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Developing a Print Store Business Model

Yesterday I tried to print something for a customer (yay! an actual customer!), because he was unhappy with the results of the print on demand site I was using. Using my Epson R2000 was beyond frustrating, as usual. The print kept coming out too dark and muddy looking. When I finally found a fix for this, a new problem arose and the print had “banding” on it. I ended up wasting a couple hours of my time, and lots of expensive ink and paper. Because this is the research phase of developing my print store business model, I think I have to rule out 2 things: Using my Epson R2000 for high quality prints, and using Printful.com to sell prints on demand.

So where does that leave me?

I could find a new print on demand service that has better quality, or I could simply sell the digital images. I’ve seen this model several times now, and it seems to be fruitful, particularly if one is willing to price the images fairly low. I’ve seen one site that sells high quality photography images and such for $10-15 and another shop that sells digital files for $6.50. I could definitely aim for that price range. Then there becomes 2 challenges:

Quantity!
It seems that quantity is rewarded on Etsy. Shops with at least 50 products seem to do better in the search results. It often seems like I have that many pieces to sell but when I actually stop to choose them, they don’t have the quality that I think is necessary. Part of that has to do with iPad art apps (Decim8 and Stackables) not saving images at a high enough resolution. But I think it’s also me being overly critical of my own work.

Mock-ups!
There are thousands of mock-ups available at Creative Market, many for under $10. But I’m concerned that I only have Photoshop Elements, and you need the full version of Photoshop to make them work. That being said, for under $10, I certainly can buy one just to test it out. Also, with my mini photography studio and cheap umbrella lights, I could probably create my own mock-ups. And If I figure out a good process, I could start selling the mock-ups. I am also interested in the idea of creating a mock-up from 3d software, but I’m afraid looking into that would end up being a huge time suck.

Next steps:

-Take some simple shots of of frames against some neutral backgrounds to test out the feasibility of making my own mock-ups.
-Purchase one from Creative Market, to see what how easy it is to work with.
-Identify 50(!) works that I can add to Etsy as digital files.

Other concerns:

I started to set up Woo Commerce on my website. I need to finish that process so I can test the feasibility of selling directly from my site.

I need to continue the research on printing solutions. Is there a local printer I could work with? Is there a better quality print on demand site?

Also, I’m hoping to get back to blogging as part of the print store business model plan. I think it’s going to help me stay on track, and hopefully add some helpful content to this site.