These 3 traffic channels are what I often use. There are many other traffic sources, but I’m not familiar with them, so I won’t talk about them here.

5.4 TikTok

In addition, TikTok is also a very suitable cold start channel for POD projects, and I saw the latest news shared by Teacher Jia Wei that TikTok will cooperate with the POD platform TeeSpring to launch the shopping cart function. This is great. TikTok's user base is relatively young. If this feature is online, it is very suitable for POD.

6 POD Case Sharing

In fact, there is sometimes no obvious distinction between POD, niche POD and DTC POD. This classification is to let everyone consider from the perspective of the development stage, if you do POD yourself, which stage is suitable to start from.

6.1 Distribution POD

Chinese seller
This is a company in Zhejiang and they have many shops. It is not convenient to publish the URL. This is a typical mode of distribution. Look at his very many categories and designs. Typical multi-category + multi-design distribution mode. In fact, the shop is not a blind shop. The website of this shop model can be regarded as a combination of multiple niche.

This website is the same, it is a typical multi-niche + multi-category + multi-design shop model. This website has some new categories. If you do POD, it is worth paying attention to.

The core of distributing goods is quantity, a large number of products. If relying on labor, the competitiveness is average. With the help of the program, the POD mode of distributing goods is very feasible, and there are people doing similar things and making money in the early days.

The idea is also very simple, which is to prepare a large number of materials according to the niche, and then generate product pictures in batches, upload products in batches, and set keywords in batches. As for the material, it doesn't matter whether you buy it or crawl it, just avoid copyright issues.

6.2 Niche POD
There are many niche stations. I posted a niche POD station I saw recently for everyone to see. The Facebookpage fans of this site are 17W. His own group has 1.2W fans. For such a niche niche, it is a big group.

To be honest, I didn't see what niche this thing belongs to, nor did I study it. Good niche is like that, only people in the circle can understand their culture. If you have a very familiar niche, or a very favorite niche, it is very suitable for his model. This model is easier to be the head of the segmentation field.

This is a well-known DTC brand in the United States, and users have a sense of belonging. Their products are not necessarily produced by technologies commonly used in POD products, such as thermal transfer technology. But you can see that their products are very ordinary products, such as T-shirts and hoodies. The first step for them to win is to rely on design.

7 Related Information

1. A DescriptiveGuide To Selling Print On Demand Products In 2020:
2. Niche reference:
3. Mockup:
4. Material website:

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