August 14th Show Notes – Printing on Demand to Make More Profit

Printing on DemandAugust 14th Show Audio

Please find some links and notes from the 2 Regular Guys Podcast. Aaron and Terry are back together again this week to discuss the power of adding Printing on Demand to Make More Profit to your decorating business. They will share, tips, tricks and niche markets to target for Printing on Demand to Make More Profit and doing on site printing services. They will discuss what printing on demand is and why you should look at printing on demand for your personalization business. They will also give you information about what equipment you need and why. Plus they will cover how to set-up at these events, upselling on the spot and what types of imprinted products work well. 

Sponsored by: EnMart

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Printing on Demand to Make More Profit

Aaron: So Terry I just got done writing a new article for Printwear magazine and I wanted to discuss some of the things in my article with you for the listeners. We both know and have worked with several customers who make a great living by printing on demand, so why don’t we jump into what it is, why it is lucrative and some tips and tricks we have picked up along the way?

Terry: So tell us what printing on demand is first.

Aaron: The print on demand market is where you travel to an event or specific site where your potential customers might gather and decorate apparel or other items on demand for the customer while they wait. This can be as straight forward as having lots of pre-done transfers of different designs where you heat press the customers chosen transfer onto their chosen shirt size and color. It can also be as intricate as having online design tools and templates with the ability to do onsite photography and then digitally create items like photo panels, cell phone cases and again even apparel. Typically this market is serviced by a heat press and transfers and/or digital decoration but I have from time to time seen people also screen print garments on site.

Terry: I know a lot of customers of mine have been very successful with Printing on Demand, but why is this type of niche so lucrative?

Aaron: The perceived value! Instead of creating a t-shirt or a cell phone case or photo panel, you are creating a way to capture a memory that the buyer can take with them nearly instantly. So now someone who might be shopping at a department store (if people even do that anymore…) for a t-shirt and trying to decide between the $10 shirt and the $7 shirt, will have no problem parting with $20 to $30 for a similar shirt because of the memory they will have of that event where they got the shirt. Because of this change in perception of the value of the product you can even add special touches to these items for a small up charge and typically get that too. You have jumped from creating a basic off the shelf t-shirt to a memory that person will be able to keep for the life of the garment.

Terry: We’ve talked about this many times, but deserves repeating, people will pay for what they’re passionate about. So outside of profitability are their other advantages?

Aaron: added benefit of potentially requiring less time and effort in the long run do to the face paced nature of it and the short sales window you have. I know printers that have quit their day job or closed their production facility and have taken the talents out to on demand printing and only worked 2 days a week making twice as much money as they made when they were working 24/7 it seemed. Now many times those 2 days are a Saturday and Sunday, but hey if you want to make my weekend Monday through Friday and my work week Saturday and Sunday, then sign me up!

Terry: More money, less effort, you’re getting my attention! So can you give us an example of a print on demand type set-up?

Aaron: First let’s cover having pre-done plastisol transfers ready to go and heading out to the local event of choice to sell some shirts. Some people might think that I’m off my rocker for suggesting transfers and lugging a heat press around, but a couple of reason to use transfers. One of the big reasons is that it helps you control your printed shirt inventory. Let’s say you are going to be providing shirts to people at a county fair. You have a great design, that you have approved by the fair, that gives the date of the event, site of the event and any other memory you think people might want to have of the fair. If you were to screen print that design onto shirts in advance, you would have to choose what colors you wanted to offer and make your best guess at what sizes were going to be the hot seller that year. You show up and sell out of the smalls that you printed, but can’t hardly give away the 2XLs that you took and have been getting bombarded with people asking why you only have black and white shirt. So to solve this problem, if you are a screen printer, you print those designs in reverse order onto a plastisol transfer sheet you can get from your local screen print supply company. Or even easier, you don’t have to worry about burning screens or even owning screen printing equipment, you just order plastisol transfers from one of the many plastisol transfer providers you will probably see advertising in this wonderful magazine. Now you can take a large assortment of shirt colors, styles and sizes and just press the transfer as the item is purchased. At the end of the event, you have very little cost in the transfers and can just dispose of them and you can take the shirts and have them available for the next event.

Terry: Not to mention if the event is rained out, you’re not stuck with boxes of printed items now with the wrong date or no potential to sell them. How about a set-up that specializes more in personalization?

Aaron: Tommie’s Hot Rod Memories. Tommie ran a semi successful awards and engraving business for the past 10 years. Things were starting to go downhill for her business until she went to a NBM show and saw this decorating process for awards call sub-lim-i-nation (actually it is called sublimation but she was new…). Tommie took home her custom cell phone case she got at the show and decided this was going to save her business. She purchased a sublimation printer, a heat press, a mug press, a wide assortment of blanks, some light colored polyester shirts, and a few accessories. She also happened to be a hot rod aficionado with a passion for photography and after playing around with her new sublimation toy the light bulb went off. She was getting out of the awards business and marrying her two passions together by creating personalized memories at car shows. She then invested in a nice travel trailer, two design stations (touch screen computers), a wifi network and an online design tool. She packed up the trailer and off to the local auto show she went. At the auto show she would like Bob go on a field trip first. She went from car to car snapping photos and tagging the photo with the car number that the judges will use later to decide best in show. She also handed out flyers that showed all the different items she offered from comfortable moisture wicking athletic apparel, to high end photo panels, cell phone cases, wall mountable plaques and coffee mugs. After the cars were judged and people started mingling and interacting, she would turn up her music a little louder, get the popcorn corn popping and people would start coming to her trailer. Once they arrive they would tell her what car number was theirs and she would pull up the photos on the design station. From there she would work with the customers to show them on the design station all the different product they could have their car pictures put on along with all the design features they could add themselves or with her help. Some ended up just wanting the picture of the car on a single item and others took time exploring the designing and trying out the look of their creation on several different items. Then those people would buy 3 to 5 different items with the pictures of their cars on it and Tommie would print out the designs in templates to the back where her staff would start quickly sublimating many items. Tommie would invite them to sit tight, enjoy some free popcorn and refreshments and others wanted to see why all those people were at that trailer eating popcorn. Once the items were ready people would love them and have to get an extra one made and wanted to know if Tommie could print other things beside cars on these items. They wanted family pictures, car club logos and personal things to them made and were willing to pay whatever it took. She would more casually take on those jobs during the week as she wanted to and quickly turned her Friday night hobby into a multi-trailer statewide business.

Terry: One of our conversations about niche markets has combined your personal passions with your decoration business. Talk about my customer’s car show experience. They always call for more shirts after the event!

Aaron: Terry give us an example of a print on demand niche that you know was successful?

1) Whale watching and ice cream
2) Screen printers following forest fires
3) I’ve talked to a couple of companies doing corporate events with DTG

Aaron: Here is a couple of tips for folks who plan to do this – The activity of pressing the garment and giving the customer something that was just made for them creates a higher perceived value and attracts other potential buyers. They want to see what the beeping or popping open of the heat press is and why people are gathered around. A tip here is to get the loudest press you can find and put the pressing function as close to the front as you can while still maintaining safety for the customer. Remember a heat press is hot and the customer will have no idea what it is and try to touch it. For this form of printing on demand as discussed you are going to need plastisol transfer, a heat press, and access to good electrical outlets. Typically heat presses require at least 15 amps so be ready to have a backup plan. My suggestion should you really want to get serious about this is to have your own generator and preferably a quiet one. You want people to hear the pressing and conversations about the shirts, not the generator sound.

Terry: I would also suggest keeping the processes simple. If it’s DTG for instance, do white shirts instead of black. A shorter, simpler process keeps that line moving and the dollars coming in.


  1. NBM Philly – 8/28 to 8/30
  2. ISS Orlando – 9/10 to 9/12
  3. NBM Denver – 10/2 to 10/3
  4. ISS Ft Worth – 10/15 to 10/17
  5. SGIA Atlanta – 11/4 to 11/6

Other News/Events

Terry’s Books

Screen Printing: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.

Direct to Garment: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.

Scheduling and Estimating Production Time for Garment Screen Printing Just $2.99 as an e-book

EnMartThis show is brought to you for a full hour by: EnMartWhile EnMart is well-known as a supplier of quality garment decoration supplies and ccessories, we pride ourselves on being more than just a seller of products. At EnMart, we are here for our customers, to inspire, educate, and provide the tools to help grow their businesses.

Whether your interests lie in sublimation, embroidery, or any other garment decoration, EnMart’s knowledgeable and experienced team is here to help in any way they can.

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