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When someone asks me “hey Veronica, how much can you really earn selling Print On Demand shirts?” a very curious thing happens. People tend to express a certain amount of dismay that I may only make about $1-7 per shirt (it depends on the platform).

The reaction goes something like, “why even bother doing it if you make so little?” But we’re not out here to sell only one shirt. When we start thinking about the scale and the marketing strategies to get there, it makes a whole lot more sense, especially when you compare it to traditional licensing deals.

When you license your designs, you’ll tend to earn an advance on sales, at a rate of around 3-20% depending on the company, the deal, your clout as an illustrator, and the volume of sales. It varies a lot, and that landscape is changing, so I’m speaking very broadly here. My point is that you earn a big check up front that may or may not earn out, it may or may not get renewed, and when the license expires, you may or may not be able to sell it again.

And let me be clear: I’m really not saying that traditional licensing isn’t a viable avenue to explore when you’re wanting to get your art on products. It’s just that opting for Print On Demand means smaller checks more frequently for a period that doesn’t end, with products that may have more niche appeal than a traditional licensing agreement would be able to sustain.

I think Print On Demand is especially good for people with niche interests, a loyal audience, a desire to see their work in print RIGHT NOW, a willingness to DIY some market research and marketing, or some combination of all of these. Does that describe you? It certainly describes me, so if you’re missing one or two of these, I can help you fill in the gaps!

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