Want to start your own business selling mugs online? You can! Better yet, you can start today, for free. Intrigued yet? Let’s teach you how to sell custom mugs online.
How to sell custom mugs online
There are a number of ways you can start selling your own custom mugs online. For example you can purchase a bulk load of white mugs from Alibaba or another wholesale supplier and get a nearby printing company to print your designs on them. But this would require a lot of effort and investment on your part.
Luckily for you, there is a far better option. It’s called print on demand dropshipping.
‘Print on Demand’ means that you use a printing supplier to send the products to your customers. Once a customer orders from you, the design gets printed (on demand) by the company and send directly to your customers address. Easy!
Now you’re probably thinking this involves a lot of documents, costs, etc but that’s not the case.
Anyone can start print on demand dropshipping and you can do so completely free or starting at just $30 a month.
How to use a print-on-demand service to sell custom mugs online
There are a 2 big ways to get started with POD: using a marketplace platform or by starting your own online store.
Option 1: Print-on-Demand Marketplaces
These are print-on-demand marketplaces where anyone can add their own designs to mugs (and other products) instantly and list them for sale. Once a customer buys from these marketplaces you will keep a certain percentage of the sale (you set the price yourself). After that, the service will deliver the product to the customer and take care of everything for you.
This is a really good way to make some extra side-money or even create a source of passive income but it’s not exactly how real businesses are built.
Option 2: Open your own online store
If you want to start your own mug selling business you’ll want to get a print on demand supplier and source products on your own webshop. You’ll have your own domain and be able to take care of your own branding and advertising.
This can be done through a Shopify store. With Shopify you can easily get started without any technical knowledge. Simply drag and drop your site together and use an integrated print on demand app to list your products.
Shopify requires a monthly payment of $29 a month but can be started for free using the credit-card-free trial.
The 29$ monthly payment is nothing compared to the amount of money you can make from your own successful business of course!
How to sell personalized mugs on an online marketplace
Anyone can go to Teespring, redbubble and other print on demand marketplaces to list their products. Go and see for yourself if you’ve never visited such site before.
On those sites you’ll find a hundreds of thousands of products for sale. Each of these products is posted on the website by someone else and that person gets a generous percentage once an order for their item is made.
Want to do this yourself? It’s easy! Simply go to Redbubble and Teespring and sign up for an account. This is completely free, all you have to do is create an account.
Once your account is setup you can start start uploading your mug designs and select the products you want to have the design on. Then you write an appropriate title, description and tags.
Publish your post and that’s it! Your product is now ready to sell.
How to Sell personalized mugs on your own online store
The marketplace option is nice and all but if you want to start an actual business selling mugs online you should create your own webshop.
Which option is the best? Marketplace vs your own store
Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.
When operating your own store you can receive higher profit margins you can take charge with your own marketing strategy and you can turn your webshop into a real long-term business. Of course it comes with some downfalls too. For example you’ll have to take care of your own customer service and a decent marketing strategy isn’t cheap.
On a marketplace platform you can easily start selling your products without any hassle. Simply upload and you’re done. The marketplace takes care of everything else for you. This makes it a better option for those looking for some extra side money but not for long-term business opportunities. Your store is completely dependent on the platform you exist on and they can ban your account (for breaking the rules) or change their pricing (aka you profit) at any time.
If you want to start a real business selling custom mugs you should opt for your own Shopify store. If you would rather make some extra money next to your day job you can start uploading designs to a POD marketplace.
Step by step guide to selling custom mugs online on your own store
You’ve decided to start your selling custom mugs on your online store, but how do you go about this all?
1. Start designing your first custom mug
The first step to starting a mug-selling business is the design aspect. If you can’t design a simple mug, you won’t get very far. And no, you can’t use anyone else’s designs, there’s copyright laws that will bury you in legal fees, stay away!
So head over to Illustrator, Photoshop, Canva or whatever program you want to use and start designing mugs you feel customers would want.
You can start by looking at custom mugs on Redbubble and Etsy to get a feel for what is popular on the market. Taking inspiration from others is always the best way to get started, just don’t start copying.
A good place to start is to pick a niche. For example, you can stick to mugs with motivational quotes only. This way you can easily find inspiration but you can also focus your branding and social media/content marketing strategy around that niche.
2. Start a Shopify account
Once you have a couple designs ready and you feel like this might work out, you can sign up for the free Shopify trial. This is quick, easy and doesn’t require any credit-card details to get started.
Don’t get hung up on the details (seriously this is a big mistake people make, they wait), you can skip most of the “questions” they ask you and the store name is completely unimportant as you can change that at any time.
Once your Shopify is installed you can head to the app store and download ‘Printful’ or ‘Printify’. Both are great print on demand apps with competitive prices.
If you can’t pick, you can check out prices, products and other relevant info on their websites.
Once the app is installed you’ll have to make an account, after that you can start adding products. So navigate to the mug section and upload your designs. Add a title and description and publish them to your store.
3. Start designing your store theme
Once the custom products are added you can head over to the theme customizer and make your store look pretty.
The first thing you should choose for your store is an appropriate theme. There are a number of free options that look decent such as “debut” and “brooklyn”.
See which of the themes you like most and publish them on your store. After that you can start changing the design with a simple drag and drop builder.
Here’s a couple things you’ll want to take care of:
- Have a consistent appropriate color scheme 2-3 colors max
- Create a good logo that fits your branding and color scheme
- Don’t make your store look too spammy with extra apps
4. upload your legal pages + payment processors
Once you have a good looking theme in place it’s time to add all the legal pages to protect yourself and be able to apply for payment processors.
Once that’s done you can head over to Settings > payments to apply for payment processors such as Stripe and Paypal.
You can instantly activate Paypal, for stripe you’ll need to fill in a quick form.
5. Start marketing your store
Once your store is ready to sell, it’s time to find some customers. There are a couple of methods you can use to get customers such as
This is where you write blog posts about relevant keywords within your niche. For example if you have a store that sells mugs with entrepreneurial quotes you can write articles about the importance of a motivating quotes.
This is a good example of a free method of getting organic sales on your store. Of course you will have to learn the ins and outs about SEO and how to research keywords for your articles.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is a semi-free way of getting organic visitors and sales to your store. I say semi-free because some social media marketing campaigns contain the use of influencers which are almost never free (unless you know them).
Social media is a great way to find new customers and keep in touch with your existing customers so it’s an absolute must to at least have an active account on the big 2: Facebook & Instagram.
You can start off by finding similar accounts within your niche (e.g. motivational quotes) and following them and engage with their posts.
Be sure to actively post (not just products!) so people within your niche can find you.
Social media, just like content marketing is a long term game so be patient and don’t expect to get hundreds of followers overnight.
Pay Per Click Advertising
Last but not least we have ppc advertising. This is where you set a daily budget (e.g 20$) in an attempt to get customers to your store. Examples of this are facebook ads, youtube ads, google ads and so on.
This is a great way to get instant traffic, without using long term methods such as Social media and content marketing.
However, there is a pretty steep learning curve to ppc advertising. Spending a certain amount a day doesn’t mean you’ll get sales.
Without good targeting, a good offer and a good creative it’s very hard to become profitable with facebook and other advertising methods.
So be sure to do your research before throwing money down the drain!
That’s everything you need to know about starting your own store selling custom mugs. I told you it was easy! You should now be ready to sell your own personalized mugs online. Have you decided which method is best for you? Let us know!