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
- Sublimation tote bag
- 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
Framed art print (18×24″)
Art print (mini)
Square art print (small)
Average profit margin
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:
– 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.
$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.
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.