So, you’ve just discovered print on demand, and your head is now spinning with possibilities.
You know it’s a genius business model that allows you to run an online store with zero upfront capital. You’re also sold on the simplicity of not having to worry about shipping and storing piles of stock.
Then reality sets in.
- What types of products will you sell?
- Is it possible to get noticed in such a competitive market?
- Should you sell lots of different items or concentrate on a specialist niche?
These are the questions that most newcomers ask themselves when they’re contemplating a print on demand business, and they’re also the decisions that end up making many newbies procrastinate for so long that they fail to ever get started.
We think that’s a huge shame because it is still one of the best business models around for making money from home.
In this article, we’re going to single out 6 print on demand dropshipping niches that are hugely popular and profitable, whilst at the same time using each one to help you understand what it takes to succeed when selling online.
Let’s jump in and get started:
- 1. Animals and pets
- 2. Activism and Social Causes
- 3. Families and Relationships
- 4. Humor and internet memes
- 5. Jobs and hobby-related dropshipping niches
- 6. Events and special occasions
- In conclusion
1. Animals and pets
People are spending more and more cash on their beloved pets, which has led to the rise of a huge market for animal-related products, especially those with dog and cat-related themes.
A look at what’s trending
Newcomers would probably imagine dropshipping niches like this to be all about spoiling pets with custom outfits, toys, and bowls. That’s obviously a huge segment of the market, but it’s only part of the story. One of the big drivers for pet-related print on demand sales is the comedy angle: People are now purchasing ironic pet-related clothing, art, and ornaments for themselves!
Successful businesses in this niche
There’s a weird sub-genre in the pets and animals niche involving selling framed prints of pets with their heads Photoshopped into famous paintings or movie-related scenes.
Yes, we’re absolutely serious. You can indeed base an entire business around Photoshopping dogs and cats into famous portraits.
Outsourcing your design work
Many of the bigger players in this niche have moved way beyond a “one-person with laptop” kind of setup, investing their profits into automated apps and software that allow buyers to upload their own photos and create the pet portraits themselves.
That might sound like an impossible dream to print on demand newcomers, but it’s still absolutely possible to make up a few basic templates and outsource the bulk of the design process to a freelancer on a site like Fiverr. That way, you can concentrate on giving awesome customer service and marketing your store without having to worry about creating every product individually.
Is this niche overplayed?
We’re pretty sure there’s life in the old dog yet! Seriously though, we interviewed another successful pet portrait maker called Chris Sattes. He runs a very successful store called “Dog Ross Pet Painting” and started his business in direct competition with Crown & Paw. Chris uses clever marketing and personalized customer service to help him compete in a niche that’s quickly becoming crowded.
This is an example of a pretty standard niche that’s morphed into something weird and wonderful. It proves that you absolutely can make money from a wacky idea, but it’s also proof that there are plenty of high-profit margin dropshipping niches that can even be outsourced to create almost passive income.
Be careful though, as dropshipping niches like this can quickly become saturated. If you’re going to compete with established sellers like Crown and Paw, you’ll need something unique to help you stand out, just like Dog Ross.
2. Activism and Social Causes
We’re living in an age where people are becoming increasingly passionate about their beliefs. That means they’re actively hunting for apparel that allows them to express their opinions visually and display support for their cause or “team”.
That means if you’re a supporter of a particular cause, or you simply want to promote your own viewpoint to a larger audience, there are plenty of opportunities to create a whole host of profitable print on demand products.
Ideas for t-shirts and prints
This niche has massive potential for eye-catching designs. There’s a wealth of material to work with too, even if you’re not brave enough to venture into edgier territory!
- Veganism: A huge and growing movement with plenty of potential for creative and inspiring designs and slogans.
- Environmentalism: Another hot topic with a broad appeal. You’ll need a focused niche to succeed here, such as polluted oceans or endangered wildlife.
- Politics: It’s true that politics and general outrage can drive traffic and engagement like nothing else. On the other hand, this can be too much of a controversial niche for many people to touch. We’d advise treading gently with this one!
Is this niche too competitive?
Definitely not. You might have a little trouble breaking into controversial markets like politics, but there are literally hundreds of sub-niches in this genre to choose from.
This is a large and lucrative niche that teaches newcomers a valuable lesson: If you’re personally invested in a social or environmental issue, it’s absolutely possible to fund your passion by creating designs and products that support your chosen cause.
3. Families and Relationships
Products in this niche tick all the right boxes:
- They have a strong emotional element that helps drive sales;
- They’re usually bought as gifts;
- They’re often attached to an event like an anniversary, birthday, or holiday.
SEO and Keywords
The relationship niche presents us with a great opportunity to talk about SEO and keywords, and why you need to understand these concepts if you’re going to compete in a market.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a term that describes the process of tweaking a website’s content in order to make it rank more favorably in the results pages of a search engine. Most of the online marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy are now so large that SEO techniques are necessary there too, in order to make sure that a seller’s products are found ahead of the competition. One way to achieve that goal is by selecting the right keywords.
The numbers game
Imagine you’ve decided to set up a clothing store on Etsy. You have some great designs in your catalog, and you’re enthusiastic to get your business off the ground. The problem is, you’re simply not getting any traffic to your product pages. That means that even if your designs are better than the competition, you still don’t stand much of a chance of getting a sale.
Get more specific to succeed
Many newcomers to online selling make the classic mistake of trying to offer generic products and services that appeal to everyone. They’re afraid that if they limit their audience by selling niche products, they’ll lose sales.
In fact, the reverse is usually true. Creating products with multiple layers of interest and more specific sets of keywords results in a much smaller audience, but on the flip side means there will be much less competition.
Keyword examples in action
Here’s an example of a product description that would be extremely difficult to sell:
Can you imagine how many products would appear when someone types that phrase into the search box? It would be next to impossible to make a sale with those kinds of odds. Let’s try something more specific:
“Blue father’s day t-shirt”
Much better! By adding the relationship element to the listing, we’ve added another layer of interest and created a “long tail keyword”. If someone types this into the search box, there will be fewer results to sift through, and your product is more likely to stand out. Now let’s get even more detailed:
”Blue father’s day fishing logo t-shirt”
Now we’re getting there! By adding a hobby (fishing) to the listing, we’ve created a product that will only appeal to a very specific buyer, but it will have much more of a chance of standing out in the search results.
More options in the relationship niche
As well as the combinations we’ve just spoken about, the relationship niche also allows for lots of combinations of sub-niches too:
- Mother to daughter
- Nephew to uncle
- Father to son
- Grandmother to grandson
- Husband to wife
The relationship niche offers lots of scope for highly specific products due to the many combinations of keywords that can be used in product listings.
If you’re going to enter this niche, it’s important to understand that SEO and keyword research should be the driver of your product designs and motifs, rather than random guesswork or your own personal taste.
4. Humor and internet memes
Items like t-shirts, posters, and mugs are obvious candidates for funny slogans and graphics.
Every day, millions of people exchange funny jokes and memes that they’ve discovered online, primarily from being subscribed to comedy accounts on platforms like Instagram.
Take a look at this list of popular meme and joke accounts and their huge follower lists, which at the time of this article being written, were as follows:
- Funny Memes (@epicfunnypage) – 17.2 million followers
- Memes • Comedy • Culture (@memezar) – 16.1 million followers
- F**KJERRY (@f**kjerry) – 15.1 million followers.
- HoodClips (@hoodclips) – 11.2 million followers
- Funny Memes (@funnymemes) -7.1 million followers
- Relatable Memes l Comedy (@instasingle) – 5.9 million followers
- Sh**headsteve (@sh**headsteve) – 5.5 million followers
There’s plenty of scope for creating original products based around the most popular memes posted on some of these accounts, just so long as make doubly sure you’re not infringing on copyright or intellectual property.
One final piece of advice: Make sure that you try to keep your designs light-hearted or self-deprecating, rather than attacking others for their beliefs.
Getting your products noticed
One of the hardest things for any new internet business to achieve is a steady flow of traffic. It doesn’t matter how good your products are; if you don’t put them in front of a large enough audience, you’ll have real difficulty in making any significant volume of sales.
What if you could get your designs in front of the followers of some of those massive meme accounts we just listed? With Instagram ads, you can do just that:
Instagram Stories Ads
These are full-screen ads that appear between users’ stories. Nearly half a billion people view this kind of content every day, so there’s plenty of potential to get your products in front of a massive audience.
Instagram Photo ads
These types of ads are used to showcase products using simple but compelling images. Just like other forms of ad, they allow you to add a compelling “call to action” that will funnel traffic to your online store.
Instagram Collection ads
Collection ads allow users to purchase items directly from the ad itself. When people click on the ad, they’re funneled to an Instagram Instant Experience Storefront. Instagram Collection ads can be extremely powerful for clothing or accessory sellers, as they combine the power of a photo ad with a storefront, making it extremely easy for viewers to make a quick purchase decision.
The great thing about print on demand is that you always know the exact profit margin on all of your products. You also don’t have to worry about taking a gamble on items that you’re unsure will be successful. That means you can run ads on platforms like Instagram and carefully tweak your campaigns to achieve the best conversion rates possible, and you won’t have money tied up in stock or printing equipment.
5. Jobs and hobby-related dropshipping niches
Many people are extremely passionate about their hobbies, and they’re keen to show off their interests with hobby-specific t-shirts and other items of clothing.
When it comes to job-related dropshipping niches, these are the sorts of items that are almost always bought as a gift. People love to buy their friends or colleagues presents featuring work-related slogans and pictures.
The job or hobby niche allows you to yet again take advantage of sets of keywords to create phrases that appeal to specific groups such as nurses, plumbers, lawyers, teachers, and members of the military.
There are hundreds of job roles that you could build products around, and in the case of dropshipping niches like the military, it’s even possible to build an entire business just selling to this particular sub-group.
This niche is a great place to talk about prices. Or more specifically, the need for newcomers to take the time to understand who is buying their products and for what reason:
Imagine you’re selling products based around the slogan “World’s Best Plumber”. Realistically, items in this category are likely to be small, inexpensive gifts. Things like keyrings, mugs, and possibly t-shirts. Buyers aren’t going to spend a lot of money on items like these, so it’s important not to charge premium prices.
Always take the time to understand your audience and what’s driving their purchase decisions.
6. Events and special occasions
Events and special occasions are without a doubt the most lucrative niche for print on demand products. Imagine how much money is made each year during the following seasonal events:
- Spring Break
- Soccer World Cup
- Valentine’s Day
- St. Patrick’s Day
The tricky thing with special occasions and regular yearly events is that you’ll tend to make a huge amount of sales in a short space of time and then spend the rest of the year planning for next year’s holiday. That business model suits many sellers, but it can be difficult for newcomers to crack.
Google trends is a great way to identify what people are searching for in the run up to big events like Halloween and Christmas and can help you to understand how early in the year people start their search for products and the important trends and keywords related to each event.
Hopefully, our list of profitable print on demand dropshipping niches has helped spark some ideas for products of your own and given you a little insight into how to market and sell your items effectively.
Print on demand is a fantastic business model for budding online entrepreneurs. Just remember to stick to dropshipping niches that evoke strong emotions and create products that resonate with passionate enthusiasts and sub-cultures, and you’ll be on your way to online success in no time!
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