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Comparing Artist Profit on Society6 and Printful

By Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s no secret that artists seem to have the most difficult time to find a steady source of income. As a result, sites like Society6 and Redbubble, where artists can upload their designs and people can buy them on all sorts of print products, have become a standard.

Regular people can browse the products and buy them online on the sites’ stores, and the items usually go for market price (like $22 for a tote bag). After talking to our friend Arpi, an artist who sells on Society6, I was shocked to find out how small the cut of the profit is for the artists.

That prompted this blog post, a monetary data-based look at the differences in profit margins between using Society6, and what you stand to gain by using Printful. Artists deserve more, so why not work a little for it?

To get a fair and unbiased perspective of the profit opportunities between a platform like Society6 and Printful, we’re setting up virtual stores for an imaginary artist who’s selling their products online.

Setting up our imaginary store

In both “stores” we’ll set up a few products. We chose products that are available on both platforms so that we can compare the two experiences more easily.

The products we’ll sell in our imaginary store are:

  • Canvas print
  • Framed art print
  • Throw pillow
  • Mug
  • Sublimation tote bag
  • T-shirt
  • Art print (8×10″ on Printful, 8×9″ on Society6)
  • Square art print (12×12″ on Printful, 13×13″ on Society6)

How the math works

The main difference between Printful and Society6 in terms of understanding the pricing is that Printful tells you how much your product + printing costs, and then you can add your own profit.

Here’s how we’ll set the prices – they’ll be the Society6 prices that they themselves set, as well as a poster price that our artist friend Arpi sets for herself. Then we’ll calculate the profit the artist makes from selling the same item on both platforms.

To calculate the profit margin percentage, we used the following formula and then found the average between all of the products:

profit ÷ price the product is sold for = profit margin

Price you sell at

Profit with Printful

Profit with Society6

Canvas Print

Framed art print (18×24″)

Throw pillow

Mug (15oz)

Sublimation tote

T-shirt

Art print (mini)

Square art print (small)

$85

$80

$20

$20

$22

$22

$24.96

$31.20

$30

$30

$3

$6

$7

$6

$17.96

$22.20

$8.50

$9.10

$2

$2

$2.20

$2.20

$11.96

$18.20

Average profit margin

39.75%

20.75%

Profit margins speak the truth

After evaluating the profit margin for both platforms, selling comparable products at the same price, the Society6 margin is always 10% except for the art prints, where they let you set your own price (and therefore bring up the average profit margin). Meanwhile the Printful profit margin is an average of 28.5% (the lowest margin being for throw pillows at 15%, while the highest is for framed art prints, at a 37% margin).

Even in comparison with Nuvango, a similar platform that offers artists’ work on products like phone/laptop/tablet skins, they only make a 20% profit. That’s still less than the Printful option, and more than the Society6’s standard profit cut of 10%.

Other expenses to take into consideration

Of course when creating your own store there are other expenses that take a portion of your profit margin:

– domain
– hosting
– design/maintenance
– ecommerce fee (if you’re using Shopify or Bigcommerce)

Say you sell 20 t-shirts in a month. With the Printful profit margins, you’d be making $120, while with Society6 you’d be making $44.

Your yearly expense for a regular domain and basic hosting would be about $17 for your domain and $3.95/month for hosting (based on regular BlueHost prices). Divide the $17 by 12 months and you’re left with $1.40/month payment.

Your expenses:

$1.40 – domain
$3.95 – hosting
$29 – ecommerce platform (if you’re using Shopify or BigCommerce)

Total expenses: $34.35

Subtract your extra expenses from your $120 profit , and you’re left with your total profit:

Total profit: $85.65

Reasons artists still use Society6

An artist is just that – an artist. They’re not necessarily graphic designers or skilled Photoshop users. One of the biggest draws to Society6 is the simplicity of setting up all of the different products. Rather than adjusting your image and preparing mockups for every design you have and for every product you add it on, you simply upload your design, and Society6 automatically prepares the images for all of the products for you.

But artists that are looking towards making a bigger profit margin through Printful can rest easy – our new feature, the Mockup Generator, is expanding every day. You can already easily generate your t-shirt, tank and poster mockup images, and other products are coming soon.

generator

Are you willing to work for it?

As an artist, of course, it makes sense for your designs to be seen by the world and maybe even profit a little bit, rather than gathering dust in your closet. The question is, do you want to put a little effort into it for little profit, or are you ready to put a little bit more effort into it to create your own store, and double your profit? It’s up to you.

 

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  1. Yohann

    Hey, nice comparison, and if I can add my experience with Society6, the customer service is very bad, since 2 months they don’t pay me for my art and past earnings (around 100$), so be very careful with this website…

  2. Karen

    This is very helpful information! I have been researching various printing companies and trying to decide where I should get my artwork printed to be able to sell to the public. I started to set up an account on Society 6 but wanted to research some more before I jumped in.
    Thank you again!
    Karen

  3. Rhayven

    Did my own study on this awhile back. The results were interesting. In 2 years I sold a total of 9 items (1 mug, 2 small tapestries, 1 large tapestry, 3 pouches, 1 iPhone case, 1 small art print) on Society6, only to gain a total of $29.80. -________-

    I just shook my head at how much money I could have gained off of those sales with Printful. Small tapestries alone cost around $45 with the bigger ones being at $85. The loss of money on prints between Society6 and Printful is relatively small since both allows you to set your own prices. But the bigger loss of money comes in with t-shirts, canvas prints, tapestries, etc. That’s when things get annoying.

    I will say this positive about Society6 (and it is something Printful is severely lacking) and that is the sheer amount of products available to artists. No company for artists comes even close to Society6s selection. Printful still doesn’t even have tough phone cases, nor full print hoodies, and the book bag quality is severely lacking compared to competitors.

    Because of the different types of products available at Society6, I see a lot of appeal for artists to use their service over Printful for that very reason alone. I have even been tempted to go back to it (I won’t because I actually like making money).

    Printful, as amazing as it is, has a lot of catching up to do.

    1. R’Rielle

      I definitely agree that their product selection is severely lacking. Everyone says Printful is the best, but I don’t see how with such a basic, limited selection. There are other companies with much more fashion forward style options and better pricing for better quality, especially with the sublimation items and leggings.

    2. Giedrė Kronberga

      Hi Rhayven! Thanks for the feedback. If you have a product in mind you’d like Printful to offer, submit it on our New Feature Request page. We’re constantly working on introducing new apparel and accessories.

      1. Diana

        Great, Giedre, I will once I start my POD via platform or print full. I’m a fashion designer as well.
        General question. If I create my own website (not WordPress, wix, etc), shall I manually place customer’s orders. Or can it be automatic too? Just starting, so afraid to mess it up.
        Thanks. Diana

  4. Alicia Anthony

    I have worked with several POD companies for the last 10 years–primarily Spreadshirt and Zazzle. The frustrating part is that the artist really doesn’t make much per sale. You have to sell a LOT in order to make some real money and it is a good deal of work creating and describing items, especially if the design software isn’t easy to use. Since I’m now designing fabrics, I checked out Art of Where. WOW! The design software has a lot of options and, for the most part, I can create my products quickly. I’m able to flip the design and get things to look the way I want them. And the scarves move and you can see the mockups in 3d! Sweet! I only wish I could say the same for Printful! Trying to design women’s leggings in the Printful software is excruciating! I can’t flip, rotate, etc. I have a hard time lining things up so that the seam lines don’t look jacked up. It takes me so much longer to get the leggings to look the way I want them to–IF I can get them to look the way I want them to–than it does with Art of Where. Now, I have other problems with AOW, but their design software is, IMO, far superior to Printful. I’m going to check out Society6, but I’m not hopeful. Printful, please make your design software more intuitive, especially for items like leggings. I would pick Printful over AOW for sure for other reasons if designing leggings wasn’t such a pain!

    1. Giedrė Kronberga

      Thanks for the feedback, Alicia. We’re working on improving our generator, so the more feedback we get, the better!

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