I get asked quite a bit why am I not using Society6, Redbubble, and other Print On Demand type of vendors? They make it so easy to use, right?
It is definitely true Society6, and Redbubble are seemingly easy to use. AND I have tried some and stopped using them because of 2 reasons: #1 Profit Margin and #2 Quality Control.
Now, I will also say that if you haven't had any trouble with these providers, DO NOT sever the ties! Instead, add a new revenue stream by adding an Etsy/Woocommerce/Shopify shop with Gooten/Printify/Printiful.
That said, let's dive in!
#1 Reason To Choose a Print On Demand - Profit Margin
I'll be honest, I am looking to make the most out of my art, with the least amount of additional resources, like time and money, so that I can create more art! I LOVE the creation process! As a result, I always consider:
- Is it worth my time to do X and
- What is the return on investment?
If the return on investment outweighs the cost of time and money, well - then it is a no-brainer, that's the winner.
Profit Margin Analysis Video and Worksheet
In the above video, you'll see the breakdown of the financial analysis of why I choose Etsy + Gooten or Printify or Printiful over Society6, Redbubble, Fine Art America, and Zazzle. (I've included this spreadsheet In the Positive Painters.)
#2 Reason to Choose a Print On Demand Vendor - Product Quality
I have used FAA and Zazzle to evaluate the quality of the prints and I quickly dropped FAA for 2 reasons:
- The print color was incorrect
- They blamed my image when, in fact, the same image turned out wonderfully from another vendor.
Now, this was my first and last experience with them.
Zazzle quality was better, but I found their website to be difficult to navigate from the seller's perspective, and frankly, I wanted to move faster than what the website allowed, so that didn't last long AND I did the math....the ROI (Return On Investment) wasn't good - it took too much time...
The pursuit of a quality product does involve spending a bit of money because you'll need to see it and feel it before you push it to sell it. But have no fear because purchasing the sample products does several things for you:
- you get to check the quality
- you can take product display pictures
- you can create unboxing videos
- you can correct any issues before pushing the product to production
- you can give the products as giveaways to email subscribers or promotions etc.
Times when I order products are:
- When I'm trying a new product
- Trying a new vendor
- New artwork
One more thing, to make sure to note: Put more stock into quality over profit because we all prefer quality products with quality printing.
As an additional qualifier, I personally do prefer products printed locally because I know it saves my customers in shipping fees, shortens the time to deliver, and, frankly, I want everything produced in the US. Support local and support small businesses!
What Fine Art America, Society6, Zazzle and Redbubble do well is they provide the artist with:
- A mass visual tool of a single product on a lot of products and provide example pricing structures. This takes all the guesswork out and seemingly makes it easy to set up shop and start creating products.
- Now, why do I say "seemingly" makes it easy? :) That is because they will take 1 image and mass apply it to all the templates and then you have to go one by one to modify and upload the appropriately sized image - which is the same work you have to do with Gooten/Printify/Printiful.
- They act as customer service representatives if there are delivery issues and quality issues.
- They are responsible for remitting taxes, shipping, website management, server-side management, vendor management, etc...(all things you have to worry about if you have a Woocommerce shop).
But what you lose with them is:
- Access to your customers
- Larger profit margin
So when you look to use Print On Demand Vendors like Gooten, Printify, Printiful or others you are:
- Getting the products at a lower cost because you aren't paying for the overhead to maintain their site, distribution, and customer representatives.
- YOU are choosing the quality Print on Demand vendor based on the quality of the product and price
- Setting a higher profit margin
- Gaining access to the customers who purchase your products.
Like I said in the video a couple of times; if you already have an established relationship with one or more of the Big-site Print-on-demand vendors like FAA, Society6, Zazzle, etc., by all means, keep that, but I would add another pipe to your revenue stream by utilizing Shopify/Etsy/Woocommerce with Printify/Gooten/Printiful but keep the prices the same on all platforms so you aren't competing against yourself.