The print on demand shirts business model is one that is often overlooked when compared with others. I’m not too sure why. It’s a completely hands off business that allows you to work anywhere in the world, while 3rd party vendors do the printing, packing and shipping.
There are several ways you can go about this business. First off there are marketplaces where you can upload your design and receive a royalty for each sale. Another way is to create your own eCommerce store that is linked to a print on demand vendor. There are advantages and disadvantages to both but I highly recommend doing both.
Amazon Print on Demand
With Amazon print on demand shirts selling you are leveraging the largest marketplace in the world. Selling anything whether on or off line is all about traffic. No traffic equals no sales. This is the top advantage you have with Amazon is their incredible traffic.
Uploading a design to Amazon is simple, however getting accepted into their program is another story. You need to request an invitation from their merch by Amazon page. The approval process could take an extremely long time.
Tips for Getting Accepted
After setting up your account with merch by Amazon and inputting your bank account information and business information (Note: you can be an individual) you will be prompted to answer some additional questions. As long as the first portion checks out this is where you’ll get approved or denied.
- If you have traffic that you are generating from social media, whether it’s YouTube, Instagram, a Facebook Group etc., you want to include this. Amazon loves when you can drive addition traffic to their site.
- Let Amazon know you already have designs ready to upload. They run on a tiered system. As a tier 1 you can only upload 10 designs until you sell 10 shirts.
- You want to stress to Amazon that you have read the terms of service and you understand it completely.
- It is equally important that you stress to Amazon that you will not be infringing on copy write or trademark logos, designs, slogans or text.
- You really want to make sure your grammar is perfect. Treat this application as if you are applying for a job with the company.
- Do Not come off as if you are begging to be accepted by them. You want to convey that you are bringing value to their marketplace and you will be enhancing their brand by accepting you.
As stated merch by Amazon runs on a tier system. Tier 1 you can upload 10 designs. After you sell 10 shirts you are bumped up to tier 2 and are now able to upload 25 designs. After 25 sales you’ll be bumped to tier 3 and so on. Note that it is ok to buy your own shirts to move up to tier 2 quicker.
I recommend to keep a design listed for 60 days before swapping it out. This will give you plenty of time to see if it is successful. Also it is important to note that Amazon will remove an unsold design after 180 days. However, you can re-upload it.
Etsy Print on Demand
Etsy is a great place to start selling print on demand shirts. They are a well respected company that has built up a loyal customer base. This will benefit you because of their trusted brand and traffic. The Etsy marketplace is free to join and there is no long approval process.
Merch by Amazon is an all in one solution, meaning you can upload the design, have it printed and shipped 2 day prime all with them. Where as Etsy you’ll have to find 3rd party vendor to print and ship your t-shirts. No worries though, there are plenty vendors to choose from. Printify, Printful and Tee-Spring are just a few.
Cons of Using Etsy
Most of the pros were mentioned earlier for reasons to use Etsy. However there are a number of cons as well. Etsy charges $0.20 per listing and for re-listing an item every 4 months. This does not sound like much but can add up over time. If you are selling from the United States or Canada you are required to use Etsy payments. A 3% fee + $0.25 payment processing is charged when an item is sold. Transaction fees are charged when you make a sale as well. This is a 5% fee on retail price and shipping. If you sell more than one item of the same item to a buyer you will be charged an additional $0.20 per item. As an example, if your shirt is listed for $22.10 you will incur $2.42 in fees.
Now that Etsy fees are out of the way you must find a 3rd party vendor that will print and ship your t-shirts. With this comes another set of fess including the shirt, printing and shipping. Essentially you are paying all these fees with Amazon as well, it’s just not as noticeable because they are doing every thing in one place.
Magento eCommerce Store
Starting a Magento or Shopify eCommerce store is the best option if you can generate your own traffic. This can be through social media, a blog or paid ads. Essentially you are skipping all the fees associated with Amazon and Etsy for using their platform. With your own shop you can do anything you want and not have the worry of getting suspended. Your business will not be at the mercy of Amazon or Etsy. With your own store there are no restrictions and you can scale as large as you want with no boundaries. Like Etsy, you will need to integrate a third party print on demand service. Both Magento and Shopify have apps that integrate with the store and POD companies.
I choose to use Magento because they are integrated with Builderall. I have access to Builderall’s sales funnels, email marketing, website builders, chat bots, magazine builder, hosting etc. This saves me hundreds of dollars per month while having everything in one place. You can currently join Builderall for only $1 the first month.
To Your Success
Now you have the rundown of the print on demand shirts business model it’s time to take action. Even if you’re a complete beginner with no traffic It doesn’t hurt to start your own branded store. However, I would highly recommend Etsy and Amazon to start generating a cashflow while building your brand. What is your experience with print on demand?
If you enjoyed this article, check out 5 Ways to Make Money on Amazon.
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