Comparing Artist’s Profit on Society6 vs. Printful
It’s no secret that many artists have been looking for ways to earn some side income additionally to what they make at their full-time jobs.
And throughout the years, more and more platforms are emerging where creators can sell their art, Society6 being one of them. What does it mean? You’re one of thousands of talented people on this platform with similar goals and interests, and you sell your art pieces along with them.
But is putting your artwork on platforms like this is more profitable than selling it on your own online store? To answer this question, we’ll be taking a data-based look at the differences in profit margins when using Society6 and Printful.
How does Society6 work?
Society6 is for creators who want to earn a side income. It’s an online marketplace that lets artists sell their printed artwork on many different products—from stickers to shower curtains.
To start selling on Society6, you need to create and verify your account (there’s a $1 verification fee), upload your designs, and select the products you want to sell.
Society6 determines how much you can profit from the sale of each item. From everything you sell, you earn 10% of the retail prices (aka Society6’s base prices). However, for art prints, framed art, and canvas, you can set your own price.
Your profit from wall art is calculated by this formula:
Base Price x (Markup % x (1 − Discount %)) = Artist share
How does Printful work?
Printful is a print-on-demand dropshipper that integrates with multiple ecommerce platforms and marketplaces like Shopify, BigCommerce, eBay, and more. This means that as an artist, you can launch your own store and integrate with numerous ecommerce platforms and marketplaces without having to worry about order fulfillment and shipping.
To start selling your art on printed products, you need to create an account on an ecommerce platform of your choice and connect it with Printful. Then, add your designs to products and push them to your store with the price tag you set yourself.
When a customer buys something from your store, Printful charges you a fixed amount for the printing and the product itself. What’s left is your gross profit.
Gross profit: The revenue you get minus the cost of goods sold.
- Gross profit = Revenue – Cost of Goods Sold
Net profit: The money you have left over after expenses (including taxes, advertising costs) are covered.
- Net Profit = Total Revenue – Total Expenses
Products on Society6 vs Printful
Both platforms have similar product catalogs, so getting an insight into the profit opportunities between them is easy. We set up virtual stores on both Printful and Society6 for an imaginary artist who sells products online. Both stores offer:
- Art prints
- Framed prints
- Throw pillows
- All-over print backpacks
- Sublimation tote bags
- Custom phone cases
Making money on Society6 vs Printful
As mentioned before, Society6 lets you set a markup price only for three products in their catalog: art prints, framed prints, and canvas. In this case, the markup you set equals your earnings. However, if you select a $0 markup for these products, you won’t earn anything from those orders. For all the other products, you get a 10% royalty from each sale you make.
If you’re using Printful, you see how much each product and its printing costs, and you can also set your own retail price for it. The main difference between Society6 and Printful—in terms of pricing—is that with Society6 you can’t control how much you earn with your artwork, while with Printful you can sell your art for how much you think it’s worth.
To understand how this affects your earnings, let’s calculate the profit the artist would make by selling the same item on both platforms.
*To calculate the average profit margin, we used the following formula: profit ÷ price the product is sold for = profit margin.
How much can you make on Society6? After evaluating the profit margin for both platforms, the Society6 margin is always 10%, except for art prints, framed prints, and canvases (because you can set your own price).
You also have to remember, that Society6 is allowed to lower the price you sell your artwork for. They usually do that to make your products look more appealing for customers as you are yet a new, unknown artist. When creating a “sale” from your artwork, the price will be $3–$10 lower, which means your profit won’t be as promised.
Monthly store expenses to consider
While running your own online store gives you more freedom and control over the pricing process, it also comes with extra expenses.
Let’s take a look at some of the possible monthly expenses:
- $1.32 (or $15.91/year) for domain name (if you’re using SiteGround)
- $6.83 (or $81.96/year) for hosting (if you’re using SiteGround)
- $29 for ecommerce platform (we’re using Shopify as an example)
Total monthly expenses: $37.15.
Let’s say you sell 20 t-shirts a month. With Printful’s profit margins you’d make $260, while with Society6 you’d make $52. Subtract your monthly expenses from the $260 profit you make with Printful and you’re left with the total profit of $223.85.
As you can see, even if you were running your own online store that would come with extra expenses, you’d make 334% more than when selling on Society6 ($52 vs. $223.85). That’s a considerable difference.
Let’s talk about marketing
To start attracting new buyers and retaining loyal customers, you first need them to see your art and your products. That’s where marketing campaigns on social media come in handy.
The advantage of Society6 is that it’s a well-known page for artists and customers. It’s easier to drive traffic to your store and get more attention, while having your own platform is more challenging to promote.
But remember that in this case you’re between thousands of talented people with eye-catching art and possibility to “steal” your potential customers. On your own platform you’re the one who’s in charge, with endless possibilities to stand out from the crowd.
No matter which one you choose to use—Society6 or Printful—you’ll need to invest your time and money because just showcasing your products on a website won’t be enough to make sales.
The artist’s choice: Society6 vs Printful
Not every artist is necessarily a skilled Photoshop user or tech-savvy professional who could launch and manage an online store by themself. So, one of the biggest draws to Society6 is the simplicity of setting up your store and all of the different products.
The process is pretty straightforward:
- Create and verify your account on Society6
- Upload your design once
- Select the products you want to sell
- Publish them on your store
Society6 automatically generates product images without you having to adjust your design size and prepare mockups for every product you want to sell. The only thing you need to figure out is how to direct your followers to your store on Society6, or how to get found in the Society6 search list. If you want to have more control over the products you sell and the price tag you put on, you should consider opening an online store with Printful.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Create an account on ecommerce platform of your choice
- Connect it to Printful
- Upload your design on the selected products (one product at a time)
- Push it to your store
It’s up to you to decide which ecommerce platform or marketplace you want to use to sell your products. You also have more say in what products you want to sell—not only product categories, but available options (sizes, colors, etc.). Finally, you can build a stronger brand presence with white-label branding services.
Monetize your art
Whether you want to sell your art on Society6 or open your own online store is up to you. But if you’re ready to explore options that allow you to earn more for your artwork, consider taking matters into your own hands. Doing so will also give you more creative freedom, which is something you can’t get too much of.
Society6 pays you 10% of the products you sell and keeps the rest. If you want to try and make more money, you can sell art prints, canvas prints, and framed prints as these products are the only ones that allow you to make more by setting your own custom markup.
No. Printful charges you only for the product base price and printing. You get to decide for how much to sell your products. What’s left is your gross profit.
No, they don’t. Society6, like many print-on-demand businesses, is an art licensing model. This means the rights of artwork remain with the artist.
No. All the rights to your artwork remain with you. Printful won’t copy your work, sell it, or use it for other Printful products.
Find your niche and decide what kind of art products you want to sell. Think of the price your work could be sold for. Then find a print-on-demand company that’s gonna take care of the fulfillment process for you. It’s important to either create or find an existing platform to showcase your art to the customers. Here’s an example on how to sell your art with giclée prints.
This article was originally published in April 2015; it has since been updated.