I have been playing around on the internet since the very earliest days of public access. Before that, in fact – at one point I had a university account that gave me access to the internet back when it was still a loose association of universities, research institutes and defence organisations. It has grown up a lot – and sadly, with the increase in less technically savvy people there has been an increase in the number of people out there to fleece those people. And this is absolutely true of the Print-on-Demand (PoD) space.
These days the Internet is a truly international thing, and it is accessed, every day, from almost every single country in the world. When you create internet content, that content is accessible to a very large percentage of the world’s population. Every YouTuber, Blogger, TicToker or other content creator on the internet has potential fans anywhere in the world, and they should be able to create and sell merch to their fans, whereever they are.
Creators should be able to sell their Merch anywhere in the world, right?
“Aha! But they can!” you say – and you’re right. There are a number of Print-on-Demand suppliers out there who offer you a shopfront on their systems which can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Of course, some of them require extra fees if you want to sell outside of your primary region (“Oh, did we forget to mention that?”). Some of them only allow your products to be fulfilled from certain locations (“Sure, we’ll ship to Australia!” – but the customer has to pay the shipping charge to ship it from the USA fulfillment centre… “Did we forget to mention that detail too…?”). Think I’m making that up? Sadly, no. That was one of the bigger PoD suppliers – who, by the way, do have an Australian fulfillment centre – but if you’re based in the EU, once you pay the extra fees for non-EU access, they will happily fulfill your international orders … from the USA. So, a t-shirt that was costing me AU$60 to buy then cost me another AU$60 to ship… and took 8 weeks to get here. For that money, I actually could have paid the creator the amount they stood to make from the deal, and got MY supplier to print and ship TWO t-shirts, one for me and the other for the creator. While that was the worst case I have encountered, it is by no means unusual.
There is another alternative – you can run your own shopfront website, and you can interface your website with some of the (very few) quality Print-on-Demand suppliers who just do PoD fulfillment (but do it well). This isn’t actually that hard. The really good PoD companies have multiple international fulfillment centres and will produce your order at the fulfillment centre closest to your customer, keeping the shipping costs to a minimum. But it does mean you have to set-up and maintain a website, and the hosting, and pay the fees for that. And you’re not an internet expert, you’re a creator!
What am I doing about it?
I’m offering a better alternative. I have set up the website (in a previous life I have been an IT professional). I have done the research and I have identified the best Print-on-Demand suppliers out there for a quality product range at affordable prices. I have integrated my website with their systems for a smooth and (mostly) trouble-free set-up of new products and the fulfillment of orders. And I am offering to sell Merch with your artwork on it, through my website.
My payment processing company gets very upset if I take money for the sale of products I don’t have control over. That, apparently, is a no-no. Places like Amazon and EBay have complicated checking and fraud prevention measures in place to allow them to do that, and that is not affordable or practical on my scale. So the deal is: You licence me to produce Merch using your artwork, which I do through my suppliers using the high quality artwork that you provide. My suppliers then ship it directly to your (our) customer. I control the sale price and have responsibility for ensuring the production and delivery of the product, which keeps my payment processor happy. You continue to own the artwork, and the period for which I am allowed to use it is governed by an agreement between us. A hassle-free solution for you that genuinely puts affordable Merch in the hands of your fans all over the world.
What do you get from it?
I am not here to rip Creators off. The point of this service is to give you easy access to put products with your branding and/or artwork on it out into the hands of your fans (or fans-to-be!). I am offering to pay you a fixed amount (set in AU$ because that is what I work in) for each finalised sale. The licence amount per product will vary depending on the product and the volume of your sales. The amount is determined based on an approximation of the profit to be expected for each sale for the product type. For most products this will range from about 50% of the profits for creators with low-volume sales, up to about 80% for creators turning over 500 products or more a month. I believe this is a good compromise that gives me enough money to keep the site operating and secure, pays me for my time taking care of the administrative overhead, while still giving you a reasonable return.
In the interest of full disclosure, the licence amounts will be publicly available on the website, so your fans can also be sure how much of their purchase is going to you.
There are no ongoing fees to have your Merch on the system, regardless of sales. However, there is one fee I haven’t mentioned: There is a per-product setup fee, which is deducted from the first sales of each product. Contact me and I’ll explain how that works in more detail.
Contact me through the “Send Us a Message” tab below, and I’ll be in touch.
Please include contact details so I can get back to you – an email address preferred, but a phone number would do.