How to sell your work online

Creative side projects can offer all sorts of benefits, one of them being the chance to make a little extra money by selling your designs online. But how do you go about turning your ideas into products you can sell – physical or digital? Where are the best places to sell your work online? And how much should you charge?

Whether you want to set up your own bespoke ecommerce site, or let a company take the hassle out of it for you, there’s a plethora of options to get going. With these options, you can get your work in the hands of other designers, make a few fans on the way and even get some more commissions.

How much should you charge?

Deciding on pricing is of course an issue when selling your designs online. You want to make some cash, but you don't want to price yourself out of your customers’ reach. 

“It really depends on the complexity of the project,” says freelance motion designer Thomas Davis. “I try to think about how my products could save people time or help them with their projects and what that is worth. 

"Ultimately, though, I think it comes down to how much I'd be willing to pay for it myself if it were on sale elsewhere.”

With that in mind, let's look at some ways to sell your work online.

Sell through an established store

Society6 takes care of the logistics – just upload your designs and name a price

Society6

The most common things that designers sell are prints. Perhaps the easiest way – and a way to tap into an already thriving community – is to use a service such as Society6. This site has actually moved from predominantly prints to pretty much anything you can imagine – tapestries, iPhone cases... you name it. 

Simply sign up, verify your identity by making a one-time payment of $1 via PayPal and upload your work to sell it as a print... or whatever you like. Check out the help on the site for the required resolution for different products – and the royalties you’ll received for the different kinds. 

The great thing about selling prints here is that you determine your price – and you’ll be paid the profit made.

You can set up an artist shop for free on Threadless

Threadless

Over the years, Threadless has gone from T-shirts to prints, home furnishings and more. And whereas it used to be competition-based, you can now set up an artist shop for free and upload your work to be printed on all manner of products. 

And the great thing about Threadless is there’s no minimum order size – and everything is printed as a custom one-off product. You can see the kind of profit you’re likely to make on Threadless’s selling page.

Others

There’s a myriad of other options for selling, including Gumroad for digital products – explained further down the page – and Etsy. Etsy lets you determine your price, but you will be lumped in with lots of craft-based products.

Set up a bespoke store on your site

Mike Harrison set up the custom Rudoji store using Big Cartel

Big Cartel

But if you’re more interested in bringing visitors to your own site, there are a number of options that enable you to quickly add a shop. One of the most popular is Big Cartel. If you’re selling five products or fewer, the service is free, and it enables you to easily build your shop into your site, offering different design themes ready to go. 

One designer who recently set up a Big Cartel site is Mike Harrison – who wanted to design and sell products based around his ‘Rudoji’ project, an ongoing collection of ‘rude emojis’.

“I used Bigcartel as a base for the shop,” says Harrison. “It felt like the most 'plug and play' shop system out there, which was quick and easy to set up. I customised it heavily, though, from one of the base themes using HTML/CSS. There was a lot of trial and error with the customisation parts that I did myself.”

Awesome Merchandise produce Harrison's products for his online shop

There are a number of pricing options depending on how many products you want to sell. Bear in mind that this is purely an e-commerce solution – Big Cartel won’t print or mail out orders for you, so you’ll need to do that on your own. 

To actually get his products made, Harrison went to Awesome Merchandise, based in Leeds, UK. “They offer all kinds of products you can customise and so were a great find. They're also good value and the production quality is decent,” says the designer. 

Harrison got all of the products printed before the shop went live and gets more made as they go out of stock, taking some of the hassle out of having his own store.

Gumroad has plenty of options for selling digital products

Gumroad

Freelance motion designer Thomas Davis used a different platform to sell his digital products – Gumroad. Davis embedded the Gumroad store in his own site, but you can also sell your products directly through Gumroad.

“If you're looking to sell digital products it has all sorts of tools built in like serial numbers for each sale, ‘pay what you like’ pricing for products, offer codes, and an email option to send updates to customers, everything you need really!" says Davis.

Davis set up Loop to sell After Effects packs – everything from glitchy titles to cool effects and presets – that he started making in downtime between projects.  

Gumroad gives designers the option of selling on their site or embedding its platform into your own site

“I design and build all sorts of projects that I think other motion designers will find useful, as well as writing blog posts and tutorials to help new designers learn more about the world of motion design,” says Davis. 

On Gumroad's capabilities, he says, "The actual checkout experience is one of the slickest I've seen."

Squarespace

Squarespace is another service that enables you to design your entire ecommerce site and sell your work directly from there. It also offers marketing services such as reminder emails to customers who have left things in their shopping cart.

Shopify

Shopify is another ecommerce site hosting and site building service with plenty of theme customisation options. It also offers blogging capabilities and a gift card facility.

More options

Whatever shopfront or selling solution you use, creating bespoke products to sell can be a fantastic way to raise your profile and get your work on walls, chests, furniture and more. If you want to browse more options, check out our 14 great places to sell your design work online post.

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