For the longest time printing, selling, shipping, and the customer service part of my art business overwhelmed me. Every time I looked at making prints of my artwork there was a nagging feeling and I'd ask myself, can my business really afford this? I knew I would be spending day, after day, trying to sell those prints to cover their costs. I wanted the opportunity to sell to those who wanted my art, but I didn't want to become a slave to it. This is when I turned to print on demand companies. However, none of them met my expectations, so at the time, I didn't bother with them. Then, I discovered Printful, a print on demand company specializing in t-shirts, but also offering art prints. I was skeptical at first, but eventually decided to give them a try. You can watch my honest (I was not paid for this) review of Printful and read more about my experience below.
Printful is a print on demand company. When customers come to my website they can choose the print they want, pick the size, choose the shipping that fits their budget, and check out right there on my own website. As soon as an order is made Printful creates the print within a couple days and ships it to the customer. Its a simple process.
Watch my printful video review
Printful Saves Artists Money, Time and Space.
I imagine that I am like most artists, and would rather focus on making art instead of the business side of things. If you're like me, you dread paperwork, taxes, shipping, and the constant time it takes to sell. It's costly and time consuming. Like any business, artists need to cut their costs and increase their profits.
The business-side of selling art is what actually pays an artist for their work. So, it's really important, and we know this. We need businesses that have an our success in mind that are willing to help us with our own business needs. We need great products to stand out and we need to be able to be ourselves. I discovered that Printful was a company that understood the art business and had my success in mind.
Printful saved me the cost of buying prints before I was able to sell them. They save me the time it takes to sell, ship, and address customer service. They saved space as I didn't have to carry inventory with me (space I don't have as I travel to all 50 U.S. states in an RV - read more here).
Printful is Easy to Add to Your Website
First I recommend that all artists build their own website and sell their art on their own site. The internet is a saturated marketplace, so you need to stand out and build relationships with your customers. Your own website does this for you. If you try to sell art on Etsy, Fine Art America, or another platform, they will be building a relationship with your purchasers, not you. These companies will send them e-mails about new products (that may not be yours), sending them discounts on your art (which you may decrease the value of your art), and contacting them about their business, not yours. If your customers receive a bad product, it reflects on you, not their business. Printful gets this, as they integrate right into your website, where your customers already are. Importantly, you keep your relationship with your customer. Printful doesn't take over and advertise their business in front of your customers after a purchase. They build you up as a business, not themselves. When it comes to search engines, your platform shows up under your name, not Printful. You want the people searching for your artwork to find you, not a platform with thousands of other artists that doesn't represent enough of who you are and what you do.
The most important reason I tried Printful was I payed $0 to integrate it into my website. There are several companies out there that will integrate into a website for thousands of dollars. They, of course, want to be paid for the time. Artist's shouldn't have to pay for another businesses complicated integration system. Printful is free. They get paid when I get paid, which I love. It is also so easy to add Printful to a website with just a few steps. I don't want to spend my time coding and working on maintaining a website, I'm an artist. Everything is synced, so when I add a product and the information I want to be with it to my Printful account, it goes right onto my website after I push one button. I don't have to re-enter any info on my website, which saves me time. Thanks, Printful for understanding simple!
Printful Let's Your Brand Shine!
Of course Printful wants to succeed, but they don't let their own success crowd out your success. Instead of putting their brand all over your products and shipping info, they let your brand stand out. You can add your logo, even though I wish they allowed colors because I love them. Your products ship with your brand. You can add thank you notes to the receipts, and send inserts in your packages (that you make yourself). They really let your products be your products even though they are printing them.
Customer service can be overwhelming for one person to handle and Printful understands that you have enough problems to deal with and adding theirs doesn't keep both of our customers. If there is anything wrong with a print that a customer bought, Printful understands that it reflects on you and that they need to take care of it. If there is an issue, they notify you right away so you can keep your customer happy and continue building a good relationship with them, and they will fix the problem. They will even send a new print right away, and won't penalize you for their mistake.
However, as an artist you have to understand that if you use blurry photos for a print, it's not Printful's problem. In order to create a great quality print, follow the simple directions on Printful to-the-T. It's important to take good photos on a great camera (DSLR) with even lighting and do minimal editing so it doesn't lower the resolution or change your colors. It's important to create a PNG, not a JPG, to upload, and to choose sizes that fit your art. Honestly, creating an product is easy and Printful has great instructions to help you through the process.
Printful Cares About Your Customers
We all know that buying on the internet needs to be safe because it's crawling with people who want to take information and money. Not only is it safe to check out on my website for my customers to buy but Printful does not sell my customers info. Printful understands that security is important and they're transparent with their services. From start to finish, Printful keeps my customers in the loop of what was happening with their purchase. They get e-mailed when it prints, and when it ships. They also send a tracking number so customers know where their purchase is right up to when it is delivered to them. They ship products safely, for paper prints that's in a poster tube, which minimizes creasing. The rolled up prints can be simply flattened out to put in a frame. For canvas prints they show up in a box that is professionally padded to minimize damage to the artwork. They get that it's a pain for customers to return products that don't arrive the way they should.
Printful Makes Great Products
I was really disappointed when I tried other print companies and the colors would be off, the picture would blurry, or the quality was sub-par. Printful's prints are high quality. They understand that my customers want acid-free, smudge-proof, high-quality products so that they can enjoy the artwork for years. They get that as artists we want our art to increase in value for our customers and so quality is important. Printful offers several different paper choices and canvas prints, but I wish they offered more sizes. Whatever you choose should reflect your brand and what you want your products to be. There are some art prints I can't offer because the size of my art is unique or just simply not a standard size. I think Printful will add more sizes as more artists use them. I haven't gotten samples of their other products, just prints. So, I can't say their T-shirts or mugs are great until I know if they are, but they do a great job on art print quality.
Art is valuable. What we do is valuable, and Printful gets this. Artists need to be paid for their time and effort so it's important to be reasonable with ourselves and our customers when pricing our artwork. Printful gives business owners the freedom to pick prices and choose the value of our products. They give you their price for creating the product and then you add your costs on top of it. Pricing art is not a favorite for artists, but what I do is I look at demand for my product, what similar products cost, and what my costs are for creating the product.
I Would Recommend Printful For Artists
If you haven't built a website to sell your artwork, what's stopping you? These days you can easily build a website on Weebly, Squarespace, Wix or whatever easy website builder that pops up in the future. They make it so simple. And, Printful makes it easy to add and sell prints of your artwork right on your website. You can be a team of one person, like I am, and do this, I promise! You don't need to wait around for galleries to accept you, or sell for you anymore. You need to be promoting yourself even if a gallery represents you. A website is crucial for your success. So I hope this review helps you as an artist and gives you the courage to start selling your artwork.
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