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Online printing services vs printing at home - How to choose?

Posted by Sticker Mule on

Eventually everyone needs printing services to get stickers, brochures, or packaging for their events or endeavors. You can print them yourself at home, but that requires a lot of time and effort and doesn’t necessarily save you money once all is said and done. Online printing services can be more convenient, affordable and have all the tools you need to get your designs ready for mass production but there are so many services out there and results vary among them all. Here are some considerations and questions you should ask before choosing an online printing service for your business needs or going with printing at home.

online printing services like sticker mule

What is your printing budget?

For budgets under $100

You may think printing at home is the way to go with smaller budgets or if you want to save money, but there really isn’t a golden rule on that. Online printing works great for smaller budgets too and after the costs of materials, it can oftentimes be even cheaper than doing it yourself, and that’s before even factoring in the amount of time it takes!

However, printing at home gives you all the control and allows you to experiment a bit more than using a online printing service. So there is definitely a give and take.

Answering these questions might make the process of choosing a bit easier though;

  • Do you have the printing materials (paper and printers) available already?
  • Do you have spare time to dedicate to printing?
  • Are you handy at designing?
  • Are you able to solve technical problems when they arise?

If you answered no to any of these questions, then honestly, online printing may be the way to go. After the time, resources and technical skills needed to create a design and then printing it, you may have spent more money on materials and way more time printing than you anticipated which just hurts your chances of getting a good result with your printing goals.

For budgets over $100

For larger budgets, the choice of printing leans more heavily on using an online printing service. The costs and time involved gets much more demanding with higher budgets so unless you have industrial processes in place and the experience needed to scale your printing by yourself, it would be hard to argue not to use a online printing service for your printing needs

What kind of printing services do you need?

Before you send your print job to the printer, you will need to select the type of paper, labels, or stickers you’ll want to print on. These options will affect the price and turnaround time of your project. You can choose from glossy, matte, UV or uncoated paper. If you are printing cards, signs or brochures, you might also want to add a UV coating to your print job. This will help protect it from smudging and make it last longer.

If you want to use premium or special materials in your printing job, then the costs of getting a smaller quantity of these materials might not be cost-effective.

Some things you should be able to print at home at smaller quantities;

  • Normal paper printing
  • Square or circle stickers
  • Custom shipping labels
  • Color photos
  • Heat transfers

Other things that won’t be possible to print at home (no matter the quantity);

  • Custom magnets
  • Custom posters
  • Custom packaging
  • Die-cut (custom shape) stickers, signs, or decals

Who will be in charge of the design process?

If you are hiring a design company to print your stickers, labels, packaging or brochures, you can expect them to have their own designers on staff. They may have their own processes, so they may recommend specific printing services that they normally work with. The design process and costs will vary depending on the company you choose. If you are hiring a designer, you should inquire about their process and prices.

Most online printing companies will provide you with pre-made templates while others will also let you design your print job from scratch. Using the premade templates at companies like Sticker Mule makes the design process much easier if you aren’t a designer yourself and don’t have the budget to hire a designer. It’s the best of both worlds for smaller printing jobs!

How well does the company handle printing emergencies?

Sometimes things happen unexpectedly, especially during rush season. You’ll be pressed with extra printing demands and the ability of you or your company to handle these situations will be tested. If you are printing in house or at home, then these situations can be very hard to overcome without experience. It’s these kinds of high-stress situations that make printing for yourself unfeasible at larger scales. Even then, it’s important to find a printing company that can handle your print job without any delays in case something happens. Some companies will charge extra for last-minute printing, while others will not be able to handle it at all. We here at Sticker Mule are proud to provide multiple printing and shipping options depending on how quickly you need things!

Are there any upfront or hidden costs?

Some online printing companies will charge you a fee upfront for designing your print job. If you need design services, it’s important to inquire about the design process upfront so you know how much it will cost. It is also important to inquire about the hidden costs of printing. Some companies charge extra for rush printing, shipping and other factors such as the type of paper or binding you choose. Bear in mind that you can avoid hidden costs by choosing a company that offers free design services or ready to go templates.

How to make your decision

There are quite a few things to consider before choosing whether or not to print at home yourself or having it sent off to an online printing service like Sticker Mule.

Printing at home is an excellent way to save money on printing when printing smaller quantities, while also ensuring that your documents are printed exactly the way you want them. By printing at home, you'll be able to avoid many of the costs associated with professional printing, like shipping, storage and setup fees. Plus, you'll have total control over the quality and appearance of your prints.

However, the more you print, the less this approach makes sense. Even for smaller jobs, online printing might be the cheaper and better alternative especially if you are able to take advantage of deals like Sticker Mule does with it’s 10 for $9 samples.

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