Ren here from the Shopify support team, would love to help point you in the right direction! In short - yes, you can absolutely be successful enough as a print-on-demand start up and therefore fund other projects.
The beauty of print-on-demand is that it's a low-cost, low-risk method of running an online store. Have a look at our blog post here that works through some of the pros and cons.
The key to success is finding a niche and marketing appropriately and the best way to do that is going to be with some research. Start with your own areas of interest, then expand from there. Ask yourself if you're interested in selling apparel, home decor or things like mugs, hats and phone cases. Figure out who your target marketing is going to be and research what is trending among those groups. For example, plants and plant related products (decorative, apparel) are on the upswing so you could create phone cases with plant designs and market them to millennials. As of today, house plant sales have increased 50% (in 3 years) making it a 1.7 billion dollar indust...
Before you dive in, be sure to check out our free online course over at Shopify Academy for the ins and outs of running a print-on-demand store. Once you have decided on what you're going to design and sell, take a look at the app integrations available on Shopify and find the company most suitable to what you want to have produced. Being prepared with a marketing plan and knowing your audience well will take you a long way. I also highly suggest maintaining social media accounts to help build a following of customers.
If you intend on running ads, make sure your store is completely ready before spending money on marketing. Check out this comprehensive community post thats covers all the important fundamentals of preparing your store.
Do you have an idea of what you'd like to sell and who your market is going to be? Is this something you're driven to finish in time for Black Friday Cyber Monday? Let me know what you think of the steps above!
Ren | Social team @ Shopify
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