What Is The Cheapest Way To Print: Online, Local, Or At Home?

While smartphones have made life more convenient and information more accessible, access to a printer is still a must. Whether you’re directing a school play and need playbills or you just opened a small business and need new business cards, ink and paper are still vital resources in this digital age.

Contrary to popular belief, the cheapest way to print may not always be from your home or local print shop. Let’s discuss where to print your project to get the most bang for your buck.

Online Printing

Good for: Large orders


Online printing takes the guesswork out of the printing process. It also takes care of many potential questions, including which paper and ink are best. A reputable online printing service’s efficiency and speed make it incredibly useful for many projects.

Comparing printing prices online is as simple as a click of a button. Add the convenience of being able to order cheap business cards or inexpensive flyers for your upcoming school event, and going online may be the cheapest way to print your project. Plus, the speed at which you’ll receive your order makes it all worth it.

Another aspect to consider is that when dealing with an online vendor, the price per item will decrease as the order volume increases. In other words, the more copies you order, the less each copy costs. You’ll also be able to preview your work before everything is finalized, and sometimes, you’ll receive a sample called a proof before committing to a full order.


Unfortunately, when it comes to online printing, you don’t have much control over the quality or outcome. You can state what you need, but you can’t specify how you want the product to look and feel; you rely on the company and technology that received your order. If you have to pay steep shipping costs, online printing may not be the best option for your project.

Printing at Home

Good for: Small batches or single pages


When you have to print a simple essay or article, you don’t require fancy pearl shaded stock paper with smear-resistant technology—a simple piece of paper with some black ink is all you really need.

Having a printer–either one you bought or one at your job–can make life simple. Plus, you don’t need to pay for shipping, handling, and tax.


Having a printer on hand may be useful, but just like with any machine, some upkeep will be needed. We’ve all heard the horror stories of printers jamming or breaking right when you need them most.

You also have to factor in the cost of printer ink, which is one of the most expensive liquids in the world. Although you may not be buying a gallon of the stuff at a time, make no mistake: the price tag on a pack of ink can put a dent in your wallet for the week. To put it in perspective, a gallon of gas is less expensive than a single cartridge of ink!

Local Printing at a Shop

Good for: Specification and customer support


One of the great things about conducting business with a local printer is that you’ll be able to discuss your project or plan with a professional, face-to-face. Instead of dealing with a portal, you’re talking with a person who can answer your questions throughout the process. When it comes to expertise and quality, nothing can match the professionalism of a local print shop.

The cost of dealing with a local printer is also something to consider. Although it may seem cheaper to do your work online, you need to consider a few other factors as well. It’s important to look beyond the list price and focus on the people who are working with you to make sure your project is absolutely perfect.


Speed is going to always be of the essence whenever you have something to print, and sometimes local print shops can’t keep up. One day, they may be focused on printing business cards while the next day they’re focusing on banners. Time is money, and if you need your printed materials as soon as possible, the local print shop may not be able to keep up with the demand.

What’s the Cheapest Way to Print?

Ultimately, printing costs will always depend on the project that you’re creating, and sometimes, the cheapest way to print one item may be the most expensive way to print another. An online printing service is an easier and cheaper option when you don’t have time to worry about paper and ink selection, but a local shop may be worth the price if your project needs absolute precision.

When You Need Online Printing, You Need ZoePrint

No matter what, whether you’re printing an article at your local library or using a reputable online printing service like ZoePrint for cheap and quick printing services, doing a bit of research will help you find the most economically wise solution.

Contact us to learn more about how our online printing services could be the cheapest way to print your project!