Print on Demand (POD) sites are my new favorite thing! I just discovered them a couple months ago and got my first payment last week. I have not invested the time necessary to really make some decent money from them, but I’ll take having $30 randomly deposited into my paypal account any time. POD sites are a great option for making money from home. It’s a very similar feel to making money from stock photography, which I have also greatly enjoyed. Once setup, you can enjoy passive income, work when you have time, not have to deal directly with customers, takes no money upfront, and has good earning potential (probably more than stock photos).
What is Print on Demand?
The term Print on Demand (POD) basically means the product is not printed until someone purchases it (or it is demanded). It has been used for awhile with books to limit risk and inventory. You could order a book, the publisher would print it, and then it would be sent to you. This same concept has evolved into art and photography which is what I’m going to focus on here. It is no longer necessary to be a starving artist setting up a tent on a street corner hoping someone stops to buy your masterpiece. You can now upload your art to all these sites and sell them as fine art canvas prints, posters, 5x7s, mugs, tshirts, pens, and more! It can be seen by thousands of people all over the world and it doesn’t cost you a dime. That’s what I’m talking about!
The process is simple. You upload your art and most sites let you set your price. Someone buys your art, you get a notification that it sold, you and the POD website both get a cut of the profit, then the POD site handles printing the order, shipping, and all customer service. All you have to do is upload your artwork and wait for the sales. There’s definitely tips to getting more sales and promoting your art, but overall it’s a simple as I just described.
I am a photographer, I have a tiny bit of graphic design skill, and absolutely no artist ability with a pencil or brush. The sites listed below will accept all types of artwork so whatever your skill is, give this a try. If you don’t think you’re an “artist”, then I’ll laugh and say neither was I two years ago. Teach yourself, read tutorials, put your work out there, and see if it sells. It’s a fun and low risk ride.
Top POD Sites
1. Red Bubble
I’m ranking Red Bubble as my #1 favorite POD site because I’ve earned the most money with them. Here’s some of their highlights:
- Sell your art on lots of items – shirts, stickers, mugs, pillows, iphone cases, prints, etc.
- Easy to use interface
- Fast upload process
- Simple process to edit your art and get it properly sized for all the different items
- Free to join
- Set your own margins/pricing
Zazzle has been around since 2003 and has over 300 million unique items for sale on their site.
- Lots of products to sell your art on – hats, mousepads, calendars, ping-pong equipment, puzzles, and lots more!
- Pick your own royalty amount from 5% – 99%
- Lots of traffic
- Great tutorials and helpful tips to improve your products
- Create your own store through them
Fine Art America focuses more on selling premium art, attracting high quality artists, and keeping their company run by a small staff. Here’s a good article about their business model here.
- Set your own prices
- Ability to sell your products in retail locations
- License your artwork for television or sell the rights
- Sell framed prints, canvas, shower curtain, greeting cards, and a few other options
- Standard account is free, premium account $30/year
- Sell originals
- Lots of products to print on – towels, print, bags, leggings, shirts, etc.
- Set your own profit amount on prints, but not on other items (everyone makes $2.40 for a tank top sale)
- Really nice mock-up of the items
- It’s difficult to put your image on multiple items because they have different size requirements for each picture so it’s much more tedious than other sites
- Good quality on their products, I ordered a shirt from them
- Free to sell through them
5. Cafe Press
- Automatically scale and position your art to fit the products so you don’t have to spend the time to do it manually.
- Over 250 products to put your designs on
- No upfront cost to start a shop, but they deduct 10% (up to $10) of your royalties when they pay you
- You choose your markup amount, but they charge an additional fee if you mark it up more than $15.
- Bonus levels so the more you sell the more you make
- Create official products for movie and tv shows fan pages
- The quality of their work was good. I tested a mousepad and pencil pouch and was happy with both.
- Offer a lot of different products to print your art on – flip flops, playing cards, pillows, bandanas, etc.
- Minimum payout $20
- Set up your own shop
- Setup your own store
- Pick your profit margins
- Offer a 3 tiered system with your shop being free and then as your profits grow you will pay a certain amount per moth for a higher tiered store.
- Lots of items to upload your art to – camera case, magic cube, earrings, etc.
8. Deviant Art
- Not as many products to put your art on, but it’s good quality and popular with artists.
- Popular site to showcase your art.
- Lots of interaction and feedback from other artists in the community
- Set your own commissions
- Free to upload your art
- Primarily a tshirt company, but they also sell mugs, phone cases, and a few other accessories
- Create your own free shop for your blog or website
- Free to sell and open a shop
- Set your own commissions
- Mostly clothing focused, but have a few other items like mugs and pillows
- Browse by topic and create a niche for yourself
If you have an type of artistic ability and a bit of time to upload your images, definitely give these POD sites a try. They’re an awesome way to get your art seen by thousands, build a brand for yourself, see what’s popular, work from home, and earn money all without any upfront startup costs.
If you have experience with POD sites, I’d love to hear from you. Contact me or comment below and share what you’ve learned in your POD journey!