Printful Review: Pros and Cons for T-Shirt Printing

 
printful review

Custom Designs with Printful

This Printful review will cover the pros and cons we’ve found in using Printful’s custom design platform. You’ll find screenshots and video as well toward providing a comprehensive review of this print-on-demand (POD) service.

Creative branded products using your art and creativity is a great way to grow your brand and following while generating revenue from the sales of your creations. We have tons of ideas across our brands to bring to life on apparel and product, so we’re testing multiple print on demand (POD) platforms beginning with iCreateDaily apparel. 

Printful offers a large variety of products to choose for your art and ideas, but we will only be covering the apparel printing in this article. 

Keep in mind that once you learn one printing platform’s system, you’re able to maneuver the next one more quickly. Because the learning curve is generally reduced for each subsequent platform. So whichever one you start with will seem to be the hardest at first. Printful is not our first platform.

“Don’t be in a rush to get big.  Be in a rush to have a great product.”
~ Eric Ries, American entrepreneur, blogger, and author of The Lean Startup1)http://theleanstartup.com/

For our iCreateDaily apparel, we're testing multiple platforms and currently have the most experience with Printful.  This Printful review will cover the pros and cons we've noticed in using the platform including a video of the editing and site overview. 

This quote above is a variation on Seth Godin’s “just ship it“, but there’s always another perspective, and ours is that the two together are the balance:

  1. Make lots and get it out there
  2. Continuously tweak and refine

We do this all the time with articles, especially if we’re hitting our publishing goal late at night. We’ll go ahead and publish to get it out there, then review for final edits first thing the next morning when we’re fresh. And there are always things to update and improve and mistakes to discover.

Okay, so… let’s get on with it! #JourneyIsTheWay!

Printful Review: Pros and Cons

Here are the different major categories from each top print-on-demand company we’re covering in this article. We’ll assign a rating on the 5-Star scale as we go; 1 being atrocious and 5 being stellar. 

  1. User Experience & Design 
  2. Fabrics & Product Library 
  3. Integration Ease 
  4. Fulfillment & Payments 
  5. Customer Service & Resources

We also created a video demo of making a t-shirt design so you can see Printful in action.

1. Printful Review: User Experience & Design: Rating 3

Printful has been the least headache for us so far in terms of ease of use. Which might seem odd since you see right off the bat we’re giving the design interface a 3 rating.  Stick with us; all will be explained.  

I started with the 2 minute Printful ‘Get Started’ video tutorial. Even so, there was about full day learning curve in figuring out what “all the buttons did.” If you enjoy the process of clicking buttons and figuring things out, you’ll tinker your way to success. Though if you’re easily frustrated with lack of clear direction you could get annoyed quickly.

While Printful has a good Resources page, there are some basic simplifications they could edit which we cover in the video below.

Printful Design Pros:

  1. Organized file library
  2. Simple editing screen

Organized File Library

Printful’s designing was pretty easy when it comes to loading your own pre-created art files.  As long as you follow the recommended print graphics requirements, which are pretty standard across platforms, you should be good to go.  As with most print-on-demand platforms, creating the actual art is limited if you like a stunning design, or have your own branding details you want to stick with.

They even let you organize your art in different folders. If you have seasonal collections, different logo variations, or themes, they do a great job helping you stay organized.  Many platforms don’t do this so any time you want to make something, you have to upload from scratch. If you’re a creator and artists, we know that’s not the case. Time and efficiency are your best friends.

Simple Editing Screen

Printful’s editing screen is super simple, which can be a good or bad thing depending on what you’re looking to create. If you already have your design graphic files made, it’s very easy to upload those and then add them to the product.

If you’re expecting to create super cool designs using Printful’s pre-made art and font variants, their styles are limited. You could make some cool slogan shirts with about a dozen fonts to choose from but that’s really it. Their Clipart feature hasn’t been released yet though it’s going to be rolled out soon.

Creating Designs

We make all our art and graphics with our designer and upload it to Printful, so their lack of design elements isn’t an issue for us. Just something to be aware of, and it’s common to most print-on-demand platforms. The free design options are naturally limited, but chances are you’re into creating your own custom designs anyway, which can give you an edge over competition with your originals. 

If you’re not an artist or don’t have a graphic designer on your team, the most popular design platform we’ve used is 99Designs. If you’re an artist but not familiar with digitizing your work, then you could outsource that portion so that you can work in your area of strength and move onto creating your next design.

Here’s a screenshot, and you’ll also see a much better in-action view in the video further below.

PRINTFUL REVIEW: Here's a screenshot, and you'll also see a much better in-action view in the video we created below.  We create all our designs with a graphic designer and so we have the art files ready to load the Printful file library and size properly.  If you're expecting a wide array of designing and artwork creation on Printful you'll be disappointed.  
Printful’s Editing Screen View

Printful Design Cons:

  1. Can’t mass edit product variables
  2. Limited product mock-up images

 

Can’t Easily Replicate Design to Other Products…

You have to start over.

So, while you save time in your design library, you pretty much lose it all when it comes to product creation phase.  You have to create each merchandise variant from scratch.

For instance, you can’t make a t-shirt design and then have the design translate to a hoodie, tank top, mug, or other product. You have to list your t-shirt as a store item, and then start all over creating the hoodie or other items.

While it might not seem like a big deal, the drawback is TIME.  It would make more sense if Printful allowed us to edit product variants under a specific design as opposed to needing to start over.  On Zazzle and RedBubble you can edit multiple product variants under one design.

 

Limited Product Mock-up Images

While we highly recommend purchasing a batch of your apparel so that you can test quality and get cool lifestyle images that people love… It’s still nice when the POD platform provides some of those graphics for you.

Printful is inconsistent in the types of product images they have. They will always have front and back image mock-ups IF you have a design on both sides.

If you choose to design only one side of the garment, the purchase view won’t show the other side of the shirt. At first, this makes sense; it’s blank after all. But think about how we buy when we’re at a store or online.  We want to see the front and back regardless of design, it’s just part of a natural purchase habit.

Design Images – Benefits and Services

If you want images of models in your clothing you have to order them from their partner company Photific. I don’t mind that you have to purchase these, but other print-on-demand platforms will provide modeled images for free. This is especially helpful for marketing your shirts. I.e., you can begin promoting them right away, which means early sales and advertising opportunities such as running Facebook and Pinterest ads.

Model mock-ups can be important not only so your customer gets a sense of the shirt being worn, but so that you can see if the design looks good in the way you’ve sized it.

Printful is inconsistent in the types of product images they have. They will always have front and back image mock-ups IF you have a design on both sides.  If you choose not to have a design, they don't make a back mock-up available. At first, this makes sense, it's blank. But think about how we buy when we're at a store.  We want to see the front and back regardless of design, it's just part of our natural purchase habit.  
Buying extra mock-ups is fine. But it would also be great if Printful offered a couple standard variations on all the products as well. Including at least one variation where the model is wearing the apparel.

Oh, by the way, here’s the link to our I’ll Write, I’ll Write, I’ll Write shirt.

This video will give you an overview of Printful’s platform and interface.

 

You can see the iCreateDaily shirts here, we’ll continually be adding more to the shop according to new designs and seasonal apparel. We may even expand into mugs other items!  We’ll review that process as our brand grows.

2. Printful Review: Fabrics & Product Library: Rating 4

Sourcing quality fabric at a reasonable price seems to be an overall problem in the print-on-demand industry. It makes sense. Whenever you’re sourcing from the US (which we prefer to do), and ordering in small quantities, such as with POD, you’re naturally going to pay more, all of which we cover in this overview article: T-Shirt Printing on Demand Pros and Cons.

These are the apparel manufacturers currently offered by Printful:

  • American Apparel (Made in USA)
  • Hanes
  • Gildan
  • Bella + Canvas
  • Next Level Tee

We like Printful’s shirt style options through the Bella + Canvas line. They have the widest range of T-shirts, Tank tops for men and women in the softer tri-blend fabric, and they’re subsequently more expensive.  If you’re interested in why we love the Tri-Blend option the best because it’s soft and light without being thin as compared to 100% cotton T-shirts.2)https://creativeresources.threadless.com/what-is-tri-blend/

T Shirt Fabrics – Limited Options in POD

If we order T’s from our favorite lifestyle brands such as Athleta, Lululemon, Columbia, REI, etc., the fabric options are more varied. In fact, these prominent brands typically have their own proprietary fabric blends as well as other high tech options for active lifestyles. And… you pay for it too, as these are always a lot more expensive.

When it comes to making your own designs using these handy ready-to-go services, you simply may not be able to find one with more ahead-of-the-curve fabric options. Believe me, we’ve tried. The closest we’ve come to finding that on these platforms is the Bella line for both men and women.

The Bella + Canvas Flowy Racerback Woman’s Tank Top is one of our favorite styles, and it tends to be available on all of the POD platforms. We like that it’s soft, stretchy, and lightweight yet substantial fabric, great for everyday wear or taking a quick workout break. Their styles have a little addes flair too, such as the gathered back of the Bella Flowy Racerback Tank Top.

As with most print-on-demand services, Printful does not offer unique and higher quality fabrics such as:

  • Bamboo 
  • Denim
  • Athletic Wear 
  • Spandex 
  • 100% Rayon (though in Tri-Blend they mix 25% Rayon)

There are a lot of other fabrics not included.  It makes sense that these on-demand companies stick with cotton or tri-blend.  They are the simplest and cheapest for any start-up or new creator.  As the iCreateDaily brand grows we’ll be looking into high-quality US manufacturing. 

3. Printful Review: Integration Ease: Rating 5 

Integrating our Printful account with our Shopify storefront was easy-peasy, and not all platforms have numerous linking options.  It took me under 10-minutes and now any product (apparel or not) will immediately sync to my Shopify account.  All the prices, sizes, images, and variants end up on Shopify.  

We would still recommend checking the Shopify listing, making sure it’s in the right shop collection, all the images are in the order you want, and any Shopify listing optimization you can do.  

So far we’ve only used the Shopify integration, and it works like a charm.

“Integrating our Printful account with our Shopify storefront was easy-peasy.”
~Devani Alderson, iCreateDaily.com

Printful Integrates with all of These Platforms:

  • Shopify
  • WooCommerce (WordPress)
  • Squarespace
  • Big Cartel
  • Gumroad
  • Weebly
  • Ecwid
  • BigCommerce
  • Etsy
  • StoreNVY
  • Tictail
  • Amazon
  • Inktail

You can also create a storefront on the Printful platform itself. We always recommend for long-term branding to use your own website, but their storefront option is a great place to start. You could create a Business Facebook Page and post your design images and sell directly from Facebook to your Shopify store link.

4. Printful Review: Fulfillment & Payments: Rating 5

Printful Fulfillment

Printful’s fulfillment is pretty simple.

  1. You or your customer places an order
  2. Printful processes the payments
  3. Printful creates the custom product
  4. Printful handles and ships it directly to your customer

One thing to note, when it comes to print-on-demand is that the time it takes to get what you order can be a little longer, especially if you don’t pay for expedited orders and shipping. Of course it makes sense. They aren’t just packing a pre-made item and sending it on it’s way.

They have to print the batch of products you order first.  So it’s standard for there to be a delay. In your Order’s dashboard, Printful will tell you the stage of each product you’ve ordered.

This image is a screenshot of one of our sample orders and you can see on that green bar, that some of the shirts are in the Printing stage and others are in Quality Control.

They have to print the batch of products you order first.  So it's standard for there to be a delay. In your Order's dashboard, Printful will tell you the stage of each product you've ordered.  This image is a screenshot of one of our smaple orders and you can see that some of the shirts are in the Printing stage and others are in Quality Control.  

Shipping & Delivery Time

Your Printful order takes a 1-2 weeks from ordering to receipt. It take 2-3 business days to make the shirt, which then ships via USPS standard shipping in about 3-5 days. TeeSpring takes more like 2-3  weeks but that’s another story for another article. 😉

Sample Orders and Your Costs

For sample orders, you will be charged full price, as if you’re a regular customer. However, as soon as the order is processed, you’ll also have the profit from that sale deposited as credit to your account, so typically in one working day or two.

“Printful refunded us for their mistake promptly and kindly.”
~Devani Alderson, iCreateDaily.com

Printful Payment Processing

Accepting money from Printful is a breeze.  You just need to choose the program you accept payments through. Currently, we’re using PayPal and it works fine. They have integrations for most payment systems though.

If you have any trouble connecting your payment portal, Printful’s chat, email, or phone support will walk you through it.

“Accepting payments from Printful is a breeze.”
~Devani Alderson, iCreateDaily.com

5.  Printful Review: Customer Service & Resources: Rating 4

Printful Review – Customer Service

Customer service is a form of currency for a business. Printful is very helpful in that regard.  Their chat support is ready to help out, cheerful, and so far they’ve always had a solution to anything we’ve asked.

So far, we’ve only had one misprint via Printful. I ordered an “I’ll write, I’ll write, I’ll write“, white shirt with purple text.  While the shirt fits perfectly, feels great, and looks awesome, the text printed blue instead of purple.  

The mistake was clearly Printful’s, because the images of the design only showed up in purple. But Printful refunded my purchase without a problem. That was the only time we needed to get a product refunded.  So far, everything else has printed great.

Ordering Product Samples is a Must

Misprints and assuring print quality is one main reasons for ordering product samples. You don’t want complaints from customers that their products are off; that does not begin any relationship on good footing, even if you make it good.

So, yes, it can get expensive ordering one of each, but you’ll want to. Not only will it save issues with customer orders but it will provide you with products for obtaining multiple product images. The more  you have the better for marketing your products and building out your product landing page.

And when it comes to POD, ordering a few samples versus having a huge pallet of hundreds or thousands of misprinted shirts shipped from China is such a relief!  So until you get your brand set and established, start with POD. We know of too many horror stories of bad products, and you don’t want that to be your story!

Customer service is a form of currency for a business. Printful is very helpful in that regard.  Their chat support is ready to help out, cheerful, and so far they’ve always had a solution to anything we’ve asked.
~LeAura Alderson, iCreateDaily.com

Printful Review – Resources

While Printful’s customer service is great, their Resources section has a lot of room for growth.  At first glance, it looks very neatly organized by the type of service you might need help with such as payments, fabrics, or designing.

What’s not so awesome is that Printful does not provide a search bar.

So for instance, if you’re trying to integrate your Printful account with Shopify as I was, you can’t just search and have it take you directly there. Instead, ydou’ll need to follow this path:

Resources > Integrations > eCommerce > Shopify > Download Printful Shopify app, (see screenshot for clarity). 

 

It’s vastly quicker and easier to just search your keyword, such as “Printful Shopify integration”, and then the article pops up and you can click through to it.  That’s how a lot of learning center portals work and it’s the preference by far.

NOTE to website and blog owners: if you don’t have a Search feature on your site, add one! It’s typically free and easy to do. Not only does it help your readers find what they’re looking for, but if you track Google analytics, you can track what terms your site visitors are searching, which will give you some market data on your audience.

In this example, it was pretty simple to figure out that Shopify’s integration was under the eComm., Integration area. But sometimes you might have a more obscure question and need to click through all the tabs to find that answer, which just wastes time.

Having a more complete and searchable Resources area would also help improve the Customer Service time.   The way it’s set up currently, it’s easier to hit up Printful’s chat with a question and then have them search for the right Resource article.

As business owners, that makes us cringe at the wasted time for both the user AND the customer support that could be easily solved just by adding a basic search bar.

 

Conclusion of Printful Review: 4.2 Total Rating

Printful Review on a 5 Star Scale – Total Rating: 4.2 Stars

We like the standard 5-Star scale, 1 being atrocious and 5 being stellar.  Here are the different major categories from each top print-on-demand company we are ranking.  This is a quick glance at our Printful review, and you’ll find expanded detail through the article.

  • User Experience & Design: 3
  • Fabrics & Product Library: 4
  • Integration Ease: 5
  • Fulfillment & Payments: 5
  • Customer Service & Resources: 4

All in all, while there’s room for improvement on Printful’s side, it’s still currently our favorite platform.  They are a good company that’s providing a great service for creators, and we’re enjoying learning about this industry.

Please let us know if you decide to use Printful’s services. Also, if you’re using a different one, we’d love to hear your perspective.

In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.
Doug Warner

For our iCreateDaily apparel, we're testing multiple platforms and currently have the most experience with Printful.  This Printful review will cover the pros and cons we've noticed in using the platform including a video of the editing and site overview. 

Start. Sustain. Succeed! iCreateDaily.


Hey! I’m Devani, a multi-passionate creator who enjoys honing the craft of writing (mostly;)), photography, cooking, podcasting, learning about business, and growing brands.  I co-host the iCreateDaily Podcast with LeAura Alderson (my mom), and co-own the iCreateDaily brand. I hope through the content and products we produce, you will be inspired to start, sustain, and succeed in your goals.

 

My non-business and artistic hobbies include: enjoying a good movie, discovering obscure but epic music, obsessing over The Beatles, and developing fictional stories in my head.  My Maltese dog, Caspian, provides an insane amount of creative inspiration by just being his adorable self. #HeWokeUpLikeThat. 😉 



Want to submit your photos, videos and/or article content for publication? We love to consider your contribution for publication! creators@icreatedaily.com

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