Buying and Selling Art Via Print On Demand
Print On Demand sites like Fine Art America, Red Bubble, Pixels and Society6 among others allows the buyer to choose from hundreds of thousands of photographs, drawings, paintings and other artwork in all shapes and sizes from framed and matted to canvas prints to metal prints and more plus you can buy the artwork on products such as cell phone covers, tote bags, throw pillows and more.
How Does Print On Demand Work For Artists?
Selling on Print On Demand sites – For artists, POD companies is like handing off all of the order processing, printing and shipping to the POD company. The POD sites provide a platform and database for the artist to upload their high quality photograph and artwork image files. The POD platform allows them a selling platform to offer their work for sale.
The POD site then accepts orders from buyers, handles the credit card processing, arranges to print the items, shipping the items and deals with any returns or customer problems. Then the artist receives a profit margin or commission depending on the site. Commission can run from small site set commission to other sites that allow the artist to set their own profit margins.
The amount of marketing and selling the artist has to do in order for their work to be seen among the sea of other sellers varies from site to site but the majority of the selling is expected to be done by the artist. The site might promote itself but they are unlikely to promote individual artists or at least you will be waiting for a long time before they get around to promoting your work unless you are already well know and have a following.
Some sites do a lot of promoting. They might run regular sales and free shipping offers to promote the site. But there is a relationship between the amount of promoting and they artists profit. Typically the site that spend a lot of money on promotion end up offering the artists lower profit margins. Someone has to pay for all that promotion after all.
Other sites seem to promote the system itself to more and more sellers than trying to bring in more buyers. They figure that enough artists end up buying some of their own work and every new excited seller will be spreading the word among their friends and family. All of this excitement brings in more potential buyers, even if they might end up going to the more established print on demand sellers.
Downfalls of Selling Via Print On Demand Sites
Print on demand sites provide a lot of convenience to artists. Simply upload your artwork and photographs and the POD site does all the work if you get a sale.
But there are some downfalls of selling on POD sites. There are as follows:
- Every potential buyer you bring in via marketing might end up buying from your competitor.
- Every buyers is a new customer of the POD, you as the artist never know who purchased your work.
- The POD is taking a cut of your profit.
- Increase competition of selling among thousands of other artists, many whom are hobbyists and retirees who are just in it for an ego boost who would be happy with $1 profit on their work.
The built in profit of the POD sites is not as large as the commissions of 40% to 50% taken by traditional galleries but you also don’t get the services of a traditional gallery like access to their high end buyer’s list and the salesmanship of the gallery workers. Plus the added prestige of your work hanging in a beautiful gallery.
Understanding Print On Demand – Part Three – Buying