Printful is a print on demand dropshipping store that lets you create a custom design, upload it to a piece of clothing, then order it to be printed or shipped almost anywhere in the world, from 1 clothing piece to as many as you want.
They offer hats, t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, leggings, tanks, and so much more. It’s an incredible concept, and one many T-Shirt designers and artists use to expand their offerings and sell on Etsy, Amazon FBA, their own websites and more. It enables the solopreneur to have a fabric shop and dropshipper in their hand at all times, without the huge cost of buying their own facilities or printing and shipping their own products. It’s a game changer for those in the T-Shirt and custom apparel printing world.
The custom T-Shirt POD a hugely innovative concept, and Printful is one of the first players in the space. Unfortunately, since the concept is so new, they are able to charge very premium, *cough* *cough*, aka very HIGH, prices on their clothing. While it is still “affordable”, even for designers who ship the products out and add a profit margin on top, it’s really not ideal and there are much better options for the exact same quality at a much lower price.
When I say exact same quality, I mean literally exact, as they partner with many of the same exact printers and brands that the two services I would recommend partner with, Printify and Custom Cat.
Printful vs Printify Cost
The quality is the same since they use the same companies. Why does Printful cost so much more than Printify?
It baffles me, but I think I know the answer. It is because they can. The space is so unsaturated they can charge whatever they want, and Printful is currently more of a brand name than Printify.
See below for a price comparison of super similar Gildan brand T-Shirts from both platforms.
My Printful, Printify, Custom Cat, Amazon Merch Story
I design and sell T-Shirts as one income stream, working with my mom who used to be an artist and sold T-Shirts in Chicago when she was around my age.
Amazon Merch was the first taste I had of T-Shirt design, and once they started selling last year, the numbers kept going up and up and safe to say I was hooked.
Here are my revenue numbers. Remember I have no artistic training, no graphic design experience, no art background. Just learning Photoshop and Illustrator on Youtube and using my mom’s designs to post tee’s on Amazon.
You can see the drop right before 2017 Christmas, when Merch seems to have changed the algorithm. That was my first nudge to branch out to work with Etsy.
I needed to find a cheap, good quality print provider, and everyone seemed to be shouting “Printful” across the rooftops.
They had good quality and were reliable, but the prices were so high I was making such a sliver after you take out their profits.
A few months later I stumbled onto Printify, which also has an Etsy integration for auto sales fulfillment (YESS), AND is around 40% cheaper, meaning 40% more $$ back in my pocket.
Here are my Etsy sales numbers from the past year. Very glad I started posting there. I have my Printify integrated with Etsy so it auto-fulfills orders so I am hands-off there. I have 39 products live right now, and 150 that expired, so I know it is barely scratching the surface currently, and something I could expand like crazy, and probably will in a few months.
Here is my full story and why I choose Printify. It is so much cheaper, and uses many of the same print providers as Printful, so the only difference ends up being cost, which is much in Printify’s favor.
Printful vs Printify
Why I choose Printify
Storytime + $$ lesson + screenshots!
My happy merch rags to riches to rags tale, and what I’m doing to keep my sales up on other channels.
Last year at this time I was so happy as my merch sales kept going up and up, and it seemed like I could scale effectively.
For example, when I had 200 designs up, I would post 100 new designs, and see a 33% increase in revenue and profit, so I was very excited to keep scaling to ‘500 designs’. In my mind, at the rate it was going, that would be my ‘living wage’, and then I could keep going up from there.
When I finally hit and posted 500 designs it was just before Christmas of last year, 2017, and my sales had absolutely plummeted.
See the picture for my sad :'( merch downward crescendo.
At one point I was at $2K/month, Nov 2017, and then it just plummeted even though I was posting 10+ designs a day. I would check my dashboard 20X a day, I felt like a cocaine addict with no dopamine hits, because it would always be stuck at 1, 2, or even 0.
I had added more and more designs, and many were very good (for me and IMO), because I had continued to improve as I made more, BUT, as I hit the 500 mark I had been prepping for for weeks, I was selling less than when I had only 300 live.
Sales kept going down and that’s when I started to branch out to other platforms, because who wants to give up when you know there are people out there dying to buy your designs! You’re only hurting yourself and the people who could be, (and desperately want to be) wearing your beautiful designs if you let an Amazon algorithm change kill your T-Shirt design business.
MORAL OF THE STORY:
My favorite so far has been Etsy + with the Printify integration.
Everyone keeps talking about Printful, but Printify is soo much cheaper.
For example, you can get T Shirts for $5.95 on Printify, while the rock bottom lowest on Printful is $8.95. To give some perspective, if you sell 100 shirts, that’s $300 more dollars of profit in your pocket. That’s just scratching the surface, and everything they sell is cheaper.
When I want to sell hats, I still use Printful because Printify doesn’t have them, but everything on Printify is soo much cheaper and its all good quality (well I like the quality of both, but why not have quality + a ton more profit to hold on to, amiright or amiright? okok I’m right I get it;)
I’ve found Etsy to be a great sales channel, and now I get more sales from Etsy than merch.
Ok. That’s my story, hope it helps you. Now go set up on Etsy if you have been looking for another channel. If you find anything cheaper than Printify let me know, but I haven’t yet!
p.s. Printify is free to use, but you get an extra 30% off everything if you buy the $30/mo business subscription, so it makes sense if you’re selling a lot of stuff.
p.p.p.s. The Printify regular prices, AKA the completely free service, are still rock bottom and cheaper than Printful, however, the ones in my screenshots and that I use are the business subscription, which is $30/month and makes sense if you’re selling at any kind of volume.
Try starting with the free service, then do the math after a month to see if it makes sense to upgrade:)