Print on Demand (POD) technology enables designers and artists to prepare their work for printing on merchandise across a broad spectrum of offerings, through a range of companies. Unlike traditional retail arrangements, printing only occurs once someone places an order. The POD company handles everything from manufacturer relationships and printing to order fulfillment and customer service issues. Artists are responsible for designing. I am one such artist. If we want to actually sell those items we've worked so hard on, we also need to market. This new site is a part of that endeavor.
Zazzle is where the bulk of my design attention has gone, thus-far, this year. I suspect that trend will continue; more on that soon.
Art of Where offers leggings, artsy kimono wraps and other clothing I've designed. Last year I grew addicted to designing leggings.
Society6 also has fun products. Many of the items you find here feature designs I haven't yet used elsewhere.
Although I first heard of a couple of the old-school companies many years ago, my initial exploration of the Print on Demand field began in 2014 when I set up my first account because I simply wanted to design some custom greeting cards. (When I was in high school, I thought being a writer for Hallmark might be a fun. Then I discovered the J Peterman Catalog. Long before Elaine worked there on Seinfield, I fantasized about writing those adventure-laden descriptions of merchandise from around the world. Huh.) I bought the cards I'd made, but soon afterward my focus moved on.
Over the next couple of years, I kept thinking of the potential available for putting my creations on merchandise. I'd need a birthday gift or even an item for my own use and think, "If I'd stuck with that print on design idea, I could just make it myself!" Fast forward and one day in 2016 I decided to research options and see if the one I'd started with still suited me. Fast forward through hours and hours of exploration and research and I ultimately became really comfortable with the three sites I've shared on this page.
Lest I mislead anyone, it's good to be clear about how this works. Artists receive a royalty of all sales made on our designs. Those sums vary by company but are fairly small and usually percentage-based. Most people doing this don't make a lot of money through their efforts. It's safe to say I've worked harder on this than anything that came before these efforts. A lot (I cannot stress to you just how much "a lot" means, in this arena,) of merchandise must be sold in order to generate a significant income from the efforts. Among the up-sides? We only have to create the design once; then it can sell an infinite number of times... should the audience for such an item exist and find out about it. The trick is to create designs that will stand out in a mind-boggling sea of competition. I learn more every day and will enjoy sharing some of this journey with you in the blog. If you're into specifics, you can read on below. Otherwise, I invite you to enjoy the shops! Perhaps you'll find something you like, whether for yourself, or for a gift.
One of the first POD companies I ever heard of, this was the last one I got on board with. They're so big, the process was daunting at first. What makes Zazzle different from the other print on demand sites I've explored, relates to the tools they offer customers for personalizing the merchandise before purchasing. So whether it's one of my designs, that of someone else, or your own, if you decide you like something on Zazzle, you have the option of adding text fields and other imagery, too, to make the products your own.
Related to the option of creating personalized items is the collection of paper products they offer. Invitations, postcards, envelopes, business cards and even postage stamps are available through Zazzle and I've begun spending more and more time creating designs others can personalize for their event planning and business marketing needs.
Zazzle also has more merchandise on which I can place my designs than the other two companies I work with. If I'm not mistaken, there are more than a thousand products that we could buy that have our designs on them. I have no hard and fast numbers but I suspect I've designed on as many as 50 to a hundred products.
I discovered Art of Where in 2016 when I was researching companies for printing my artwork on leggings. After loving what I learned in my research, I ordered my first pair and was immediately hooked. That pleasure was further reinforced when I bought my first kimono wrap. I would wear these every day if I could get by with it. I almost do.
Although Art of Where offers prints and phone cases, most of my attention with this company has been focused on setting my artwork up on clothing. And little zipper pouches, also a minor addiction.
Something fortuitous happened between the time I began designing leggings and the day I opened my Zazzle store. The two companies created a partnership; now, though I design leggings available in my Art of Where shop and also through my Zazzle store, Printed Muserie, they are all manufactured by Art of Where. (Interesting tidbit: when I cut out the middleman - Zazzle, in this case - my AOW artist royalties are much greater than when I sell leggings through Zazzle. Second interesting tidbit: I've already sold 7 pairs of leggings to strangers through Zazzle, but none to strangers through Art of Where. Keep your eye out for a future blog post on this.
I learned about Society6 several years ago and have been really pleased with my designer relationship with them. Their product line is much smaller than that of Zazzle, but it's a nice product line with quite a selection of options for artists to put their designs on. If they offered the editing capabilities available through Zazzle, I would probably do even more work through this company. I'm glad I got my feet wet with the POD industry with Society6 and once I come up for air on some of the invitation suites I've been designing through Zazzle, I plan to jump back in and do some serious work on my Society6 shop. It would be great if I hadn't neglected it, but it's definitely worth checking out for your gift-giving needs.