Print on Demand for Artists: Earn While You Sleep | Nic Squirrell | Skillshare

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Print on Demand for Artists: Earn While You Sleep

teacher avatar Nic Squirrell, Artist and illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Print on Demand for Artists: Introduction


    • 2.

      Why, and Why Not


    • 3.

      About POD and Nic's Tips


    • 4.

      Designing for POD


    • 5.

      Traditional Art Materials


    • 6.

      Digital Art


    • 7.



    • 8.



    • 9.



    • 10.

      A few more things


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About This Class


Passive income is a wonderful way of earning a regular income from work you have already done.  The effort is all at the beginning, and the income arrives with little or no ongoing input.

Of course, to make it a success you will have to put plenty of work in!  It's not easy, and it's not quick.  But it's great to be able to earn regular money while you sleep, or are travelling, or having fun doing something else.

In this class I will show you how artists can earn a good passive income from Print on Demand.  I will share my experience, discuss the advantages and disadvantages, go into detail about preparing your art, and show you how to increase your chances of success.

This class is great for both established artists and those just starting out.

So join me and lets earn some passive income!

P.S. You might also be interested in my companion class, Print on Design for Artists: Painting to Pattern to Product - the complete process.  It's a detailed step by step of my workflow for creating art for POD.

Nice reviews really help me and are always welcome!

Do feel free to share your work on social media with the hashtag #nicsquirrellskillshare. I do share some of them in my Instagram Stories.

Follow me here on Skillshare to be kept up to date with my new classes and discussions.

My website: NicSquirrell


Music: Quasi Motion Kevin MacLeod (

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Meet Your Teacher

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Nic Squirrell

Artist and illustrator

Top Teacher


I am an artist and designer of fun things living in Kent, England.

I studied Creative Visual Art and 3D Design at the University of Greenwich and loved every minute of it.

My illustrations are on many products from prints to suitcases and everything in between.

I love drawing and painting on my iPad as well as using traditional media, particularly watercolour.

If anything stays still long enough, I will draw on it.

Quirky animals, dreamy landscapes and watercolor florals are my speciality.

Follow me below to see what else I'm up to!


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Nic Squirrell's website

Nic Squirrell on Zazzle

@NicSquirrell on Instagram

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Level: Beginner

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1. Print on Demand for Artists: Introduction: Hello, I'm Nic. I'm an artist and illustrator. There are many ways to make money with your art and it's a good idea to have a variety of income streams. I've been selling art via print on demand sites for almost 10 years and it provides you with a good regular passive income. You do the work at the beginning when you make the art and upload it and then you continue to earn from it over a long period of time with minimal extra input. Whether you're an established artist or just starting out, print on demand is a great way of monetizing your existing on new art and illustrations of smoothing out the feast or famine nature of freelance work and of earning money while you sleep. If that sounds good, join me and I'll share with you my process and my tips for success. See you soon. 2. Why, and Why Not: Passive income is where you do the initial work, and then you continue to earn money from it over a long period of time, with little or no extra input. Passive income is great, because you can set it up with very little investment and very little risk. If your art doesn't sell, all you've lost is the time you put in. You don't need to buy stock, have unsold items taking up room in your house or studio, or keep dashing off to the post office every time you make a sale. You don't have deadlines, so you can do the work when it suits you. You can fit it around your day job or family commitments. You can produce any art you like without a brief and without criticism. So it's a good way to explore new ideas and materials. But do bear in mind that the more broadly appealing your work is, the more likely it is to sell well. It's a good way to make money from art you already have and to put it to work. If you're self employed, it's a great way of having a regular dependable income to help level the ups and downs of freelancing. It can tide you over a lean patch. It's also a good way of starting to build up a side income. If you need or want to take some time off to travel or have a baby, or if you get sick, you still have money coming in. It's not location dependent. You can work from the beach or a cafe. You can work while you travel. It's great if you're shy, you don't have to talk directly to your customers. Best of all, it's exciting. I love waking up and seeing what people have bought while I've been asleep. I love getting sales notifications throughout the day, while I'm in the supermarket, or going for a walk, or watching TV. It's not all fabulous though. It involves quite a bit of work up front, and there's no guarantee of income from any particular piece or any particular website. There are some sites that I've spent a lot of time on and earned nothing at all. I've learned that when I put my art on a new site, I test the waters by putting my regular bestsellers on first before spending too much time on it. With any new income stream, you have to try it, and see if it works well for you. You won't get rich quick, it's slow money and it can take a long time to build up. You may never get rich at all. You still need to make fresh work, and to do some marketing. You can't sell your products if nobody knows they exist. But for me, the plus points far outweigh the disadvantages. Print on Demand provides me with a very good passive income stream. 3. About POD and Nic's Tips: Print-on-Demand is also known as POD. You upload your art to the POD website, it's displayed on the site, locked up on the available products. When somebody places an order via the Print-on-Demand site, a company will take the payment, produce and ship the item direct to the customer and pay you the royalties. Sometimes you get to pick the markup, sometimes it's a set amount, and they also deal with any customer service issues. Once you've uploaded the art, the bulk of your work is done. There are many sites available to sell art on, some are opened to anyone and some are curated. In which case you need to apply via their website to be one of their artists, and they decide if your arts would be a good fit. Typically with POD sites, you upload a JPG or PNG file of your image, and resize it to fit various items such as: canvases, greeting's cards, clothing, phone cases, pillows, and so on. Some sites have a huge number of products and some specialize in just one area. For example, our prints, or t-shirts, or fabric. You can usually choose not to sell any items that your image doesn't look good on. You might want to order a few items to check that you're happy with the quality, and always read the terms and conditions. There are some sites I haven't signed up for because I'm uncomfortable with their terms, but do bear in mind they all need to be able to use your images to some extent in order to be able to print, market, and display them on their sites. I found that different sites have different audiences, so what sells well in one place may sell badly in another. It's hard to tell until you try, and as most sites allow you to sell the same images elsewhere, I suggest you upload to number of sites to get the feel for what sales were. The more places you make your art available, the more people see it and the more chances you have of making a sale. If you're making a small but regular monthly income from a number of sites, it can still add up to good total amount. Payment is generally by PayPal monthly, sometimes you need to make a certain threshold before the company will make a payment, and you are responsible for declaring and paying your taxes on your earnings. Some POD sites have a good community feel with groups you can join or forums. It's a good idea to upload fresh work regularly. If you have old work which is not selling and you no longer like or feel no longer represents what you do, weed it out. Put links to your website and your social media in the bio section of each store, and keep your profile image and header consistent between your sites so that your store is recognizable and easy to find. Make sure you use relevant tags for your work so that people can find it by searching keywords. Think about the subject matter, the colors, and materials. In the next video, I'll talk about the specifics of making images for POD sites. 4. Designing for POD: One of the great things about designing for parody is that you can draw or paint anything you like. But if you want a wide range of people to buy your art, you'll have to have mass appeal. Be aware of general trends and color schemes. People like to buy items which fit well into their home environment. I don't sign with the specific product in mind, I'd rather just have fun making an image I love. At the upload stage, you can always leave out any products that don't work with your image. Don't make images larger by resizing them up, otherwise they will end up pixelated and bad quality. Start large and scale down or crop where needed. In print on demand, it's generally the pixel dimensions of the piece that matter and the workers usually upload it in RGB, 300 ppi, JPEG, or PNG format. 5. Traditional Art Materials: If working traditionally, start as large as you can. If you have a piece of art which is a bit small, you can only still use it, but there will be less product options available to you. Scan at a high resolution, I usually use 600 ppi RGB. Reason for this, is that most PO.D sites print at 300 dpi, and in order to get an image which is going to be able to be printed on a wide range of products, you really need the shorter side to be around 6,000 pixels. So time for a little bit of math. For example, if you have an original painting at eight by 10 inches and scan it in at 300 ppi, there'll be 300 pixels in every inch. So it'll be 8 by 300 pixels wide, 2,400 pixels, and 10 times 300 pixels high, which is 3,000. So not big enough for a wide range of products. But if you scan at 600 ppi, that's 600 pixels per inch, your final image will be 8 by 600 wide, 4,800, and 10 by 600 high, 6,000, which gives you so many more options for printing. You could scan at 900 ppi, but really, I find that if you go much bigger than 600 ppi, it can look too blown-up and gives a huge file size too. Other options for getting a bigger hand-painted piece are make bigger originals and either use a larger scanner if you have access to one, or scan it in sections and put them together in Photoshop, which is what I generally do. Or you can make your image by scanning in a number of different individual elements and collaging them together in Photoshop or a similar program. Remove any white background from your scanned images for maximum flexibility. 6. Digital Art: If working digitally, I usually start at around 7000 by 7000 pixels or larger, and I always save a layered Photoshop file. Most PSDs use RGB format and JPEG or transparent PNG files for uploading. Bear in mind, to get the most out of your image, you'll need to work on crop to a variety of square portrait and landscape forms. Keep any background in a separate layer if possible, so that you can easily resize and crop your file as required. Also, you can save it with a transparent ground for T-shirts and clear products like phone cases, if you want to. I sometimes make both the placement and a repeat pattern from the same image as some products work best in repeat. This is not necessary but I find it gives me more options. Some sites, for example, Redbubble allow you to tile images to fit on larger products such as duvet covers in clothing. Sometimes you can even change the background color on a transparent image. 7. Workflow: Once you know it show you main sites, you can set up a workflow to make your process smooth and efficient. Each print on demand website will have information on the file types, pixel sizes, PPI, and any other image requirements. Some POD companies, for example, Redbubble and Society6 have made life a bit easier by allowing you to upload one image which will fit on a large number of products with minimal tweaking. Although I still like to customize the image to fit on some of the products because I find it works better that way. What you need to do to make an image work on a product will depend very much on what kind of image you're using. An isolated cartoon character with no background will work differently from a landscape painting, and I repeat, pattern will be different again, I do all of these. I have notebook with my process for each site written out step-by-step because every site is different, and there's an awful lot to remember. My process goes like this, make a digital or hand painted image with any background on a separate layer. I save it as a layered PSD file in a main source images folder. My naming convention is image name and pixel dimensions. For example, the fox in the forest, 7000 PSD. Make a copy to work from so that you don't mess up your original, which I've learned the hard way. Open this in Photoshop and you can use any software which allows you to resize easily. Merge the main image layers so that it makes sense for cropping and resizing. You might have your main icon on one layer, a surrounding pattern on another, and the background on another. If it's a pattern, I might put into repeat at this point. I have Photoshop templates set out for my most used image sizes so I can easily resize my original to fit the POD requirements. For each site, make a template in order of how you're going to upload them. So go to File, New, Custom, you can enter here your width, which in this case I'm going to make a towel. So the widths I've looked up and it's going to be 3700 pixels, and the height is going to be 7400 pixels. Resolution, always 300 pixels per inch, and the color mode always RGB. I'm going to make the background transparent, it doesn't actually matter in this case. I'm going to give it a title and I'm going to call it Towel. I would normally also put which particular site it was for. For example, if it was Society6, I would put S6 Towel, but this one I'm not going to as its just for demo purposes. Here's our destination file, and here is what I'm going to put on it. As you can see, it's not really going to fit. So I'm just going to make that a little bit bigger, and Command 0 just to fill up the screen. I'm going to use this tool up here whose name I can't remember, and I'm going to just take each part of my image in turn and drag it over to the new one. So llama number 1, obviously that's much too big. I'm going to re-size him with my finger on the Shift key in order to keep the proportions. He's going to go on the top of my towel. You just got it, press the tick to say "Yes, that's fine. That size". I go over to llama number 2. I come over and resize him. Let's make him a similar size to llama number 1. He's looking pretty nifty. Then going back to here, I've got a layer of the blobs in the background. I drag that layer down behind the lamas, and it's definitely too big. Because it's so big, it's write off the edge. I'm going to do command T to transform, and then up here, I'm just going to choose, start with say 50 percent height and 50 percent width. That's a little bit too small now. Crop this out out so I can see the edges of that piece and drag it out to the right size. I think that looks fine to me, so I'm going to leave it like that because you can just position it however it works for you. The background layer, drag that over and put it at the back. So that's fine. I've made my original image fit a totally different aspect ratio because I've kept everything in layers. So you have the choice that way. Now you can save that. I have a different folder for each of my POD sites, and I will save it as, in this case it's called, everyone loves lama. So I'm going to save this as, everyone loves llama towel, and then a short cut for the site name. So for example, if it was a Society6 towel, I would save it as everyone loves llama S6 towel. I'll save it as either a JPG in this case because it has a solid background, or I can turn it off if it's going on something like a T-shirt and just save it as a transparent PNG. So you'll just get these llamas on the T-shirt or the phone case or whatever it is, rather than the whole background as well. I will save it as a top quality as well. I like to prepare all my images for one site before uploading and then start on preparing for the next. That's just the way I prefer to do it. In the next video, we'll just talk a little bit about uploading your images. 8. Uploading: Each piece needs a title. Don't call your image Untitled Number 52. A good title should be descriptive so that it's searchable. I find titles difficult, so that's on my must do better in future list. The description, again, this will help people find your work, so do use it. Keywords are very important. Think about subject matter, mood, color, materials. The POD site will mock-up your image onto the available products. You can use the mocked-up images to promote your POD store on social media. The next video is about marketing. 9. Marketing: Marketing. Marketing isn't just cringe making as it sounds. It's only really letting people know that your products exist and where to find them. Like anything you're selling, you can't just sit back and hope to be discovered. Put links to your stores on your website, your blog, your Instagram feed and all your social media. If you already have a lot of social media following, you have a record head-start. Post on social media when you add a new product or when your stores have promotions or just work in progress shots and videos. People love to see how artists work. Print on demand sites will help you sell your work by offering discounts and promotions from time to time and it's a good idea to take advantage of this and let your followers know. Use a service to automate your social media. For example, when I post to Instagram, I use If This Then That to automatically repost it to my blog and my other social media accounts. Participate, join groups enter contests on the site that you use and use their forums. Like, comment and promote other people's work on your store sites and on social media. All of this is marketing without being too salesy or ramming it down people's throats and it's all free. All you're doing is letting people know that your products are available. It doesn't have to be awkward. It should be fun. 10. A few more things: Don't expect a lot of money from one place, maybe you will, and that's great. But if you have, for example, 10 POD sites each bringing in $100 a month, as $1,000 a month. It all adds up. You won't make a fortune straight away. But if you keep putting in the effort, it will build up over time. It's a numbers game, the more good quality work you have available, the more you can sell. You do need to keep putting fresh work out so that people stay interested and want to come back for more. I hope this inspires you to try selling your work on POD. Start with a site which appeals to you most and build it up at your own pace. Have as many or as few POD sites as you're comfortable with, your own control. Your project for this class is to post about a new or existing POD store that you're making your art available on. You can either say what you're intending to do or if you're ready to go, you can post a link to your store. If you have any questions, please post in discussion section, and I'll do my best to answer, and if you enjoy this class, please leave a positive recommendation. Thank you for joining me and I'll see you soon.