Print on Demand

As an artist, print on demand products can be the perfect way to monetize your creativity.

Print on demand is a better alternative to going the traditional route of buying and holding your own inventory. From t-shirts to posters, backpacks to books, you can put your work on everyday products and sell them online.

Print-on-demand services offer an less risky way to bypass the time and financial investment associated with managing inventory. Freeing you from creating to selling custom products at a fraction of the cost.

What is “print on demand” and how does it work?

Print on demand is a process where you work with a printer to customize products (like tote bags and phone cases) with your own designs. Selling them on a per-order basis under your artist brand.

Which means you only pay for the product after you sold it. No need to buy in bulk or hold any inventory yourself.

Also, with print-on-demand everything after the sale, from printing to shipping, is handled by your supplier. Once you’ve set everything up, it takes only a few clicks to fulfill an order once you’ve made a sale.

You can use print-on-demand services to:

  • Test which images of your work is more popular without the risks that come with buying inventory.
  • Monetize an audience you’ve built. Printing on demand is a great option if you’re an artist who wants to spend more time making art than fulfilling orders.
  • Easily print one-off items. T-shirts, books, prints, bags, phone cases, clocks, laptop skins, and more. You can then sell these in person at an event.

What you need to know about print on demand

Print on demand sites can be used to offer a variety of products in your art business. Where all the products you well with your images on them are shipped and handled by a third party. It’s one of the easiest ways to start offering products in your art business.

However, before you start, you should be aware of the benefits and negatives.

Pros

  • Fast product creation: Once you have your art finished, you can create a product and offer it for sale in minutes.
  • Shipping is taken care of: Once the order is placed, shipping and fulfilment is completely handled by your supplier. After the sale, you’re only responsible for customer service.
  • Low risk: Since you’re not physically holding any inventory, it’s easier to add or remove products, test ideas, or pivot your approach.

Cons

  • Less profit: Your costs per item will be higher than if you buy in bulk. On-demand products offer less profits. Depending  on how you price them and acquire customers.
  • Limited customization: If you’re offering prints, you won’t be able to hand sign and number the prints. I recommend making fine art prints at home.

Print-on-demand services for making art products

While many print-on-demand websites might seem similar, you’ll have to carefully consider the ones you choose. Which depends on the products you want to make. Where you’ll be shipping them. Along with the prices you want sell them for.

For example, an inexpensive cost for one product might seem obvious, until you find out it would take 3 weeks to reach buyers if they select the cheapest shipping option.

Take your time before selecting right platform for you. To help you out, I put together a quick overview of some of the most popular print on demand services for artists. All of which are are free to set up (you only pay when you or your customer order a product).

1. Printful

Printful is a one of the better choices for artists. It offers a wide selection of products, has simple mockup generators, and other options for adding your own branding. For example, you can have a sticker with your artist signature or logo on the outside of the box. Printful doesn’t put their branding on anything. When your customer receives your package, it’s as if you sent it to them directly. You can also have custom inserts in the box as well.

Besides apparel, Printful also offers mugs, pillows, framed posters, prints, beach towels, aprons, and more.

2. Society6

Society6 is a offers a multitude of products you can print your art on. It is a popular option amongst digital artists.

Society6. A great solution for artists who want to sell their work printed on objects.

3. Saatchi Art

Saatchi Art is another print-on-demand service focused on making fine art prints with frames. Perfect for fine artists who want to sell high-quality prints (with framing options), originals works, and even commissions.

What’s notable about Saatchi Art is that their site had A LOT of monthly organic traffic. Increasing the possibilities of boosting awareness of your work.

Just know, SaatchiArt takes about 35% of each sale.

4. Blurb

Blurb is a great way to offer art books. Whether you want to put together an epic collection of hundreds of your sketches, books of your photography, or a small catalog of your work. Prices depend on paper quality, and cover quality, and size of the book you decide on.

Tips for selling your art with print on demand services

Using a print-on-demand service might be easier than managing your own inventory, but there are some things you should be aware of.

1. Always order samples

Quality assurance is essential when you’re using print-on-demand services to sell online. It’s always possible that something gets lost in translation from the design you see on your screen to your printed product. But you can just reach out to your vendor’s customer support for advice on how to fix any issues.

You want to ensure your physical product looks and feels as you intended, and the best way to do that is to be your own customer so you can experience first-hand what it’s like to receive your products. Some services, like Printful, even offer a sample discount of up to 20% off or free shipping, so be sure to take advantage of that if it’s available.

Beyond ensuring product quality, samples are also good to have on hand for taking your own product photos for your website and social media profiles.

2. Be strategic about shipping

Even when you’re not shipping products yourself, shipping still offers some complexity in the form of shipping times and costs, and setting the right expectations with customers.

You’ll want to be sure that you’re accounting for printing times when it comes to shipping. Whatever the shipping times are, be sure to add anywhere from 2 to 4 days for production, or more depending on the product.

Always be upfront about shipping times or you’ll wind up with a support inbox full of shipping questions. Outline what to expect on your individual product pages or consider creating a separate Shipping page to explain shipping to customers.

If you can, try to include shipping costs into your main price. Studies show that shipping costs can deter customers from buying. On top of that, free shipping boosts your art sales:

  • Free shipping is a great sales booster. Even if you can only offer it in specific regions – it lowers the friction when a customer wants to buy.
  • Conditional free shipping (e.g. “Get free shipping when you spend $30 or more”) also gives customers an incentive to add more to their cart.
  • You can use free shipping to justify longer wait times. Many consumers will wait a bit longer for an order if they know it will save them money on shipping.

3. Create mockups that show off your products

While models can help you snap compelling photos of your products, mockups are also an effective alternative and will be a prominent part of your product pages.

Many print-on-demand services can help you create your own mockups, showing your products on a person or as a flat lay.

These mockups are what will sell your products to customers, so it can literally pay to go the extra mile. PlaceIt is an easy-to-use mockup generator that lets you create photo and video mockups for $8 each. Or, if you know the basics of Photoshop or other photo editing tools, you can search Mockup World or Behance for templates.

4. Focus on a niche to make marketing easier

It is easier to sell art online when you know who your audience is for your art. Targeting everyone, isn’t a viable marketing strategy. That’s why honing in on a niche audience is so important.

Having a clearly defined audience will help you create products that sell.

If you can build an audience of your own through marketing, you can create a permanent asset for your business even if your products change.

There are countless possibilities for , but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Run Google Adwords targeting the interests of your niche audience. You can also use Google AdWords to test out your art products inexpensively to see which ones resonate the best.
  • Collect emails from visitors  to your art website so you can continue to market to them for free.

Growing an audience of your ideal art collectors is essential for building a long-term art business.

Create, test, sell, and grow

Print-on-demand services offer an accessible source of inventory for artists who just wants to test an idea before they invest in it.

If your art business starts to generate a meaningful number of sales, you can always graduate from using a print on demand site to holding your own inventory, making your own fine art prints, or continue to use these services while finding new ways to grow your audience. It’s totally up to you.

Sell your art online

No matter how weird or “niche” you think your art is, you can make art sales online. Find inspiration and get started with this 5 day email training.

Powered by ConvertKit