Full Guide to Designing and Selling Print on Demand Mugs

Itzel Fonseca

5 mins read

If you’ve just started your own online merch store, one of the items you’re probably looking to add to your catalog is mugs. With a market that is only expected to grow in the next six years or so, print on demand mugs make a great addition to any e-commerce shop. And, with the right design, they can be a big seller.

But with all your competitors also looking to cash in on this growing market, how can you make sure your mugs stand out from the rest? In this guide, we’ll show you how to design and sell mugs that will have your customers coming back for more. Let’s begin!

Why Sell Mugs in the First Place?

Alright, let’s face it. A lot of us have collected mugs over the years. Whether it be from an office party, an exchange gift, or simply because we liked the design, most of us have more mugs than we know what to do with.

But that doesn’t mean people aren’t still buying mugs! And if you give them the right reasons, your store will probably be one of the places they turn to. Nonetheless, in case you’re still on the fence, here are some reasons you should consider selling mugs:

They Have a Low Price Point

print on demand mugs, awkward styles mugs
Awkward Styles print on demand mugs

With as low as $5.95, you can start selling ceramic mugs that carry your awesome designs. This makes them a great item to sell if you’re just starting out and are looking to test the waters with your merch store.

Almost Everyone Uses Them Everyday

I mean, who doesn’t start their morning with a warm cup of coffee or tea? Well, night owls perhaps—though they’ll still need some caffeine for their all-nighters.

The point is, mugs are one of those items that most people use on a daily basis, which means there’s always going to be a demand for them. And even though you’ve got one too many mugs collecting dust in your cabinet, there are people out there who would love to get their hands on a new one.

They’re a Great Way To Make Your Brand and Designs More Visible

Imagine a customer of yours using your custom mug in their office while taking their coffee break and chatting with some colleagues. If your design or logo is on full display, that’s free advertising for your brand!

What Makes a Great Mug?

Now, enough with the why’s. Let’s move on to the factors that make up a great mug. By taking note of these, you can be sure that the mugs you design and sell will actually be worth the money for your customers.

Details and Aesthetics

Ever heard the name Charles Hubbell? Yes, the “Cup Man”, aka the world’s greatest collector of mugs. Well, if it doesn’t ring a bell, just think of your aunt or mom who collects and displays ceramic plates and utensils. You know, the ones with intricate designs and bright colors.

The thing is, while your customers may not always have to use your mugs, there are people out there who’d purchase simply because they like how it looks or they want to add it to their collection. It’s for this reason that the details and aesthetics of your mug design are important factors to consider.


We all know mugs have this one main purpose—to hold our favorite warm drinks. Thus, when a mug isn’t able to do that well, it’s definitely not worth our hard-earned money.

When we say functionality, we’re not just talking about a mug’s ability to hold liquid. We’re also talking about how well it can retain heat and how comfortable it is to hold. You see, there’s nothing worse than a hot mug that burns your hands or one that just won’t stay warm.

Quality and Durability

Aside from functionality, another important factor to consider is the quality and durability of your mugs. After all, we wouldn’t want our customers to end up with a cracked mug after just a few uses, would we?

When it comes to quality and durability, one of the things you have to consider is if your mug’s microwave and dishwasher-safe. Many people are looking for mugs that they can just pop in the microwave to heat up their drinks. 

You also have to make sure that the material you’re using for your mugs is high quality and won’t easily break or chip.

How To Design Different Types of Mugs

Finally, let’s move on to the fun part—designing your mugs! 

But of course, before you start putting your designs on mugs, you first have to decide which type of mug you want to sell. To help you out, we’ve listed down some of the most popular types you can find on the market.

Standard Mugs

print on demand 11 oz mugs, how to sell mugs on etsy

The most common type of mug you’ll find is the standard mug. These are the plain, ceramic ones that you can easily personalize with your designs. And since they’re basically like a blank canvas, the possibilities are endless when it comes to designing them.

You can go for a quote or witty saying, a minimalist design, a cartoon photo of your customer’s dog, and even a meme! Just make sure that your design is aligned with your brand’s identity and that it’s something your target market would actually want to drink out of.

Color Changing Mugs

print on demand color changing mug, POD mugs
Awkward Styles color-changing mug

If you want a mug that’s not only aesthetically pleasing but also interactive, then you might want to consider selling color-changing mugs. These mugs are usually colored black and reveal the design when hot liquid is poured into them.

These are great gifts for events like gender reveal parties, birthdays, and holidays. And since they’re not your typical mug design, you can really go all out with the creativity on this one.

For example, if you want to design a mug for Mother’s Day, you can put a heartfelt message on it or a photo of the mother and child. You can also ask your clients to send in their own text or photos and incorporate them with your own template.

Tips on Marketing and Selling Your Mugs

Got some design ideas in your head? Well, before you start creating, let’s take a quick detour and discuss some tips on marketing and selling your mugs. After all, what good are great mug designs if no one’s going to see them?

Include Them in Your Limited Collections

If you want to pique your customer’s interest, try releasing your mugs as part of a limited collection. This way, they’ll feel more inclined to buy them right away before they run out.

For example, if your brand is targeted towards gen-z’s and astrology enthusiasts, you can design a mug for every zodiac sign which is only available during that period. Or if you’re catering to plant lovers, you can design mugs with different plant prints which are only available for a month.

This creates a sense of urgency and excitement around your products which is perfect for driving up sales.

Offer Them As Gifts With a Purchase

Another great way to market your mugs is by offering them as gifts with purchase. For example, if a customer buys over a certain amount from your store, you can throw in a mug for free. Or if they reach a certain level in your customer loyalty program, they can get a mug as a reward.

Let Your Brand Ambassadors and Influencers Show Them to the World

If you’ve been working with brand ambassadors or influencers, make sure to give them a mug or two (or more) to show off to their followers. Whether it’s a story on Instagram or a YouTube vlog, the exposure will do wonders for your business!

Make Your Mug Business a Smashing Success!

Just like any other item in your store, designing mugs can be fun, challenging, and rewarding all at the same time. But as long as you have a good handle on the basics and you’re always thinking of ways to improve, we’re sure that you’ll be able to make your mug business a success in no time!

Want to customize and sell your own print on demand mugs? Sign up for your free Awkward Styles account today. Design and sell over 150 products in apparel, home decor, accessories, wall art and jewelry and integrate your Etsy, Shopify or WooCommerce store!

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