Thursday, February 20, 2014

Selling Your Art Through Print on Demand: Getting Started

What Is Print on Demand?

By working through a print on demand company (or POD) allows you to sell  products like shirts, posters, mugs, mousepads, cards and more printed with your designs without having to pay any printing costs. The idea is simple. You supply the company with the designs, and the POD company provides you with a shop that shows your designs on various items--but nothing is actually printed until a customer orders it.  POD collects their "base price" on orders and you make an artist commission or mark-up on the sale. They handle the production and shipping, collect sales taxes, etc., so you can focus on making great art.  

There are various print on demand services out there. Below is a guide on what to look for when choosing a POD for your art. At the bottom you can find links to detailed reviews of the services I've used and  links to the other print on demand services I'm aware of.

What To Look For in a POD

There are several different considerations in choosing a print-on-demand company. Some may be more important to you depending on what you want to sell, who you want to sell it to, and how much time you want to put into your shop.

  • Product Selection 
    What can you sell?
  • Product and Printing Quality
    Do they meet your quality standards?
  • Storefront 
    How is the store front laid out, what features are offered, how much flexibility do you have to make it your own, and how difficult is it to set up, add products, and maintain your shop?
  • Product Price
    What is the base price of the products (before adding your commission or mark-up)?
  • Production & Shipping Time/Cost 
    How fast do your customers get their orders, and how much will they pay for shipping?
  • Customer Base 
    Does the company have a market for your niche already in place, or will you have to rely mainly on your own promotional efforts?

POD Shops List and Reviews


  1. Great site! Finally a one-stop shop for all things POD. Thank you :-) So, I searched and didn't find much on sleeve printing for t-shirts and long-sleeve t-shirts. Does any online service support this?

    Also, it's mentioned on your list of PODS that Skreened had the largest print area, but I signed up for an account and while the print area looks tall, it also looks pretty narrow. Do you know which service wins on width? I basically want to cover as much area as possible in both directions.

    1. Hi (and thanks!). Since I wrote that about Skreened, CafePress has come out with an all-over t-shirt, which I believe included ALL area, even sleeves. So I need to update that. Unfortunately, it's expensive.

  2. I think you should do a full review of Spreadshirt since they seem to have one of the largest (standard) print areas (Front W13.0 inch x H23.1 inch, Back W12.3 inch x H23.2 inch) as well as a 4.2 inch x 3.6 inch print area on both sleeves. They also have support for 3 color vector graphics files (but no blends) and some interesting print effects: foil, flock, foil overlays.

    1. I only review services I've actually used...or I would. I really looked into Spreadshirt, but unless things have changed (and they may's been a LOOONG WHILE) you have to use Vector graphics to use their service (Has that changed? If it has I might try them). I have no idea how to use vector graphics (wish I did really, cause they sound pretty useful...yeah, I really should learn). So, that's why I haven't reviewed them.

      However, if you look down to "More POD Reviews" link at the bottom (which is now pointed to the right post...eek, it wasn't before) you'll see that now it goes to a list of other sites that have reviewed PODS (all seem to be pretty knowledgeable and thorough) and there's some reviews of Spreadshirt there.

      Also, if you would like to write a guest review to be included on this site in the format of my other reviews, I'd love to have it, and you can include an affiliate link (I think they have an affiliate program, right?)