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The Less Saturated Version of Print-on-Demand

A lot of us have noticed lately that print-on-demand is not what it used to be!  I started out selling my patterns on print-on-demand sites in 2016 before everyone and their cousin had a shop, so I’ve witnessed the landscape change significantly over the years.  

I talk more about this journey on this post in case you are interested in learning more!

While I still have (and love) the passive income coming from my print-on-demand shops, I don’t spend much time adding new artwork to them anymore, because I’ve discovered a new love that allows me to focus more on a few high-quality listings rather than large batches of just-ok listings.  This new love is called dropshipping.

If you’ve never heard of dropshipping, get ready to get excited, especially if you are someone who loves making art, hates shipping, and is tired of print-on-demand.  

Dropshipping allows you to focus on what you do best — making art.  Meanwhile a company focuses on printing, quality control, refunds, and shipping debacles.

It also allows you access to a much less saturated way to sell your art to interested buyers, so you aren’t competing with thousands of other designs just like yours.

How does dropshipping work?

Dropshipping means that an artist can upload their artwork to a platform (say Gelato for example) then plug that platform into their sales platform (say Etsy for example).  Then when a customer buys a product via the Etsy shop, Gelato gets a notification and begins to print and ship the product to your customer.  

So the artist doesn’t touch a box, roll of tape, or shipping label but the art makes it’s way to the customer.

What work does the artist do?

To get started the artist has to set up shop on Etsy (easy), locally (medium difficulty), their own website (difficult, but worth it!).

Then the artist (of course) has to design the products and list them on the platform.  Once that part is done, the artist is done and can go back to making more art and creating more listings!

One important key to all this is market research — you must dig into what is selling, trending, and oversaturated in order to be sure the work you are putting in is worth it! 

Here is the best part — they handle refunds and reshipments!  For anyone who has had an Etsy shop before, you know how this can eat away at your profit.  I mean, it’s not your fault the USPS lost a package right?  If you are the shipper, you still have to eat that cost, but when you use dropshipping, the company pays for damaged/lost items, so all you have to do is communicate with the customer to make it happen.

Do you actually make any money?

Since the artist sets the pricing and only pays the dropshipping company a portion of the sales, yes you can definitely make some money this way.  Here is some math on my recent dropshipped calendar listing on Etsy:


  • From October – February I sold 326 calendars for a total revenue of $8,872.36.
  • I sold each calendar for $28 and paid Gelato 11.13 (plus about $5-8 in shipping per calendar depending on the location).  So my total profit is usually about $9 per calendar.
  • So I made about $3000 on one calendar (or $250 per illustration).  BUT I can sell the same calendar next year, so this is just round one!
  • I did pay about $500 for ads but I made all that back and then some since many of the customers added some of my greeting cards to the cart when they realized they would get a discount for adding more items!

So how do you get started?

For over a year now I’ve been sharing my dropshipping journey inside my membership The Studio!  Join us there to learn my whole process for devloping products, doing market research, and listing dropshipped products!

Dropshipping 101

  • Learn how to start dropshipping through real products like stickers, greeting cards, and calendars
  • Learn to develop products that actually sell!