“Is print-on-demand dead?”
I’ve been selling print-on-demand products since 2014 and there are many people who ask me this question every single year…
And I always tell them that it works every single year 😀
But in fairness, the way I sell print-on-demand products has slightly changed almost every year.
I started by selling t-shirts on Teespring using Facebook Ads. That was a glorious year for Facebook Ads.
The cost was dirt cheap and the conversion rate was very high, since selling custom t-shirts online was quite new at the time.
Next, I left Teespring and launched my own store on Shopify to sell t-shirts, mugs, and some dropship products using Facebook Ads.
Selling these print-on-demand products using Facebook was still good, but I started seeing an increase in the advertising cost.
There had been new players entering the fray who started using Facebook Ads too.
So, I diversified my revenue by selling print-on-demand products on Amazon and making sales with the organic traffic.
However, I didn’t quit using Facebook Ads at the time. I still sold my print-on-demand products on my Shopify store using Facebook Ads and on Amazon using free traffic.
Sometimes I don’t understand why people like to think that I quit something to do another thing. We can do multiple things at the same time, guys.
Then I learned and knew that we can scale up our Amazon store using Amazon FBA.
I started ordering print-on-demand products, such as coffee mugs and travel mugs, from suppliers in China and sent them to an Amazon warehouse.
My revenue on Amazon skyrocketed after that. It keeps increasing every single year.
While the working process on my Amazon store is quite stable, I opened another store on Etsy and sold mugs, shot glasses, and new print-on-demand products such as face masks using free traffic.
Again, I didn’t quit Shopify and Amazon to open an Etsy store!
After I found slow sales on classic products like coffee mugs, I started finding new products such as bracelets and keychains to sell.
I have been selling these new products on my own store using Facebook Ads while also listing them on Amazon and Etsy.
Things always change, and we have to adapt to survive.
Is print-on-demand dead?
Let’s define the word “dead”.
If making 5-7 figures a year from selling print-on-demand is still doable, then I don’t think it’s “dead”.
Last year, there were many members from Laser Chili who made over five figures from October to December.
Yes, that happened in just three months.
Some of my close friends reached over $100,000 in sales in a year for the first time on Amazon.
My revenue on Amazon alone increased over 30% from the previous year – and I barely did anything…
Has selling print-on-demand been getting a bit more difficult? – YES
But dead? – NO
Since last year, Facebook lost some power tracking people’s behavior and it caused a decrease in tracking performance.
My revenue from selling print-on-demand using Facebook ads has decreased as well. Many old winning campaigns didn’t perform well anymore.
But that isn’t the end of the print-on-demand…
There are still many ways to make it work.
And I’ll share my vision and plan on selling print-on-demand products this year.
Let’s find out.
Focus more on marketplaces
The easiest and most consistent way to sell print-on-demand products is selling on marketplaces.
I mean it’s very easy, but you need to be very patient.
When selling on marketplaces like Amazon or Etsy, you need to rely on the free traffic – and the free traffic takes time to build.
It’s not like paid traffic where you can launch the campaign, get traffic, and make some sales immediately.
It takes months to make your product listings have a better ranking and grow the passive income from selling the print-on-demand with the free traffic.
I’ve been selling my print-on-demand products since 2017 and my yearly revenue has been increasing every single year.
More importantly, I have worked less every single year as well. I created the system and put virtual assistants into it.
They’re uploading new products to my Amazon account for me every day.
Apart from the help of my team, I also use PODtomatic to upload new products to my account every day as well. There are 250-300 new products uploaded to my account every day.
For the part that I still work by myself, I’m still placing orders for the FBA products on my own. It usually takes me a few hours a year to do this.
Yeah…just a few hours – a year.
I just log in to my account whenever I want to create more shipments for my FBA products – which I’ll talk about in the next section.
So, this year, I’m still focusing on selling my print-on-demand products on the marketplaces. It’s the one that I have been doing well and I’ll still keep doing it.
Amazon FBA is still the KING
Sending your print-on-demand products to an Amazon warehouse and selling them as FBA products is like the shortcut to make more and consistent sales on Amazon.
When your products become FBA products, you will get the benefit of a better ranking, faster shipping by Amazon, and most customers usually prefer ordering FBA products over FBM products.
This is the print-on-demand selling strategy that I like the most because I can work a lot less and the results keep getting better every year.
Here are the simple steps I do to crush print-on-demand sales using the perk of Amazon FBA.
- Listing new print-on-demand products every day using PODtomatic and VA (my VA team is also using PODTurbo and Laser Chili to upload new products)
- Wait for the sales…
- Pick some products that made some sales.
- Order them in bulk on AliExpress with a cheap price and send them to an Amazon warehouse.
- Rinse and repeat.
It will take just about two hours to create 20-30 shipments and send the order to my supplier. And I have to do this just once every 2-3 months.
That’s just around 8-10 hours needed in a year.
I have done this for many years and I have over a hundred products in my Amazon FBA inventory.
And they have been making over 6-figures in sales annually for me in the past few years.
But again, you have to be very patient because the sales won’t come fast from FBM products. You need to wait for sales and choose SKUs to be the FBA products.
It’s not the overnight success business model.
I keep doing this for years to have over a hundred SKUs in my Amazon Warehouse.
This is what I will continue doing this year. I’ll find more winning products and make them FBA.
Anyway, since I have seen slow sales for some types of products, I’ll tell you about the new type of products that I’m going to send to an Amazon warehouse more often later in this article.
People love personalized products a lot and this kind of product has never stopped making sales.
If you don’t believe me, you can go to Etsy and try searching with keyword like “personalized gifts”. You will see many products with tons of customer reviews.
You will see personalized gifts like mugs, message cards with jewelry, bracelets with custom names, t-shirts with personalized drawing images, etc.
I have seen many shops on Etsy that have personalized products and make over 2,000-3,000 sales every month.
They can sell tons of these products even in the non-holiday months. There’s no need to focus only on the trends.
That’s very impressive.
Some of my friends are doing well with the personalized products as well. They made over $40k last year on Etsy alone.
There are also many members in the Laser Chili group making many sales with the customized bracelets and keychains.
At Laser Chili, we have a custom order function in which our members can choose a product, upload a design, and place an order.
This function is specially created for people who want to place an order for the personalized item. We get many new personalized orders from our members every day.
It’s a business model that you can use to sell print-on-demand products all year long, even in slow-selling months.
But the problem is, you have to talk with customers to get the custom designs they want, send a custom order to the supplier, and fulfill the order manually on Etsy when it ships.
All processes have to be done manually…
I’m not a fan of selling personalized products, but I can’t deny that this business model can make tons of money in a year.
…So I might find a way to let my VA help me working on this later this year.
Anyway, if you just get started or haven’t made much money from selling print-on-demand products yet, this is the easiest way to start making sales.
Add new types of products (with higher margin)
“There are tons of coffee mugs on Amazon already. It’s very difficult to sell this product. We can’t make money from this anymore. Print-on-demand is DEAD!”
Well, then why don’t you sell other kinds of products?
There are sooooo many other print-on-demand products in the market you can sell.
Last year, there were many new jewelry items with message cards from Gearbubble, as well as engraved bracelets and keychains from Laser Chili.
I asked my team to change from uploading coffee mugs, shot glasses, and travel mugs to these new products.
The number of sales has increased significantly.
And the profits have increased a lot as well because these products have a much higher margin than coffee mugs.
I’ll focus on selling these new products this year.
I actually started sending some bracelets from Laser Chili to Amazon Warehouse last year. They have been selling extremely well when they become FBA products.
If you are not a member of the Laser Chili yet, I highly recommend you join and start selling our products as soon as you can.
It’s completely free to join and there are not many competitors yet. There’s a good chance it will be the early sellers of the new products.
Find new traffic sources to sell print-on-demand products
Apart from selling print-on-demand products on marketplaces, I’ll also focus on growing my own store.
Since last year, I have been hiring a team to manage the Google Ad campaign for me.
Google Shopping Ads is another traffic source that can build a stable traffic source for your store.
I actually did this by myself for a while in the past, but my friend just opened the Google Ad Agency last year so I asked his team to help me do this.
Having a reliable team to do the ads for me has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, that way I could spend my time on other things else in my business.
My store with Google Ads has been growing slowly every month since last year. It’s pretty good. Even though the traffic is not as much as from Facebook Ad yet, it’s a lot more stable.
If it’s going as planned, I would have a store that can make stable income at the end of the year.
It’s another thing that I’ll focus on for my print-on-demand business this year.
Okay, this is my plan on selling print-on-demand this year.
As you can see, I still focus on growing the print-on-demand sales on the marketplaces especially on Amazon with Amazon FBA.
Also, I still believe that relying on others is not a good thing. Amazon or Etsy might change their rules someday and our revenue might disappear overnight.
Recently, Etsy started increasing the fee from 5% to 6.5% (that’s a 30% increase) and this causes us to make less profit instantly.
I’m pretty sure it will be more difficult in the next year to come if we sell our products on the marketplaces.
They can make any rule they want.
So it will be better in the long term if we can create our own store.
This is what I’ll also focus on this year.
I’ll keep you posted.
P.S. Apart from the results from me and my close friends, I also found that the print-on-demand sales in 2021 from PODTurbo members have increased over 40% from 2020.
So, I don’t think that print-on-demand is dead 🙂