Print on Demand for Artists
What is Print on Demand?
Print on demand or POD refers to a service that manages the printing and shipment of your original designs onto blank products after they have been purchased by a buyer. For example; I create original drawings and paintings and use a Print on Demand service called Printful, that prints my work onto a (pre-designed product by me) once someone has purchased the bag from my website and ship it directly to their address of choice. In this way, I as the artist to not need to keep any inventory of my products and have no headache when it comes to packing or shipping to foreign countries.
In simple terms - A Print on Demand service acts as a middle man between creators who want to print their work onto products like bags, cushions and other accessories and the buyers who want to buy them!
Sounds great right? What's the catch?
The quick answer is there isn't one but these are some things to keep in mind.
POD sites open a lot of opportunities for artists and designers with an additional way to earn extra income from their creative talents. However, if you dream of minting money from selling your art onto products, you have to remember that they are still products, and they need marketing the same way as your artwork or any other business does.
You won't keep any inventory, but in return for that advantage you will also earn less profit from sales and make little money on each product sold (of course that will depend on the offset price you set for your products) but I am guessing that if someone buys a bag or t-shirt from you, they probably aren't going to pay upwards of 100 or 200 dollars for it when they can get an awesome design elsewhere for a fraction of the price.
Like any other apparel or accessory brand you will need to price competitively whilst at the same time valuing your unique designs and investing accordingly into marketing your new beautiful merchandise.
The other thing to be realistic about is that the market is tremendously saturated, especially on the bigger sites like Society 6, Red Bubble or Fine Art America. Unfortunately it is not the case that you can upload great designs (even if they are really incredible) and expect to see the cash rolling in. Some of these sites have over 100k artists which makes it tricky for new buyers to land upon your work! Contrary to that of course, it does also mean that these sites have the benefit of drawing many buyers in front of your work because you are listed on to their platform.
Whats the Secret to Getting Noticed on a POD Site?
If your work is on a highly saturated site...how do you get noticed? A valid solution to this is to understand what buyers are searching for and if you can, create artwork that lines up with those needs! For example...I have a friend who will remain anonymous who is not actually an artist, but a whizz at SEO and understanding market needs. He took the time to find out what people searched for the most on Fine Art America, created a digital image that responded to that, and quickly made some sales in that very same week! He alone, without any prior creative experience actually earns roughly 300$ on the site alone! And myself as an artist so far did not after several months! So do your homework and know what people want, what they search for the most and try to make art in line with that. Another great but not alway practical solution is to create A LOT of great work that is uniquely YOURS and post very regularly and consistently! This for me is actually my preferred tactic because you are being authentic to yourself. But ideally finding a balance between the two is perfect!
Covid-19 & Turning to POD
As the world moves more and more digital due to Covid-19, the job market is changing rapidly which means various things.
1. Fewer jobs are available.
2. Certain jobs have temporarily or even permanently disappeared.
3. The jobs we were accustomed to have been transferred to the online space.
4. We must get creative about diversifying our income streams (particularly in the online realm if we can).
5. Perhaps most importantly we must be able to adapt our skill set to be able to deliver our work in new ways, like teaching online instead of in a classroom, which means investing in ourself to re-train and technological equipment.
This last point is probably the scariest and most poignant point because it means delving in to the unknown and getting uncomfortable often with new technologies or working methods that we don't understand fully. Like anything it really takes time and can often feel overwhelming.
POD sites offer brilliant opportunities to artists and designers or even the average Joe looking to earn a few extra bob. It is by no means a get rich quick solution and requires a lot of dedication and time to get your products selling.
Covid-19 has made selling art even more challenging than usualIf you are like me, you may sell your work on multiple platforms already and may even have started using POD sites to print your artwork onto products to create another source of income from your art. That in itself is totally worth the effort!
To help you get started here is a list of popular POD Sites.
- Red Bubble
- Fine Art America
- Society 6
- HINSA (Europe)
- Tee public
- Sun Frog
- Design by Humans
I hope you give these a try and if this article was helpful or if you would like to ask any further questions about getting started with selling your art on POD platform get in touch! I'd love to hear from you.