Where / How to Get Your Products Printed
By far, since I started my Youtube channel, the number one question that I'm asked is "Where and how do you get your stuff printed?".
For a long while, I avoided answering this question because honestly I hadn't come up with a solution that I was completely happy with. There wasn't a certain company that I was willing to put my "stamp of approval" on, and I was still trying different options to see what worked for me.
Ever since I opened Charm & Gumption, which started as a stationery business, I have struggled with the production end of things. In the early days, I designed, printed, cut, and scored every single item myself. This was limiting in a lot of obvious ways. It took up tons of my time, the quality was just okay, it was difficult to measure my profit, and frankly I just didn't enjoy doing the production. I think there are probably a lot of you who feel the same way.
It wasn't long before I realized that I would need to outsource production in order to free up my time and grow my business. For some reason, finding this information took me forever. It's like there was a secret printing club that I wasn't aware of and I just kept wondering where the heck to find this information! So, this post will outline my favorite printing companies to work with. I have worked with several so I will let you know my experience and which ones I recommend.
They do great work, and they're nice people to work with. This is probably one of the best bets for those of you who are specifically stationery designers (wedding invitation designers, etc.) as they have bulk discounts. However, for things like mugs or other accessories that you pretty much need one item at a time, it gets complicated because you're going to have to enter in every order manually (I did this for a while - it's a huge time suck).
CustomInk / Discount Mugs / Fulfillment Center
From there, I started looking into having my products bulk ordered. I used CustomInk for this usually (they have great customer service and printing quality), and then I also used Discount Mugs because they had lower prices (my experience: there were often errors and the printing quality wasn't great). At this point in my business journey, I was working with a fulfillment center (I do NOT recommend this), so I would order the items in bulk and ship them to the fulfillment center where a warehouse would store and fill the orders as they came in (they were integrated with my online stores).
For my purposes, this did not work out. It was way too expensive to order 100 mugs at a time in one design when I didn't know if it would sell or not. So, even though my margins were great, by the time I paid for all of the shipping, and then some of the items would inevitably break, and then I always had stock left over...it just didn't work for me at all. Working with a fulfillment center ended up being my biggest mistake that I made with my business, as they were unreliable and I was overcharged many times. I lost a lot of money during this phase.
...and finally, the answer to my prayers...
Printful is who I currently use for all of the production of everything in my shop. I literally teared up when I first discovered their business because it was exactly what I was looking for. The way that it works is it links up with your online store (I use Shopify) and you upload the files for the products in your store. You can then order a sample and take photos of it for your website, or you can use product mock-ups to input your design (an option that I use a lot) and list your products. When an order comes in, Printful creates the product, packages it, and ships it out so you literally don't have to worry about any of the production whatsoever. When an order ships, the tracking info is automatically sent from Printful into your Shopify dashboard and to your customer.
Printful was a total game changer for me because all I had to worry about was designing new products and marketing them! Their quality is great and I have never had any problems with customer service either. The one and only negative is that, since items are made to order one at a time, your margins go down a bit. Now, for me, I didn't mind because I was more interested in having as many different designs as possible so it wasn't cost effective for me to bulk order 100 mugs in one design, when I didn't know whether or not they would sell. So in the long run, I ended up making a bigger profit than when I ordered in bulk anyway.
In terms of products, they can do art prints (and framing!), apparel (tons of different styles), mugs, tote bags, pillows, hats, and more. I highly recommend checking them out.