Sunday, July 5, 2015

Create And Earn Tip #4 - Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

First of all let me clarify that this blog is not designed to praise the qualities of one particular POD website, call it Zazzle, CafePress, RedBubble or whatever.  The purpose of this blog is to help out designers who are looking for a way to present their work to the public via POD websites and profit from it.

Every POD company has its pros and cons.  Some are easy to use and some not as much.  A couple are well established companies while others are just coming into the arena.  In the end each one has its own advantages.

When I first began doing this kind of work, I felt the need to be loyal to one particular company.  In my case it was CafePress.  From 2006 to 2009 I only had one store.  Everything was going well and I though I would stay there for the rest of my life.  But suddenly, in 2009 they decided to change their royalty policy and I felt betrayed.  Without another thought I looked for another POD company and found Zazzle.

Again, I felt I was going to only be with Zazzle for the rest of my career and hated CafePress.  I hate it so much I decided to remove all of my content and closed my CafePress store.  Oh, what a big mistake that was.

As time passed by the Zazzle store started to grow, and I started to make more and more money.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing and I felt on my way to the top of the world.  That was until 2012.  One morning I woke up with an unsettling feeling in my stomach and a burning question in my head.  What if Zazzle betrays me like CafePress did?  By this time I had already quit my "regular" job and completely depended on Zazzle.

I came to the conclusion to start looking for another POD company and open a second store.  After a couple of days of searching and analyzing my options, decided a company called RedBubble would be my best bet.

It wasn't as big as Zazzle, and I didn't make nearly as much as I made in Zazzle, however, it was really easy and fast to upload and edit graphics.  As time went by, it also started to grow, very slowly, but constantly.  Again, I was happy and the sun was shining.  And then things took a turn for the better.

Out of nowhere Zazzle announced a change in their volume bonus program.  In a few words the change consisted of me not getting the $50 bonus I would normally get each month.  Instead of being angry like I was when CafePress changed its royalty system, I was happy and relieved.  I felt that way because I was able to foresee the future and prepare for it.  I didn't give that much importance to Zazzle's change and kept adding content to both stores.  After all I never "lost" any money, it was just a bonus Zazzle was giving all of us.

My two stores were growing and everything seemed fine.  That's when I realized something that had avoided me.  POD websites/companies are nothing but a way for people to find our graphics.  That meant the more stores we had in different POD websites, the bigger the audience for our graphics.

After that realization, something changed. I didn't feel betrayed by CafePress anymore.  In fact, I was eager to open a new CafePress store and start uploading my different graphics.  I was feeling so well that after 8 or so months of opening the new CP store, I found another POD website and opened yet another store.  The name was Skreened.

Nowadays my graphics are uploaded to 4 different POD websites daily.  I consider these 4 companies the best ones out there.  I also happen to have a store on a 5th POD company called Spreadshirt, however, for reasons I'm going to discuss in the next paragraphs I don't upload as much content or as often as with the other 4.

Now I'm going to go over the good and not so good aspects of the different POD websites I work with.

This is probably the best POD website out there.  They have a great variety of products to feature your designs on and the quality is magnificent.  This is by far my #1 store.  They are a big company who is willing to invest in its infrastructure and is not afraid to compensate your good work.  Of course, first you need to create and prove your work is any good.  It's marketplace is huge and filled with work from very talented individuals.  For that same reason I feel so proud when anyone purchases any of my image-only graphics.  I feel I'm competing against the "big boys" and I'm wining.  You won't regret opening a store there.

Technically not as big as Zazzle, however, it has been growing constantly.  In 2012, when we opened our store, the only "good" product they had to feature any of our graphics were the stickers.  But now everything has changed.  Now they offer different kinds of t-shirts, hoddies, sweaters, mugs, pillow cases, tote bags, photographic prints and so much more.  Uploads are very easy.  In short, I'm very happy to work with this company.

Here is where the dream began.  At the time I didn't like the change in their royalty system, however, after learning a couple of lessons the hard way, I've come to realize how wise that move truly was.  I like their new format.  Pretty simple and quick.  Just upload an image and their software will automatically edited into any compatible product they're selling.

I don't really know much about this company other than it is really easy to use.  Kind of like CafePress, just upload an image and it will automatically appear on any product they carry.  However, here you do need to make one or two adjustments if you didn't like the positioning of the design.  I believe this company is pretty new, however, I did make my first sale just after two months of opening a store.

The 5th and smallest store we've opened up.  Ironically, it is the oldest one.  I don't really remember how or why we opened this store.  All I know it was created sometime in 2007.  Overall, it seemed like a good company.  They were offering a variety of products and the site seemed to work well.  There was only one small, but very important problem.  If you wanted to upload more than 5 graphics per day, you would need to pay a monthly fee.

At the time I was just barely starting and was doing the POD website gig as a hobby without really expecting too much from it (2007).  I didn't see a need to pay in order to work.  As time went by I began to forget about this particular store.  From time to time there would be a 1 week period where I would upload images to this store, but then forget about it again for another year or so.

That continued to happen until January or February of this year (2015).  That's when I noticed the 5 graphic upload limit had been lifted.  For a week or two I debated about putting the effort necessary to upload daily to this store, but came to the conclusion it  wasn't worth it.

Compared to the rest of the stores, this one takes too much time to upload and edit products.  Hopefully this will change and this store will become a big player in my playbook.  However, I do get a sale from this store every few months or so.


I've noticed I didn't write any bad aspects from any of the POD companies I work with.  That's because there aren't actually any.  Sure, from time to time their site goes down for a couple of days or images don't display properly, but that's all.  And those are problems all websites suffer all the time.  All of these companies are in the business of delivering what they've promised.  I've seem them grow in different aspects, but all with the same goal in mind: to deliver a better product to the customer.  And a happy customer is a customer that will come back.

Once again we've come to the end of another Create And Earn Tip.  I hope you have learned from my mistakes and please consider opening up another store in some other POD website if you only have one.  Remember, the more stores in different sites you have, the more eyes that will look at your designs.  This all translates to a higher chance of someone falling in love with one of your graphics.  It doesn't have to be in any of the ones I mentioned here.  These companies have been good to me and they deserve to have their good work recognized.

Please don't forget to write down your comments, suggestions or questions and to subscribe to the blog to be notified when a new Create and Earn Tip comes out.

I hope you have gotten as much value as I intended to give.


  1. I found your post in the z forum in a discussion about increasing sales. I enjoyed reading your journey and tips. I have been with Z since 2011 and am on other PODs as well.

    1. Hey KittyKat, thanks for reading. I'm glad you have multiple shops for your work. And thanks for the kind comments, I really appreciate them.