Is Print on Demand Worth It in 2023?

Is print on demand worth it?
Photo by Cole Keister / Unsplash

This is one of the biggest POD questions I see being asked across the web, so I wanted to write a quick article to help you decide for yourself. It is worth it for some artists, but not so much for others. I will attempt to explain more of the pros and cons of the print-on-demand business below. Yes, it is still profitable in 2023, but it takes a lot of work. For me, it's more of a side hustle or hobby, but some people make a full-time living with their POD business.

Pros and Cons - Is Print on Demand Worth It?

Is print on demand free?

Yes! Selling your photography or art via POD is low-risk because you can get started for free. There are tons of POD marketplaces like Zazzle that allow artists and designers to build free print-on-demand stores where they can display their art on a variety of products like coffee mugs and t-shirts. Photographers can display their work as mockup framed prints, without any technical web development knowledge or expensive in-home printers.

Is the print on demand business easy? Advantages of Dropshipping and Third Party Fulfillment

These things make your print on demand stores so much easier when someone else handles the entire fulfillment process, this way you can focus on your art. The business model is already in place to help you scale your POD store quickly. With dropshipping, you don't have to print and ship the products. You don't need to invest in shipping supplies or spend time with customer service. Every POD marketplace offers in-house printing services, or they outsource it to print shops.

Is the print-on-demand business a good passive income method in 2023?

It depends. The definition of "passive income" is often debated across the web, but all passive income methods require some type of initial work or cash investment. I occasionally sell prints of photographs and digital designs that I made many years ago. After you make the art and handle all of the title/description/tag/upload work, your product lives on the web for your entire life. It isn't as passive as something like the stock market, but it is passive enough to make you money while you sleep. Waking up to an email from a POD marketplace that says "You sold this design!" feels great. The bigger and better your POD portfolio is, the more money you make over time.

Pros and Cons - Is Print on Demand Still Profitable in 2023?

Is print on demand saturated, could that make it less profitable?

Yes, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth trying. Because there aren't many barriers to entry, a beginner can quickly get started without spending money and using little effort. It is extremely saturated. However, there are things you can do to get an edge over the competition. Multi-marketplace upload tools like FlyingUpload allow you to push your art across many different websites quickly, putting more eyes on your work than only uploading to one single website. It's important for print on demand businesses to make efficient use of their time if they want to grow quickly.

How much money can you make doing print on demand?

If you only upload a few photographs or designs, you cannot expect to make much money with print on demand in this saturated market. The profit margin is generally low because it is split between you and the companies fulfilling the orders. Running a profitable business is hard, but it's worth the time. Most POD sellers make very little, but people who spend years building up their portfolios can make real money. Focusing on SEO, brand building, market research, and targeting a specific niche can make print on demand profitable. The wide range of products that POD ecommerce offers can also help to make a POD store profitable in 2023; such as hoodies, t-shirts, phone cases, coffee mugs, wall art, keychains, etc.

Starting a POD Business, Making Print on Demand Profitable

Best Print-on-Demand Sites, Marketplaces

The easiest way to get started is to use a marketplace like Zazzle or Society6. The POD platform handles EVERYTHING! Marketing, shipping, customer service, returns, printing, web development, etc. This is the best way for beginners to get started without the risk of losing money on things like marketing and web hosting. This allows for you to focus on creating, and keeps you away from the technical stuff.

Best Print-on-Demand Sites, Fulfillment Services

Some people prefer to build their own websites and use dropshipping fulfillment services like Printify and Printful. Usually, it is done with website platforms like Shopify or WordPress's WooCommerce, these platforms have plugins that connect your website to the fulfillment service companies. This method can provide you with higher profit margins but also requires much more work. Unlike the POD marketplaces, you need to handle your own marketing with this method. This method is better for more experienced business owners, as you are building a brand and have much more on your plate.

Selling Print-On-Demand on eBay

These fulfillment services also allow you to sell on huge marketplaces like eBay! Tapping into this market allows you to focus less on marketing and website building, you simply dropship or forward your eBay orders to the fulfillment company. eBay has a huge customer base, but the downside is the extra fees associated with using it. Whichever method you choose, it's important to weigh the pros and cons.

Diversifying Your Passive Income with Print on Demand AND Microstock

You can boost your POD income by diversifying into microstock. Through microstock marketplaces, you can sell the usage rights to your photography or art. This way you are selling both a physical and digital product across twice as many marketplaces/websites. An efficient way to do this is to use something like FlyingUpload, which will upload to multiple POD and microstock marketplaces from one interface. I wrote an article about this subject back in 2022, you can read more about it here: POD & Microstock, Similar Workflow, Great Results.

Video about YouTuber's Results After 3 Months of POD

YouTube Video by Robert Delins

So is POD worth it? Let me know what you think in the comments below.