Craft items are a big deal nowadays, especially if they are customized for the recipient. Sites like Etsy and Bonanza are raking in the dough for crafters, artists and artisans, so much so that Amazon has opened up its own craft market, called Amazon Handmade.
While craft sites are a great source of online income if you are already generating crafted goods, they are less useful if you don’t have the time or inclination to craft, paint, or otherwise make stuff on your own.
Luckily, there are two other “craft” sites that don’t ask you to play with glue guns and yarn. No, with these sites, all you need is an idea and an outsourced designer. Everything else, including the manufacturing, shipping, and inventory stocking, is provided for you. What are these sites?
This site offers you the opportunity to place and sell your designs on all kinds of items, including handbags, hats, mugs and T-shirts. You do this by first setting up an online shop, then uploading your design(s) to the site. After “placing” your designs onto any of the 250 items that CafePress offers, you add those items to your shop.
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When a customer purchases one of your shop’s items, you make money through your pre-determined item mark up (called a royalty). CafePress takes care of the rest, including printing the design and transferring it onto the purchased item, shipping the item, and collecting payment.
In addition to collecting a royalty on every item you sell, you can also earn performance bonuses if you make over $100/month in shop revenues. CafePress can also feature your product in its own marketplace; items sold through this venue earn you an additional 10% in sales payouts.
You can also operate as a CafePress affiliate and promote your own items on your website or blog. Affiliate sales pay up to 15% in commissions. This is ideal if you and a couple of your friends can promote each other’s items through individual websites/blogs.
How much does CafePress cost?
Fees for using CafePress are reasonable: You can select to pay 10% on sold goods, with your 10% being capped at $10, or you can pay a monthly membership fee of $6.95. If you purchase an entire year of membership, you pay as little as $5/month.
Like CafePress, Threadless enables designers and artists to set up a virtual shop through the site, upload their designs, and set their own prices. There are hundreds of Threadless items to choose from for inclusion in your virtual shop, from T-shirts to satchels to notepads.
Threadless items each have a base cost; to that base cost, you add the cost of your design/logo/etc. This has you arrive at a given price for your shop item.
When a buyer purchases your listed item, Threadless makes money from the base cost of the item, and you make money through the item’s price.
Finally, just like with CafePress, you can earn affiliate commissions if you promote Threadless on your website or blog. You’ll need to go through the FlexOffers affiliate network to access Threadless’ affiliate program.
If you’re stumped for creative ideas, don’t worry: Threadless publishes calls for design content on a regular basis from other members. There’s also a member forum where you can obtain feedback for your proposed design ideas.
How much does Threadless cost?
As Threadless likes to say, it’s 100% free!
Unlike CafePress, there is no set commission, sales percentage or membership fee that you must pay to Threadless. Via its offered online products, Threadless makes a decent commission all on its own. Thus, you need only to sell your crafted items and make a profit.
What about the designs?
It could be argued that you are still crafting your own items for CafePress and Threadless because you’re generating the designs that are put onto your merchandise. However, that’s not necessarily true.
In the world of online everything, you can easily outsource your work to a site like Fiverr or oDesk and ask that a design be created for you. After paying for the designs, you can use them to create merchandise for potential buyers.
If you’re looking for a photo to go along with your caption or logo, you can try sites like Flickr or iStock.
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The best part about using an outsourced service like Fiverr is that you don’t have to pay for and learn complicated design software like Photoshop. Instead, you let that task fall on someone else. You only focus on the marketing and promotion of your listed merchandise.
The Bottom Line
It’s easy to make money through so-called crafting sites like CafePress and Threadless because you don’t have to get your hands dirty with the actual crafting. Both CafePress and Threadless handle the marketing, packing, shipping, and customer support ends of the transaction. All you need to do is supply a design- and even that can be outsourced.