How To Start a POD Business For Free?

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Run a Print On Demand business without money it’s the new challenge for millennials entrepreneurs. 

The web is full of people who want to teach you the next fantastic method to have success with the minimum effort. 

If your idea is to launch an e-commerce store with no money, you must learn how to create an online store with Shopify and how to integrate it with a Print On Demand service, like Printify and Printful. 

You have to fully understand the basic concepts behind dropshipping and Print On Demand, from theory to application.

If you have control of the process, you will lower the risk of failure and time-wasting. 

We will talk about those issues as follows.

Market Overview

A recent report about e-commerce shows an unstoppable trend since 2017, which is expected to continue until 2025.

Furthermore, the all industry is forecasted to reach a market capitalization of $10 Billion, which means higher revenues for both suppliers and sellers. 

This trend depends strictly on further technology development, which involves the three main printing options: plot printing, digital printing, and screen printing.

The first two will be more advantaged, as the inkjet technology provides higher-quality prints and fewer production cycles. 

Regarding screen printing, however, it is forecasted a peak of the usage in 2023, which will be followed by a progressive decline, compared to the other two.

Cons Of This Business Model

The lack of upfront barriers led to many newcomers jump into this industry and saturate the market. 

So, today has become quite challenging to launch a t-shirt-based store and being profitable too. 

A big obstacle may be the lack of money for running advertising campaigns as it‘s actually the only way to get in touch with your targeted customers nowadays. Organic traffic is not enough in these saturated conditions, so influencers and Facebook Ads are the main allies of an e-commerce business. 

The right promotion together with an accurate market analysis are the only instruments that lead both to the success and failure of your store. 

Be aware of this before starting.

Brand Idea

First of all, you have to develop your brand identity and create an appealing design for your store.

All catalog will be centered around it, so be careful with your choice.

Let’s get inspired by your hobbies and your tastes first, and write down a list. 

Narrow this selection by visiting the most famous marketplaces (Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Alibaba), and screening the most popular t-shirt designs. 

In this way, you could quickly realize the saturation level of your niche, and your main competitors. 

Replicate this procedure for other social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and keep reducing the original list until one keyword is left. 

This extensive research could be fatiguing and time-consuming, but it’s the only way to increase the possibilities of success of your store.

Store Provider

We recommended Shopify if your purpose is to develop your brand and you want to be the owner of your store. 

It can be integrated with many Print On Demand services depending on your needs.

It’s currently the leader of the e-commerce industry, due to the many features that provide:

  • Tracking sales
  • Automatic orders fulfillment
  • No inventory expenses
  • Unlimited customization options 
  • 24/7 Customer Support 

And much, much more. 

With a user-friendly interface, Shopify lets you create your dream store totally from zero, and gives a wonderful shopping experience to both customers and sellers.

Marketing Strategy

Everything starts with the creation of a professional design which could take hours, days, or weeks, depending on your skill and your attention to detail. 

You may seek the help of freelancer designers, which is something that we always recommend, for increasing your brand authority and bring your t-shirt to another level. 

However, once created your product, you can plan the advertising strategy starting from offline channels (fashion expos and the right network of people) and moving progressively to online sources, like socials and YouTube. 

Wherever will be your choice, you don’t have to look spammy and annoying. You have to provide value to your customers, and, in this way, raise your brand awareness and authority in that field.

Like a snowball effect, you will get more sales, and your customers will trust you more and more.

Of course, it’s a long process and you have to take care constantly of your audience, offering them content that matches their needs and their preferences.

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BONUS – What’s The Meaning Of Print On Demand?

Have you ever encountered t-shirts, shoes, hoodies, caps, or anything else looking so familiar to each other except the “brand” name printed on them? That’s because they were basic white-labeled products with a seller’s unique design/logo on them.

This is the meaning of Print On Demand: a process that allows you to customize white-label products with your designs and sell them through a supplier under your brand name on a per-order basis.

Today, we commonly associate this process with the clothing industry but in the past, it was more related to printed books.

Some Quick Historical Notes

There is evidence that textile printing already existed in China before the year 220. In Europe, its first apparition was in the 12th century, although it remained quite unknown until recent years.

By the 1980s, printers started to spread and their bulk production made print-on-demand services broader and broader. The first DTG (direct-to-garment) printer was launched in the ‘90s and just 10 years later, many competitors were fighting to get a piece of the DTG printing pie.

Today, custom products have become the biggest trend in the textile market and so many brands are riding this industry pushed by the strong demand.

From a technical point of view, among the dozens currently available, there are two main printing options: digital printing and screen printing.

Printing Techniques

It’s important to realize the differences between screen printing and digital printing, as it’s one of the main topics you have to deal with before creating your Print On Demand product.

  • Screen printing. It concerns the creation of a stencil (called “screen”) that is used to apply layers of ink on the printing surface. Each color requires a different stencil that combined with another makes the final look.
  • Digital printing. It concerns the creation of artwork using computer software that will process it directly to the surface area of the product for printing. The ink adheres straight to the fabric, so there’s no application or heat transfer.

Which Is The Best Technique?

Digital printing is the best option for designs with a higher level of details and intricate patterns, and are printed in smaller quantities. To achieve such accuracy of details, the ink applied is thinner and fits better with lighter colored shirts, due to the shining contrast with the design.

Screen printing is the best choice if your style requires more vibrant colors, especially for those printed on dark shirts. In this case, the ink applied is thicker than before and creates a brighter effect even on darker backgrounds. Considering that it’s a handmade job, that requires extra effort in materials and labor time, a minimum order quantity is needed before ordering.

Pros Of Print On Demand

  • Low costs. Unlike traditional retailers, you don’t need to invest high capital upfront and, in some cases, money is not required at all. Print On Demand marketplaces like Teespring, RedBubble, or Merch by Amazon do not require any initial investments, as they will provide you all the necessary features to launch your store. You just need to upload the designs and create your products. But, if you want a real store on your own, we would better recommend subscribing to Shopify or create a WordPress website. In both cases, around $200 is enough to start.
  • Easy to set up. Nowadays, with all the themes, guides, plugins, and templates available online, it’s quite easy to set up a Print On Demand store. There’s no need to hire professionals and web designers anymore, which are expensive and not for beginner stages. Only when your store is starting to have consistent results, you could think to scale up further, hiring freelancers that handle all the tasks.
  • No inventory required. Suppliers will take care of order fulfillment; you just have to focus on creating and promoting products.
  • Worldwide access to markets. Today all the major suppliers can ship and deliver products internationally, which means that your potential customers could be illimited.
  • Brand identity. By selling unique products, you’re just creating your own brand identity. This is why at certain levels, graphics and photographers become crucial for the brainstorming process, as they could provide you new ideas for your catalog. Of course, if you’re already a professional, it’s much easier for you to monetize your artwork through the Print On Demand marketplaces.


Many challenges need to be faced before running a Print On Demand store successfully. If you’re conscious of the challenges, you might have the right mindset to compete in this field. With talent, passion, and hard work, there’s just no limit you can encounter in a business like this, with no barriers and no borders.

It’s all upon you, your grind, and your dedication!

Let the journey begins!

Print On Demand World Staff

Hey Everyone! We hope you enjoyed reading the article and the information provided on it. If so, share it through your socials and keep visiting our blog, discovering the wonderful World of Print On Demand! Arrivederci! :)

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