Many of us have toyed with the idea of selling online, but for one reason or another haven’t yet taken the plunge. If you’re a creative, maybe you’ve thought about selling your artwork on Etsy. If you’re a musician or performer, maybe you’ve considered selling merch to fans. The problem isn’t usually a lack of ideas or inspiration; more like it’s too much work and you just can’t get motivated. The thought of having to stockpile inventory, and then prepare, pack, and ship everything yourself can be daunting, and can quickly turn into a real hassle.
That’s exactly what happened to illustrator and pattern designer Alice Potter. She didn’t have a problem getting started, but soon felt overwhelmed trying to keep up with the printing, prepping, and sending of all her online sales. Keep reading to find out how she streamlined the process with print-on-demand.
Alice specializes in children’s book illustrations, greeting card design, and is also a surface pattern designer. After graduating from art school, she’d been working as a freelancer doing artwork for magazines, books, and other products for different clients. Her degree is in textile design, but after school she began to focus more on illustrations. She later fell back into pattern making and would eventually combine the two.
While working as a freelancer, Alice set up an Etsy shop to sell her prints. She started by using a printer and having the prints sent to her home in batches. It was tricky trying to find the space to store all that inventory (and to predict what would sell and what wouldn’t). Plus, for every order that came in, Alice had to prep it, package it, and take it to the post office to be shipped. All that work started to take a toll.
Because it had become such a pain, Alice decided to stop selling online. The problem is that, as a creative, what really makes her happy is having people connect with her work. She likes doing editorial work and commissions, but when customers buy her original designs as a gift for somebody special or just for themselves, it’s the best feeling. “I knew I couldn’t not have a shop, it’s part of who I am. I love selling my artwork.”
Alice was at a crossroads. That is, until she discovered Printful. She ordered some samples, was really impressed with the quality, and found that Printful’s integration worked well with the new website she had created on Wix. Having both her Etsy shop and her Wix website integrated with Printful made the whole process that much easier.
With an on-demand printing and fulfillment company like Printful, you can take the guesswork out of getting started, and save time and money selling online. Plus, it’s super simple to do: just add your designs, push the product to your store, and we’ll print, pack, and ship the product to your customer on your behalf. How does it work? When a customer buys something from your online store, we’ll automatically receive the order, fulfill, and send it.
Now that Alice has partnered with Printful, she can spend more time focusing on growing her brand and evolving her designs:
“I’m always thinking about collections that people would like to buy, what’s on the high street. For example, anything space related is really sought-after for kids. I’m selling a blanket that has planets and stars, and it’s been one of my most popular pieces. I’m always on the lookout for what’s the current trend and I try to tick off themes: florals, space, animals, unique lettering, etc.”
“I think putting my drawings on different products captures people’s imaginations and if you like a particular theme, you’re really going to love it. I offer artwork and prints, but also soft furnishings that match, so you can decorate a whole nursery or room if you like.”
“A lot of my stuff has been geared towards kids. I’m trying to add products that are more sophisticated, like floral prints, to appeal to a 20- to 30-something female demographic. Having both styles is important to me because it encompasses who I am.”
What advice does Alice have for people who want to sell online but haven’t yet jumped in? “I’d say go for it. With this kind of approach, using print-on-demand, it’s very low risk.” She confides that there are still products in her house that just never sold from when she wasn’t using Printful’s service. “You make assumptions about what people are going to buy, but it doesn’t always go down the way you hope it would. With this approach, you don’t have that risk.”
Not having any stock lying around is ideal, especially if you’re new to the game. That upfront investment and uncertainty about what’s going to sell can be off-putting, but it doesn’t have to be. Alice is convinced that relying on a service like Printful is the way to go. “All you need is good art and a computer, the whole process is super simple.”
She also recommends that if you’re just starting out, you should get some samples and see what you think, since there are so many different products to choose from. We offer tons of options, from home & living to apparel and accessories. It’s up to you what you want to design and how.
Alice now splits her time between her native UK and France. She knows that using Printful is the easiest way to continue selling online from anywhere. “I wouldn’t be able to have a shop. I’d have to have stuff here and stuff there and find someone to manage things in the country I wasn’t in.” On-demand printing and fulfillment takes the pressure off.
And Alice isn’t thinking about switching to another provider any time soon. “During my time with Printful I’ve tried others and nothing has come close to the quality I’ve found; they’ve all been a bit sub-par. So, I’m really happy that I use Printful.”
Sarah is a Senior Content Writer at Printful with experience in editing, translation, and teaching. She holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and is passionate about language.
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