So you’ve decided to sell your art on print-on-demand websites? Congratulations, you’re on your way to becoming a professional artist! Or at least, you’re on your way to earning a few extra bucks.
But before you start dreaming of fame and glory, let’s talk about what it actually means to sell your art on print-on-demand websites.
How print-on-demand websites work
Print-on-demand websites work by utilizing digital printing technology to create customized products on demand. When someone orders a product, the website prints the selected design onto the product and ships it directly to the buyer.
As an artist, you upload your designs to the print-on-demand website and choose which products you want to make available (like a t-shirt, mug, or phone case). When someone buys a product with your design on it, the POD website prints your design onto the product and ships it directly to the buyer. No need to worry about inventory or shipping yourself – the POD website takes care of all of that. You earn a commission on each sale, which is typically a percentage of the total sale price.
Print-on-demand websites have made it easier than ever for artists and designers to monetize their work. Instead of worrying about inventory and shipping, artists can focus on creating and promoting their designs.
Of course, there are a few drawbacks to using print-on-demand websites. Since the website is handling all of the production and shipping, the artist has less control over the quality of the final product. And because anyone can upload a design and set their own price, there can be a lot of competition and a wide range of quality when it comes to designs available on these websites.
Should you sell your art on print-on-demand websites?
Before you start uploading your masterpieces, let’s take a moment to consider whether selling your art on print-on-demand websites is the right move for you.
The pros of selling your art on POD websites
As previously mentioned, selling your art on print-on-demand websites means you don’t have to worry about inventory or shipping. Plus, you can reach a wide audience and potentially make sales all around the world.
Here are some pros:
- No upfront costs or investment in inventory required.
- Access to a wide customer base and global reach.
- Ability to showcase your designs on a variety of customizable products.
- Potential for passive income as designs continue to sell without additional effort.
- Opportunity to receive feedback and support from a community of artists and designers.
- Reduced need for marketing and promotion efforts on your part.
- Ease of use and simplicity of the selling process.
- Potential to build a following and expand your brand recognition as an artist.
The cons of selling your art on POD websites
POD websites have their cons as well.
For starters, POD websites take a big chunk of the profit on each sale, which means you will not be earning as much as you would hope. And with so many artists and designers selling their work on these websites, it can be tough to stand out from the crowd.
Some cons to consider are:
- Low profit margins due to the website’s commission.
- Increased competition due to the low barrier to entry.
- Limited branding opportunities.
- Intellectual property concerns, including the risk of copyright infringement or theft of your original designs.
- Dependence on the POD website’s marketing and promotion strategies to reach customers.
- Limited control over the production process and final product.
- Risk of low-quality products or poor customer service reflecting negatively on your brand.
- Limited ability to offer discounts or promotions to customers.
How to decide whether selling on print-on-demand websites is right for you?
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Do you want to focus on creating art? If you’d rather spend your time creating art than worrying about shipping and inventory, then print-on-demand websites might be the perfect solution for you.
- Are you comfortable with someone else handling production and shipping? If you’re a control freak who wants to oversee every aspect of your business, then print-on-demand websites might not be the best fit for you.
- Are you willing to put in the time and effort to promote your work? Selling your art on print-on-demand websites means you’ll be competing in a sea of other talented artists. You’ll need to put in some effort to promote your work and stand out from the crowd.
If you’re looking for a simple way to earn some extra income and reach a wider audience, then print-on-demand websites might be a good idea. But if you’re looking for complete control over your art business and earnings, then you might want to explore other options.
Do note that I used the word “simple” above and not “easy”. One thing to keep in mind if you want to be selling your art on print-on-demand websites is that unless you’re lucky or already have a following, it may take a lot of work to be successful.
Indeed, making sales on POD websites can be quite tough, mostly due to the high competition. Plus, the rise of AI art has not helped. On top of other artists, you are now also competing against machines.
So now, let’s talk about the fun part: making money!
Making money as an artist with print-on-demand
When you sell your art on print-on-demand websites, you typically earn a percentage of each sale. The exact percentage varies depending on the website, but it’s usually somewhere between 10-20%. So, for example, if you sell a t-shirt for $20 and your commission rate is 15%, you would earn $3 for that sale.
You can see why you would need a lot of sales to actually make a living out of it.
Hence the question:
Can you really make money selling your art on POD websites?
With POD websites, it’s all about quantity. Except it’s absolutely not quantity over quality. In this case, it’s quantity AND quality.
In order to actually make money, you need people to buy your products.
And for people to buy your products, they have to want your products. Nobody wants to buy a random t-shirt with an ugly design. They want to buy something that speaks to them.
And that’s where things can get a little tricky. With so many artists and designers selling their work on print-on-demand websites, it can be tough to be found.
So the answer is definitely yes, you can make money selling your art on POD websites but it’s not as easy as you might think, nor will you make a lot, unless you’re either lucky or a really hard worker and incredibly talented artist.
The harsh truth is, you probably won’t make a living out of it. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s very unlikely.
In fact, I’d highly recommend you do it more for the fun of it than for the money. You may not become rich, but you’ll get to see your art printed on cool products!
What can you do to increase your chances of making sales?
Here are a few tips to increase your chances of making sales on POD websites:
- Choose your niche: Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, focus on a specific niche. Maybe you love drawing cute animals, or you specialize in typography. Whatever it is, find your niche and create designs that cater to that audience.
- Create unique and high-quality designs: It’s essential to create designs that resonate with your target audience. Consider your niche, style, and themes that align with your brand and the products you want to sell.
- Optimize your listings: Use relevant keywords, tags, and categories. This will help your designs show up in search results when people are looking for specific types of products.
- Promote your work: Don’t just rely on the print-on-demand website to promote your work – get out there and promote it yourself! Share your designs on social media, start a blog, or even attend local art fairs or markets.
- Keep creating: The more designs you have available, the more opportunities you have to make sales. So keep creating and uploading new designs to your print-on-demand shop.
But hold your horses, there are so many POD websites out there! How do you know which one to choose? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Read on!
Which POD website should you choose?
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular POD websites and see which one is right for you.
Redbubble is the OG of POD websites. With a huge range of products and a global audience, Redbubble is a great option for artists looking to reach a wide audience. Plus, their user-friendly platform makes it easy to upload and customize your designs. RedBubble has a strong focus on pop culture and fandoms, making it a popular destination for fans of movies, TV shows, and video games. They have a dedicated section for fan art and licensed designs.
Pros: It’s so easy to upload art, you can choose your own markup for each product, they have cool partnerships with brands so you can legally make fan art if that’s your thing.
Cons: Some searches are flooded with bots and stolen designs, and Redbubble just started charging an account fee for some accounts.
If you’re looking for high-quality products and a curated marketplace, Society6 might be the way to go. They focus on showcasing unique and creative designs. They have more of an indie artist vibe.
Pros: They feature lots of beautiful and unique designs, and on top of all the regular products, they offer furniture.
Cons: Low profit margin due to platform fees, and standing out in search can be difficult.
Printful is a bit different than the other POD websites, as they don’t have a marketplace of their own. You can integrate Printful with your own website or e-commerce platform, and they’ll handle all the production and shipping. This means you can sell your art directly to your audience from your own website, without having to rely on a third-party platform. In fact, that’s what I use in my shop.
3. Design By Humans
Design By Humans specializes in high-quality apparel, accessories, and home decor. Similar to other POD websites, artists can upload their designs and sell them on a variety of products, including t-shirts, hoodies, tank tops, and phone cases.
Redbubble’s sister shop. Teepublic also has a strong focus on pop culture. One thing that sets them apart from other POD websites in my opinion is their focus on community. They have a great team managing their website.
With a wide range of products and a user-friendly platform, Zazzle is a great option for artists looking to reach a wide audience. They also offer a lot of customization options, so you can make your products truly unique.
And these are only a few options.
You also have Displate, Teespring, Cafe Press, Threadless, and a plethora of others.
Which POD website is the best for artists?
Well, it depends on your goals and priorities. If you’re looking for a wide audience and a user-friendly platform, Redbubble might be the way to go. If you’re looking for quality products and a more curated marketplace, Society6 might be the better option. And if you want to sell from your website, you should consider Printful.
However, if you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, you should pick several of them. In fact, I highly recommend choosing 2-3 to start with.
Selling your art on print-on-demand websites can be a fun and rewarding way to earn some extra income. But remember, it takes time and effort to build up a following and make sales. So keep creating, keep promoting, and most importantly, have fun with it! Who knows, maybe one day you’ll become a renowned artist after all.