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A Guide To Selling On-Demand

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I’ve had a few questions about selling on-demand, so I’ve put together a couple of posts with what I’ve learned. First off, an introduction.

What is on-demand selling?

On-demand is similar to licensing, in that you allow another company to manufacture products featuring your artwork and you receive a percentage of the sale price. Unlike licensing, on-demand products are only manufactured once someone orders one, hence the name! Because of this, you receive a royalty or commission for each product sold, rather than an upfront lump sum. Most on-demand sites let you upload your artwork yourself and choose which products to apply them to – you keep all the rights to your work and can remove it at any time. While the company will make some efforts to promote your work and add new products and options, usually it’s down to you to get the word out and keep adding new designs and updating them onto products.


Why sell on-demand?

No risk

The main reason is to make products featuring your artwork available without any cost or risk. For example, if you were to start selling t-shirts yourself, you would have to try and predict which designs and colours would be popular and order them in multiple sizes. If you chose badly, you could be left with a lot of unsold stock. With on-demand, you can make all your designs available in every size and colour.


Huge range of products

You also get access to products that would be financially crippling to stock yourself. If I wanted to sell products like lunchboxes, lamps or blankets, I’d likely have to order a minimum of 500 pieces for one design. With on-demand you can try out whatever catches your eye.

mt fuji zazzle


Some on-demand sites allow buyers to add their own text to products so I can upload cards that buyers can personalise with their own message, mugs that can have a name added or Christmas ornaments that can include the year and message.


Test the market

You can also use on-demand as a testing ground to see which designs, characters and products are most popular. If you find you’re selling hundreds of a particular t-shirt design or card, you can then order some yourself from another supplier and sell them direct. Having my patterns up for sale on Spoonflower is helping me decide which designs of gift wrap to make next.



As well as hopefully bringing your designs to a new audience, there are lots of potential opportunities from selling on-demand. If creating designs for products is an ambition then you have a portfolio to show any future clients, licensing partners or employers. Buying your products to use day-to-day or to display at markets is also a great talking point. And I’ve been contacted about press features, licensing and selling on other sites by people who have seen my work on on-demand sites.

zazzle featured designer

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Next week I’ll have a comparison post about all the sites I sell on. If you have any other questions about selling on-demand, leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll answer them in another post.

This is part of a series of posts about selling on-demand:


Hello! I’m Marceline Smith, the designer and owner of Asking For Trouble. I create illustrated stationery, accessories and gifts using my cute characters inspired by Japanese kawaii. This is my business and personal blog where I write about my creative doings, inspirations, travels, Japan trips and daily life. Read more »

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All text, photos and illustrations are © Marceline Smith 2007-2024 unless credited otherwise. You may repost my images with full credit and link. However, do not reproduce full posts without my permission or use my images or writing for commercial purposes. Thank you!


All opinions are my own and I am not compensated or sponsored for writing about any products or services featured unless stated in the post. Links to shops and websites may be affiliate links – I receive a small commission from your orders at no cost to you, which helps me fund this site. I do not accept advertising.