My title caught your attention didn’t it?
If you’re reading this you’ll likely fall under one of these two categories:
- You are interested in print on demand and doing your research
- You already run a print on demand store but are struggling to get sales
Either way, most of the stuff you have read and seen about print on demand has to do with t-shirts.
I’m here to tell you that there are better alternatives to t-shirts.
T-shirts are so popular, many print on demand companies have started naming themselves after their most sold product: Teespring, Teelaunch, Teescape, Teemill, Teehatch, Teepublic, and so on.
Seriously, the amount of POD companies with TEE in their name is slightly disturbing.
Now I get what you’re thinking. If everyone in the print on demand space is talking about selling t-shirts online and so many companies are focussing primarily on t-shirts, how could I possibly go wrong by starting a t-shirt business?
I get it.
Everyone wears t-shirts. T-shirts are cheap and with a good, viral design, you can get a lot of sales.
We are all quick to follow the crowd and take the road well traveled.
Why You Shouldn’t Sell T-shirts
Reason #1: Slow Fulfilment
Print on demand companies handle many, many t-shirt designs every day. Everyone is selling them and thus their machines are never standing still. During busy seasons, t-shirts are the first to take a big hit because of this and that could result in less than ideal production times and late deliveries. Something you do not want in exactly those busy seasons such as the holidays.
Here’s a real life example: One of my friends has been having so many issues with Printful production lately, he has had to find alternatives to fulfill many of his products.
On my brand new store where I sell canvasses & framed prints, I had my first order fulfilled by Printful in Latvia in 4 hours.
That’s right, while my friend was struggling to get orders pushed out within a reasonable time that same company fulfilled my order within 4 hours.
Read also: Complete Print On Demand Guide
Reason #2: Low Margins
You can’t sell a t-shirt for more than $25. That’s just the way it is. This means that on average, you’ll have around $15 in profit. With Facebook Ads, you’ll quickly reach a $10 Cost Per Purchase. This leaves you with $5 profit per purchase, meaning you need 20 orders a day to reach the $100 mark. Or 7 orders per day through organic traffic which definitely doesn’t come overnight.
As a comparison, for my frames and canvasses, I use a combination of Gooten & Printful for fulfillment. A single canvas plus shipping will cost my customer $75. I pay Gooten $23 to fulfill my order. My Facebook Ads CPP is around $15. This leaves me with a nice $37 profit per sold canvas.
The reason for this is quite simple.
Customers know what t-shirts are worth, and there is so much supply, therefore you can’t charge high prices. On items such as canvasses however, there is a limited offering and people don’t know the real value. Thus, you can make a lot more profit.
Even if my cost per purchase rises to $20 or more, I will still be profitable. If I had a t-shirt business, any shift in CPP would kill my business.
Reason #3: It Can Be Exhausting
The t-shirt business is competitive and many niches (such as focussing on trends) require you to constantly pump out new designs in order to keep up. This becomes very exhausting over time and can quickly lead to burnouts which results in huge drops in revenue.
Reason #4: High Competition
This ones pretty obvious. 90% of the print on demand space focusses almost solely on selling t-shirts. This creates a huge amount of competition and makes the barrier of entry very hard for new entrepreneurs.
Seriously, think of any micro niche. Dig as deep as you can. I bet you $10 you will find an abundance of t-shirts designs on Teespring, Redbubble, and Amazon for that exact niche.
Now, look at an obvious niche like “nurses”. You’ll find thousands of designs on POD marketplaces but also hundreds of webshops trying to compete in this niche.
Print On Demand Alternatives To T-Shirts
I already discussed my new-found love for selling print on demand wall art. Canvasses & Framed prints can make you a lot of money in the right niche as customers don’t know the true value of a Canvas or framed print.
While I can send a canvas for as cheap as $23, I still get away with marketing them for $69.99. That’s a profit of $47 on every order.
Car Seat Covers
While I don’t have any experience with selling print on demand cart seat covers myself, I have heard many good things about them in the print on demand space. Mainly because you can make huge margins on them. Pillow Profits sells car seat covers (two including shipping) for $39.99.
By appealing to a fitting niche, you can easily charge $99.99, giving you a nice $60 profit. This leaves a lot of room for Facebook ads as you can still be profitable with higher CPP’s.
Recommended supplier: Pillow Profits
Look, I’m not trying to say that your “t-shirt business” is going to fail. If you have a good idea, don’t enter an overly saturated niche, a good marketing plan, and enough motivation to keep going, I believe you can still do it.
But like I said, it’s competitive and the barrier-to-entry is very high.
By choosing any other print on demand product, you can achieve higher profit margins and less saturation.