As a startup, finding a new niche for your clothing brand can be a daunting task. Once you get beyond this decision, your marketing strategy is another important step. But have you ever thought about using the print on demand model to start an apparel brand?
Print on demand is basically a dropship-like method of printing and selling shirts, where the business owner does not have to invest upfront and print any inventory. And no matter which prints on demand service you decide to use, launching and growing your real clothing brand is as easy as 1-2-3. Are you ready to build a brand? Come, let’s get started.
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How Print on Demand Works
Print on Demand service, also known as a made-to-order model, is about creating and offering products for sale, and having a print shop fulfill orders as you get them. Once someone buys your online product, you pay a third party like Printful to have it printed. This third party will ship the products with your company name and address on the label.
The Benefits of Print on Demand
With the make-to-order approach, there is no dead stock for you. Next, do you struggle with the administrative duties of running a business? Your print on demand supplier will handle the customer service, returns, and everything else. You can just focus on creating new designs and fulfilling orders.
Since the clothing line ships from your company address, and can be branded and tagged with your company name, your customers will never know where the products came from. Indeed, the Print on Demand service is a seamless strategy that makes it possible for virtually anyone to run a real clothing brand.
Using Print on Demand Services
Printful and Printify are two of the top print on demand fulfillment centers in the world. For the sake of this article, we will walk you through the steps of setting up your shop on Printful.
First, create a free account with either service, then connect your online clothing store to it via reliable e-commerce integration. We like to start with a marketplace like Etsy to sell products. Then, once you figure out which designs are the bestsellers, get an eCommerce store going with a unique, branded URL. Shopify or Wix are the most popular and easiest platforms for your eCommerce store.
You can use the platform’s online mock generator to come up with custom apparel mockups from your designs. Use your creativity to develop as many custom products as you want to stock your online store.
Once the online store is set up, use Instagram, and start building social proof for your brand. Follow your competitors’ followers on Instagram. Engage with content relevant to your niche. Build and create inspirational posts that are branded and consistent. Create free t-shirt giveaways and ask people to wear your apparel and tag your Instagram profile. Before long, your brand will be known and worn by Instagram followers and influencers.
Print on Demand Order Fulfillment
All your confirmed orders can be automatically sent to Printful or Printify for processing. At this stage, they will charge for their cost of production and leave the difference to you as your profit.
Next, they will print the order, pack it, add the relevant pack-ins, then ship it to the customer. The customer receives the order with your branding name, with no hints whatsoever of you ever engaging POD shops in the manufacturing process.
Using POD gives you a competitive advantage as follows:
- No need to invest in expensive printing equipment; hence, a low-risk approach
- You only pay when there is a confirmed order
- No subscription or sign up costs
- You get top-rated customer service
- POD has the capabilities to ship orders worldwide
Trendy Store vs. Long-Term Brand
Here’s the most important part of this article. Many people are leveraging print on demand to sell shirts on Etsy, Teespring, and others. There are countless online videos and training about how to find trendy designs on Pinterest and other platforms, making slight modifications to those designs, and selling your own version of them while the trend is hot.
People are making money this way. But the majority of new entrepreneurs that try this are too late to capitalize on the trend, and the market is so saturated that your chance of making any real money is low.
I would say that the majority of Printful or Printify sellers are selling based on trends. But that doesn’t have to be your approach.
We are using Printify to build a legitimate apparel brand. There is no difference in how you plan the brand, finding a solid target audience, creating a great logo and website, and selling your products. If you get your process working by testing some orders on Etsy, then you can move that process to an eCommerce site and continue building out a legitimate brand.
The best way to really thrive in building an apparel brand is by creating designs that are in a niche you are passionate about. If you do this, the ideas will always flow, and you’ll never be tired of growing the brand.
If you aren’t a designer, then outsource your designs on a website like Design Crowd. For a small investment, you can create a few designs and get started.
The great thing about a t-shirt brand is that everyone wears t-shirts. You can and will sell shirts. I promise you. I’ve done it with every brand and idea I have thought of in the past 15 years. Build it right, and the customers will come.
Print on Demand services may be exactly what you need to get your t-shirt brand started and scalable. Once you get the hang of it, you can use it to launch your clothing line sooner than you expected. It’s easy enough that you can start selling shirts by next week.