Considering your own e-commerce business but not sure where to start? The process is easier than you think. The key is to determine who you are selling to and what you plan to sell. Then, create your online store and research the best print on demand companies to work with. They take the hassle out of starting your e-commerce business by managing inventory and even shipping your products to customers.

Follow these steps to start your business today!

1. Pick Your Niche

It might seem counter productive, but narrowing your target audience is an important first step to your success. Start by finding your niche. Anything that a specific group of people relate to or are passionate about can be a niche, from favorite pets to favorite foods, and even professions. Coffee lovers, runners, teachers, knitters—they all represent different niches. Your niche should be something that you are familiar with and interested in, as well.

The niche you choose will help you identify the audience you plan to target. Moving forward, this will determine the best products to sell, where to sell them, and even the most effective marketing strategy to use. Consider your niche and your target audience with every decision you make.

2. Decide what Products to Sell

Now that you know your target audience, it’s time to figure out which products would appeal to them. Is your niche focused on health enthusiasts? Maybe water bottles and yoga mats would be a good place to start. Targeting foodies? Skip the fitness gear and offer unique drinkware instead.

If you need inspiration, it’s not hard to find. Head to e-commerce sites like Etsy or Amazon and see what products are already offered in your niche, and more importantly, what is selling. Keep in mind, though, that standing out is key to your success. If everyone else in your llama-loving niche is selling tee shirts, switch things up and offer a canvas bag or water bottle.

3. Create Designs

Another way to stand out in a crowded market is through your designs. Most e-commerce shoppers quickly scroll through sites, looking for something unique. Whether you come up with witty sayings, photograph breathtaking views, or create eye popping graphics, they need to capture your potential customer’s attention quickly. As always, keep your target audience in mind, and be sure to select designs that appeal to them.

4. Build an Online Store

These days, there’s no shortage of platforms to create your online store. One option is to set up your own store with an existing marketplace, like Etsy. A benefit of this is how easy it is to get started. Simply create an account, upload your pictures, and begin selling. Because these marketplaces have their own search engines, you’re likely to get more eyes on your product. Unfortunately, potential customers will be looking at products and designs from a variety of creators all in one place, making competition much steeper.

If you choose to create your own online store on Shopify or similar platforms, you have the creative license to design your store however you’d like. Your products won’t be side-by-side with a competitor’s either. Managing your own store could require a larger investment of time and money, though, and while these platforms are user friendly, setup is a little more involved. Be sure to research each platform before deciding where to sell your products.

5. Research Print on Demand Companies

Now that you’ve decided what to sell and how to sell it, the next step is partnering with the right print on demand company for your business. The company you choose will process orders, print and customize products, and ship them to the customer for you. You won’t need to purchase inventory in advance or even rent a storage unit for your products. They manage it all.

So how do you choose the right fit for you? Start with their products. Be sure they offer a wide range of high-quality products, including not just what you plan to sell now, but what you may want to sell in the future. Next, read reviews. If they can’t come through for a customer’s order, it’s your reputation on the line, so it’s important to be sure they’ll treat your customer just like you would, with fast shipping, simple returns, and stellar customer service. Finally, read up on their pricing model and determine how the costs will affect your profitability.

6. Create your Product

After you’ve selected your print on demand partner, upload your designs so you can start creating mock ups or ordering samples of your product. Play around with size, color, and design before you decide exactly which products to sell in your online store. Take eye catching photos of your products or stage them in a unique way, then upload the photos to your site. You’re ready to sell!

7. Promote your Product

Sure, you may get some sales simply by uploading your product photos, but promoting your products is an essential step to your success. To start, consider how your target audience is most likely to find new products. Most consumers say that Google is their go-to for finding what they need. Consider writing blog posts or content about your products to boost your search engine optimization. If you have money to invest, you may even consider buying ads on Google, Facebook, or Pinterest.

It takes some creativity, but social media can also be extremely effective for promoting your online business. Post photos of your products on Instagram and create engaging TikTok videos. Then post links to your store in your bio so everyone knows how to buy that cute cat mug or snarky tee. Running promotions or giveaways may be helpful in getting potential customers to your site as well.

Get Started with Print on Demand Today

Whether you are looking for a unique way to sell your photography or you want to turn your witty slogans into a successful side hustle, print on demand couldn’t be easier. Find your niche and ideate products and designs that appeal to your target audience. Then choose your e-commerce platform and print on demand partner. Once your site is up and running, promote your products with paid ads or social media. Your print on demand partner will process, print, and ship each order

Our research shows that Shopify is the dominant platform for POD sales. Etsy tends to focus on individual creators or are manufacturing the products themselves.  So we want to be careful about how we position this because it feels like we’re saying Etsy is a much easier option to go with.