Hey there! Welcome to the third installment of our How to start your print-on-demand (POD) business series. If you’ve made it thus far, you must be seriously considering taking the plunge and going for it 😎 So far, you’ve learned all about picking the best ecommerce platform for POD and know how to choose the best POD company. Now, what’s the next step to embark on your online entrepreneur journey?
Before you get all excited and start creating a brand identity for your business, we recommend you hold your horses and find a profitable print-on-demand niche first. This way, you can select a name, create your website, and all the branding aligned with your customer's niche.
But how the heck do you find a profitable POD niche? No problem! Fuel's got you with this blog exclusively dedicated to unveiling all the profitable niche secrets and teach you how to find your niche to start a successful business.
First things first, what is a niche? A niche is a segment of the population that has a particular interest or need. For example, pet owners are a broad niche, and on the other hand, Corgi lovers represent a smaller niche.
When deciding on starting a business, we often want to go with the most popular theme, not realizing that going for these topics usually means a lot of competition.
In the print-on-demand industry, having a market niche helps you narrow down your audience to create products that solve their specific needs and better target them. It is essential not to forget that what makes a market niche unique is the people who buy the products.
💡 Fuel Tip: The more specific your niche is, the easier it will be to target your customers.
Picking a niche to develop your online business around it is crucial. But if you are not convinced it is useful yet, here we list the most relevant benefits of sticking to a print-on-demand niche:
When you specialize in creating the best products to serve your niche needs better, you'll get more happy customers. With their word of mouth, your business can quickly evolve into a larger market.
We get that business is business, but imagine how easy it will be for you to create cool products, designs, and content to promote your store if you pick something you love or are genuinely interested in. Maybe you are already part of this niche community, or at least have a greater understanding of their needs that will make it easier to find groups of people from that particular niche.
If you are unsure about where to start, a good idea is to answer the following questions: How do you enjoy spending your free time? Are you part of a niche community of some kind? Are there any skills you are naturally good at? Are there any hobbies or passions you want to explore? What do you enjoy learning about?
Starting a business from something you are invested in will give you the resilience to persist when you face any business challenges.
Evaluating your intended niche is an essential part of finding a profitable one. It all comes down to doing a thorough market research. Here we list all the things you should consider to figure out once and for all if you have a profitable niche in your hands.
a. Research the competition. This step is key to know if your niche has true potential or not. Reviewing the number of competitors in your desired niche can tell you a lot.
b. Research your market. To better define the size of your market, you can use SEO tools. Google Trends and their Keyword Planner can estimate the search volume and find the search queries most used by your potential customers. Also, these tools can help you get inspired with new ideas or further identify related niches you haven't considered. Learn more about free SEO tools here.
💡 Fuel Tip: A good niche is one with a reasonable amount of demand but not that many or low-quality competitors.
c. Find out if there is true passion and pride related to your topic. Here lies the difference between finding a niche that is a gold mine or one that never takes off. All the niches have a varying level of pride and passion related to it. Think of sports, politics, and some lifestyles and hobbies that you can easily tell have very passionate people creating communities around them, like vegan people or soccer fans. These groups of people are very likely to display their cause or their passion wearing it on a t-shirt or in a cool mug or tote bag. Tap into these types of communities to create a successful print-on-demand business around your niche.
During your research, you may find you can narrow your niche down. When you narrow your scope, you have a bigger opportunity to become an expert in your niche and be the best at what you do in that area.
For example, pet owners are a popular niche that has a huge market and a lot of competition but if you narrow it down to, let's say: Siberian Huskies owners, you have a smaller market but also way less competition, and you can better target your audience and understand their needs.
💡 Fuel Tip: We suggest you start small with a narrow niche and grow it to related niches to expand your market once you are ready.
In this part, it is important to be honest with yourself and base your decision on metrics and data instead of feelings. The more thorough you are with your research, the better the chances are you find enough data to help you discover whether your niche is profitable or not.
Once you have some data supporting the profitability of your niche idea, you want to maximize the potential of your niche by profoundly understanding your potential buyers.
Suppose you are already part of the community your niche belongs to. In that case, this will be a piece of cake since you already have an idea of the problems faced by the people in your niche. But if your niche is about something you are not knowledgeable about, then we suggest you start by infiltrating your niches' communities.
An excellent way to do this is to visit related forums like subreddits and Facebook groups dedicated to your niche subject. Join all the groups and check the trends on social media. Platforms like Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram can provide endless amounts of inspiration when using keywords and hashtags related to your niche.
You can't know if something will work for sure unless you test it. The best way to do this is by starting small to minimize the risk of putting a lot of effort into something that won't pay off.
There is no need to create a 100 product collection to start a POD business. Instead, we suggest always beginning with a few designs in top seller products. This way, you avoid wasting so much time on something that won't pan out.
Sometimes entering the market is not as easy as it seems, so don't be scared to pivot. When you have a print-on-demand business, the risk is minimum, and it is very simple to try a different design if you see one isn't working.
Testing is crucial before you decide to go all-in marketing your business. Here is when you realize details like which products and designs show better results, and you would have never known that unless you tried.
The niche market research you previously did will give you a lot of insights about your potential customers. Now it's the time to put this knowledge to use in marketing your products to people that belong to those niches.
Social media is king to find potential customers and promote your products when it comes to print-on-demand businesses. Here are other tips that can help you:
One of the best things to reach more customers is to know all about the ones you already have and develop at least one buyer persona for your niche. Check out our next blog that will teach you all about how to create a buyer persona for your business.
If you still have no clue about what possible niche ideas you can use, don't worry! Here we bring you great ideas of trending niches for POD businesses.
Take into consideration that these are very broad niches that can help you get the inspiration going. So narrow them into smaller ones as we did in our examples on the following list. As a bonus, we included some cool product ideas that fit those niches perfectly.
1. Wellness & Fitness: Yoga lovers, meditation, CrossFit fans.
2. Holidays and events: Birthdays, Halloween, Valentine's Day.
3. Family & Relationships: Matching couple designs, gifts for grandsons, parent and children complementary designs.
4. Sports: Football fans, chess players, golf lovers.
5. Occupations: Nurses, hairstylists, engineers.
6. Hobbies: Camping, fishing, traveling.
7. Social causes & Activism: Beliefs, civil rights, LGBTQ+.
8. Lifestyle & foods: Recycling and zero-waste, veganism, coffee lovers.
9. Pet owners: Dogs and cat breeds, uncommon pets.
10. Funny or motivational: Feel good quotes, internet memes.
We strongly recommend you pick something you already have a deep interest in, which shows profitability in your research. Only this way you can navigate having an ecommerce business while deeply enjoying what you do.
See you in our next installment to help you market your products in the best way possible: How to Create a Buyer Persona to Market Your Products.