Good news, everyone!
After looking at over 30 sites, I chose Bluecanvas to be my Print On Demand website. Please visit my collection and, if you feel like it, purchase some photographs as prints, on canvas, on cards, and on iPhone and iPad cases.
Right now, the photos are mostly of nature and cemeteries, but I’ll be adding artwork and more photos in the next coming weeks.
My goal is to have 10 sales in 6 months. If that sounds like a small goal, well, I just want to gauge how much of an interest people have in my work so that I might continue offering prints and maybe expand into other products. (In the comments I read, many people have 0 sales in four times that long.)
This is a preview of what one of the photos would look like as an iPhone cover:
If you’re interested, below are my thoughts on some of the other Print On Demand sites and why I didn’t choose them.
Saatchi Online, PhotoReflect, and ArtsNow (aka ArtsCow and ArtsCafe) topped all the “stay away from them” lists.
Wide array of products
Cafepress: They’ve had bad press the last few years and their products are widely said to be cheap. Also, they’ve allegedly used sweatshop labor.
Zazzle: Although they offer many products I’d like to have, and use environmentally-sourced paper, their t-shirts fade badly. Their marketplace is also filled with people who take public-domain images and slap them on everything.
DeviantArt: They recently stopped selling apparel. I don’t like their payment system – it looks like they can pay you in “points” rather than real money and the burden is on you to ask for the money. They also don’t let you set your commission rate and have terrible profit margins.
Redbubble: I had a really hard time deciding about Redbubble. They offer apparel that doesn’t fade and calendars (I reeeeally wanted calendars). However, they’re not clear about whether your real name appears on your printed products – I, like many others, don’t want my real name out there (yet, or maybe ever). There were also several people who said that Redbubble continued to sell their designs after they deleted their shops.
Society6: It only pays artists via Paypal. I want a check!
Vista Print: On Wikipedia, it said that Vista Print had signed users up for (paid) services they never asked for.
Prints only (or almost only)
Fine Art America: I would totally have gone with them if they didn’t insist on displaying your real name. I understand the desire to have a professional image and avoid usernames like SillyBunny84, but many artists like to have an artist name, and that name is intimately tied to their art. Also, some people like to keep their real life and online lives separate, or make art that would compromise them at work.
Smugmug: They’re not free. Also, I’ve been on sites hosted by Smugmug and the interface is wonky.
Zenfolio: Also not free, and they do not support non-standard image sizes.
Photo4Me: Their Terms & Conditions weren’t worded very well, and they are Paypal only.
T-shirts and apparel
Printfection: Although I may have misunderstood, it looks like you pre-pay them for making t-shirts for you. That is, you pay for products that may never be made. That’s even worse than buying in bulk – at least with bulk orders you have real products you may be able to sell later, even if it’s years later.
Skreened: The reviewers who went to the physical store loved it, while reviewers who bought online hated it and never received their orders.
Spreadshirt: They pay out every quarter, not every month, and pay through direct deposit only. They also put your designs in their database, making them available to others to alter. Sure, you get paid when your designs are used, but not everyone is comfortable with that.