Is Print-On-Demand Profitable in 2024? | 6 Reasons Its Profitable Despite Competition

April 8, 2024

Print on demand is profitable in 2024 if you can target the right niche market, sell high demand products, and work with reliable third-party suppliers. On average, print on demand businesses earn a profit of 20% to 30% from their products. According to online entrepreneur and YouTuber Greg Gottfried, print on demand owners may earn “roughly $1 per month per listing per website.” This means that uploading 100 designs on 3 different POD websites gives you 300 listings, which could then translate to at least “$300 per month in profit.”

Meanwhile, ViralStyle co-founder Tom Bell launched his company in 2014 and has since “shipped over 10M+ print on demand products.” He now teaches his strategies in his Insider Scaling System course. According to him, it’s possible to earn as much as 6 to 7 figures as a print-on-demand business owner. Brittany Lewis of the Top Seller Secret course has generated over $600,000 in three years selling print on demand products on Etsy.

Print-on-demand is an order fulfillment method where businesses accommodate custom print orders from clients, such as bags, hats, mugs, shirts, stickers, and water bottles, among others. POD brands use digital printing technology, which allows them to accept orders with no minimum quantity requirement. Earnings may vary from one POD seller to another, depending on the number of products sold per month, along with their marketing and pricing strategies. There is a growing market for this type of business, as seen in the growing numbers of print-on-demand sellers on platforms such as Amazon, Etsy, Printful, Redbubble, Tee Spring, Zazzle, and others.

However, running a POD business also comes with its own challenges. Case in point, the market can be competitive because of the low barrier to entry. Additionally, the success rate for print on demand businesses is only at around 24%. In this feature, we look into the print-on-demand’s profitability, ways to increase your earnings, plus the common disadvantages of the business model. We also discuss why local lead generation remains to be my #1 recommendation for online business and how it’s easier to scale than print-on-demand business.

6 Reasons Why Print-On-Demand Is Still Profitable Despite The Increasing Competition

1. The Print-On-Demand Industry Continues To Grow Per Year

The print-on-demand industry is continuously growing by 26.1% on average per year, according to Grand View Research. Data gathered by Precedence Research also indicates that the global POD market size in 2024 is expected to reach $10.17 billion. It is also anticipated that the market will hit $67.59 billion by 2032. So despite the competitive marketplace, print on demand can be profitable for business owners who follow proven practices.

2. Print-on-Demand Is A Low Risk Endeavor

Print-on-demand is a fairly low-risk endeavor. It’s easier to add new designs or remove existing ones since online sellers do not need to invest in stock production and inventory management. Third party providers only make them upon each order plus these companies handle the entire order fulfillment process (shipping, handling, etc). As such, the POD approach allows sellers to test and change business ideas based on market demand without taking big risks. This can then possibly lead to bigger profits compared with other online business types.

3. Print-on-Demand Requires A Low Starting Cost

Print-on-demand only requires a low starting cost. POD seller and YouTuber Greg Gottfried shares that beginners starting a POD t-shirt business do not need to spend any money if they use free tools online. For example, designs can be made using Canva or Photoshop while ChatGPT can help in slogan creation. Amazon and Google can also be useful for niche research. Plus print on demand sites like Amazon Merch, Redbubble, TeePublic and Zazzle are all “passive style,” according to Greg. “What that means is, those websites get their own traffic organically,” he explains. “By uploading to those sites, it's a totally free way to get people in front of your designs.”

Meanwhile, advanced sellers may consider investing in paid tools to take their business to the next level. Merch Informer ($9.99 per month) can help sellers with niche research and trademark checking. For designing, Canva ($29.99 per month for 5 users) and Photoshop ($22.99 per month) both have premium versions, plus mockup and design template generator ($14.95 per month) can be a practical tool as well.

4. Print-On-Demand Requires Minimal To Zero Inventory

Print on demand selling requires minimal to zero inventory. This is because the third party POD provider handles inventory management and only prints the required quantity as they receive customer orders. Case in point, Sean McElwee has been using Printful for the past 3 years and now sells “150 (shirt) designs without inventory.” As a seller, this type of business model can help you gain greater profit because you can avoid the need to purchase stocks and maintain inventory.

5. Print-on-Demand Offers You Wide Products To Sell

Print-on-demand offers sellers a wide array of products to offer online. Having a huge product selection provides opportunities for POD entrepreneurs to earn and boost their profits despite widespread market competition. Among the best-selling print on demand products in the industry are:

✅ Apparel (shirts, hats, hoodies, jackets, tank tops, socks, drawstring bags, tote bags)
✅ Accessories (smartphone cases, face masks, engraved jewelry, yoga mats)
✅ Drinkware (aluminum water bottles, mugs, tumblers)
✅ Home decorations (wall art, posters, throw pillows)
✅ Others (stickers, bluetooth speakers)

6. Print-on-Demand Offers Endless Customization Options

Print-on-demand offers endless customization options for sellers. For instance, you can offer a single shirt design in various colors, fit types, and sizes. Customization possibilities are endless, which makes this an advantage for creatives who want to keep up with the competition by testing out different product and design ideas. Moreover, buyers also enjoy the flexibility of personalizing their purchases and choosing their preferred variant. 

How Much Profit Can You Make With Print-On-Demand?

You can make $1 to over $8,500 per month with print-on-demand, depending on the total number of your sales, available designs, and the number of POD sites you work with. 

YouTuber and POD educator Hannah Ebeling says she earned a total profit of $235.44 in her first month. “It's more like about 5% of the products I ever post but with 200 to 300 unique designs posted, I made almost a dollar per design.”

Meanwhile, Cassiy Johnson gave her YouTube viewers a rundown of how much she earned month after month in her first year in the Etsy POD marketplace. Her highest month was in April 2021 where she made a revenue of $26,440.59 and a profit of $8,558. Overall, she made a total revenue of $214, 925 and a profit of $63,952 in her first year.

“I really think there's enough room on Etsy with print on demand for all of us,” Cassiy points out. “It's never going to be perfect. I'm still improving my processes and my designs and my store every single day.”

While you cannot control the total number of monthly sales, the print-on-demand model allows you to set your own profit margin. Case in point, Printful recommends a 30% profit margin for all sellers. Also, remember that you’ll have to deduct other expenses (fees, advertising, design, etc) from your revenue to get your total profit.  

6 Tips To Increase Your Print-On-Demand Store Profits

1. Know Your Target Audience

Knowing your target audience is an important aspect of running a successful POD store. In 2024, the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report pointed out that “88% of customers expect personalization.” As you focus on meeting the needs of a specific demographic, you can stay ahead of competitors. That said, you need to learn important information about your potential customer base, such as their age, gender, interests, income, purchasing history, and location, among others.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to find a profitable niche with high demand and low competition. By targeting a specific group, you can create POD products that they will actually want to purchase online. This requires conducting thorough research since trends often change, so be sure to do your homework.

2. Focus On Creating Designs And Marketing

Focusing on creating designs and marketing your POD products can grow your potential profits further. Successful print on demand businesses often rely on offering a wide range of unique designs. This allows online store owners to cater to a bigger percentage of their target market. 

Plagiarism is a big no-no in the industry and may result in account suspension. So you need to come up with original concepts. You can find ideas from Designious, Dribbble, Pinterest, and other similar sites. When creating your own designs from scratch, you can use software like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, or Corel Draw. In addition, Canva is a popular web-based tool that lets you access graphic elements you can use and pre-made templates you can tweak.

Craig Jones of the Passive Owl YouTube channel shares that he has been making money from print on demand since 2018. He encourages those without design skills to hire graphic design experts online. 

“You can find thousands of artists on sites like Fiverr or Upwork, and they'll create designs for you for as little as $4,” he says in a video. “Outsourcing speeds up the process and takes your design ideas to the next level.”

Also, create and maintain active social media accounts for your POD business. This will allow you to market your store products with greater ease and less expenses.

3. Provide Excellent Customer Service

Providing excellent customer service is a must to make print on demand profitable. Take time to respond to customer inquiries in a timely and professional manner. Also, make sure to choose a reliable POD provider since they will be handling shipping, order tracking, returns, and other customer concerns. Besides, you want to attract new buyers and maintain existing ones at the same time. 

According to Zendesk, 81% of customers say “a positive customer service experience increases the likelihood they’ll make another purchase.” As Printify's Expert Consultant Martin Darland also emphasizes in a webinar, “a good customer experience leads to a happy customer” which can then lead into repeat buyers and help build trust. 

4. Leverage Free Resources And Apps At The Start

Leveraging free resources and apps can help beginners have bigger profit from their print on demand business. While you can eventually invest on paid tools, it’s always a better idea to start with free versions to avoid expensive startup costs. Here are some examples of free software services you can use:

  • Canva (user-friendly graphic design tool)
  • Photopea (online photo editor)
  • (shirt mockup creator)
  • Pexels, Pixabay, Unsplash (free stock photo websites)
  • Vecteezy (royalty free vectors)

5. Market Your Products Effectively

With your POD partner handling inventory, printing, and logistics tasks, you can focus on marketing your products effectively. As you implement the right marketing strategies, you can reach more of your audience and have higher chances of getting sales. 

Use social media. For maximum exposure, create business accounts on various platforms and post regularly. Consider joining communities where you can share about your new products and designs. Engage with your followers.

Do email marketing. Build an email list, so you can let people know about your new releases or upcoming promotions by sending messages straight to their inboxes. Offer exclusive discounts or freebies to your subscribers.

Invest in paid ads. Advertising your POD company online can increase your brand recognition and visibility. Paid ad campaigns like Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, and Google Ads can be great ways to drum up interest in your products. You may also work with influencers who may be relevant to your target audience.

6. Stay Updated With Trends

Staying updated with trends is crucial since print on demand is a dynamic industry. Technology, customer preferences, and market trends constantly evolve, so you want to pay close attention to the latest industry news. Check out successful competitors and look at what they’re doing (which designs sell best, what type of materials and printing technology they use, etc). Also, use tools like Google Trends and social media to find relevant information online.

As an example, 6-figure POD seller Brittany Lewis shares that the search algorithm plays a big role in your POD business’ profitability. “When you know exactly how to make the Etsy search algorithm your BFF like I learned how to, your shop will skyrocket with less effort and unbelievable results,” she writes on her Top Secret Seller website.

What Are The Most Profitable Print-On-Demand Products?

The most profitable print-on-demand products are leggings, adult hooded blankets, and all-over print sweatshirts. According to a YouTube video by AOP Plus, sellers of leggings enjoy a profit margin of up to $61 per sale. Meanwhile, premium adult hooded blankets and all-over print sweatshirts may respectively bring $50 and $35 margins per sale.  

In a Printify blog, the POD company shares that some of the best-selling products are t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, canvas, posters, phone cases, tote bags, stickers, tumblers, tank tops, hats, cushions, candles, tapestries, rugs, baby bodysuits, journals, notebooks, footwear, and socks. 

Best Print-On-Demand Platform To Make Profit

The best print-on-demand platform to make profit is Printful. Established in 2013 by co-founders Lauris Liberts and Davis Siksnans, the company currently has its headquarters in Riga, Latvia and has fulfillment centers in two continents.   

Printful is often named as one of the top-rated platforms among print-on-demand sellers. The company hit a milestone of 20 million printed products in 2020 and reached a revenue of over $289 million in 2021.

Profit-wise, Printful encourages sellers to add a 30% profit margin on top of base price, shipping costs, and other expenses such as listing fees, advertising, and others. 

Top POD Stores That Make Profit In Print-On-Demand

Mike Pasley of Famous in Real Life earned over $700,000 in revenue in his first year running a print on demand store. He specializes in funny, pop culture-inspired graphic apparel shirts and hoodies.

“Having a long-term mindset and seriously thinking about your brand is very important,” Mike tells Printify. He likewise points out that it’s crucial to consider customer behavior as part of the whole equation. “If you can look beyond clicks and see the user experience and why people are behaving that way, then it is really the key piece in finding success in eCommerce,” he adds.

Olivier Gratton-Gagné of iLikeMaps is an artist and entrepreneur based in Montreal, Canada. His POD store is all about “creating rich and detailed map prints” of popular cities across the world. Their products range from art decos and pillows, to tote bags and shower curtains.  

In a Printful feature, Olivier says he sells online via Shopify and Etsy. He also works with brick-and-mortar retailers and attends local trade shows. “I get requests from all the channels you can think of – social, email. People are starting to know me and they’re asking for custom jobs,” he also comments. “In those cases, we might do the transaction by PayPal or direct payment links.” Overall, Olivier earns over $120,000 from the print on demand platform sites he uses.

Karl Rowley of MidCentury Style Shop offers accessories, apparel, and home decor products “inspired by the timeless Mid Century Modern style.” His products include bandanas, coasters, duvet covers, mugs, mouse pads, mugs, and pet bowls, among others. Karl also shares that having an online presence contributes to his success. 

“When one video went viral with over 10,000 views in a short time, I knew I was on to something,” he tells Printful. “My channel appeals to a small, specific audience, but they’re very dedicated to my niche.”

3 Major Reasons Why Print On Demand Is Getting Harder

1. Running a Print-On-Demand Business Can Require Long Hours

Running a print-on-demand business can be time-consuming. In a Medium blog, Crystall Garrett wrote about her "short-lived print-on-demand store" which she shut down after only 4 months. According to Crystal, she "jumped without due diligence" when she needed extra income. She eventually found out how overwhelming it was to run a POD business.  

After spending "hours and hours" creating and uploading designs, mockups, and social posts, she decided it wasn't worth it. "The reality was far from what I had imagined," says Crystal. "The idea of passive income and minimal effort quickly turned into a nightmare of fixing mistakes in the back end, deleting spam messages, and trying to figure out all the ins and outs of running an online store."

2. Print-On-Demand Does Not Always Guarantee Huge Sales

While some POD gurus would have you believe that the business model can be an easy way to earn money online, this has not been the real-life experience for some sellers. 

In a YouTube video, DefinedByAlex reveals she earned nothing in May and June 2023 - her first two months - as a POD seller in Etsy. According to her, she only started earning in July after getting 1 order out of 97 visits. She only earned a total of $16 in revenue. Fortunately, she pushed on and by October of the same year, she has sold 14 orders and made $469 in revenue.

3. Print-On-Demand Fees Can Eat Into Your Profits

Print-on-demand can be costly for business owners in the long run. Your chosen POD platform will usually require certain fees from each sale. For example, print-on-demand sellers on Etsy pay the following mandatory fees: 

  • Listing fee: $0.20 per listing
  • Transaction fee: 6.5% per sale
  • Payment processing fee: 3% + $0.25 for Etsy Payments user

Of course, these fees can eventually eat into your profits, leaving you with a little revenue. Moreover, you will may also need to spend more money for software subscriptions, hiring graphic designers, and other optional expenses. 

Is Print-On-Demand Saturated?

No, print-on-demand is not saturated because the demand and market size continues to grow. However, the business model has changed much over the years which has made it difficult for starting POD owners. Moreover, the growing popularity means the industry has also become extremely competitive.  

On Reddit, one user responds to this question saying POD cannot be saturated because “it isn't a niche (but) a method to market.” The Redditor further writes that “there will always be new niches, subniches, trends, design styles, etc... POD is way broader than just t shirts.”

That said, the challenge is to find profitable niches and trending products that are not too competitive at the moment. Moreover, your marketing strategy can also help your business stand out and gain attention from potential customers. 

Why Starting a Lead Gen Biz Is More Profitable Than Print-On-Demand?

Starting a lead generation business is more profitable than print-on-demand. With this online business, your overall earnings will not depend on monthly sales volume. While running a print-on-demand brand can be potentially profitable, lead gen requires less effort yet brings bigger revenue. Instead of dealing with multiple customer inquiries, you are only working directly with your client - a business owner who needs organic traffic for their website. You also get to avoid competing with thousands of sellers selling similar products online. Instead, you are building a website from scratch and then boosting its ranking on top search engines. As a result, you are only competing with 10 to 15 local businesses using the same keyword.

Income is also more passive and stable with lead gen. Once your site hits high search engine rankings, customers are more than willing to pay you for your services. Scaling your business is even much easier. As you master the best lead gen methods, you can build more websites and offer your services to more customers ready to pay you at least $500 to $3,000 per month. Profit margin can reach as high as 95% since you’re selling leads, not physical products. 


I say all these from experience. One of my lead gen websites makes me $2,000 per month with little or no work on my end. Since ranking the Grand Rapids tree care site, my client continues to pay me for the leads I deliver each month. Today, I own several of these sites and make a monthly total income of $52,000. In addition, I also have a lead generation coaching program where we teach learners about our proven 3-step process.

Follow Me
Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}