Using a Print on Demand Drop Shipping Art Prints Service OR Printing yourself – which is better?

One of the decisions you will have to make is whether you will be printing your art prints yourself using a Print on Demand Drop Shipping Art Prints Service. 

Using a Print on Demand Drop Shipping Art Prints Service OR Printing yourself? Image showing a wooden floor with CMYK letters on it

What is a Print on Demand Drop Shipping Art Prints Service?

A Print on Demand Drop Shipping Art Prints Service is a company that will prints your item for you and then ships it directly to your customer without including an invoice/receipt in with the order. You can get your art prints printed in this way but you can also get many consumables printed e.g. phone cases, cushions, t-shirts, tote bags, mugs etc etc. I will discuss consumables in a future post but for the purposes of this post I will be discussing Dropship Printing Comapanies that print art prints. 

When I first started out selling prints I found it easier to use a drop ship printer because buying a professional printer was a little too expensive at the time. Additionally I wasn’t sure which paper I wanted to use and I didn’t want to buy reams and reams of paper and then for it to go unused – some papers are very pricey so this would have been a bit of an outlay in itself.

So I did a lot of research and selected some companies that I liked the look of and ordered some sample paper packs. Once I compared all the papers against one another I chose some I liked and I ordered a few ‘test’ prints to see what my prints would look like professionally printed. I found I had to make a few tweaks and then re-order them because I found that the quality of my initial prints was too low. I definitely therefore recommend you also do this before listing your prints for sale (however if you follow the advice on this site then there is a lot less chance of this happening!). If you have a home printer then test the prints out on that first before ordering as you may be able to pick up some obvious flaws (text not being properly aligned, paint splats, shadows etc). 

Once you are happy with the quality prints that are produced you can put them up for sale and then when you get orders just order from the printer to ship directly to your customer. 

What if your prints are personalised – how can you make sure that the quality is there consistently?

This is a little tricky as with personalised prints each one is obviously different so a ‘test’ print for one won’t look the same as a test print for another. When I’m drop shipping personalised prints I print the print myself at home on copy paper using my laser printer and I look at alignment, text, any imperfections (splats, blobs, colour incosistency). If I’m happy with the general layout and I’m sure there aren’t any flaws I then order the print from my Dropship Printing Company and ship it directly to the customer. 

The advantages of using a Print on Demand Drop Shipping Art Prints Service

  • You can print on demand i.e. you can get one print sent to one customer without having to buy a printer and a ream of paper so initially the cost and risk to you is lower. 
  • You can use a drop ship company in a different country to you so that you avoid any delays at customs (which can happen at busy times of the year) e.g. if you use a dropship printing company in Australia for all Australian orders your order will reach your customer much quicker than if you were to post it from the UK; You also have the advantage of being able to offer lower shipping costs to your customers because shipping will be within their country of residence. Doing this will also avoid any delays at customs – which is another bonus!
  • Ordering a print is usually much quicker than having to print, cut and package a print yourself and take it to the post office so generally this method saves you time. 

After a few months of using this method of printing I decided it was time to purchase a printer. This was mainly because I wanted to control my production a little better – I found at Christmas my drop ship printer was taking 3-5 days to process and print my orders which was too long for my liking. I therefore bought my first printer and being familiar with the papers by now bought some paper that I was happy with. 

The advantages of Printing your Prints yourself

  • It is cheaper in the long run if you are going to be selling a lot of prints. 
  • You get to see your work before it gets sent out so you can re-print if there are any faults/flaws. 
  • You should be able to offer a quicker service than a dropship printing company as they usually have a 3-5 day turnaround; I can usually print and post out within 1-2 working days. 
  • You can decide how to package your prints – if you decide that you want to use ribbon or stickers or a handwritten note for that special touch then you can. This is not possible with using a dropship printing company – their packaging tends to be very plain and not very pretty 🙂 
  • You have more control – if you need to reprint an order for any reason (if it was not received) or you decide that the colour of a print is wrong then you can correct it and reprint it. If you are using a dropship printer then this could get expensive. 

Why and when I still use a Print on Demand Drop Shipping Art Prints Service

I still use drop ship printing companies for the following reasons :

  • When I get orders for large prints – my current printer prints up to an A3 size (and it is already a bit of a monster for a home office!!) so anything larger I outsource to my dropship printing company.
  • When I get orders from a country that I have a reliable dropship printing company in. I use a dropship printer in the USA for all my USA bound orders and they ship via USPS. This means that my customers generally get quicker postal times and their orders are automatically tracked because USPS use a tracked service as standard. This is cheaper (and a lot faster!) than sending tracked from the UK;  
  • If I am very very busy I may outsource some of my printing directly to a drop ship printing company. 

A Note about using Print on Demand Drop Shipping Art Prints Companies

Some selling platforms are happy for you to use dropship printing companies however you must declare that you are doing so. Therefore if you are selling on one of these platforms (such as etsy) you must list them as a manufacturing partner. 

Some Print on Demand Drop Shipping Art Prints Companies I’ve used

Here is a list of some of the Print on Demand Drop Shipping Art Prints Companies I’ve used :

PrintfulPrintful are a print on demand printer that have an excellent integration with etsy i.e. you can upload your design once to printful and then you can get it printed on a variety of different products. You can sell posters, framed posters, canvas prints as well as t-shirts, mugs, stickers, totebags and even jewellery. Really the list and potential is MASSIVE. One downside is that it is not cheap but if you have a great design then people will pay the premium prices. As stated above Printful is integrated with etsy which means you can list your item directly from Printful and Printful will upload it to your etsy store (though you will need to tweak the titles, tags and description in all likelyhood) with picturess from Printful. When you receive an order etsy will automatically advise Printful of the order and they will process/print and then ship it and mark the order as shipped. You don’t have to do anything…it is quite brilliant and amazing…

Redbubble – Redbubble are very similar to Printful in that they enable you to print your art/designs on a multitude of different consumable items from miniskirts to notebooks. You can use Redbubble to print wall art too – posters, art prints, framed prints, canvas prints, acrylic blocks, metal prints, art boards and wall tapesteries (the list is quite extensive!!). I use them mainly for printing cushions as I found the quality to be good. The beauty of Redbubble is that they also sell your items through their store so it acts as another selling portal and you may pick up a few sales through them. Again the costs are not cheap unfortunately. 

FineArtAmerica – this works in a similar way to Redbubble in that you upload your work and decide what it will be sold on. They will also sell your work through their store for you (though I have only ever achieved one sale this way!!!) However with a free account you can only upload a small portfolio of work – if you would like to upload your whole portfolio then you would need paid membership and at time of writing this is $30 per year. Again using FAA is not a cheap option but is great if you are starting out and you can offer framed print this way if that is your preference. 

You can find the facebook page here :

How To Sell Prints Online Facebook Page

And here is the facebook group :

How To Sell Prints Online Facebook Group

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