Art Business Tip: Print on demand and artist websites

Stephanie Weaver
8 min readJun 9, 2021

In the previous episode of art business tips, we discussed the 3 types of Website providers: Sole Hosted, Specialized Artist Website Builder, and Marketplace provider where you were given the homework to review the options based on your requirements and identify which type best meets your needs.

In this episode, we are going to dive into the next requirement which is to actually have Print On Demand on your artist website to start that awesome additional income stream. If you have not listened to the previous episodes ( Part 1 and Part 2) and done the homework — pump the breaks, pause and go back!

So get ready — here we go.

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Ok now — we are going to plan which Print On Demand Provider is best for you and let me tell you selling prints and products online is so stinking easy nowadays it is ridiculous!

Back in the day, you had to find a reputable printer, 20 years ago you had to ship them the piece so they could scan it, and then they’d mail it back to you (all at your expense!). Now all you have to do is get a good picture or scan of your artwork and depending on your requirements you can be up and running really quickly!

Nowadays you don’t have to purchase a fancy printer, you don’t have to purchase all of the prints and mail them off — essentially the cost to entry is now very low. You simply, get a great picture of your artwork and integrate the Vendor into your site, where possible. So why do I say “where possible”. There are some Print On Demand vendors that handle site integration more elegantly and others that don’t.

And that’s what we’ll talk about today.

This will be the last step before I say — ok pick the type of website provider that meets your business needs. But first I want you to answer 1 question that will be the deciding factor on what solution you choose:

Are you comfortable with technology or do you have people you can go to if you get over your head?

With the answer to that question in your mind, let’s figure out what solution would be best for you.

Choices: Marketplace Providers with Print on Demand and/or Solely Hosted Providers with Print on Demand

Get out your homework!

I categorize the Print On Demand option into two Categories which are dependent on what option you select to host your website:

Note: for the Specialized Artist Website Provider (like FASO, Art Storefronts, etc) they will have their own print-on-demand options for you to use — if you go with one of these you can skip this episode.

Here is a summary of the two options:

Marketplace Providers with Print on Demand:

  • Are 3rd party companies that host your images on their site
  • Provide a catalog of products they sell and can place your images on.
  • Marketplace providers take the orders, fulfill the order, maintain the relationship with the client.
  • Pros and Cons: Low tech, low time commitment, low-profit margin, no client interaction, does not integrate well with any website provider.

Solely Hosted Providers with Print on Demand:

  • 3rd party companies that can take your images, source out print orders, and ship them.
  • will seamlessly integrate with your website shopping cart provider and sometimes Etsy
  • Can create a one-stop-shop with a consistent look and feel.
  • Pros and Cons: Higher tech, higher time commitment, higher profit margin, direct client interaction, integrations are available.

Sole Effort Revenue Streams: Marketplace Providers with Print on Demand

Going back to the car analogy, the Marketplace providers provide the scenario where you simply get in the car and drive — there are no bells and whistles that you have to select from — you just upload your artwork, set a price, and promote the links on your social media accounts. This is low tech, low cost, low time allocation, and lower profit margin.

Now, if you choose to do a Solely Hosted Solution or a Specialized Artist Website I can tell you the marketplace providers generally do not handle website integration very well with your Solely Hosted Solution or Specialized Artist Website and for good reason — The reason they do this:

So if you are not worried about a consistent look and feel on your site, or access to your buyers and would much rather spend your time painting or with family than advertising your work yourself — then these are fabulous avenues to start and grow with.

Solely Hosted Providers with Print on Demand

The next option, Solely Hosted Providers with Print on Demand kicks up the complexity a notch BUT allows for the tailored approach, where you’ll need more time to achieve a better look and feel with a higher profit margin, you can even select products from multiple vendors to sell. In summary, more tech, more time, direct customer contact, and higher profit margin.

Some examples of 3rd party POD Providers are, Printful, Printify (affiliate link), Gooten. For a listing of POD Vendors that I’ve researched click here “ Top 2 Reasons to Choose a Print On Demand Vendor “.

If you host your own site, like a WordPress site, or Wix or any website provider that uses Woocommerce or Shopify, there is some additional work that is needed to make this sort of integration work but well worth it if you are concerned about the consistent look and feel and highest profit margin.

I use Gooten and Printify which are integrated with the Etsy Shop. I promise you, integration is wayyyyy easier than it sounds.

If you are curious: What do I use?

My art business, like so many, evolved over time as did my website, and still continues to evolve. That said, here were my requirements so you can see what and why I made the decisions I’ve made:

My comfort level with tech: high comfort level. And I’ve got people I know who can help if I get over my head.

Here are my functional requirements:

  • Consistent look and feel (with my branding)
  • Sell prints and products
  • Sell Commissions
  • Sell originals
  • Sell classes online
  • Create a role-based artist community
  • Direct client relationship

Then I considered my target audiences:

Prints and Originals Under $200

  • Direct client interaction is not a high priority, would prefer
  • Consistent look and feel is not a high priority would prefer
  • Higher profit margin

Originals and Commissions

  • Direct client interaction — required
  • Consistent look and feel — required
  • Higher profit margin

Online Classes

  • Direct client interaction — required
  • Consistent look and feel — required
  • I own the content and pricing — required

Role-based community:

  • Direct client interaction — required
  • Consistent look and feel — required
  • I own the content and pricing — required

Note: About the only requirements I don’t have on my site to address are:

  • Selling to wholesales
  • Licensing my artwork

And that’s because I really don’t have any interest in doing either one of those things, now or in the foreseeable future…but if YOU do, then add these to your list and consider the look and feel, type of interaction with the audience

Based on my requirements I choose:

And while I’m about to tell you my tech stack I’ll will provide the caveat: Do I recommend the same stack I have for everyone — absolutely not — mine is specific to my needs for my art, art business. And my focus is less on my art and more on art teaching and community. What technology you choose should be based on your business need!

Note: back when I was more concerned about my art and my focus wasn’t on teaching, I had 2 shopping cart options that are integrated into my WordPress Site

  • For Original Artwork over $200 — I used Woocommerce so that I can control the shopping experience and interact with my clients directly who purchase original, higher value artwork.
  • For Original Artwork and Prints under $200 — I have used a plugin called Etsy360 that allows for my Etsy Shop to appear seamlessly into my site. The plugin is a paid-for plugin — here is a link to the plugin (LINK TO ETSY 360).

After a time, I decided to consolidate and hit the easy button and use Etsy only as my shopping cart solution. It’s a gateway to a new audience. As a result, this is my new tech stack:

  • Marketplace Provider: Etsy basic (I have not upgraded to Pattern By Etsy)
  • Print On Demand: Etsy is integrated with Gooten and Printify. I can also integrate with these on my site but haven’t found the need yet (just because I can doesn’t mean I need to).
  • The community and learning management system are also integrated on my site thanks to Kajabi. (note: at one point I was using WordPress with BuddyBoss Platform and Theme and LearnDash but 4/15/2021 — I updated to Kajabi and got off of WordPress due to an increased desire to focus more on art and less on tech).

The website that you see that I’ve created was a year-long build a substantial investment of my time and money because my requirements were that important to me.

My best advice: build for the future that you dream of.

Your Homework

I will caution you as well, Do NOT go for the next pretty thing — always evaluate the functionality against your business need. Think of the car — do you really use that sunroof as often as you thought you would? Now, it’s your turn! Take your requirements, do the research and choose a solution based on your requirements that you’ve outlined and your comfort level with technology.

Like I said in the first part of this series: build one piece at a time, start with selling your artwork, get that component of the site the way you want it and then add on.

In March we had website designer and creator Rachel Harchanko from Social Media 360 provide a presentation on-website providers. The replay of this Lunch and Learn is available to Positive Painter Members only. You can join the community of goal-oriented artists who want to spend more time creating and less time on the business. Learn more here.

This post does have an affiliate link to Kajabi. What this means is if you decide to purchase Kajabi I receive a small commission for my honest recommendation.

Until next time, stay safe, happy and healthy, and happy Painting!!!

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Stephanie Weaver

I am an artist and founder of the Positive Painter Art Business Program. I focus on helping the next generation of artists thrive & find balance.