Wanting to know what is the best print on demand site is a bit like wanting to know what is the best phone or the best shoes or the best coffee.
It is all a matter of opinion and depends largely on the type of business you are running, your personal skill sets and what you want to achieve with your business.
When it comes to print on demand sites there are two “categories” of sites. The first is what I call standalone sites. These are print on demand sites like Redbubble and Teespring and it is mainly geared towards artists.
With these standalone sites, all you have to do is upload artwork and designs.
They take care of absolutely everything.
The printing, the marketing, the transactions and all the customer support.
These are usually very big sites that get tons of organic traffic. By uploading your design to these sites you plug into a ready-made market of buyers.
The second category of print on demand sites are so-called dropshipping sites and apps. These are more like services that is focussed only on product fulfillment.
You will need your own store or a store on a marketplace like Etsy. You will then plug these print on demand services into your own store and create products and upload designs through the sites or apps.
The main difference is the fact that you run the show. You create the store (through Shopify or Woocommerce) and you are pretty much in control of everything except for the product fulfillment.
Is one better than the other?
Not really. It depends on your goals and your skill sets.
If you just want to create designs and artwork then using standalone sites is the way to go. If you want to build a business and a brand then you should start your own store (or set up shop on Etsy).
Let’s briefly look at the 5 best print on demand sites for each of these two categories.
The Best “Standalone” Print on Demand Sites
The best print on demand sites for artists and designers are these standalone sites. It allows you to make money from your skill by “staying in your lane” and focussing on what you are good at – art and design.
These sites have made it incredibly easy to create products from your art and designs. You simply upload the artwork and then decide what products you want to sell with your artwork on it.
There is hardly any learning curve as it is all incredibly user-friendly. Each site has a few tricks to maximize your exposure but there’s no real marketing you have to do at all.
The power of using these sites lie in their organic reach. Google loves these sites and they generate millions of visitors per month. When you upload your designs you instantly tap into this traffic.
The hardest part of selling anything online is getting traffic. It is what bogs down most would-be entrepreneurs.
If you want to focus on art and design and this is your strength and your passion then this is the best route for you.
The main downsides are that the profit margins are quite low and you will most likely need to upload a few hundred designs before you start making any significant money.
Your commission will be anything from $2 to $5 on average for every product that gets sold with your design on it.
This means that you will have to sell hundreds of products a month to really make it worth your while.
Starting your own online store on the other hand can be much more lucrative and you can easily make $10 to $20 profit per sale for apparel items.
More on this later but for now let’s dig into the top 5 best print on demand sites for artists and designers who only want to focus on uploading designs and earning commissions off apparel and accessory sales.
1. Amazon (Merch By Amazon)
What is the best print on demand site? It has to be Amazon, if you can consider it a print on demand site which it isn’t.
With Merch by Amazon however we could consider it a ‘print on demand site’ because our designs are exposed to all of Amazon.
Amazon owns roughly 40% of all online sales in the US. This is a startling statistic and the giant Godzilla that is Amazon is dominating online sales.
Amazon gets enormous amounts of traffic. It’s not just any traffic either. People go to Amazon to buy stuff.
This buyer traffic is worth gold and if you are an artist or designer there is a way for you to tap into this avalanche of buyer traffic with Merch By Amazon.
Amazon.com alone gets around 2.5 Billion visitors per month and if you add all the other localized Amazon sites for Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de etc. then your audience expands to more than 3.5 billion.
With Merch by Amazon your products can be sold on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.it, Amazon.es and Amazon.co.jp. This in itself is a huge opportunity – especially if you can speak any of these local languages.
Merch by Amazon is Amazon’s print on demand service. It works similar to Redbubble and Teepublic but they are very limited in their product offerings. They mainly have T-Shirts, Sweaters and Popsockets.
You get to decide your own pricing and profits and their base costs are quite decent which allows you to easily make $5 profit per T-shirt while still being competitive in terms of pricing.
Merch by Amazon is a unique beast in many ways. Firstly, not everyone can get in. There is an approval system in place and most people do not get in on their first attempt. It took me 3 attempts before I finally got accepted.
Once you are accepted, you will have to deal with their tier system. You start off on Tier 1 which allows you only 10 uploads.
As you start making sales you will get “tiered up” and you usually have to sell roughly the amount of items equal to your tier before you get tiered up.
The really big sellers on Merch by Amazon are in Tier 1000 or above. This allows them to have 1000 T-shirts on Amazon and when you get to this level you can start making some serious cash.
T-shirt sales on Amazon is largely driven by trends and if you can jump on a trend early you can quickly make a lot of sales.
If you focus on the right niches you can see consistent sales year round and profit from your designs for years to come.
Merch by Amazon is laborious though. You have to constantly feed it with new designs, strive to up your tier and stay ahead of the copycats who will be all over any popular or successful designs.
Redbubble is by far the biggest print on demand site and one of the most popular for artists and designers to make money from.
With more than 33 million visitors per month there is a massive marketplace here ready to be sold to with great designs.
There’s a lot to like about Redbubble. It’s incredibly easy to use, they have a massive product catalogue and you can set your own profit margins.
Redbubble has a massive catalogue of apparel products with numerous styles of t-shirts, sweaters and even leggings.
If apparel is not your thing then take your pick – phone cases, travel mugs, clocks, coasters, socks, masks, aprons and the list goes on.
While Merch by Amazon is mainly focussed on t-shirts (and sweaters), Redbubble tends to work better for other items (from my experience). I think there are too many t-shirt only platforms and by focussing on the dozens of other products on Redbubble you can see a lot more success.
I have also found that on Redbubble, the designs that tend to have the most success are more “art based” rather than funny sayings or text based designs.
This all makes sense because if you print on wall art or canvases for instance then it is a completely different approach than for apparel products.
Redbubble gives you very few options as far as optimizing your listings. It is all about your titles and using the right keywords is what will get you organic search engine traffic through Redbubble.
Having catchy graphics is the key to selling products on Redbubble. If you browse Redbubble and look at the listings that gets promoted then you will quickly notice the pattern – it is mostly graphics based designs.
Redbubble is simple to use, has some amazing products and you set your own profit margins.
It is most appropriate for artists and illustrators that can create original pieces and if you are good you can see great success on Redbubble.
Graphics based designs (with no text) also suits an international audience and unlike Merch by Amazon that is dominated by text-based designs your designs will appeal to any language.
Even though Spreadshirt does not have a huge amount of traffic, I still consider it one of the best print on demand sites – mostly because Google loves Spreadshirt.
Spreadshirt does a great job at search engine optimization which explains why they often dominate search results for many popular t-shirt searches.
What this means for you is that if you create good listings then you can tap into a lot of organic traffic. While spreadshirt has a strong focus on apparel products it also has a lot of similar products to Redbubble.
Another thing that sets Spreadshirt apart from all the other standalone print on demand sites is Spreadshops.
With Spreadshops, you can further leverage your designs by creating your own online store that runs parallel to your standard Spreadshirt listings.
Spreadshops is free and is a great way to have your own shop that you can customize without any real additional work.
This is great if you have your own audience on Instagram or Facebook and you want to promote your artwork in a more professional way.
In recent months Teespring has been a real disappointment for me. It’s been disappointing to the point where I don’t even upload my designs to their platform anymore.
They used to be amazing. They used to be the go-to platform for most print on demand sellers.
Teespring has always had quite low profit margins but the volume of sales made up for this. They used to promote good designs on their platform and that helped all their sellers get more exposure and more sales.
In recent months they made a lot of changes and many sellers have seen their Teespring traffic dwindle.
I would not write off Teespring completely. They still get a ton of traffic and I am sure there are sellers who have figured out how to get the traffic to their listings back.
One factor seems to be the ability for you to drive some of your own traffic and sales to their platform.
Teepublic is one of the smaller print on demand sites and well worth the effort if you already have a handful of great designs on some of the biggest print on demand sites.
Teepublic has a few unique points. The first is that they have a lot of in-house designs and on these designs they offer affiliate partners a 30% commission.
With Teepublic you can curate designs into collections and promote it as an affiliate.
Teepublic is mainly focussed on offering a platform for artists and like many other standalone print on demand sites, graphic based designs tend to do very well.
They also provide a platform for artists to get additional work. If someone stumbles upon your portfolio and loves it, they can reach out to you for custom work or private commissions.
Teepublic has a fixed commission structure and you will make around $4 to $5 per t-shirt and for items that are promoted (on their sales which you can opt out of) you will earn around $2 to $3 per sale.
Other Standalone Print on Demand Sites Worth Considering
These top 5 print on demand sites are by no means the only ones. There are at least a dozen more and many springing up all the time. Some are just not worth your time or effort
Here are a few more worth trying. For one reason or another I have not tried or not succeeded with them. With some the profit potential is just too low or the upload process is too time consuming to be worth my effort.
If you have designs that are doing well on other platforms then these are well worth a shot.
- Design by Humans
- Fine Art America
5 Success Tips For Standalone Print on Demand Sites
Making a significant income from print on demand sites is not easy. With commissions at around $5 per sale you need to make 200 sales just to make a $1000.
Depending on where you live in the world, that could be a full time income or just enough to cover your car payments.
Making $1000 to $2000 per month is very doable if you have the graphic skills and can knock out a few dozen designs every month.
It will take time though. You need to build up a portfolio of work. Over time it will start generating sales – often for years to come which makes this a great option for passive income.
Here are 5 success tips to help you get started:
→ Leverage Your Designs
Being focussed is an important part of any online business. When it comes to using standalone print on demand sites you need to spread your wings though.
Since the focus of your business is on creating designs only, you need to maximize your exposure. This means that you have to upload your designs to as many platforms as you can.
By leveraging one design and uploading it on 5 platforms and a few dozen product types on each platform allows you to really spread your wings and give each design the best chance possible to generate sales.
Uploading designs and creating listings is time consuming though. I suggest you start by uploading your design to the 5 best print on demand sites discussed above.
After 6 to 8 months you can analyze your results to see which platforms are driving sales and make you money. If any of them are duds then substitute it for any of the smaller print on demand sites.
Uploading more designs on a platform that gives you zero sales is just not worth your time. It probably only means that your designs are not hitting it off with the audience or your listings are not good enough.
→ Follow The Trends
Print on demand has one huge advantage and that is that we don’t no invest in useless inventory. It gives us great flexibility to quickly create products and jump on to trends quickly.
Learning to follow trends and quickly create relevant products is a very successful strategy for print on demand – especially with Merch by Amazon.
Your products get indexed quickly (by Amazon and Google) and your designs can go viral – often just because you hit the trend early.
Become aware of what’s going on in the world. Often when movements spring up people are looking for t-shirts and apparel to “advertise” their support for these movements and issues.
With trends you can quickly build a business out of nowhere and tap into a huge demand with very little competition.
Do not overlook trends when you do print on demand with standalone sites.
→ Its not About What YOU Love
One of the biggest mistakes I see with people starting to sell their artwork on products is that they are caught up in their own world.
They fall in love with their own designs and think that everyone else will also love it. This is a big mistake.
Its NOT about what you love.
It is all about what potential customers will love.
Look at the most popular products on every platform and look at what is popular. Look for what people are buying and base your design on that.
You will have much more success selling the kind of stuff people are already buying than trying to figure out something new and hoping others will also like it.
→ Learn the Nuances of Each Platform
Every one of these 5 best print on demand sites have its own little nuances that can help you succeed. Learning the best ways to create your listings is really important.
Its not just about creating a load of listings and hoping for the best.
More is not better.
Better is better.
One good listing is worth so much more than 100 listings that will never be found. For most of these platforms it is all about writing good titles and picking the right product tags.
Learn each platform and make sure that every listing is as good as it can possibly be.
→ Proper Pricing
Pricing is always an important part of anything you sell online. I never like being the cheapest. I think that if any product looks good then a higher price point almost always works better.
If something is priced cheaply then the perceived value is cheap.
If something is priced high then the perceived value is high.
It rarely has anything to do with the actual value of the product. You are selling print on demand products and what you are really selling is your art.
Place a high value on your art and what you put on the products and make sure that you always only put out high quality artworks.
If someone really likes your design they would happily pay $30 to have it on a t-shirt. Resist the temptation to be the cheapest.
→ Copyright and Trademarks
Copyright and trademarks is a part of the print on demand business where the waters get murky. The temptation to infringe on copyright is always there since it usually results in easy money.
Do not give in to the temptation. Merch by Amazon has a very low threshold for any form of infringement and even just using trademarked words/names can get your listings removed – or worse still, get you kicked off the platform.
In loose terms, any design that references any other brand or trademark could get you in trouble. It is not just a direct reference. Make sure you know what is allowed and run everything you do through a trademark search.
I will also add one more important point. Always adhere to the unwritten rule which is to never copy another person’s designs.
I know its tempting to recreate a winning design but for God’s sake, be original. Respect others who are alsi in your shoes and don’t be a copycat. I never works out long term anyway.
The Best Print on Demand Sites for Dropshipping
Starting your own online store on your own domain and with your own brand is a very romantic idea.
This romance is usually short-lived when the reality starts setting in.
Creating your own print on demand products is the easy part. The hard part is getting traffic (and customers) and handling your own customer support.
These two issues can be back-breaking work and can suck the life out of any creative mojo you may have left at the end of the day.
If this is the print on demand route you decide to take then you should know early on that the design and art part of this business model is secondary.
The majority of your energy will go into marketing and customer support.
Most entrepreneurs that see big success with this model outsource their design work and customer service.
The main focus of this business model is marketing.
Can you do this as a lone wolf? Yes! You absolutely can but you will need to fire up the old coffee machine because you are in for some late nights.
The payoff can be huge though. Not only can you make some real money with your own store (with much higher profit margins), you can build a brand that has real value. Eventually you can sell this type of online store for some serious cash.
Your approach to products need to be very different from standalone print on demand sites as well. Most online stores need to be focussed around a tight niche market or a very particular topic.
This allows you to really hone in on your audience since you will most likely be buying traffic (from Facebook Ads or Google Ads) and getting highly targeted traffic to your store will allow you to sell a variety of related products to a specific audience.
The most popular way to start a print on demand store like this is with Shopify. There are a number of print on demand providers that have apps for Shopify and it pretty much automates the entire fulfillment process.
Woocommerce is another popular option and although there are no subscriptions as there are for Shopify you will need hosting and some more tech skills to get it set up.
Etsy has also opened up a door for print on demand. Etsy has switched their strict policy from “handmade products” to “unique products” and they officially allow you to start a shop on Etsy by using a print on demand partner.
Etsy has one huge benefit in that they have a massive marketplace and just like amazon it allows you to tap into their traffic.
Let’s briefly look at my 5 best print on demand sites (or apps) that have Shopify, Woocoomerce and/or Etsy integration.
???? Cost: Free
⚡ Integrates With: Shopify, Woocommerce and Etsy
✔ Pro’s of Printful: Reliable, super high quality products, prints and very easy to work with.
❌ Con’s of Printful: Products are expensive (lower profit margins)
Printful is the gold standard when it comes to print on demand and they not only have the best quality product and prints but they also have one of the best apps for Shopify.
If you want to run a stress-free print on demand business then Printful is for you. You will rarely have any complaints from customers in terms of print quality or product quality.
Printful’s app also has personalization built-in which is a big deal. It allows you to offer product personalization that is 100% automated.
Printful also has their own print facilities in both the USA and the EU. This allows you to sell worldwide and still provide fast shipping with the same quality across all products.
Printful is not cheap though. They are by far the most expensive and this will eat into your profit margins.
In fact, their higher costs tends to make it very hard to run a profitable print on demand store through Shopify if you plan on driving traffic via Facebook Ads.
I think that Printful is a great option for Shopify stores that get organic traffic via SEO or if you have ready made traffic from a Facebook Group, Instagram following or an email list.
Printful is also a great option if you have an Etsy shop and want to sell your print on demand products on Etsy.
???? Cost: Free (but has a $29/month upgrade available)
⚡ Integrates With: Shopify, Woocommerce and Etsy
✔ Pro’s of Printify: Big range of products, good prices and easy to use
❌ Con’s of Printify: They are only a middleman – issues arise with so many print partners
Printify has become one of the most popular print on demand platforms simply because they have great prices and a big catalogue of products.
Printify is essentially just a service that farms out all the printing and fulfillment to big print houses. This allows them great flexibility to adapt, add products and offer us the best possible prices.
What I really like is Printify’s transparency. You can choose exactly who fulfills your products and their app gives you a lot of control over every aspect of the products and designs you sell.
Their free app integrates seamlessly with Shopify, Woocommerce and Etsy and the paid app basically just entitles you to cheaper base costs. This makes a lot of sense once you start making more than $150 worth of sales per month.
The obvious downside to Printify is the fact that they work with so many different suppliers and fulfillment options.
Things can get messy.
I has one instance where my main print provider changed up their print sizes. I had to manually edit more than 100 products. It took about 3 days of work.
Orders can also get messed up mixed up and not all their print partners have the same quality.
In saying that, their customer service is great and they are my go-to print on demand app for many staple products. Printify has some of the best mockups in the business which can save you a lot of time.
???? Cost: Free
⚡ Integrates With: Shopify, Woocommerce and Etsy
✔ Pro’s of Gooten: Big range of products and good prices
❌ Con’s of Gooten: They are only a middleman – issues arise with so many print partners. Their product mockups are terrible.
Gooten is very much like Printify – except that Gooten has some of the worse mockups you will find anywhere. Don’t let that fool you though because Gooten is a great print on demand provider to work with.
They have some truly unique products and a massive catalogue of products – especially for home and decor related products.
The problems with Gooten is very similar to the problems with Printify since they also farm out all the printing to print partners.
Unlike Printify, Gooten does not give you any information regarding the print provider and also does not give you any choices on who prints your products.
Gooten’s app/site also needs work. The flow is clumsy and everything is small and hard to use. Nevertheless their actual products and prints look amazing and after a year of using them for several products I’ve been very happy with them.
???? Cost: Free
⚡ Integrates With: Shopify and Etsy
✔ Pro’s of Teelaunch: Unique products and and good prices
❌ Con’s of Teelaunch: Etsy integration only works through Shopify and they do not have their own print facilities.
Teelaunch is a bit of an outsider in the print on demand business and they are not as big as many of the others.
They are great to work with and what I really like is that you get some more personal attention with them. They are not some big company with hundreds of employees where you can never get any help.
Teelaunch has some very unique products that you simply can not find anywhere else. They also have all the staple print on demand products at great prices.
They recently added product personalization to their Shopify app which works incredibly well. This allows you to offer photo uploads to your customers on many products from mugs to canvases.
The biggest downside to Teelaunch is that their unique products are expensive and you will struggle to make much profit if you want to sell them at a competitive price point.
My biggest gripe however is that Teelacunch’s Etsy integration works through their Shopify app. This means that you need a Shopify Subscription if you want to sell Teelaunch products on Etsy.
Their Etsy integration is not great and I would not recommend it unless you really want to sell some of their more unique products on Etsy.
???? Cost: Free (for Lite Plan) and $30/month (for Full Plan)
⚡ Integrates With: Shopify, Woocommerce and Etsy
✔ Pro’s of CustomCat: Own print facilities, Big range of products and great prices
❌ Con’s of CustomCat: Print/product quality and customer support had issues in the past. Their product mockups are terrible.
Customcat used to offer the cheapest t-shirt you could find anywhere. A few years back when people started jumping ship from using Teespring and started setting up their own t-shirt stores on Shopify you could get a t-shirt printed for around $5 with Customcat.
They have since evolved and offer a lot of products now and their prices are definitely on the lower end – as long as you use their paid plan ($30/month).
The two main advantages with Custom Cat is their embroidery products and the customization they offer with their Shopify app.
Similar to Printify you can offer your customers customization on all their DTG products and the integration works really well with Shopify.
Unlike Printify, Customcat does not charge any digitization fees for their embroidery products which makes them a great option for selling caps.
Custmocat’s app is just really ugly looking and I just do not like the workflow. Their mockups are terrible and I’ve had a lot of issues with order mixups and poor print quality in 2017/2018 when they definitely had quality issues..
In saying that I know they have since moved into a new print facility with state of the art printers and automated packaging.
From what they’ve posted online it looks really swanky and I am expecting big things from Customcat from 2021.
This could change everything and the fact remains that they have been around for a long term and are a major player in the print on demand space.
They have recently added Etsy integration and will soon open up a whole new series of etching products.
I will most certainly add Customcat back into my mix of go-to suppliers. Their prices are great and they have fast turnaround times with huge capacity.
If you have the time and resources to make your own mockups then I would definitely recommend Customcat as one of the best print on demand sites.
What Is The Best Print On Demand Site – Conclusion
What is the best print on demand site? There is no real “best” since every site and app offer something slightly different.
For the most part, you will need to use several print on demand sites in your business to really help you maximize your sales.
There are really two categories of print on demand sites. The first is what I refer to as standalone sites where all you really have to do is upload designs.
You tap into the site’s traffic, they print, ship and handle every other aspect of the products and the sales. This is ideal for illustrators and artists who only want to focus on design.
The best print on demand sites that are standalone are Amazon (merch by Amazon), Redbubble, Spreadshirt, Teespring and Teelaunch.
The second category of print on demand sites are sites and apps that plug into your own store. You will need to set up your own store through Shopify, Woocommerce or Etsy and the print on demand service will only handle product fulfillment for you.
You will need to do your own marketing, handle all sales and do your own customer service. This can be draining and leave very little time and energy for actual design work.
This model tends to work better for people who want to run a business and who can do their own marketing. They usually outsource the design work and/or customer service.
It is important to play to your strengths when you start a print on demand business. Print on demand is a fast growing industry and it is here to stay.
Get onboard because it is still only in its infancy.