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Stand out from other print on demand shops this holiday season by offering personalized products custom made for your customer. By providing bespoke designs that customers can’t get anywhere else, you can charge more and will have less competition. Print on demand manufacturers like Printful are perfect for these one-off designs. Here’s how I use Etsy’s personalization feature and Printful’s integration to sell unique products.
Ways to personalize your designs
Add custom text
The easiest way to custom a product is by adding a customer’s desired text by itself or to a pre-made design. This can even be done directly within Printful using their design maker – no extra tools required! I personally use Smart Objects in Photoshop to quickly add pre-styled text to a design. Some common text customizations include names, places (e.g. hometowns) and special dates (eg. birthdays and anniversaries).
Use customer-submitted images
Another easy way to personalize a product is to add a customer’s photo(s). Photo collage mugs are a very popular gift for parents and grandparents and can be easily created with the free graphic program, Canva. I’ve also been seeing a lot of gag gifts using photos, like putting a spouses photo on an all-over print shirt.
Create custom graphics
Although the most time consuming options, creating unique graphics is by far my best selling personalization option. This option involves creating designs from scratch based on customer requests and requires a bit more design skill or a partnership with a professional designer. Some great examples I’ve seen include: watercolor paintings of someone’s home, cartoon caricatures, embroidered pet portraits, and hand drawn maps of first date locations – the possibilities are endless!
How to print personalized products with Printful
Enable personalization on your listing
Printful has personalization tools for Shopify, Woocommerce, and Etsy. There are more features for Shopify and Woocommerce, but they are also more complex to setup. For beginners, I recommend starting with Etsy for personalized products, among all the other reasons for choosing Etsy as your first POD shop.
- When creating or editing a listing on Etsy, toggle the Personalization setting On
- Add instructions to the Instructions for buyers box, including what information you need or any limitations.
- Optional: Check the Personalization is optional box if you offer the product without personalization also
- Optional: Enter a character limit for the personalization (this is especially useful for small spaces like embroidery!)
Import personalized orders into Printful
Make sure that your Printful shop is set up to sync personalized orders by going to Settings > Stores > Orders and checking the “Import personalized orders as drafts” box.
Then when a customer purchases a personalized product, the order will show on your Orders dashboard, but will be on Hold. The product, customer’s address, and other order details will be prefilled for you, but you’ll need to edit the order to add any personalized text or artwork.
Tips for selling personalized products
Combine with variations
Streamline your fulfillment process by using variations in your listing to preset product options. For example, if selling personalized shirts, use variations to have the shirt color and size sync with Printful so all you have to edit is the design.
Limit personalization options
Too many choices can be overwhelming for your customers and just creates more work for you. For example, with custom text, I usually don’t offer font or text color choices, because those can’t be synced with Printful.
Create a business email for customer communication
If you’ll be collecting images from customers on Etsy, the easiest way is via email. Give customers confidence in your business by creating a business email with your business domain. I recommend using Google Workspace to create a business branded Gmail account, for example firstname.lastname@example.org.
Save time with templates
Whether you use Canva, Photoshop, or another program, use design templates to quickly create your personalized designs with premade styles and layout. I’m a huge fan of Photoshop “smart objects” and actions to cut my design time down to minutes.