Selling Your Artwork or Designs Using Print on Demand Services

Selling Your Artwork and Designs Using On Demand Services

Welcome to Episode 26 of the Craft Seller Success podcast.  In this episode I am discussing the very popular use of on demand printing services.  Many artists, designers and other craft sellers are using these services to create new products, enhance their shop’s ranges and bring in more money.

I will discuss what on demand is, and how it works, how to choose the right service for you as well as the pros and cons of using this sort of product production.  Plus, some handy hints to get the most from on demand services.

Listen to the Selling Your Artwork and Designs Using On Demand Services podcast here, download it for later or read the transcript below.

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To see the other episodes available – Craft Seller Success Podcast Main Page


This is the Craft Seller Success podcast from Tin Teddy. Episode number twenty-six – Selling your Designs Using On-Demand Services

Welcome to the Craft Seller Success Podcast – helping craft sellers sell their crafts

Hi, I’m Deborah Richardson from Tin Teddy.

Introduction

Do you draw, paint, take photos or create artwork in some other way? If so, maybe you sell your creations online or at craft shows.

Do you sell prints? How about mugs with your artwork on? Or t-shirts? How about bags or baseball caps?

Selling lots of products like this can be very profitable, but also very expensive to get into.

Conventional printing companies may well have minimum order figures which are rather high. If you have to buy 100 baseball caps up front and store them, this will be a big sum to invest in a product that you aren’t really sure will ever actually sell.

Over the last few years, more and more artists and designers have been looking into and embracing print on demand services to help them sell their artwork on different products.

What is Print On Demand?

As the name suggests, with print on demand, an individual item is created only when someone has already bought it. There is no need to create large amounts of stock up front, and therefore no big risks.

The print on demand company will handle the order for you. You market your products and when someone buys the order is sent to the on-demand company.

They then print your design on to a blank product, package it up and post it directly to your customer.

There are many benefits, and a few downsides to this service, which I will be discussing later in the podcast.

If you sell or want to sell artwork of any type, and even if you don’t, on-demand print services may have something really useful to offer your craft business.

Print on Demand Tshirts

What You Need

 

1 To Choose an On Demand Services

Because new print on demand services keep springing up, and, inevitably, some close down, I am not going to go into a lot of detail on the different ones out there.

I will talk more about how to choose a service in a minute. Your chosen service will need to work with the next requirement on the list, which is…

2 A Platform to Sell From

There are few of the older forms of print on demand service that will provide you with a place to sell your products.

For the majority of services, you will need to provide a shop front yourself.

Many print on demand services can now work with marketplace sites like Etsy or Amazon Handmade making it very easy to get your new shop up and running.

You can also incorporate print on demand items into a shop built using a service such as Shopify, and this is a very popular way to go about it.

And you can sell your print on demand items via a standalone website that you or someone else has built especially for the purpose.

You may have a particular selling solution in mind already. If not, look into the various print on demand companies and see which platforms and selling services each works with. If you find one that offers exactly the products you want to sell, then you can then look into using a selling solution that works with that provider.

For more on ways to sell your craft products online, check out episode 3, Ways to Sell Your Crafts Online.

Selling Crafts Online

3 Your Artwork

This is what you intend to put on the items for sale.

You will need high-resolution images, and they will need to conform to the standards required for the on-demand service and products you intend to use. It will help to have a little knowledge of basic image editing to be sure your artwork is optimized. Most graphics programs or online image editing services will work for this.

Remember that you must have copyright for any images you are going to use on items for sale. If you did not create the image, be sure you have permission from the owner to use it, or that the image is DEFINITELY in the public domain.

If the image includes any trademarked characters, brands or logos, such as characters from a movie or tv show etc, then you will need permission from the trademark owner before you can use that image. Even if you have drawn this version of the character yourself.

Never ever grab images off the internet to use, willy nilly. Whilst many people do this, thinking it is ok, most images that are online belong to someone. Many more include trademarks. Using these images could be illegal. Why risk your business like this when you don’t need to?

Ideally, use your own artwork for your on-demand services. You won’t be competing with other people trying to sell the same thing this way.

4 An Idea of Your Target Market

Just as with any new business, or new product range for an existing business, you need to consider your target market. Who will want your products? How will you reach those people to tell them you exist? How will your new products fit with an existing craft selling business, if you have one?

There are many, many people using on-demand services to create products, what will make YOUR products stand out from the crowd? If you can’t really answer this question you may need to rethink your strategy a bit before starting.

5 A Marketing Plan

You will need to tell the world about your products for sale. Just because you have set up a shop full of great, exciting products, does not mean you will get people to come buy them.

As with any craft selling business, you must think about how you are going to market your items. Luckily marketing is a subject that is mentioned in many episodes of the Craft Seller Success Podcast, and will be in many future ones too!

There are many ways to market your crafts

Choosing an On-Demand Service

When considering an on-demand service, there are many things you will need to look into and think about in light of your particular niche and business model.

What Business Model do they Use?

There are basically two types of business model that on-demand printing service use. Each has its own pros and cons so it is very important that you know up front which is used by the service you are considering.

Customers Pay the Printer Who Then Pays You

This model has been around for the longest and is used by companies such as Zazzle. You create an account and upload the designs you want to be on products for sale. You then create a shop area on the printer’s website and pick which products you want to sell. You can usually pick the price point that the customer will pay, which must be higher than a specific minimum price. This dictates your profit for each sale.

When a customer buys they pay the on-demand service directly. The on-demand service makes and send out the product and then pay you your profit.

You may have to wait until you have a certain amount of these profits to build up before you can actually get it.

Because the products are for sale on the printer’s website, rather than your own, this system has more limitations than some newer ones. In general, the base product prices are rather high, meaning it is hard to add more to make a decent profit margin.

If you want to try selling your artwork on various products, but don’t want to set up or run a shop yourself, this may be a great option for you.

The Zazzle Store

Customers Pays You, And You Pay the Printer

This appears to be the standard for the newer systems such as those used by Printful, Printify, Kite.ly and many more.

Here you create an account and upload your designs, as before. You decide what products you want to sell and create mock-ups of them.

You then display the products on your own website. This may be on a marketplace site such as Etsy, or via a plugin or add-on for a standalone site via Shopify, WordPress and other website services.

When a customer buys an item they pay you the full asking price. The order is forwarded to the print on demand company who print, package and post the product out to your customer.

You will then be billed for their part of the purchase price.

As before you get to choose the selling price, which of course must be higher than the base price that the on-demand company requires for the unprinted product and their services.

Here you have a lot more control over how your products are sold and marketed. You may need to do more marketing to get found though.

You will need to manage your finances so you can pay the on-demand service’s bill when it is due – they may require it right away, or once a month.

The profit margins on individual products tend to be higher on this form of print on demand than the previous one.

What products do they offer?

This is probably going to be one of the biggest selling points for whichever on-demand service you choose. You will want products that will appeal to the target market for your designs.

The available ranges of products seem to be growing all the time.

Many of the on-demand services offer mugs, perhaps in more than one size, t-shirts, mouse mats, posters, baseball caps and phone cases.

Other items they may have could include cushion or pillow covers, hoodies, pants and other clothing, towels, stationery such as notebooks, various types of bags, jewellery and even pet products such as food bowls.

These blank items are often called “white label goods”.

As each on-demand service will have a different catalogue of products you will need to consider carefully which items your artwork will best suit.

A print on demand mug

Product Quality

As with all products, quality can vary with on-demand services. Many use branded products, such as Fruit of the Loom t-shirts etc, which could be a selling point for you. You will need to decide whether your target market will want cheap and cheerful or a high quality but at a higher price point.

Prices – Can you Make a Profit?

It is really important that you clearly understand the profit margins on the various products on offer. For most on-demand services, you will basically be paying a set price for each item, its printing and packaging etc. You then set a selling price which is higher than this, and this dictates your profit margin.

You will also need to take into account what other people are selling similar products for, especially if you sell on a marketplace site like Etsy where visitors can easily compare your products to those of others.

There is clearly a limit to what someone will pay for a mug, no matter what is printed on it.

You may find it much harder to get a high price for a simple text slogan compared to complex artwork.

Being in a niche market may also affect the prices you can charge and so on.

Be sure to do a bit of research first before choosing the on-demand service and products you will be selling.

Craft Prices - Setting prices for craft sellers

Where they ship from and to

Some of the on-demand services have multiple production facilities allowing them to create and ship your products more economically, and quicker to customers from around the world. If you want to trade internationally this can be a huge boon so something to check when deciding on which service to use.

Creation and Shipping Times

I’d recommend checking how long the on-demand company needs to make your customer’s new product, and send it out to them. This is information you will need to pass on to potential customers.

In today’s competitive world of online selling, fast production and shipping times can make or break a sale.

Reviews and reliability

Check out reviews for the on-demand services you are considering. There may be reviews on their own sites, but you can also just search for the name of the service and the word review to find the ones that are on blogs etc. Which so many people using these services you are bound to find a few reviews.

If you are planning on selling through Etsy or a similar marketplace, or via a service like Shopify, be sure to check their forums. There may well be threads talking about the on-demand service you are planning to use. You could also start a new thread asking for other seller’s experiences.

Customer Service

You will want to know that the on-demand service you choose will help you if you need help and offer a good level of customer service.

Look hard at their website, this can tell you a lot. Do they explain everything clearly? Do they have FAQs, a learning centre, videos or other tools to help ensure that you know how the system works? Is it easy to find out how to contact them?

Because setting up shop using an on-demand service does require some knowledge of how the system works (and it is somewhat different for each company, of course), it is good to know that the information is available to help you do so.

If you have any concerns you might want to drop them an email asking a question about some aspect of the service. This way you will get an idea of how quickly they respond, how polite and friendly they are, and so on.

Taxes or VAT That May Affect You

If you are going to be using an on-demand service that is located in a different country to your own, or your customers will be receiving their products from printing facilities that are overseas, you may be subject to some VAT or other tax laws that you are not familiar with.

I will talk more about this in a few minutes.

Do They Work With the Selling Platform You Wish To Use

You will need to use a selling platform or service that is compatible with the on-demand service you are choosing. Some have simple setups that let you link the two together. Some will require the installation of a plugin or add on. Others will need a slightly more complex solution. Make sure you know what is required and have whatever you need to implement it.

Pros of On Demand

There are good reasons why so many craft sellers are looking at using on-demand services to create and provide products for their shops.

Here are some of the pros of using such a service:

Very Low Up-Front Investment

Because the products are made to order you may be able to set up a well-stocked shop for next to nothing using on-demand services. This is, of course, one of the biggest benefits of choosing this route.

You will only pay the on-demand service anything once a product actually sells. If you don’t sell, you don’t pay.

You also do not have the risk of buying lots of stock in advance, only to then not sell it. As it can be very tricky to know which lines will be successful or to gauge how trends can grow and die, it can similarly be very hard to know how much stock you need of any given product at a time.

On-demand services take all that away from you, and free you from the financial risks that were once a huge part of retail.

Savig Money on Business Expenses

No Need to Store Stock

Again, as the products are only made when actually required, there are no stockpiles and you can offer many different products or a wide range of colours and sizes without the usual issues of having to hold reflectively large amounts of stock.

This is particularly handy for products such as t-shirts. If you wanted to offer a shirt in, say, three male and three female sizes, plus a child’s size, and in five different background colours, that is 35 variations. Imagine having to keep a few of each of those in stock at all times in case an order came in! Plus what if these t-shirts are great for hen parties, so people always want to buy ten or more at a time? And that is just one design of t-shirt, you may well want to have 10, 20 or more designs in your shop.

With on-demand services offering lots of product lines, and lots of variations are easy to do, without needing to rent a warehouse.

They Handle the Shipping

Once an order is placed, the on-demand service makes and then ships the item, direct to the customer.

You will not need to buy and store shipping supplies, to package things up, to buy shipping labels or to go to the post office.

I know that many craft sellers find the whole shipping process the least fun part of selling crafts online. With an on-demand service, it is out of your hands.

Post man delivering handmade crafts - very carefully

The Sales System May be Totally Automated

For most on-demand services, all or most of the sales process is automated and you don’t need to do anything.

You list your items in your shop. Customers buy. You watch the money coming in!

With some services, you may need to pay a bill once in a while, and of course, handle some customer services issues if and when they arrive. But most of the time you will be free to work on new products!

On-demand services really do offer the closest to passive income you can probably get as a craft seller.

Let me just add though, you will still be responsible for marketing your products! If you have very exciting designs, and excellent SEO then you may not need to do anything else. But for most craft sellers you will probably need to be doing some active marketing on a regular basis to actually get customers into your shop.

Once they are there, well that is where the magic of on do demand kicks in.

You Can Offer a Wide Range of Products

Because you don’t need to store the stock yourself, and because you don’t need to commit to creating large numbers of, or indeed any, examples of a particular product, you can offer a wide range to your customers.

So, if you have a piece of artwork that you sell on bags and phone cases, it is easy to add more product types with the same artwork on with no worry that they might not sell after all. You won’t be stuck with unsold stock.

You Can Try new Lines with Little Risk

This is ideal if you are not sure of your market for a particular product. Setting it up for sale is not going to take very long, and if it sells, hurrah. But if it doesn’t you haven’t lost much but a little time.

Compared with having the significant financial risk of creating traditional big runs of stock, this is a serious plus of the print on demand model.

You Can Offer Localized Shipping Around the World

If you live in, say the UK, shipping your products to the USA means high shipping charges for your customers. But with many print on demand services having multiple production facilities, you can take advantage of your products being created nearer to your customer. Your customer can pay less shipping, and get their product quicker.

Localized shipping can also help with customs and taxes. A customer based in the EU, for example, will have to pay VAT on many orders coming in from the United States and other non-EU countries. If, however, the products are coming from an EU-based production facility, they do not have to worry about this extra charge. This can be a big boon and a selling point.

Quick to Set Up and Stock Your Shop

Once you have sorted a workflow for preparing and uploading your artwork to the print on demand service, you will find it quick and easy to create new products.

Whilst you will still need to write good, SEO rich, enticing copy to describe your products, you should be able to stock a new shop quick quickly.

With your print on demand service and shop connected a lot of things are automatic

Most On Demand Services Provide Mock Up Creation Systems

Because your products are not going to be created until someone orders them, and they are sent directly to the customer, you may not have an opportunity to take photos of every item for sale.

Most on-demand services have some system for creating mockups which you then use to show your customers what they will be getting.

You can also create your own mockups in graphics software and doing so will give you more variety in your pictures.

As you will need to order some of your products before selling, for quality control, you can use these samples for additional pictures too.

They will also come in handy for taking lifestyle type pictures for social media and other marketing purposes.

Printful's mock up creation page

You Can Easily Try Adding Additional Products to Existing Art Shops

Print on demand services can be a real boon to anyone with an existing shop selling prints or original artwork. You will be able to try a range of different products, perhaps at various price points.

People seem to like prints of your animal watercolours, so would they also like the images on mugs? Perhaps they would make very classy phone cases. Or how about tiny versions as an all-over design for a very unique dress?

You Can Also Create Marketing Products

You can also use on-demand services to print products for marketing. So you could, for example, have some cotton bags printed with your brand logo on them to give to people who attend the workshops you do. Or you could have a mug printed as a prize for a competition on your blog.

One-off products

As there is so little up-front risk or commitment with on-demand services, you can also use them to create one-off products. This may not be possible with conventional printing services who will usually have a minimum order limit.

Cons of On Demand Services

Of course, there are potential problems with using on-demand services too. It is very important that you are aware of them and have considered them before signing up to use such a service.

So let’s look at some of the issues that might affect you and your craft business:

Lower Profit Margins

Having your products made by a print on demand service is going to be more expensive per unit than having them printed in bulk, in the traditional way.

As well as the convenience of printing individual items at a time, you are also going to be paying for the fact that the print on demand service is handling the order, packaging and shipping it to your customer.

Don’t forget that your profit margins will also need to cover the costs of your website or marketplace site, marketing, taxes and so on.

If you would like more information on setting prices and working out profit margins, check out episode 11 “Craft Prices – Setting a Product Price for Craft Sellers”.

You are also getting the convenience of not needing to use your precious time for making products, packaging or posting them.

If you find you are selling very large numbers of a particular product, you may want to consider having a batch of them printed by another company, and shipping them your self, as this could give you a considerably bigger profit margin for that product.

You May Have Problems with Returns

Be sure you know what the on-demand service’s policy is for returns. If the product arrives broken at your customer’s home, what should the customer do? Return it to you, or to the on-demand service? Be sure you have explained the process to your customers up front.

You should also know what their policy is for missing parcels and if the product is faulty. Usually, they will accept responsibility and sort these sorts of problems out with the customer themselves.

The biggest problems can be with “change of mind” returns, or what is called “buyer’s remorse”.

If you are in the EU or selling to the EU, then you must comply with EU law which means that customers must be allowed to return an item for any reason.

Custom items are an exception to this, but you are probably not selling custom items using an on-demand system. If your customer is buying directly from a listing or choosing from a drop-down menu, that is not custom. Therefore the rules about allowing returns holds.

Here is where it can get a bit confusing.

When you pay your on-demand service for their printing and shipping the products, you are buying custom items. They made the items to your specific designs. Therefore, they do not have to allow you (or your customer) to return these items.

If you are in a country where it is legal to do so, you may simply have a policy in your shop that you do not allow returns unless there is an actual problem with the product.

EU sellers will need to accept that they may get some returns, and lose money on those sales. However, they may be able to resell the returned items directly in some way. Or keep them to give as gifts, competition prices or free gifts.

Bear in mind that most sellers will get very few such returns, as long as they have described the products accurately.

The biggest issue will probably be selling clothing, such as t-shirts. Obviously, people may buy the wrong size, even if you provide accurate measurements and fitting charts. It is pretty inevitable that you will get people who buy t-shirts that do not fit.

Saying no returns on these items may put people off buying in the first place. If your competitors offer returns, you may find you lose sales to them.

So, you will need to think very hard about this and how you are going to handle it so you are following the law, keeping your customers happy, not losing money and keeping up with your competitors and their returns policies.

We all like bargains!

Buying From Overseas May Have Tax Implications

Although your customers are buying from you, you are buying from the on-demand service too. You are paying them for the materials, printing and shipping costs. You may pay for this when a customer purchases, or via a consolidated bill once a month or so.

If the on-demand service has a printing facility in a different country to yourself, you may find you have to pay some sort of VAT or other tax on these purchases.

You need to be aware of this and adjust your prices to take it into account.

Some USA printing facilities are in states that require sellers to collect state taxes. For some on-demand services this tax collection will be your responsibility if a resident of the state buys from your shop. Again this is something that you will need to learn about before you start.

All the established on-demand services give full details of these tax implications on their websites and if you are unsure you can always ask them about it. You will not be the only person it affects so the information should be easily provided.

Lots of Other People Offering Similar Products to Yourself

Because print on demand based shops are so quick, easy and low cost to set up, there are of course many, many people doing it. Once the option to add print on demand services to an Etsy shop were launched, for example, thousands of t-shirt, mug and phone case shops were soon opened.

If you are planning a t-shirt shop, what is going to be special about it? How will you stand out from the vast crowd?

The more original and exciting your designs, the better.

It is very quick and easy to slap some text saying a pithy saying onto a mug. But if there are already dozens of shops selling the same saying on mugs, what is going to convince someone that they should buy YOURS?

As with any new business, check out the competition before committing yourself and be sure you know how you are going to stand out and compete.

Quality Control

It is very important that you have a few samples made and sent to your self before offering them for sale to your customers. Whilst reviews and other seller’s experiences will give you some idea of the quality of the products on offer, it is still worth knowing personally what your customer will actually receive.

For most craft sellers it will be cost-prohibitive to get a sample of every single product, but I would strongly recommend you get at least one of each type of product you intend to offer. So one t-shirt, one bag, one phone case and so on.

Check that the printing is a high standard. Check the that white label item itself is well made. You will also be able to see how well the parcel was packed and what your branding looks like on it (if that is offered by the on-demand service you are using).

I know a few craft sellers who get regular samples from their on-demand supplier. They use them for photography and as prizes for Instagram and Facebook competitions. Having regular samples mean they can be confident that their customers are going to be delighted with their new purchases.

Getting Samples for Photos etc

As I have just said, you will need samples for quality control, but they can also be used for photos. Having real photos of actual finished products is a great selling point. I have seen so many online shops selling t-shirts, for example, where all the pictures are clearly mockups. But, having had a bad experience in the past, I want to be sure that the actual printing is sharp and looks good. If the shop does not have any real photos, I won’t buy from them.

So get a sample t-shirt, or two, photograph the printing, especially the edge of the printing, and use this close up as one of your product photos – with text over it saying “example of print quality” if the image is not the same as on the item being sold in this listing.

You can also take pictures of the products being used to enhance your shop, market your products on your blog or post on social media.

Ask a friend to pose wearing your bag over their shoulder. Take a few snaps of their putting everyday items in and out of it. Hang it on the back of an attractive chair and take another snap and so on.

These are called lifestyle shots: photos that show the product being used and in attractive surroundings.

The sample products can earn their cost still further of course.

You could sell them directly, perhaps in a “bargain” section of your shop, or pop them on your next craft stall. You could give them away as prizes for competitions on your blog or social media. You could give one to a particularly good customer as a thanks for all their purchases, perhaps on their birthday or at Christmas time. You could send one as an example of your products to an influencer or blogger who you would like to work with. You can keep them to give as presents at Christmas or for birthdays etc. Or, of course, you may want to keep and use some yourself.

Excuse me whilst I just have a sip from my tea – which just happens to be in a mug that features one of my Hula Hula Girl clip art images.

Tin Teddy Gifts Hula Girl Mug

Using Mock-Ups can Be Off-putting

Most craft sellers who are using on-demand services will rely on mockup images for most of their product photos.

Whilst modern mockups are usually very realistic, and a good representation of the actual product, having a shop full of nearly identical images can look very fake. Plus your visitors may have seen the same mockups used in many other shops, making your products look less special and unique.

Nowadays, some of the print on demand services are offering multiple mockups so you can mix it up a bit more. They may also have photos of blank products that you can use to create your own mockups.

Stock photo and graphic supply sites may have images of blank products that match the ones you will be selling.

You could also get blank products from the on-demand service and create your own mockups for future designs. If you are going to be concentrating on one type of product, for example, you will only be selling mugs, then this could well be worth the investment if you have the necessary skills to make good mockups your self.

Please note that I said GOOD mockups there. Bad mockups could seriously damage your business. If you are not confident that you can make convincing mockups, don’t.

Some print on demand companies now offer a service where they will take good photos of your products as and when they make them, and send the shots to you. This may be well worth considering if available.

It can be Hard to Sell On Demand in the Same Shop as Other Items

It is usually much easier to have an online shop that is dedicated to on-demand products from one supplier rather than trying to sell some on demand items, and some items that you will produce and ship yourself.

But it is not impossible, of course. Just something that you may need to think about.

Will your customers understand that part of their order will come from one place, and part from another, at different times?

Will the customer be able to check out for both types of item at the same time, or does it need to be handled separately?

You may find that it is impossible to connect to two different on-demand systems at the same time. If you are going to use more than one, you will need to explain to your customers that some items need to be returned to one source, some to another, and so on.

Shipping can be complex for multiple items

Even if you are using just one on-demand service throughout your online craft shop, you may find that there can be complexities with shipping multiple items overseas.

The on-demand service may, for example, offer localized shipping for mugs, but not for t-shirts. So if your customer buys one of each, their mug will be shipped from their own country, but they will need to wait longer whilst the t-shirt comes from overseas.

If this is the case, consider whether you want to offer products that are not easily available to all the customers you sell to, or how you will explain the situation to your customers if they buy products that come from different locations.

Limited customization

You will, of course, be limited to the customization options offered by the on-demand service for each particular product type.

Sometimes this may be a bit limiting. For example, I was a bit annoyed that when I had mugs printed with my artwork on them, I was not able to add the Tin Teddy brand name to the underside of the mug, something that one would usually do when selling mugs.

You will have to work with the options available. So if your on-demand service will print your design on to a dress, and the pattern will have to run up and down the sleeves, the same as the main dress, then that is what you have to go with. The fact you think that the pattern would look much better running horizontally on the sleeves will not come into it.

Limited branding Opportunities

Just as I was unable to brand the underside of my mugs, you may well not be able to add your brand name to t-shirt labels and other products.

Some on-demand services do, however, offer some branding options.

You may be able to have a customized sticker added to products, or a hang tag of your own design – usually for a fee. Be sure to work out how adding this would affect your prices and profit margins though.

Many on-demand services do allow you to create a customised, branded receipt of packing label, to go in with the products, and often a customised shipping label for the outside of the parcel too.

You may also be able to include a flyer or other marketing material, again for an extra cost. As this is something that would be very economical and easy to do when shipping yourself, not being able to do so or having to pay for the privilege, might be a problem for your business model.

Knitting yarn in lovely colours

Some Hints for Success

Here are a few hints and tips for running a successful print on demand shop.

Always order samples

Here are four good reasons why I say this:

  1. You need to know that the products you will be saying are well made and of a level of quality that you feel is right for their price points
  2. You will need a few products on hand for taking pictures for marketing purposes
  3. You will be able to see the buying experience that your customers will have
  4. You can use the products for promotions, competition prizes, gifts and more afterwards

Sell in a Niche

You may well find it much easier to get sales if you are offering products for a particular niche rather than trying to compete with people selling very similar items.

More mugs and t-shirts with jokes about needing coffee in the morning, why you are a unicorn or offering motivational advice may be a struggle to sell when there are so many shops already offering these products.

But open a shop selling products that feature your own (quality) photos of your beagle dogs, and only beagle-related stuff, market it to beagle fans, and establish yourself as the one stop shop for all things beagle.. and you could be on to a winner.

Marketing is Going to be a Must

There are really only a few ways for your items to get found by the world at large.

1 – SEO, Search Engine Optimization. A subject I have mentioned in probably nearly every podcast episode so far and will do again and again. Learn how to optimize your shop and listings so that search engines can find you and you will increase your chances of being found and selling.

2 – Direct marketing – you telling people your products exist. This might be paid adverts, handing out business cards, blogging about your products, posting stuff on social media and so on. Most craft sellers need to do some of this to get found.

3 – Indirect Marketing – a popular modern marketing method. This involves you establishing yourself as an expert in your niche, or getting your brand presence known so that people trust you and buy from you. Most craft sellers do some indirect marketing of some sort.

I will talk much more about marketing in future podcasts.

Your Own Pictures May Work Better than Just Using Mock-Ups

As I mentioned earlier, many people can have issues with seeing mock-ups in a shop. Add your own photos, or even get a professional to take some for you if you want, and you may find you are much better at competing.

Work on Establishing Trust

Because your visitors may have seen other on-demand based shops, and maybe had a bad experience with them, it can be a little harder to reassure them than for some other business models.

  • Be sure you are following the laws of your country and or state
  • Do not sell products that infringe anyone else’s copyright or trademarks
  • Be transparent about how your business operates so that your visitors know exactly what to expect
  • You will need to be patient and remember that it can take a while to build up any business, keep working on marketing and getting your brand out there.

Great Reviews Really Rock!

Be Sure to Tell Your Customers where Their Products are Coming From

Your customers may assume that you are providing the products yourself. If your supplier is in another country to yourself, or your customers, they may be surprised. Warn them if there is a possibility of import fees, and remind them that these are their responsibility, not yours.

Handy hint – when telling your potential customers that your products are printed by someone else, you can use words like “professionally printed” to turn this into a strong selling point.

Be Sure To Spell Out How Returns Will Be Handled

If you want customers to return damaged or faulty products to the on-demand service, rather than to you, be sure you explain this clearly. Will they need to send a “change of mind” return to you? If sending from overseas, will they need to mark the package as a returned product so you don’t get hit with VAT or other import taxes?

Think carefully about these sorts of potential confusions and ensure they are covered in your terms of service and FAQs.

If you are planning on creating a shop selling on-demand products, adding such products to an existing business, or if you already are using on-demand services to create your craft products, I wish the best of luck and great sales.

I would love to hear about your experiences of using on-demand services in your craft shop.

Please leave your comments on the show notes on the Tin Teddy blog.

If there is a subject you would like me to cover in the podcast, please do let me know.

As usual, there is a full transcript of this episode on the Tin Teddy Blog.


The next episode of the Craft Seller Success podcast, episode 27 is called Dealing for Emergencies for Craft Sellers. It will be out on the 16th of April 2019.

Thanks for listening. Please subscribe to the Craft Seller Success podcast.

Until next time, bye

The Craft Seller Success Podcast from Tin Teddy.

Featuring Deborah Richardson
Original music by Matthew French


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Selling Your Artwork and Designs Using On Demand Services – Craft Seller Success Podcast Ep. 026
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