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If you make print on demand items, price all of your products out
This response will be awarded full points automatically, but it can be reviewed and adjusted after submission.
In this lesson, we’ll go through a specific example of how I would price print on demand items and dropship items.
First, let’s get some definitions out of the way, in case you’re not familiar with what print on demand or dropshipping is.
Print on demand is where you can get your artwork printed on blank products like t-shirts, mugs, leggings, phone cases, bags, socks, sweaters, pillow cases and a whole lot more. Print on demand specifically is where you get just one t-shirt printed, as opposed to hiring a screenprinting company where they would ask for a 50 piece minimum which could cost like more than $500. That’s how it used to work traditionally before print on demand became a big thing. And as you can imagine, it’s a really high barrier to entry to get your artwork printed on stuff. Now, print on demand makes it so easy for you because you don’t need all that upfront capital and you don’t have to buy your inventory in bulk. You can just get your orders made by your printer as the orders come in. That helps keep costs low for you and definitely helps with your cash flow, which is an important thing to always keep in mind when it comes to your spending every month.
Some examples of print on demand sites are like Zazzle, Print Aura, Society 6 and The Printful. There are way more than just these four out there, but these are just some of the more popular ones.
Dropshipping on the other hand, is a service where the manufacturer or printer of your product ships the order directly to your customer for you. So instead of sending you the product, then you repacking it and shipping it to your customer, you get to save on that double shipping cost and have the printer ship straight to your customer for you. Most dropshippers brand your packing materials and they include your information on it, like your return shipping address and your customer service email address, so it looks like the order was shipped by you.
A lot of print on demand companies now do dropshipping as an extension of their services. But not all of them do. You could technically dropship from anywhere and any shop. Like say you were reselling my jewelry on your site for a higher price. When one of your customer buys my jewelry on your site, you’ll then head over to my site and place an order on behalf of your customer. The shipping address you enter on my site would be your customer’s shipping address. You pay me for my regular price, and you take home the profit from selling my necklace at a higher price to your customer. Then when I ship the order out, I ship directly to your customer for you.
This is a practice that happens very often in online business. Sometimes you might even get asked if you would be open to doing dropshipping for another online website, so don’t be surprised if that happens. It’s actually a pretty common thing.
Both print on demand and dropshipping are relatively new services and technology that’s becoming more and more popular. A lot of designers and artists now use these services to bring their designs to life and get them printed on physical products that can have a lot more appeal and practical value like a tote bag or a mug or a cellphone case.
So based on that explanation, you can probably guess the nature of print on demand and dropship items by now.
You don’t need to hand craft your products and every order that comes in.
Likewise, you don’t have to pack and ship the orders yourself.
The entire manufacturing or production and shipping process is completely hands off for you. Which honestly is where some of us spend most of our time, which means we don’t have time to do marketing and audience and traffic building. So print on demand and dropshipping services save you a ton of time and money… but just like with selling digital products, it’s not a perfect world.
Because production and shipping is taken care of for you, it can actually cost more money to make each product and to ship each order. It’ll probably be cheaper if you can hire a traditional printer and order in bulk, or if you were to actually do it yourself. But as if everything, there’s usually a trade off in terms of time and money. If you want to save time, you have to pay money. If you want to say money, you have to use your time.
This means you’ll be profiting less for every product that you get made by a print on demand service. It’s unlikely you can ever sell wholesale unless you can order enough in bulk to make the pricing work for you.
And lastly, unless you sell something really unique, it’s likely you can’t price a whole lot more than the price range you’re seeing from doing your research online on what other people are charging for something similar.
So let’s go through some of the steps for how to actually go about pricing a print on demand product.
Here’s what I did when I released my t-shirt line.
First, think about what products work best with your design. Something that would work well for a t-shirt might also work well for a tote bag, but may not look balanced or may not look good as a cellphone case. You also want to consider the design itself and maybe your art has a message to it that would work well as a mug but not as a t-shirt.
Next, you’ll want to research what brand and product you’ll use to get your designs printed on. This could be figuring out what brand of t-shirt you want to use, or what size and material for your tote bags. You’ll probably be presented with a lot of different options, so decide ahead of time what will work best for you and your brand.
Then you’re going to do some research to look for similar designs and see what prices there are to get an idea for the price range.
And finally, you’ll want to research printers and see if they even print on the brands or products you like and check out what their prices are.
So a few years ago I commissioned a graphic designer whose specialty was with making t-shirt designs. I wanted to make t-shirts because people are always buying them. So even though there’s a lot of competition, I wanted to provide my existing customers with a different foodie product they could buy that wasn’t my jewelry. That meant I could increase my customer’s value from a $45 average order to $60-70 because they were buying more things from my shop.
At the time, I wasn’t doing my math or research correctly and I found out I didn’t have enough money to get these t-shirts printed, because print on demand services didn’t exist yet or weren’t as accessible at the time. It would have cost over thousands of dollars to get the t-shirts printed and I would have to carry inventory for them, or I could buy my own equipment and print them myself, which was a bit cheaper but becomes a production headache that I knew I didn’t want to take on. So I put the project on hold.
Then when I learned about print on demand services, I got ready to launch my line.
I had already done the research and bought samples of t-shirt blanks to test and wear these t-shirts myself to get a feel for what was the most comfortable, fit well and lasted through more than several washes.
Turns out, I really loved the American Apparel Fine Jersey Short Sleeve Women’s T. It was comfortable, it wasn’t too tight but it was flattering. It’s really high quality and didn’t get ruined in the wash like some of the other shirts I tried. Plus, they came in lots of colors that worked well for my designs.
So I went online and looked for other t-shirts that were American Apparel or that had cute food illustrations on them like mine. What I found was people were selling their tees for between $24 and $28.
I went on to do my printer research. First, I needed a printer that would even print on the brand of t-shirt I wanted.
Here are a few examples of what I found.
Society 6 is a pretty well known site that does print on demand. The work on an interesting system where they fix their prices and a t-shirt like mine would sell for $24. I would get paid $2.40 for every t-shirt I sell through Society 6. That’s a really measly amount. And they don’t technically carry American Apparel, but I wanted to show this to you as an example so you can see how varied the pricing can be out there.
By contrast, The Printful charges $14.85 plus $5 shipping. And Print Aura charges $15 plus $3.50 shipping.
I’m thinking I want to sell my tee at a higher end, more premium price point. So I go with $28.
I decide to go with Print Aura because even though the cost to print is more expensive than The Printful, the total cost including shipping actually ends up being a bit cheaper.
I usually charge my customers a flat rate of $4 regardless of what they order. So for a t-shirt order, I would make $32. Minus Print Aura’s printing and shipping costs, I end up with a $13.50 profit. Which is actually pretty close to doubling my cost. That’s a great profit margin considering the manufacturing and shipping process is hands off for me.
But you see how I could never sell wholesale if I ordered through Print Aura. A brick and mortar store would have to sell my t-shirt for $28, which means I’d need to sell it to the store at $14 and buy it from my printer at $7. I would either need to strike a deal with Print Aura and order in larger quantities to benefit from pricing breaks or I’d have to look for a different printer and maybe even go with a traditional screenprinter.
So with that, let’s recap what we learned today.
We talked about what print on demand and dropshipping are.
We went through the pros and cons for going down this route and making products with a print on demand service and dropshipper.
And we walked through how I came up with the prices for my own t-shirt line at Tiny Hands and you can follow along with the same steps I used to price out your own products.
There’s no homework for this lesson, unless your minimum viable product line consists mainly of print on demand items. Then you would need to go ahead and price out all your products.
So I’ll leave you to do that, and we’ll meet back again in the next lesson.