Are You Creative? Make Designs & Sell Them On 3 Merchandising Websites

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For those of you who are creative — did you know you can profit online by selling your designs? Whether you’re a graphic designer or a master wordsmith, you can plaster your creative manifestations onto T-shirts, mugs, pens, and all sorts of other merchandise. If you’re good enough, people will buy it, especially if you can properly brand yourself. Thousands are doing it today, and so can you.

People love to buy merchandise if they can connect with it somehow: if it makes them feel warm and fuzzy inside; if it tickles their funny bone and evokes laughter; if it’s so outlandish or unique that they can’t help but think “Wow!” Some people call it swag, others call it fan gear, and yet others don’t call it anything. Merchandising is a great way to express your artistry and make money while doing it. Here are some of the best merchandising sites where you can set up your own storefront for your designs.

Café Press

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CafĂ© Press is probably the best known website out of all the ones on this list, so let’s start there. This community is home to over 2 million user-created shops that sell over 300 million products of all kinds — apparel, drinkware, posters, stationery, and more. You can sign up as a regular user and browse through all of those items to see if you spot any that you want to buy, or you can go ahead and set up your own store.

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Basically, the gist of it goes like this: you create a design, you upload it onto Café Press, then select which types of merchandise you want to sell using that design. These items are then shown on your storefront which regular users can browse and if any of your items are purchased, you receive a cut of the revenue.

Café Press handles everything from the creation of the items to the shipping of the items, from the server backbone that runs the storefront to the secure checkout process. Yet, you still have enough control over the store to give it your own touch.

Benefits of Café Press include:

  • No set-up or up-front costs.
  • Ability to set your own price markup on each product.
  • Performance bonus for shops that sell well.
  • Ships products worldwide.

Zazzle

merchandise-shop-zazzle

Zazzle may not be as popular as Café Press in terms of sheer numbers, but it’s still quite popular and millions of people use it for buying and selling. They sell hundreds of different product types, including postcards, invitations, apparel, bags, hats, office supplies, phone cases, posters, pillows, and more. You can stick your design on all of these offerings.

Like Café Press, the process is simple: you create a design, upload it, select which products you want it applied to, and set a price. As they sell, you earn a share of the revenue. The website has a bunch of tutorials to get you started with setup, customization, and useful guidelines for actually turning a profit.

Zazzle handles all of the backend architecture and expenses. The shipping, the checkout, the infrastructure of the site? They handle it all. The interface is smooth and easy to learn, which is great for any newbie diving into this for the first time. All you have to worry about is making attractive designs and putting them out on the site.

Benefits of Zazzle include:

  • No set-up or up-front costs.
  • Better quality merchandise than CafĂ© Press.
  • Ability to set your own royalty rate on each product.
  • Referral bonus for signing up your friends.

Redbubble

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According to their website, Redbubble is the “finest and most diverse creative community and marketplace on the interlink.” Quite a confident assertion, I must say, and I don’t really know enough to deny or confirm that claim. However, the Redbubble site does look clean and seems to capture the essence of their ethos: high-quality design and products that are miles above the “mass producing hordes” that you might find on other marketplaces.

Unfortunately, that dedication to quality does have its downsides. For one, Redbubble does not have the wide variety of potential merchandise that Café Press or Zazzle have. In fact, you can only sell prints, cards, posters, clothing, stickers, phone cases, calendars, and written works. The prices are also higher than elsewhere, which might shrink your potential buying audience. But if quality is your main concern, Redbubble does well.

Benefits of Redbubble include:

  • High-quality products.
  • No set up or up-front costs.
  • Ability to set your own price markup on each product.
  • Ships products worldwide.

Conclusion

So which of the three should you choose? Well, the main distinguishing factor is the mission statement. Do you want to release high-quality, high-price designs or will you settle for the lowest common denominator products for a mass market? If it is the former, go with Redbubble. If you go for the latter, I really recommend Zazzle over CafĂ© Press. They’re both very similar but I think Zazzle ekes out a victory here.

Have you used these sites before? What do you think of them? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Image Credits: The Ink Slab Via Flickr

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Anita C

What about Spreadshirt? I much prefer it to CafePress, as the prices for t-shirts are lower.

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