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Selling Art Online

Building a Cartoon Entertainment Website for Fun and Profit

Part Four — Transforming Success Into Dollars (cont.)

Selling Art Online

The question arises: Since Cafe Press and Zazzle handle and control everything from taking customers’ orders to manufacturing and fulfilling orders, how do I know that they won’t cheat me by underreporting sales? The short answer is, I don’t. But the longer answer is, I’ve been in communication with several people who are using Cafe Press or Zazzle, plus I’ve read lots of accounts in magazines, books and on the internet by people involved in this, and so far I haven’t seen or heard any complaints or grumblings about it, so my guess is that Cafe Press and Zazzle are running fairly clean businesses. By contrast, I have read lots of complaints about Facebook and Amazon, so the absence of complaints about Cafe Press and Zazzle is reassuring.

Even though everyone can see your cartoons on the internet for free, some of your fans will probably want to purchase permanent hard copies of your cartoons if the print quality is good. Print-on-demand books, in black-and-white and full color, in good quality and for affordable prices, are just now coming into the scene. Printing from the internet does not get a really good result, especially compared to the much higher D.P.I. (dots per inch) that you can generate as a print source from your original art. This allows you to print and sell much better copies of your art. (You could add a few new pieces of art to the collection, not available anywhere else, to further entice fans to purchase your books.) For a while, specialty print shops might be more likely to have print-on-demand service than Cafe Press or Zazzle. As I learn more, I’ll update this post. For selling items not carried by Cafe Press or Zazzle, you would either have to set up a retail business yourself, or use a FULFILLMENT SERVICE to handle that for you. In recent years, small storefront businesses have emerged for the purpose of helping people sell things on e-bay — they listed the items on e-bay, collected the money from the buyers and shipped the items to the buyers. A few of those businesses expanded into fulfillment services for clients with ongoing sales of personality merchandising, such as TV stars marketing their own personalities and — cartoonists. A fulfillment service works very similarly to Cafe Press and Zazzle, except that you have to supply your own product for sale. They give you your own page on their website, do the actual selling to customers and ship the items ordered, but they are acting as your sales arm. So you pay manufacturers to make the products, the customer pays for the purchase plus shipping and sales taxes, the fulfillment service gives you the money — minus about 20% for their service — and you have to report and pay the sales taxes to the city and/or state, because the fulfillment service is working for you (rather than paying you a royalty, like Cafe Press or Zazzle). I highly recommend who are located here in Los Angeles.


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