The Magic of Print on Demand.

If you are not familiar with what a POD does, they are websites where artists create a profile (online storefront) and upload their high-resolution art into their system. The system then populates your store with options for products, the most popular are frames, and matted prints, some even use your images to create throw pillows or shower curtains. A customer comes in makes a purchase and you get a commission based on your markup. The POD service then takes care of all the transactions, packaging, shipping. It sounds amazing. Upload your art and sit back and watch the money come to you. Sounds simple enough but it comes with a lot of work. 

Here're a few things to keep in mind if you decide to join a POD website. 

#1 Make sure your art is sharp. Don’t upload low-resolution images. Some websites like fineartamerica.com populate your shop based on the resolution of your images. So if your image is of low quality, the amount of products available on your store will be limited. Most PODs offer a chart on how to size your art for their systems. 

#2 Know your rights. You are essentially giving your images away to a third party. Most of these websites let you keep all your rights as an artist but some of these rights might fall through the fine print. Take the time to read the contracts associated with the services and learn your position as the artist. 

#3 Don’t sell yourself short. Know your value as an artist. Know your worth. How long did it take you to complete your work? What materials went into making it?  The answers to questions like these will help you determine what you should charge for your art.  Be confident in your vision.

#4 Do your research. Find out what other artist are doing and how you measure against them. You don’t want to undersell your art but you also want to stay competitive in the market. 

#5 Keep it simple. There are POD’s like Crated.com that only offer a few options, maybe you don’t want to sell shower curtains and coffee mugs. Some POD’s are more complex than others and doing your research can help you determined where you want to be and what you want to offer. 

#6 Take advantage of social media. You now have an online store, you have art for sale and you have crossed all your T(s) and dotted all your I(s), but it's been days and you still have no visitors on your page. Use the power of social media and use it effectively. Make announcements, post photos of your behind the scene process, educate your customers on what you know. Ask questions and engage your followers.  Keep in mind not to spam your followers either, this could turn them off easily. 

#7 Reinvent yourself. If your strategy is not working try something else. Go back and do some research on your field. Figure out what strategies are working in your market. There are tons of tools available for you to utilize and gain insight on how your market is behaving. Use this knowledge to rearrange the way you present yourself and your art. 

#8 Join an artist community. Sites like Facebook have a lot of artists focused groups where you can communicate with other people who might be doing the same thing you are doing. Ask questions to other artist and get a little more knowledge about what you’re venturing out to.

#9 Keep it real. Don’t offer one thing and then deliver something else. This is an easy way to alienate your customers. Make sure your art looks as good in your hands as it does online. Order some samples from the POD site and inspect them for quality, that way you know exactly what the customer is getting. 

#10 Stay true to yourself. Stay true to your art.

By Johan Salvador