Updated: May 31, 2024 - Published: Jul 07, 2023 • 8 min read

Print On Demand vs Bulk Printing: Which Is Right For Me?

Compare the benefits and drawbacks of two print methods to help you find the best option.

Print On Demand vs Bulk Printing: Which Is Right For Me?

Print on demand and printing in bulk both have their pros and cons. It’s best to get an in-depth understanding before deciding which option is right for you.

Let’s start with print on demand. Print on demand (POD) is one of the easiest and fastest ways to begin selling your publication without losing money. It’s a process and business model whereby creators choose items upon which their artwork will feature. They can then upload their files, add a markup and sell them directly to customers. You can earn passive income, and you never have to worry about storage or unsold stock because we only print items as and when your customers buy them, making it also a very eco-friendly printing option. The time you would have spent shipping, packaging and managing your stock, you can instead focus on tasks like marketing, creating new designs or connecting with your customers.


Some main advantages of print-on-demand include:


  • Convenience: print on demand is the ultimate time, effort and money saver. Your print supplier takes care of the printing, packing, shipping or distribution, and there’s no need to coordinate multiple vendors or intermediaries either. You can run a business from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection!


  • There are no upfront costs: POD is one of the few business models that doesn’t require money upfront to start. Again, a printer only produces prints when you make a sale, and you choose which items will feature your designs or artwork.


  • There’s no inventory: you don’t need to find storage space for your print work as your printing company will organise all of this for you, allowing you to focus on other tasks like preparing upcoming launches or planning future projects.


A man in a black shirt holds an open print-on-demand book.

One key aspect that sets Mixam’s PrintLink apart from other print-on-demand websites is that every publication you upload includes a free virtual preview. Every publication includes a customised print ‘link’ where customers can view your publication and order physical copies in one place. You can share the link anywhere online, like on your website, social media, email and self-publishing platforms and control how many pages readers can preview. It’s a great way to build anticipation and might even be helpful for a book launch. And unlike other POD companies, there’s no requirement to include ISBN or barcodes on your printwork. There are no setup fees or minimum quantities; you can choose how much you earn and change it anytime in your Mixam account. 


While some may like a hands-off approach, print-on-demand services have some downsides. Some main disadvantages include:


  • Quality control requires more attention: Before committing to a POD service, you need assurance that your customers will get the best quality items. Low-quality goods can reflect poorly on your business, so put yourself in your customer’s shoes and pinpoint the quality indicators your customers would expect. Ordering items in advance is an opportunity to assess whether your customers would be satisfied and see if it suits your artwork. With Mixam’s PrintLink, you can request a sample copy to ensure you and your customers are happy with the quality before sharing your preview.


  • Limited item availability: While not all POD companies offer the same specifications, Mixam continues to add more specifications and print options. Whether you create a brand-new PrintLink order or set one up via a previous order, you can choose the nearest alternative options or even consider placing your artwork on different items.


  • You rely on third parties or lower margins: You can choose your retail price and have the freedom to set your profit margins, but sellers typically see high-profit margins if they buy in bulk due to lower production costs than in large-quantity orders.


Regarding quality, we don’t just depend on our printing technology to deliver beautiful prints. Real print experts review every print project to ensure files are ready for error-free printing. It’s worth noting that manufacturing, fulfilment and shipping issues can occur. But Mixam’s print experts are always available to assist and offer the best possible outcome.

Now let’s move on to printing in bulk. As the name suggests, printing in bulk is where you order large quantities of printed copies of a design and pay upfront. It’s an effective way to increase sales, boost brand awareness, and build lasting customer relationships. Printing in bulk typically offers more customisation options than printing on demand through diverse print options. And if you intend to sell your bulk-order print items, you still have the opportunity to gain profits by selling them for a higher price.


Some key advantages of buying print in bulk include:


  • Low costs per unit: Buying print in bulk has the advantage of wholesale pricing, meaning you get the lowest possible price per copy. It often includes fast turnaround times thanks to quicker setup costs, making it economical for large orders. And if you order enough copies, you won’t have to keep reordering prints, and you can avoid potential supply chain issues.


  • Make sales fast with an existing audience: Suppose you're already an established author or creator and have a large following on social media or know a target audience who'd be interested in your publication. In that case, you'll likely make sales quicker. You could target your key audiences or demographics by adding features in your print work, like names, locations, and logos. 


  • It’s effective for marketing to large audiences: Providing you’re sure of numbers and the specifications you need, bulk printing will get more eyeballs on your brand and what you offer. This printing option is worthwhile for marketing tools like FlyersPostcards and Posters.


However, there are some disadvantages of buying print in bulk:


  • It’s time-consuming: while print-on-demand takes away the order management, packing and distribution tasks, buying print in bulk means you’ll need to undertake these responsibilities yourself, from fulfilment to customer service.


  • Unsold prints mean lost profits: If you intend to sell your work, you could buy many printed copies in advance, only for them to remain unsold. You may need to sell your prints for a discount to make some profit and free up storage space. Still, the prospect of unsold work emphasises how important it is to market your printed goods effectively through email marketing, social media, and even word of mouth. 


  • You have to finance your publishing journey yourself. Investing your own money to fund print projects isn’t always easy. However, you can consider pitching your project on platforms like Kickstarter to get funding. You can read their guide on how to make a successful pitch here.


Mixam offers a wide array of items for bulk printing. For example, having stacks of Business Cards on hand is an excellent way of making new connections and securing future business opportunities. Our Instant Quote Calculator will give you a price straightaway, and you can tweak the print options to suit your budget.


Overall, which is best for you?

We recommend reviewing the points above in detail while you consider your options. The convenience, lack of upfront costs and inventory make print on demand appealing for busy publishers who want to focus on other business areas. And although an author may appreciate the extra time and space that POD offers, they need to be satisfied with the quality and product availability before relying on a service to supply print to their customers. However, while printing in bulk can be costly, time-consuming and risky financially, publishers can benefit from wholesale pricing. And it's an effective way to market work to the masses, especially if an audience already exists.

You can print anything you like with PrintLink providing your content is legal, copyright-free and abides by our T&Cs. To launch your PrintLink, log in to your account and see if your previous orders are eligible. Alternatively, you can get your quote for your publications here. Or, to print in bulk, visit our Product pages at the top of our Home page for a free quote. For more news and inspiration, check out the array of posts on Mixam's Blog and visit our Support section for helpful guidance and advice on all things print.


Image Credit: Freepik

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