We are blessed by the vast amount of possibilities given to us by the internet and progressing technologies. We can entertain ourselves by playing games or watching movies and TV shows, we can meet new people from all around the world, learn from the best and even make money online. Some people, found their success by having an online business and became financially independent because they managed to take advantage of the opportunities given.
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One of which is having an online store as a business. There are many ways how to start your online store. You can retail your products, dropship them or use print on demand. Print on demand (POD) is an online business model, where your supplier prints the designs on your products and ships them to your customer, every time you got a sale. If it’s your first time hearing about POD, let us introduce you to this model. If you already know a thing or two about it already, maybe you’ll refresh your knowledge with something new.
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Print on demand is a print technology in which you only print on the product when you get a sale. This model started in the publishing industry, where everyone could become a writer. When you write a book, you just send an e-version of the book to the publishing company and when someone orders it, they would print out the book and send it to your customer’s doorstep. This method reduced publishing cost to zero because you would no longer need any money upfront.
Later on, the approach of the POD technology was taken by other industries, where the function of making a product on the go was possible. The industry of clothing and accessories were the main ones to do so. This gave new opportunities to the digital entrepreneurs who used it to make many successful online t-shirt, hoodies and paintings businesses. The best thing is that they didn’t need much money upfront and managed to create unique products that are hard to copy.
POD vs Dropshipping
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POD works similarly to dropshipping. It sort of is the same, but it isn’t at the same time. There are many similarities:
- You don’t need money upfront for your products. You simply use the same money given by your customer, to order the same product for a lower price.
- There is no inventory. You don’t need to store products anywhere, because your supplier does that for you.
- The order process is automated. You don’t need to lay a finger on shipping – everything is done by your supplier.
- In both scenarios, POD and dropshipping, your success is determined by the amount of experience and knowledge in marketing and driving sales to your store.
There are some differences between the two as well:
- With POD, you have unique products, that are custom made and is hard to copy. While with dropshipping, people are selling the same products over and over again.
- With dropshipping, you can predict trends and pick products who are gaining momentum in the early stage to benefit from. With POD, predicting trends is very hard, in most cases, you’ll be relying on your sense of humor or artistic nature, or create a trend of your own.
- With POD you have as many products as you can create, so in the end, it really depends on your inspiration. In dropshipping, there are millions of products and thousands of other dropshippers selling the same thing.
Getting Started With the POD
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To start your POD business, you’ll need a webstore. There are many arguments about different platforms, but in the end, WordPress is more versatile than any other platform and has a lot of functionality rather than just selling products. All you need to start is some money for the hosting service with a good domain name and have a nice-looking theme (there are some free themes as well). From there you’ll need to get some plugins like WooCommerce which is the essential plugin for e-commerce and wordpress forms of any type to collect your customer’s money.
Then you’ll need to come up with some designs or hire someone who would do the work for you. At the same time, think about your customers – who are they? How will you reach them? What they like and don’t like? Why they should care about your designs? How will you make them care about your designs? This is the most crucial part of POD business – segmentation and marketing plan.
Lastly, you need to choose your POD supplier, upload your products to your store and start testing them out with different tactics. You can do Instagram influencer marketing, contact some YouTubers, run Facebook or Reddit ads. It all depends on your marketing plan and the segment of your clients. Lastly, a useful resource that you can find on the internet would be to use a free mockup tool to create visual product images to your store. Like with any other online business, good quality photos of your product really make a difference.