If you’re looking to find a home for your deep-colored doodles outside of your sketchbook, print on demand services can turn your artwork into exciting products. With on demand printing, artists get to focus on creating their art rather than more business-related tasks, which are handled by the printing company. 

Instead of having to make a product, find a manufacturer, receive your inventory and ship it out to your customer, with these websites you just have to make art and upload it to your shop. 

Getting to Know Print on Demand

Separating the creative process from the manufacturing, inventory and shipping process is one of the best parts of print on demand websites. But what exactly is print on demand? These problem-solving machines let you sell your artwork on a wide range of products. All you have to do is create your account, upload your artwork and choose which products you want to sell with your design on it.

When a customer buys something from you, the product is produced and shipped by the company and you’ll receive a portion of the sale. Print on demand companies handle all of the shipping, logistics, manufacturing, and customer service.

Products that Pop

By reading through these common print on demand products, it’ll prime your brain for even more fun ideas. Consider keeping a notebook out as you read through this guide so you can sketch out or write down any fresh new ideas you come up with. 

Shirts

Bright pinks and faded blue-greens make up this watercolor flower creation to the left. On the right, the dazzling artwork has been placed onto a white t-shirt.
Still from Skillshare Class Design Top-Selling Product Mockups with Your Art by Cat Coquillette
The opportunities for funny, trendy, and downright beautiful t-shirts are endless with print on demand.

Everyone from your local ice cream shop owner to your Star Wars-loving uncle has probably been in the market for a t-shirt at some point. For the shop owner, it could be to market their brand through an attention-grabbing design. For your uncle, it might be to show off his own personal brand: being a Star Wars fan. Either way, making print on demand shirts with your designs opens up your work to many different walks of life.  

Books and Journals

You might not judge a book by its cover, but your consumers sure will. Consumers love to buy products that represent or excite them. A kindergarten teacher might feel drawn towards a journal dotted with rainbows and clouds, while an angsty teenager might prefer some rock n’ roll motifs. For authors, print on demand books offer a low-cost way to self-publish a book.

Jewelry

A gorgeous monogram necklace might not print on demand out of your everyday printer, but more unique items like jewelry are also available through these professional services. With names, astrological signs, or short quotes printed on them, they attract a crowd who love to accessorize. 

Phone Cases

Eight water-colored phone cases pop off the page with their nature-based motifs.
Still from Skillshare Class Building a Career in Illustration: Explore Print-On-Demand by Cat Coquillette
Match your personal aesthetic to your phone.

Another popular item for those soft watercolors or charcoal sketches of yours is a phone case. These days it’s hard to find someone without a phone, and equally so to find someone who doesn’t want to protect their big investment. You can personalize a phone case with your art, and offer it for purchase through print on demand. 

Other items that print on demand services offer include: 

Where to Start Your Print on Demand Journey

Now that your mind is swirling with new ideas, it’s time to think about how to start a print on demand business. Since there are a lot of print on demand services available, this guide will help you get to know some of the most popular. As always, doing your own research and going with what speaks most to you is always the best choice. 

Redbubble

This Australian-born print on demand service is home to over 700,000 creatives, 70 different product types, and 4.5 million monthly visitors. Redbubble is great for newer artists because it does some of the marketing for you. It offers site-wide sales, in-depth analytics, and a wide variety of products.   

Society6

Similar to Redbubble, Society6 is the other major player when it comes to print on demand services. They offer a lot of similar benefits including access to the 3.5 million people that visit Society6 each month. The main difference between the two is their pricing model. With Society6, you receive 10% of all sales and with Redbubble you control your margin. 

Threadless

If you’re looking for a little more independence, Threadless is another top-notch choice for e-commerce artists looking to sell with print on demand. Here you get complete control over the price of your product and get access to customer information after purchases. This is great for building your email list and staying in touch with customers for remarketing purposes. 

Printful

There are also a few print on demand services that don’t function as a marketplace. With Printful, you create a personalized shop for your designs. Consumers won’t come across your art by searching through pages of product, but will have to come across your exact shop link through another marketing pathway like social media. 

If you’re looking to explore further, check out:

  • Printify
  • Amazon Merch
  • Sellfy
  • Zazzle
  • Displate

Steps to Starting Your Business

You’ve got your creative wheels turning, and now it’s time to move onto becoming a true business owner. 

Most print on demand websites focus on things like sublimation t-shirt printing and phone case production, so a lot of these steps will only be applicable in those circumstances. If you’re looking to print a completely unique product through a third-party, your process might look a little different. 

Choosing the Right Print on Demand Service for You

Add thirty minutes onto your calendar sometime this week just to spend time looking through the list of print on demand websites provided. Take a look at their pricing, payment schedule, fees, sizing, and product offerings. 

Once you’ve selected your website, go all in on making your storefront reflect you and your brand. You can do this through funny photos, eye-catching doodles, or a punny description. 

Producing or Picking Your Artwork

When deciding what artwork you want to make, consider what already works well for you or is trending through Google Analytics or Pinterest Trends. Then, over the next week, try to come up with ten new ideas per day. Maybe only 5% percent will be useful, but that will leave you with three solid options that you can really put your all into. 

Prepping Your Work

For hand-drawn items, you might need to scan and edit your art before uploading it to your shop. For digital items, there could potentially be no prep involved if your file is high quality and the right size for upload. In certain shops like Redbubble, you only need to upload your artwork once and it will automatically size it to a variety of products. 

With others, you need to crop or rework certain pieces so that you have files that work for a laptop cover as well as a pair of workout leggings. Here you can also create multiple versions of your artwork by changing the color or saturation to see which performs best. If you want to give your customers an idea of how your product will look in their home or closet, try designing product mockups with your art. 

Time to Upload!

Once you’ve prepped and polished all of your artwork, it’ll be time to upload. Each site has different preferences when it comes to size and file type. Take a few minutes and try to upload any doodle or photograph onto a few different products on your site. Here you’ll be able to preview how the art reacts to the different types of products. 

Deciding on the Best Products For Your Shop

You might already have a good idea of which products will work best with your art. Preview your products by type and color to see which will put your specific artwork in the best light. 

Price Your Product

For sites that allow you to choose your price, you’ll want to consider pricing so that you have a good enough margin, but it won’t be too expensive. Try doing a price audit on the website of your choice and see what other similar products are selling for. 

Getting Found Through Keywords

A web browser screen shows the inside of a Society6 shop that includes watercolor cats and a variety of tags.
Still from Skillshare Class Building a Career in Illustration: Explore Print-On-Demand by Cat Coquillette
The right tags are key.

Tags are important for websites that operate through a search engine. They help bring a website’s millions of visitors to your work if they’re used correctly. To choose these keywords, think of all of the possible terms someone might search for that could lead them to your work.

Connect Your Print on Demand Site With Other Shops

One drawback that independent artists encounter when dealing with PODs is that they completely lose touch with the customer. A way to add a little more personalization to your print on demand services is to integrate it with other shops, like Etsy. 

By doing this you’ll still get your product printed and shipped by the print on demand service, but you’ll be able to cultivate a more unique and in-touch customer experience. For the print on demand services that integrate with Etsy, you can set up and manage the integration within your settings. 

Finding Your Customers

You might’ve already heard the phrase, “If you build it, they will come.” But this isn’t totally true for print on demand products. It can take a lot of hard work to get people to your artwork. One way to get more customers is to share your work through social media or an email newsletter. 

If you’re more into life offline, try getting a table at a craft fair or farmer’s market. Here, potential customers will be able to see your passion for your products in person. 

Your Print on Demand Shop: Coming Soon!

The best way to make art is to make a lot of terrible art. Don’t be shy about putting your early work up on your website or posting a sketch to your social media. These are key steps in releasing print on demand products that will really wow your audience. 

This week, dive into a few of the exercises in this guide and see if you can get your shop up and running by the end of the month. 

Written by:

Calli Zarpas