Do you have a funny saying that you’re known for? Are you an artist? Or maybe you can draw some funny little character that people seem to love. If you’ve got an artistic bent and you want to see your work on t-shirts, hats, mugs, electronics skins, water bottles, bags, posters, and hundreds of other do-dads, you can make a little extra money selling your designs at sites like Zazzle.com or CafePress.com.
Most of these sites work the same way. You create your design and then use the sites’ design features to arrange, crop, and size the design to fit on the item(s) you wish to sell. Once you’re satisfied with your product, you post it for sale. You can even create your own “shop” within their site if you want to sell multiple products or different design lines. The site handles the order taking and payment processing.
Pricing is, in most cases, dictated by the creator but be careful not to get too ambitious or your products won’t sell. Items are priced on these sites by adding the sites’ cost for the item to your desired markup. So let’s say that the site sells a blank t-shirt for $14.95. You decide how much of a royalty you want to make on each shirt and that percentage or dollar figure is added to the sites’ cost. If you decide you want to make $5 per shirt, the shirt will sell for $19.95 on the site, with the site keeping $14.95 and you getting $5.00. You’re free to ask for a thirty dollar royalty, but if your shirt is selling for $44.95, don’t expect to sell too many. Aim for a number that makes you a little money, but which will still sell products.
Some sites offer referral and sales bonus programs that can make you a little more money. When you refer someone to the store and that person buys your product, you will get a referral bonus that is usually a set percentage of the total order. If you sell a certain dollar amount of your items within a month (or other specified time period), some sites will give you a bonus as way of saying thank you for increasing sales.
The one real caveat when selling designs on sites like these is to make certain that you own the copyright to anything you create or that you’ve obtained use rights from the copyright holder. You may be a huge Star Wars or Harry Potter fan, but using those characters or their words in your work without permission is likely to get you in trouble. Similarly, you have to be careful if you’re using famous quotes, jokes, or sayings. Some may be okay to use as they are considered to be in the public domain. Others are copyrighted.
You have to be careful, too, if you’re getting images from the Internet or clip art collections. Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t make it free to use. Most images on the web are someone’s copyrighted work. If you’re ever in doubt, be sure to ask. It’s much easier to ask before you invest too much time into creating a design than to go back later and undo all of your work. If you want to keep things simple, just use your own work at all times.
If you have an artistic flair and want to see your work on anything from a clock to a dog food bowl, setting up shop at one of these sites can be a good way to make a little extra money. You won’t get rich unless you create a very popular design, but you can have a little fun and maybe someday you’ll pass someone on the street wearing your design.