Published Apr 5, 2024 ⦁ 18 min read
Print on Demand Promotional Products: A Guide

Print on Demand Promotional Products: A Guide

Print on Demand (POD) promotional products offer a flexible, cost-effective way for businesses to create custom items like t-shirts, mugs, and pens without investing in large inventories. This guide explores the advantages of POD, including low startup costs, easy customization, scalability, and global distribution capabilities. Whether you're a small business, a creative individual, or looking to launch a special project, POD allows you to experiment with product designs and reach a wider audience without the financial risk of traditional inventory management.

  • Advantages of POD:
  • Low startup costs
  • Easy customization
  • Scalability
  • Just-in-time fulfillment
  • Global distribution
  • Popular POD Items:
  • Apparel (t-shirts, hoodies, hats)
  • Bags (tote bags, backpacks)
  • Drinkware (mugs, water bottles)
  • Writing instruments (pens, pencils)
  • Calendars & planners
  • Getting Started:
  • Choose your niche.
  • Find a reliable print provider.
  • Set up your ecommerce platform.
  • Create and upload designs.
  • Market your products.

POD simplifies the process of selling custom merchandise, making it an ideal option for anyone looking to create and sell unique products with minimal upfront investment.

What is Print on Demand?

Print on demand (POD) is a way to make things like t-shirts or books one at a time, whenever someone orders them. This means you don't have to make a bunch of items in advance and hope they sell. Instead, you only make what people actually want, which saves money and space.

How Does Print on Demand Work?

Here's a simple breakdown of how print on demand works:

  • Someone with a design for a product puts it up on a POD website
  • A customer orders a product with that design
  • The POD company prints the design on the product using special printers
  • The company then sends the product directly to the customer

This way, the person who created the design doesn't have to worry about making the product or sending it out. They can focus on making great designs.

The Evolution of Print on Demand

Print on demand started in the 1990s when it became easier to print things one at a time. Websites like CafePress and Zazzle made it popular by letting anyone sell their own designed products online. As more people shopped online, POD became even more popular. Now, it's a big industry that's still growing because people love buying things that are made just for them.

  • In 2022, the print on demand industry was worth $6.18 billion
  • It's expected to grow a lot, by about 25.8% each year until 2030
  • More people using the internet, shopping online, and wanting unique, custom products are reasons why it's growing
  • Popular items include books, stationery, jewelry, clothes, home decor, and promotional products like print-on-demand t-shirts and custom hoodies

Print on demand is a great option for creative people, small business owners, and anyone who wants to sell unique products without the hassle of managing inventory or dealing with shipping.

Why Choose Print on Demand for Promotional Products?

Print on demand (POD) is a smart choice for businesses that want to make their own customized items like t-shirts or mugs without having to buy a lot of them upfront. Here’s why it’s a good idea:


With print on demand, you don’t have to spend money on lots of items that might not get sold. You only pay for what you order, which means you don’t waste money on materials or space to store them. This is especially handy for making a few items for special events or promotions.

Design Flexibility

POD lets you be really creative with your designs. You can easily change logos, pictures, or words on your products whenever you want, without having to throw away unsold items.

Short Lead Times

POD is much quicker than making things the old-fashioned way. Most companies that do print on demand can get your custom items made and sent out in just a few days. This is great for when you need to quickly jump on new chances to get your brand out there.

In short, print on demand makes it easier and cheaper to get customized items for promoting your business. You don’t have to worry about buying lots of stuff in advance or waiting a long time for your items. It’s a straightforward way to make exactly what you need for your promotions.

How Print on Demand Works for Promotional Products

Print on demand (POD) makes it easy to create custom stuff like t-shirts or mugs with your logo, without worrying about keeping a bunch of them in a warehouse. Here's a simple look at how it works:

1. Order Placement

It all starts when someone decides they want a product with a special design on it. This could be:

  • T-shirts with your business logo
  • Pens with your catchy slogan
  • Water bottles for a special event

The person picks what they want, the design, how many they need, and where to send it, all through a website.

2. Printing

After the order comes in, the company making your items uses cool tech to print your design right on them. This might include:

  • Direct to garment (DTG) for clothes
  • Dye sublimation for things like mugs or phone cases
  • Digital presses for paper stuff like flyers or stickers

This tech is great because it lets them make just what's ordered, without needing a big setup or making more than needed.

3. Fulfillment and Shipping

Next, the company packages up your items and sends them out. Usually, this takes about 3-5 days to get to the customer. Some good things about this step are:

  • They can send stuff all over the world
  • You can track your order to see where it is
  • They check to make sure everything looks good before it goes out
  • Sending a bunch of orders together can save money

This way, businesses can get their custom items to people fast, without having to deal with storing a lot of stock or sending things out themselves.

So, print on demand is really about three steps: ordering, printing, and sending. It's a handy way to make and get custom items out there.

Selecting the Right Print on Demand Platform

Picking the best print on demand (POD) platform is super important if you want to sell custom products online. Here's what to look at when comparing POD services:


Different POD platforms will charge you in different ways. Some might have a fee for each order, while others have monthly fees. It's a good idea to look at these costs to figure out how much you can make.

  • Printful doesn't have a monthly fee, you just pay for each order you make
  • Printify offers plans that range from free to $29 a month

Product Range

The more types of products a platform offers, the more options you have to sell. Check out what kinds of products and customization they offer.

  • Printful has lots of choices like clothes, home stuff, and accessories
  • Printify has over 300 products including clothes, mugs, and magnets

The better the print quality, the more you can charge and the more likely customers will come back. Try out some samples from different places to see what you like.

  • Printful is known for really good quality prints and embroidery
  • Printify's print quality ranges from okay to really good

Comparison Table

Platform Cost Product Range Print Quality
Printful $ Wide selection High
Printify $ Very wide selection Medium to high

When choosing a POD platform, think about what's most important for your business, like the types of products you want to sell, how many orders you'll have, and how much money you want to make. Take a good look at a few different services and pick one that fits best with what you're trying to do. Always keep an eye on how things are going and be ready to change if you need to.

Promotional products are a smart way for businesses to get their name out there and connect with people. With print on demand, you can make custom items without having to keep a lot of them on hand. Here are some top picks for print on demand promotional products that businesses love to use:


Clothes like t-shirts, hoodies, and hats are great for promotions because people wear them a lot. The main perks are:

  • Your brand gets seen by many
  • You can make your own designs
  • Lots of clothing options
  • People wear them often

With print on demand, you can put your designs on clothes and sell them online without worrying about storing them. When someone orders, the item is made and sent straight to them.


Promotional bags, like tote bags, backpacks, and duffel bags, are good for spreading your brand because they're useful and can carry your logo everywhere.

  • Tote bags can show off your logo on both sides
  • Backpacks and duffel bags go lots of places
  • Bags are often reused, so your brand gets seen more

Print on demand means you can make a few custom bags for special events or promotions without having extra ones lying around.


This includes things like water bottles, mugs, tumblers, and koozies. They're good because:

  • People use them in public
  • You can put colorful designs on them
  • They're reusable, which is good for the planet
  • You don't have to order a ton at once

Businesses can design their own drinkware to give away or sell. Print on demand takes care of making and sending them.

Writing Instruments

Items like pens, pencils, and highlighters are cheap to make and useful, making them perfect for giving away.

  • They don't cost much to make
  • People use them every day
  • They're easy to give out at events

With print on demand, you can add your logo and messages to these items, making them great for gifts, event bags, and more.

Calendars & Planners

Giving out calendars and planners is a good way to keep your brand in sight all year.

  • You can put your designs and logos on them
  • They're handy in the office
  • Planners remind people of your brand every day

Print on demand lets you make calendars and planners to give to customers and staff without needing to order lots.

Print on demand's flexibility means you can make all sorts of custom items for giveaways, merch, and branding campaigns. It's a simple way for businesses to scale up their promotions without the hassle.


Designing Your Promotional Products

Making great designs for your print on demand items is important if you want them to catch people's attention. Here's how to come up with cool designs or find someone to do it for you if designing isn't your thing.

Getting Started with Promotional Product Design

When thinking about designs, remember these tips:

  • Know your audience. Find out what your target customers like. Do they prefer simple and sleek or colorful and fun? This will help you decide on your design style.
  • Highlight your brand identity. Use your company logo, colors, and fonts. This makes your brand easier to recognize.
  • Focus on the message. What do you want to say? Make sure your main message is easy to see and understand.
  • Consider the product. Your design should fit well with what you're putting it on, whether it's a water bottle or a pen.
  • Check print requirements. Print on demand companies need your design files to meet certain standards for quality printing. Make sure to look these up.

Creating Your Own Promotional Product Designs

If you're making your own designs, here are some ideas:

  • Use free online tools like Canva or GIMP. They're easy to use and can help you create something unique.
  • If you're up for a challenge, try Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator for more control over your design.
  • You can even design on your phone or tablet with apps like Adobe Illustrator Draw.

Some helpful hints:

  • Stick to clear, sharp vector files for the best print quality.
  • Use high-quality images to avoid blurry prints.
  • Keep your colors simple for a clean look.
  • Make sure people can easily see and read your logo and message.

Outsourcing Your Promotional Product Designs

Not a designer? No problem. You can hire someone to do it for you. Check out Fiverr or Upwork for freelancers.

When working with a designer:

  • Tell them exactly what you need, including any specific ideas or styles you like.
  • Ask to see a few different designs to choose from.
  • Make sure you get the design files in a format you can use, like vector files.
  • Check that you're allowed to use the design for your business.

Good designs make your promotional items stand out and help people remember your brand. Whether you do it yourself or hire someone, getting the design right is key.

Marketing Your Print on Demand Promotional Products

When you want people to know about and buy your print on demand promotional products, you need to tell them in the right way. Here are some simple strategies to help you do that:

Leverage Social Media

Social media is a great place to show off your products.

  • Post pictures and talk about your new items.
  • Have contests or giveaways to get people excited.
  • Use hashtags that match what you're selling to join bigger conversations.
  • Work with people who have a lot of followers to reach even more people.

Create Targeted Content

Writing about things that interest your customers can help bring them to your site.

  • Write articles about how your products can solve problems.
  • Show how to use your products in videos.
  • Share stories of people who've had success with your products.
  • Make sure your website talks about things your customers are searching for.

Attend Tradeshows and Events

Meeting potential customers in person can be really helpful.

  • Find out which events your best customers go to.
  • Set up a booth that stands out and shows off your products.
  • Collect contact info to follow up later.
  • Keep in touch with people who might want to buy in the future.

Offer Promotional Bundles

People love getting a good deal, especially if they're trying something new.

  • Give a special offer on designing logos when someone makes their first order.
  • Offer a discount on their next order.
  • Put together deals that combine products, like a shirt and a hat, for a lower price.

By using these simple ideas, you can get more people interested in what you're selling. Keep an eye on what works best and do more of that to sell even more.

Success Stories

Here are some examples of how businesses have used print on demand (POD) to help their brand and connect with more people:

1. Charity Uses Custom Socks for Fundraising

A charity that helps families in medical need made special socks to raise money.

  • They worked with a POD company to make socks with their logo and a special message.
  • By giving these socks as thank-you gifts for donations, they raised $15,000 more than they expected.
  • The socks also helped spread the word about their cause.

2. Startup Grows with Branded Swag

A new tech company used POD to make t-shirts, hats, and hoodies with their logo for events and online sales.

  • They only ordered what they needed, so they didn't spend too much money upfront.
  • Selling extra items online helped cover their costs.
  • As more people wanted their merch, it was easy to make more.
  • Now, their branded clothes are a big part of their marketing.

3. University Events Made Easier with POD

A college group used print on demand for banners, flyers, and t-shirts to tell people about campus events.

  • They didn't have to pay upfront, so they could try different designs.
  • Fast printing times meant they could advertise events even if planned last minute.
  • Affordable custom t-shirts were great prizes that got students excited.
  • The success led to expanding the program to other departments.

In simple terms, POD lets you make personalized items that can really help get your brand noticed. It's a flexible and low-cost option for businesses of all sizes to increase their visibility.

Getting Started with Print on Demand Promotional Products

Starting a business that makes custom items like t-shirts or mugs on demand is a smart move. It means you can make items as needed without spending a lot upfront. Here's how to get going:

Choose Your Niche

Think about what kind of items you want to sell. Some popular choices are:

  • Clothes (like t-shirts and hoodies)
  • Drink items (like mugs and water bottles)
  • Bags and accessories
  • Office stuff (like pens and notebooks)

Pick something that fits well with your brand and what you're excited about.

Find a Reliable Print Provider

Look into different companies that can make your items. You want to find one that offers good prices, a variety of products, does a good job with printing, and can get orders out quickly. Some well-known companies are Printful, Printify, Gooten, and CustomCat.

Set Up Your Ecommerce Platform

You'll need a place online to sell your items. Platforms like Shopify, Etsy, WooCommerce, or Squarespace are good choices.

Create and Upload Designs

Use design tools like Canva or Adobe Creative Cloud to make your item designs. Make sure they're the right format for your print company.

Market Your Products

Tell people about your products in different ways. Use social media, go to trade shows, send out emails, work with influencers, and run sales. This will help you get customers.

By following these steps, you can start your own business making and selling custom items without needing a lot of money to begin. Start small, see what works, and then grow from there.


Here are some common questions and answers about using print on demand for making promotional items:

What kinds of promotional items are good for print on demand?

  • Clothes like t-shirts, hoodies, and hats
  • Drink items like bottles, tumblers, and mugs
  • Bags like tote bags, backpacks, and fanny packs
  • Writing tools like pens and pencils
  • Calendars, planners, and notebooks

How much do print on demand promotional items cost?

Prices can change based on what you're making, how many you need, and where they're going. But usually, print on demand is pretty budget-friendly, especially for small orders. Prices might be around:

  • $10 - $25 for t-shirts
  • $3 - $10 for mugs
  • $1 - $3 for pens
  • $5 - 15 for tote bags

How long does it take to get print on demand promotional items?

It's usually quick, about 3-7 days after you order. The time it takes can depend on what you're ordering, how special your design is, and how far it needs to ship. If you're in a rush, some places offer faster shipping for an extra cost.

Which print on demand companies are best for promotional items?

Some good options are Printful, Printify, CustomCat, and Gooten. Look at what they offer, how well they print, how big or small an order you can make, and how much it costs to find the best fit for you.

Can I link print on demand to my online store?

Yes, many online store platforms like Shopify let you connect directly to print on demand services. This means when someone orders from you, the order goes straight to be made and sent out, without you needing to do anything extra.

How do I tell people about my print on demand promotional items?

You can use social media ads, email lists, contests, work with people who have a lot of followers, write articles or make videos about your items, go to events, or set up a booth at tradeshows. These are all good ways to get the word out.

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