How To Sell Your Art (Without Lifting a Finger)

Passive income is every artist’s dream, but when you work in visual mediums, it can seem impossible. Passive income is exactly what it sounds, income that comes to you passively, or with very little work. Typically passive income comes from ad-revenue or royalties earned after you make a monetized post, but what if I told you that it’s possible to turn your artwork into passive income? I’m talking about people being able to buy your artwork as prints, canvases, phone cases, and more, without you ever having to handle a single piece of inventory, package or ship an order.

I’m talking about print-on-demand sites. Websites where you simply upload your artwork, choose what you want it printed on and set your prices. From there all you have to do is sit back and wait for people to buy your artwork! Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? While it’s true that printing-on-demand has its downfalls, for an artist just starting out, or a hobbyist without the space or time to manage inventory it can be one of the best ways to start making a profit off of your artwork.

In this post we’ll talk about the best Print-On-Demand (POD, from now on,) websites to sell your art on (along with the pros and cons of each!), how to promote your store, and the steps you should be taking to ensure long-term success!

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What To Remember When Using

Print-On-Demand

POD is the easiest way to start a store. It means that you don’t have to deal with inventory, packaging, or trips to the post office. With some companies you can even integrate the POD service with your personal site or Etsy, for a more personal and welcoming experience for your guests and customers. However you also lose out on the ability to add personality to your packaging or include gifts or surprises with your orders. There’s also a good chance that you’ll wind up charging customers more and making less profit than you would otherwise, but that’s your trade off for the ease and passive nature.

Personally I think that POD services can be a great place to start, especially if you’re just looking to set up a store and forget about it until payday. But I will always recommended that anyone serious about a career in art take steps to start there own store and manage inventory themselves. However, this often requires more time than an artist with a day job can give, so starting with POD and moving to a personal storefront when you’re out-earning your ‘real’ job with your art sales is a great strategy.

The Best Print-On-Demand Sites For Artists

printful.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Probably one of my favorite POD sites, Printful offers a huge variety of products to print your art on, and with the ability to set your own prices it has a much wider profit margin than other POD sites. Quality is fairly good, but even for a simple art print, you’ll likely wind up charging customers more than seems fair.

Pros:

  • Huge range of products to print on, all varieties of clothing and housewares.
  • Ability to integrate into Etsy, WIX, and tens of other store-building services.
  • Incredibly simple and clean to use.
  • Nearly unlimited amount of products allowed across multiple storefronts.

Cons:

  • Churning a profit can make prices high for customers.
  • Limited and occasionally glitchy mock-up photos.
  • Fuzzy print quality on larger sizes.
  • Lack of options on art prints and wall hangings.

redbubble.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Redbubble is well known to just about every artist who’s looked into the POD scene, and for good reason. Although it started difficult to use and low-profit, Redbubble has done much over the past few years to improve it’s usability and the profit margins for it’s artists. However, Redbubble suffers from a serious art-theft problem, with twitter-patrolling bots programmed to any image retweeted with the phrase “I want this on a t-shirt” or similar and upload it to Redbubble. Although they’ve improved on removing stolen art, Redbubble support is often unwilling to look into these matters.

Pros:

  • Simple to use- upload one design and use it for dozens of products with the push of a button.
  • Art-focused community is easy to sell designs in.
  • Set your own profit margins.
  • Easily run sales and discount codes for subscribers and fans.
  • High quality products.

Cons:

  • Artist support nearly nonexistent.
  • Rife with stolen artwork.
  • Although personable, store pages can be unprofessional.
  • Shipping occasionally unreliable.

artstation.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

You may be surprised to see ArtStation here, as most people tend to think of it as a portfolio and job-searching site, but recently they introduced the ability for artists to market their art as prints, as well as digital assets and ebooks, with almost a 70% profit margin! While it does require more setting up than other POD sites, and may be less user friendly, the quality, profit margins and built-in-audience is unmatched.

Pros:

  • Unmatched quality of prints.
  • Sell various digital assets, 3D models, photoshop brushes and more.
  • Fantastic profit margins.
  • Excellent community.
  • A+ Customer support.
  • Full of professionals that may offer you a job based on your portfolio.

Cons:

  • More difficult to set up than other sites.
  • Can be unfriendly to customers that aren’t willing to explore.

society6.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Like Redbubble, Society6 is a long-standing POD company. Also like Redbubble they have issues with art-theft and low quality prints. While perhaps easier to navigate for guests than others, the profit margins are even lower.

Pros:

  • Incredibly simple and versatile.
  • Familiar layout for consumers.

Cons:

  • Rampant Art Theft.
  • Incredibly Low Profit Margins.
  • Difficult to generate traffic.

threadless.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Rather new on the scene and previously known as ‘Artist Shops”, Threadless is exactly that, a shopping scene made for and by artists. It has very high profit margins and a fantastic range of products that’s frequently updated. If you’re looking for a more permanent POD shop, this is what I’d suggest.

Pros:

  • Completely customizd storefronts is the closest you can get to having your own store.
  • Tons of unique and awesome products to print on, including skate decks and duvet covers.
  • Discounts when you order products for yourself.
  • High print quality.
  • Run by and for artists, with incredible support all around.
  • Easy to organize your store.
  • Run promotions and sales.

Cons:

  • Items may be automatically enrolled in site-wide promotions and sales,
  • A slightly-smaller, but higher quality community means you’ll pull less sales from the existing community.

I Made My Shop, Now What?

Congratulations are in order! If you’ve picked your site, uploaded designs and set up your first few products, you’ve done all of the ‘work’ necessary, now you just need to wait for the sales to roll in. They will roll in eventually… Right?

The truth is, unless you’ve designed something that really speaks to people, you’re unlikely to sell much if you just leave it. I know it’s nasty, but you’re going to have to do some self-promotion. This is where having an existing social media following (that means more than your mom and great aunt) is useful. You can start my ultimate guide to social media for artists here, but let’s skip ahead and say you’ve already got yourself a following. Here are some steps to help you get the ball rolling and turn the income passive. Find the pieces that your audience likes the most, make sure that you’ve turned those into something incredible, and then tell people about it.

Take the mockup images from your POD site, or better yet, order a print or t-shirt for yourself and post them. Let people know that all of their favorite artworks are now available as prints, tote-bags or whatever else you’ve created and let them take the rest from there.

Assuming you continue your regular posting schedule and all of the other routines you should be following to grow your social media, just with an occasional reminder of your new merch, your sales should begin to grow. Remember that your audience is going to become your income, so treat them well and consider hosting giveaways or giving a coupon code out every few weeks.

That’s it! Assuming you’ve got great art, (and I know you do,) and you’re working on building your social media, you can have passive income rolling in in just a few days.

Good luck and have fun!

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