How to start a made-to-order business online?

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Have you noticed how many customers are tired of cookie-cutter designs and mass-produced products that flood the market? People want something that stands out from the crowd and truly showcases their individuality. And guess what? You can help make that happen!

By teaming up with creative customers, you can help them bring their vision to life and create amazing products that are one-of-a-kind. From trendy t-shirts and stylish tote bags to cute phone cases and quirky mugs, the sky's the limit!

The best part? Thanks to the recent rise of e-commerce, you can start your own print shop within a few clicks.

Now, we know that starting an online business can be overwhelming. With so many platforms, tools, and strategies out there, it can feel like you're drowning in a sea of options. Don't worry, we've got you covered.

In this blog, we'll take you through the steps of setting up a made-to-order business online, including the tools and strategies you need to succeed.

What's Made-to-Order, and How Does It Work?

First things first, let's break down what made-to-order business is.

Made-to-order printing is a process where a product is created only after a customer places an order for it. That means no pre-made products waiting on shelves. Instead, each product is made from scratch based on the customer's specific requirements.

Starting your own made-to-order printing business is not only a lucrative opportunity, but it's also a fantastic way to provide customers with a personalized experience and help them bring their creative visions to life.

How to Add The Product to Your Portfolio

So, you've joined the made-to-order business club? That's awesome! But now, the challenge is getting customers to notice you amid all the competition.

First things first, you need a killer value proposition. Something that sets you apart from the crowd. How about exceptional customer service, lightning-fast turnaround times, and top-notch products? That's sure to impress.

However, how do you show off your never-seen-before value to potential customers? That's where your creative portfolio comes in.

Think of it like a greatest hits album of your most impressive work. It's a showcase that lets people learn what your brand is all about.

We know that building a portfolio can seem overwhelming, but don't worry. We've got your back. With just a few simple steps, you can create a portfolio that wows your customers and makes them eager to do business with you.

Step 1: Identify your target market

Market research is crucial for any business; your made-to-order business is no different. You need to identify who your target market is so that you can tailor your products and marketing efforts to their needs and preferences.

So, let's start by identifying your target market. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Who is my ideal customer?
  • What are their interests and preferences?
  • What problems do they face that my products can solve?
  • Consider factors like age, gender, location, income level, and interests.

You can use various methods like online surveys, focus groups, and competitor analysis to gather insights into your target market. These methods can help you answer the above questions and give you a clear idea of who your target market is. Once you have a clear picture of your target market, you can start selecting products that will appeal to them.

Step 2: Choose your products

With a clear understanding of your target market, it's time to select the products you want to offer. You can start by looking at your competitors and seeing what they offer. Doing so will give you an idea of what's popular in your industry and what customers want.

Some examples of products that can be made to order include:

  • Clothing and apparel
  • Jewelry
  • Home decor and furnishings
  • Personalized gifts
  • Customized electronics
  • Pet products
  • Sports equipment
  • Beauty and skincare products
  • Customized food and beverage items
  • Printed materials like invitations and business cards

However, don't limit yourself to what your competitors are doing. Think outside the box and offer unique products that set you apart from the competition.

Step 3: Source Suppliers and Equipment 

Once you've figured out what products to make, it's time to find the suitable suppliers to provide you with the required materials and tools.

To start your search, you have a few options. You can look online, ask other business owners or industry experts for recommendations or attend trade shows to meet potential suppliers in person. Keep in mind that finding suppliers who offer what you need at reasonable prices is crucial, so be sure to compare prices and read reviews before making any commitments.

After finding reliable suppliers, it's time to invest in the right equipment to help you create high-quality products efficiently and accurately. Such equipment might include machinery, software, or specialized tools like product customizers and Web-to-Print online designer tool.

When considering which equipment to invest in, remember to consider the long-term benefits it can provide for your business. Investing in high-quality equipment that helps you create products quickly and accurately can help your business grow and thrive.

Step 4: Create product descriptions

After picking out your products, it's time to create descriptions that will grab your customers' attention. Remember, your descriptions should be clear, concise, and engaging, providing include information like:

  • Product features and benefits
  • Materials used
  • Product dimensions
  • Care instructions

Consider using bullet points and short paragraphs to break up the text to ensure your descriptions are easy to read and understand.

Step 5: Take high-quality photos

Alright, you've got your products ready to go, but the real challenge is making them stand out. And how do you do that? Well, you got to have some dazzling photos!

Here are some tips to take your product photography game to the next level:

  • Get snappy: Use a high-quality camera to capture your products in all their glory. No blurry or grainy shots here.
  • Light it up: Good lighting is key to making your photos pop. Set up your products near a window or invest in some fancy lighting equipment to make them shine.
  • Strike a pose: Show off your products from different angles and settings to give your customers a complete picture. Feel free to get creative and have some fun with it.

Remember, your photos are like the cover of a book, and they need to be attention-grabbing and enticing to make your customers want to learn more.

Step 6: Display your products on your website

The next step is to add your product descriptions and photos to your website, but not without making it easy for customers to find what they need. So, consider creating categories and subcategories to help them navigate through your offerings.

Your website is the face of your made-to-order business, so creating a professional, user-friendly website that showcases your products and services is essential. Consider using an e-commerce platform to sell your products, and include high-quality product images, detailed product descriptions, and customer reviews to entice potential buyers.

Step 7: Add web to print design tool integrations

Want to know the secret to taking your made-to-order business to a notch? It's simple, make your product portfolio more interactive and engaging by adding web-to-print integrations.

With product customizer integrations, your customers can easily create personalized designs for any product. Let's say you run a bespoke t-shirt printing business. Through the t-shirt design tool, your customers can upload their designs or choose from a library of pre-made designs.

Here's the cherry on top: Once the customer orders, the system will provide a generated preview file (thumbnail image) of the final design. That means you can see precisely what the finished product will look like with applied layer color and design elements. How convenient is that for you as a printer?

Providing customization options isn't just about meeting customer demands; it's about creating a seamless, user-friendly interface that enhances the customer experience and boosts satisfaction. By offering a wide range of customization options, such as color, texture, size, and design, you can cater to different customer preferences and increase the appeal of your products.

Competitive Advantages with Compelling Customization Experience

One of the main benefits of made-to-order printing for customers is the ability to customize their products to their specific needs and preferences.

Whether it's a t-shirt, mug, or phone case, customers can add their own designs, logos, and even personal messages to create something unique and tailored.

Not only does this create a sense of ownership and individuality, but it also makes for great gifts and memorabilia.

But made-to-order printing isn't just great for customers. It's also a breakthrough for businesses like yours. By eliminating the need for a large inventory, companies can save money and reduce the risk of overstocking or understocking. Plus, it's an environmentally-friendly option that reduces waste.

So why risk overstocking or understocking when you can print on demand and offer a more comprehensive range of products without breaking the bank? Made-to-order printing is the way to go!


Starting an online made-to-order printing business can be a game-changer for anyone looking to start their entrepreneurial journey. Think about it:

  • low startup costs
  • minimal overheads
  • the freedom to work from anywhere in the world
  • the potential to scale your business rapidly

It's the perfect recipe for entrepreneurial success. Also, with the ever-increasing demand for customized products, the timing couldn't be better.

But wait, there's more! Starting your own made-to-order printing business is not only practical but also incredibly exciting and fulfilling. You'll have the opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind brand that sets you apart from the competition and offers your customers something truly unique and special.

The time is now! Take the leap and start your own made-to-order printing business today.



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