Recently, we fielded a lot of questions about where you can go to print your own planner. I figured it might be a question you may have too, so I’m sharing it with you.
Before diving in, let me preface this by saying, we design our planners to be printables. Not for print.
Printables vs For Print
Printables are digital files your customers download and print themselves at home with a home printer. For print means you send a digital file to a commercial printer who then prints and binds your planner/workbook into a finished physical product that you ship to your customer.
I want to make that distinction clear because the process for printing at home and commercial printing is very different. As a result, you will need to format your files differently and that depends on who is doing the printing.
Now, let’s tackle an easy(ier?) question. Where do you have your file printed?
Print Your Own Planner Locally
Personally, I would look for a local print shop. This is a 100% personal preference. Maybe because during my corporate years, I worked directly with local print shops to print many things. I enjoyed being able to work directly with owners without all the restrictions from headquarters. And because I like to support local businesses. Especially at this time.
Also, if you are reading this from outside of the United States. It's often cost prohibitive for you to have stuff printed and shipped from here. Going local makes sense if you’re working on print planners.
This may not be what you want to hear. Maybe you want a relatively hands-off process where you can upload online and have it printed.
My Print Criteria
Over the past few years, I have slowly researched options that are relatively hands free. I was looking for sites who meet two criteria. They are:
- Able to offer spiral or wire-O binding
- Be true print-on-demand. Meaning you can order a minimum quantity of 100 or less without being cost prohibitive.
It's difficult because not every print shop online offers spiral binding and fewer offer wire-O binding, which is my preferred. When I found them, their minimums are too high.
Now you might ask me, why not publish on Kindle Direct Publishing?
Limited binding options
For me, the reason is that KDP does not have the binding options I want. I believe that inhibits the customer experience of a workbook / planner. They should lay flat and perfect bound books do not lay flat.
Limited paper options
In addition, you cannot specify the paper quality. You might think I'm nitpicking here, but as a staunch paper planner user, it's annoying when the ink bleeds through in my planners. I'm not the only one. I'm in some print planner groups and paper quality is among the chief complaints (or praise) about planners.
Having said all that, this is a personal preference. If none of those bother you, then yes, KDP is a good way to go to make a buck. If they are important to you, I've found a few places that can help listed below.
Before you check them out. A bit of preparation. Do not expect to get them for pennies or super-cheap. Unless you have it printed in China.
Sites I Have Some Experience With
Lulu has been around for a long time. I've sent our Blog Planner there for printing and been happy with the results. They are one of the few who print and drop ship for you with reasonable prices. And their process is straightforward. I always seem to come back to Lulu.
Several of my friends recommended this company to me. They are not the cheapest, and you have to request a quote. I've been told they are service focused. While I have no print experience with them, I have chatted with them over a few projects that didn't pan out. I also requested a sample planner and am impressed with it.
Sites I Found But Never Tried
The following print sites, I have absolutely no experience with. Never talked to anyone there, nor ordered anything. However, they are making the cut here because their offerings met my personal criteria. They are on my list to try.
I hope this list has given you a place to start. Like I said, it's not a huge list. Printing your own planner is not the same as other Print On Demand products (e.g. mugs, t-shirts, etc.). Even when a company says they print books on demand, their process is often not the same and your options are few. Hopefully, this will change soon and we can expand this list.