Best Print On Demand Options
Etsy + Print On Demand Manufacturer
Though not technically a print on demand marketplace, Etsy is still one of the best places to sell print on demand products, because you control your pricing and product selection. See my favorite print on demand manufacturers that sync with Etsy.
Because Etsy is a marketplace for handmade and vintage good, you are required to create at least part of your product. So while you can work with a production partner to manufacture your products, you have to at least design them yourself, i.e. no purchased stock images or AI-generated images.
Doesn’t Etsy Have High Fees?
Etsy charges less than 10% in fees on sales and has no monthly subscription, making one of the most affordable marketplaces with a built-in customer base.
Even if you’re lucky enough to avoid Redbubble’s new fees with a premium tier, Etsy is still more profitable. For example, a $25 black t-shirt sold on Redbubble will currently net you $6.40, but that same shirt sold on Etsy and shipped by Printify will net you over $10!
Transaction fees on your own website would be much less, but keep in mind that you’ll also have to pay for hosting and ads. Starting with Etsy is a great way to build an audience before investing in your own site.
Threadless is similar to Redbubble in that you can upload your designs onto multiple products at once, with the exception of a few products that require specific templates.
However, it’s not guaranteed that your designs be available in their public marketplace. After you upload your first designs and brand your store, it will be reviewed for inclusion in the marketplace. I at least applaud Threadless for their transparency. One way to get your designs seen, even if your shop is not eligible for the Threadless marketplace, is to enter them into their on-going design contests.
One thing to like about Threadless is that they allow you to donate a portion of your profits to a non-profit of your choosing (from their limited list). I have found that my designs connected to a charity are the only ones that sell.
Amazon Merch On Demand
Amazon Merch On Demand is my most profitable print on demand site, even more so than Etsy. I’m hesitant to recommend it though, because they have not been accepting new sellers for months it seems. I even tried to help a few graphic design friends with their application and could not get them in. But it’s worth applying, because if you can get an account, you have Amazon’s international customer base ready to buy your designs.
Like Redbubble, you upload a design onto multiple products at once and adjust their placement and background colors. You also get to set your own prices. Amazon Merch on Demand currently offers a variety of shirts, sweatshirts, PopSockets, phone cases, tote bags, and pillows.
You have to be really careful on Amazon with your product titles and descriptions though. If a couple of words out of a sentence are trademarked — even if not on or even related to the design! — they will reject your design automatically. Too many rejections can get your account shut down. I recommend using TM Hunt to check trademarks, no matter where you are selling.
While I don’t have any personal experience with Spreadshirt, they seem to be pretty similar to Redbubble in function. They also have a tier system, but it’s about how much you can upload to their marketplace (50 designs to start) not additional fees.
On the downside, profit margins are much lower than the options listed above, with only $2.76-3.25 per shirt. At least their minimum payout threshold is only $10.
Until making this list, I’d completely forgotten I had a shop on CafePress; apparently I made a few dollars last year. Of course due to payment thresholds I can’t actually withdraw my meager earnings, but at least they didn’t take them back like some of the sites below. If you want completely hands-off print on demand like Redbubble, maybe give them a try.
Print On Demand Sites To Avoid
Teepublic is now owned by Redbubble. Though it does not (yet) have the same fees and tiers as Redbubble, it may be only a matter of time.
Teepublic also does not index new shops in search, requiring artists to market their products for sales. Even then they do not guarantee adding your designs to their marketplace. I added my best sellers from Redbubble to a new shop on Teepublic and they wouldn’t index them because they were vectors?! Apparently using the best image format for printing is frowned upon by Teepublic.
Besides having one of the clunkiest upload interfaces and highest product costs, Society6 will also be implementing new fees and tiers.
Society6 will be charging “shipping fees” starting May 4th as well as tiered “Subscription Plans” starting this fall. They haven’t released details on the tiers yet, but they were mentioned in a generic terms of service update email, probably hoping no one would notice. Here’s what the email said:
“In Fall 2023, Society6 will introduce annual subscription plans for artist accounts. This program will offer tiered plans, each with their own features and benefits. All artists will be required to select a plan to continue selling with Society6.
These plans will be designed to support our commitment to high-quality original artwork, improve the shopping experience, and allow us to offer enhanced services for the artist community at each tier. We look forward to sharing more about this new program in the coming months.”Society6 Email to Artists
Teespring aka Spring
I left Teespring a few years ago after their rampant bot problem that led to pixel for pixel copycat designs ranking higher than the original designers and stealing sales. Since then the r/Teespring forum has been filled with stories of artists not getting paid and customers not getting products. They also no longer index new shops in their search, requiring seller to direct their own traffic to products and get sales first. If you’re going to be spending time and money on marketing, it should be to your own shop.
Besides have the worst uploading interface, Zazzle has what is called “non-contributing account fee”, where they deduct from your earnings if you go 15 months without referring a sale to your shop. Combined with payment thresholds, it means if you’re not making much (common with new stores), what little you do make is taken back…just like the new Redbubble fees.