If you’re like many designers, you probably have a few hundred fonts squirrelled away. You’ve likely spent many hours, in the name of brewing a design project, browsing page after page of types and treatments. You know where to get the best fonts for the best prices. You have a favorite designer (or twelve), you’ve taken your place on Team Serif (or not), and you know exactly how swashy you like your script to be. Your collection is amassed meticulously on your hard drive or sorted strategically in cloud storage for easy access. You have your go-to standards and that set you’ve saved for the “someday special” project.
No matter the size of your repository or your stance on serifs, if you’ve spent time in or around the design field you’ve likely developed an affinity to fonts. Let’s face it: designers and typography go together like coffee and chocolate. And it’s easier than ever to feed the need to collect them all. So why not put that collection to work for you? Gone are the days when a side gig for a designer means finding and landing freelance contracts. These days your side gig is entirely up to you and it’s easier than ever to rustle up some extra income. You can fit the work around even the craziest career, focus on creating the styles you love, and hone the skills you’re most passionate about.
A quick search will turn up myriad marketplaces specializing in everything from t-shirts to design elements, stationery suites, handmade artisan decor, and page after page of print-on-demand merchandise. It could be overwhelming at a glance, but have no fear, it’s never been easier to turn your passion for fonts and design into a small business.
Pick your platform
There are many platforms to choose from where you can upload your designs – each with its own set of pros and cons – there’s no need to start from scratch (though, that can be a great choice too!). Here’s a quick look at just a few of the options:
- Zazzle: A vast print-on-demand (POD) marketplace offering hundreds of merchandise options (seriously, everything from t-shirts and stickers to cookies!). Your commission is customizable (they recommend 5-10%) and their cut is 5%.
- Redbubble: The print-on-demand selection is a bit smaller here but your commission could be as high as 20%.
- Spoonflower: Looking to create custom fabric with your favorite words scattered in your favorite script? With 19 different types of fabric to choose from (and other POD merchandise as well), this is the marketplace for you!
- CafePress: Another massive POD marketplace with a large following and decent reputation. But beware of limitations to the number of products you can offer for sale in your store at a given time.
- Society6: The biggest distinction with this sizable POD marketplace is their predetermined prices and fixed 10% commission.
Interested in jumping in on the clever t-shirt trend? There’s no shortage of platforms to explore: Zazzle, CafePress, Threadless, Spreadshirt, TeeFury, Skreened…and the list goes on. Whether it’s wit or wisdom that moves you, creating unique and trendy t-shirts is a great way to earn a bit of extra income.
Starting up with an existing marketplace offers the advantage of an established infrastructure and high traffic volume. On the other hand, you’re also competing with thousands of other producers for said traffic. With plugins like Shopify and WooCommerce you can host your own shop while still tapping the print-on-demand services of a platform like Zazzle or CafePress. If you’ve already got a following, this may just be the ticket for you.
Consider your branding
Whether you choose a shop within a marketplace, or a store on your own site, you’ll want to consider your brand.
- Be sure your profile is complete and professional.
- Take the time to think through the niche you’ll target, it’s wise to have an organized theme within your store, whether it’s as broad as “witty shirts” or more narrow such as “happy words in beautiful fonts”, you’ll want to keep it cohesive.
- Be strategic with what you put in your storefront.
- Develop a logo that speaks to your theme and your audience.
- When choosing your name, be sure to thoroughly search on Google, social media, and the marketplace(s) where you’ll be setting up a shop. Eventually you’ll want to build a following, so be sure you can secure an aptly named profile on your social media platform of choice.
Hone your strategy
Don’t worry if the strategy piece feels outside your skillset – you can learn and refine as you go. And there’s definitely no shortage of articles and forums written about how to successfully sell on these marketplaces. Once you’ve decided on your platform and gotten your head around your brand and product line, jump in and learn the prevailing best practices from the community of resident experts. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Think keywords – how will your customer find the product? Be very intentional with the words in your title, description, and tags.
- Be social – many of the marketplaces have a built-in social system that you’ll want to explore. Often it behooves a seller to be actively engaged with fellow sellers by commenting, promoting, and following to show your support. This is a great way to garner your own comments, promotions, and followers.
- Volume is key – the more you design and offer up in your storefront, the more chances your efforts will pay off. On Zazzle, for instance, you can upload one design onto several products at a time. Do a little of this each day and you can easily have several hundred products in your store in just a few months.
- Go for the trends – keep an eye to the season and play up current styles. Watch the shelves at your local department store and take your cues from what they’re putting out.
- Freshen up your metadata – if a product doesn’t record any sales it may not be pulled into search results; it’s a good idea to tweak your keywords, descriptions, tags, etc. as necessary to keep the listing relevant.
- Diversify – don’t bite off more than you can chew, but once you’ve got the hang of one marketplace, start up a shop on another so you can tap into their audience as well.
Lastly, be consistent. Set a daily or weekly production goal and treat this as a small business. While it’s definitely not a get-rich-quick thing, it is what you make of it, and it could very well put a bit of extra change in your pocket from time to time. It’s certainly a fun way to earn some extra income, build a portfolio, and practice your skill while putting your love of type and collection of fonts to great use.
Remember all purchases from TheHungryJPEG.com come with our Complete License, allowing you to use them on items you create and sell 🙂 Have a great day.