Side Cash

Earn Cash on the Side by Selling Designs at Print on Demand Sites

If you have a knack for designing catchy t-shirt designs, handbags, hoodies, mugs, pillows, phone covers and other products, there’s a very special place on the internet for you. It’s called Print On Demand (PoD) niche, and there are at least 10 websites that offer useful tools for designers like you to begin selling designs on your own shop. This industry has been around for decades, but has slowly creeped into the ecommerce industry, and is now here to stay.

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5 Reasons to Join Print-on-Demand Sites

The Print-on-Demand websites provide a powerful platform for designers without a reputable name yet, or their own store to house their fruits of labor. But there are a couple of reasons why designers have stayed with PoD sites for years, even if creating their own store is a viable option. Here’s why:

1. Buyers Visit PoD Sites Directly

Traffic is one of the hardest things to obtain with having your own website. PoD sites know this. Designers are aware of this. Letting the PoD site handle marketing and traffic makes a lot of sense, particularly for new designers without capital.

2. No Need to Buy Printing Equipment

The problem with t-shirt manufacturing is that you’d need capital to buy printing equipment. But since PoD sites take care of producing the designs for you, you can focus on creating designs for your shop and never worry about broken machine parts, paint requirements, and a whole lot more.

3. PoD Sites’ Fees are Fair

Most PoD sites don’t ask for up-front payments, but earn from every item sold. Designers have some control on how items are priced, and they take home royalties for every one of their designs sold.

4. No Need to Find Distributors and Freight Services

Another benefit of joining PoD sites is that designers don’t need to find distributors of blank shirts, mugs, or other products anymore. They’re also not responsible for shipping the items to customers, which removes the need to find freight/shipping companies completely.

5. Huge Support from a Community of Artists

Every designer on PoD sites is part of huge community of fellow artists hoping to earn extra cash from their designs. What’s cool about this environment is that creatives support other creatives to make their PoD a great experience as possible.

Top 7 Print-on-Demand Sites for Designers

If you’re new to the world of POD sites, and don’t know where to go, here are the top 7 most popular websites that could provide you with a platform for selling your designs.

1. Zazzle

Zazzle is a true-blue American online success story, wherein father Robert Beaver and sons Bobby and Jeffrey Beaver launched the website in 2005 from their garage. Today, Zazzle is the most popular POD site that attracts over 30 millions of designers and customers a month.

What makes Zazzle Stand Out: The company gives sellers tons of customization options. In the marketplace, you’ll find designers who sell art as is, and makers who can personalize products for buyers. Products ordered are shipped within 24 hours, which is always a plus for buyers.

Earning Potential: Royalties range from 5 to 99 percent on top of Zazzle’s base prices. And because Zazzle offers buyers numerous ways to customize products, designers also earn extra whenever buyers opt for a personalized version.

2. DeviantArt

DeviantArt is one of the oldest communities of online creatives. Every member is allowed to post their art and share their virtual “galleries” to the world. It is more of a social network of artists who create designs, animations, videos, paintings, and more.

What makes DeviantArt Stand Out: The DeviantArt Print Service isn’t as popular as other PODs on this list because the website didn’t originally offer this feature. But if you’re a popular DeviantArt member and want to capitalize on your work, this platform is the way to go.

Earning Potential: Arists are paid 20% of the item’s retail price. Earnings would depend on the type of products designers put on sale.

3. CaféPress

Founded in 1999, this website was the ultimate go-to POD site before it turned off its own designers after changes in the pricing structure and terms weren’t received well. The company is still up and running, has fully recovered from the backlash and continues to offer an excellent POD platform to designers.

What makes CafePress Stand Out: Buyers flock to CafePress for customized products because the pricing offered is lowered compared to other POD sites.

Earning Potential: There’s two places you could sell on Café Press – the marketplace (where commissions are default at 10%), or your own CaféPress-hosted store (which offers more flexibility in terms of commissions and offer volume bonuses).

4. Redbubble

Launched in 2004, this Australian-based POD site is one of the most-visited POD websites today. Redbubble has mastered the industry to a T – they even provide returns to unhappy customers (an uncommon practice of POD sites due to the customized nature of products).

What makes Redbubble Stand Out: The categories offered on the store are a lot, from the typical clothing and paper products, to super-niche items like duvet covers (in king-sized!). Aside from direct bank account deposits, commissions of designers can also be sent via PayPal (if that’s something you prefer).

Earning Potential: Redbubble lets designers choose the percentage of their royalties. So if an item’s base price (the amount of production of the item) is $30 CAD, and designers set a 30% makrup on their designs, they earn a $6 CAD commission every time someone buys the $36 CAD (retail price) item.

5. Design by Humans

This website first operated in July 2017 and has since been an interesting platform for both designers and consumers alike. It is one of the few POD business models that has landed licenses from major brands like Star Wars and Marvel.

What makes Design by Humans Stand Out: The company offers design contests (for $1,000 prize a pop) and features an artist’s work on “Shirt of the Day” for a $1,000 award. Design by Humans also has a strong social media presence, which brings in traffic to designer’s stores organically.

Earning Potential: Royalties are fixed from as low as 50 cents for stickers, and as high as $8 for framed artwork. You can check detailed pricing here.

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6. Threadless

The company started operating in 2000 and is one of the best examples of successful crowdsourcing. Artists create the designs (about 1,000 are submitted weekly) and an online community gets to vote which designs they want featured. Threadless then weighs the votes, community feedback and their own reviews, then chooses 10 designs to be printed on t-shirts, other types of clothing, and various other products.

What makes Threadless Stand Out: Aside from the unique crowdsourcing model, this POD site also lets artists create their own stores.

Earning Potential: Artists who are chosen for the week’s prints do not receive cash, but are given $250 Threadless gift cards and 20% of the royalties based on net profits. When that same design gets reprinted, the artist receives an extra $500. When it comes to designer’s own store, they are free to price their designs they see fit, and keep profit minus base cost.

Many successful designers join 3 or more sites and house their designs on those POD websites simultaneously to increase potential royalties. Note that other POD sites put restrictions on uploading the designs you’ve submitted on their site to other similar POD sites.

Wrap Up

There’s money to be made in the POD business. And some even turn this side gig into a full-time career. Take Michael Essek as an example, who uploaded his first design on Redbubble in 2014 and earned $50 from his first month, then jumped to a whopping $7,000 by July 2016 with over 1,000 designs across various POD sites.

If you want to replicate his success, there’s nothing special you could do but to start designing, let your creativity speak for your work, and if you’re lucky, turn this into a lucrative career.

3 thoughts on “Earn Cash on the Side by Selling Designs at Print on Demand Sites”

  1. I decided to check out this site because I consider myself a unique Sketcher that enjoys sketching dresses shirts pants two pieces and more, would love to earn money on the side selling the vision of my clothing, I just require one thing if my sketch is ever chosen to be put in stores I would love to keep my brand name for it so I can show the world I have much more to offer with fashion

  2. I’ve had the most success with Society6 and Redbubble. Those sites are some of the best that also get a ton of traffic. I started getting more sales after I started writing blogs about art posted to those sites though. In my blogs I show off all the products that can be printed from the design. It works well because if the viewer isn’t interested in buying the design as an art print, they might be interested in buying the design on a t-shirt or tote bag etc. Its a great way to get additional traffic to your work that will continuously get visitors.

  3. SOmething that you forgot to mention and a really big point is that there is no guarantee that you will make a sale, most designers biggest obstacle on POD sites is no sales, thousands of designers make little to no sales, uploading design after design, trying to use the right key words and tags and still not making a sale, these POD are heavily saturated.


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