Design To Sell: DIY Design Stores Review Part I

ninjazooGot a great idea? Think it would make a great t-shirt, coffee mug, bumper sticker, or mouse pad? No doubt you’ve gone to one of the design-it-yourself sites and made it by now, or at thinking about doing so. These sites are one of the great enablers of the Internet. They allow ordinary people who own no expensive equipment and have no employees or factories to design, print, and even sell their own ideas with minimal fuss.

In this two-part series, we’ll be looking at the more popular of these sites, what they offer, and which are the best (and worst), in our opinion.

First, the sites we’ll be covering:

These are the six most popular sites in this category, according to Google and Yahoo! Search. Easily the most popular and well-known of the list, this site has been around for quite a while. Many of us have designs or stores there and many others have shopped there. Everything from fan-based fashion for Presidential candidates, television shows, and music can be found and many grassroots and charity groups utilize Cafepress for their limited t-shirt and bumper sticker printing needs.

This isn’t the most economical site, nor is it the one with the biggest payoff in profits for those who use it, but it’s definitely the most popular. The site is easy to use, fairly straight-forward, and they’ve done their best to remove the technical factor from everything involved in making designs to enable even the most fumble-fingered among us to finish with a good product.

  • Pros: easy, fast, well-known
  • Cons: low profit, heavy competition, relatively high store fees Probably the least-known site on our list, this one seems to appeal to the more esoterically artistic crowd. The site is fairly easy to use and straight forward, doing only t-shirts (in multiple colors) and canvas/cloth hanging artwork. You won’t find mugs, trophies, mouse pads, or hats here. You will find some pretty creative users, though.

The fees are reasonable, their income coming mainly from fairly high base prices for t-shirts. Like most of these sites, the base price is the bottom line, users mark it up as they see fit to sell. It’s a little slow to access at times and often gives up “we’re updating this page” results as well.

  • Pros: lower-cost, easy, artsy
  • Cons: slow loading, often under construction, not well known Appealing to the more Facebook/Myspace crowd and featuring a lot of Manga-style art in their site design, Ninjazoo is one of the least well-known, but most popular of these DIY design/sell sites. This underground popularity is mainly due to the social networking integration they’ve made such a big part of their marketing focus. They only do t-shirts, but their base prices for them are reasonable.

There are no fees to use the site, their income is entirely based on the base price for the shirts sold. Users must have PayPal in order to collect a commission from shirts they sell and art they share for others to use in shirt sales. The site loads quickly and is easily integrated with most basic Myspace and Facebook page designs.

  • Pros: easy networking, fast setup, ability to share art
  • Cons: not as easy to use, limited in capability, does not project professionalism

In the next half of this two-part series, we’ll look at the other three sites on our list and tell you which of the six we think is best and why.

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4 Comments on this Post

  1. a good way for costumers to contribute their designs. good article

  2. a good way for costumers to contribute their designs. good article

  3. This sort of thing is invaluable to those trying to push their heads above the fashion parapet. Very useful.

  4. This sort of thing is invaluable to those trying to push their heads above the fashion parapet. Very useful.


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