Have you ever wondered if you can establish a passive income source from your creative skills in graphic design or drawing?
In today’s battle of the giants, I will walk you through a head to head comparison of two of the most popular online services where you can simply set up a shop and earn your royalties right away.
Welcome to my Cafepress vs Zazzle showdown.
I have always been devoted to the idea of finding the hottest online earning opportunities, whether that be signing up with paying websites, freelancing, blogging, to even vlogging.
I have tried it all. 💯
And I guess one of the reasons why I enjoy reviewing online money makers so much is because I actually want to experience them for myself just to find out what the fuss is all about.
There are a lot of unique opportunities out there, and I have made it my advocacy to let others know if they are worth their time or not.
You see, the internet is growing every single day, which means that the chances of building additional streams of income online are also increasing.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds exciting to me. 😃
In fact, who would have thought that with the internet, you can make a whole new career or upskill and leave the confines of an office cubicle?
If that is something that you also want to try out, then I suggest you focus on building your passive income strategy today.
I am encouraging you to do this because I know how competitive the online market is and that usually means that whatever it is you want to try out, you have to stand out.
You’re probably asking yourself – “What exactly does stand out even mean?”
We are lucky to live in a time where we can virtually start any business within the comfort of our bed. In just a few clicks here and there, you can set up your online store or website in just a matter of minutes.
But the thing that you have to remember is that you are competing with other shops who have been in the market for decades, which means that to earn from your business, you should always offer something fresh or different.
And do you know the one best thing that you can offer in 2021? 2 words.
Digital Products. 👈
They are spreading like wildfire and are known to be insanely profitable. And just to prove it to you, I encourage you to visit this Etsy Page and see for yourself how much these babies are selling for.
See a lot of $50 products, don’t you? 💸
This is the reason a lot of people are working very hard to try and create online products that will generate passive income for them, like graphic arts and printable designs.
Not only do they have to make them once, but they can earn from them as long as they are in their store. These products are also scalable, and you do not have to worry about logistics!
So, if you think you have mastered, or you’re capable of mastering graphic design tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, or CorelDraw, then this online opportunity is a must try out for you.
But of course, there’s a catch. Your chances of earning in this line of business depend on two things:
- Your actual designing skills ✓
- Your ability to affiliate with good stores ✓
For example, Etsy is a good store, but it’s very general. It would be best if you had a platform that would be tailored-fit the product you’re trying to sell, and this is where my Cafepress vs Zazzle showdown can help!
So, if you think you can do designs like a pro, then this review is for you. 🎉
Cafepress vs Zazzle: Battle of PODs
POD or Print On Demand refers to the type of service where you practically sell your custom designs and let the users choose where they want that particular design printed.
This means that your craft can be made available and printed on t-shirts, cellphone covers, hoodies, plates, cups, and what not to be honest.
What is even better is that you do not have to worry about logistics or how you’ll print it, since the POD company will take care of everything.
So basically, you earn by sending them your designs. 🙂
Depending on the type POD company that you will signup with, you can adjust the pricing and earn sweet royalties whenever someone purchases your kickass design.
From the way I see it, it is a safe way to make an international name for your brand/business because your masterpiece is still under your name and you have complete ownership over it.
Additionally, I also love the fact that you can use your shop as a free online portfolio that will contain all of your designs.
Through this, you can also gauge which of your art is more eye-catching and take note of those non-selling designs.
Round 1: Company details
For artists, I seriously recommend that you try out Print on Demand sites and sign up only with reputable companies who can take care of all the heavy lifting.
With this being said, I want to take this opportunity to review these two giants who are making rounds on the internet due to their outstanding services to artists and aspiring entrepreneurs.
What is Cafepress?
Formally established in 2005, Cafepress allows designers and artists to come together and build a community where they can upload their designs and see them printed on various products.
They enjoy an outstanding A+ rating at BBB with about nine customer complaints (all answered and resolved) regarding their service and delivery.
On social media, they have an outstanding performance with over 600k followers on Facebook, 23k on Twitter, and 7k on Instagram. That online presence can speak a lot about how popular and highly regarded this company is.
So for someone who is just starting out in the field of graphic design, this could be a great platform where you can showcase your art to the world.
The company is also connected with many media franchises which means that any designer can create graphic arts and obtain real licenses related to their favourite movies, TV shows, or even cartoons!
In real life, getting approval from these companies can actually take a long time, and the approval process itself is a pain in the neck too.
Some of the franchise they are connected are:
- The Matrix ✓
- Amazing Race ✓
- Pretty Little Liars ✓
- Star Trek ✓
- The Voice ✓
- Mortal Kombat – Game ✓
- The Vampire Diaries ✓
- Veronica Mars ✓
- The Millers ✓
- Supernatural ✓
And believe it or not, there’s more to it. If you see yourself wanting to do some designs for U.S organisations such as the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, you can do as long as you follow the company guidelines for designing.
What is Zazzle?
Another leading Print on Demand platform is Zazzle which was established in 2006 by the Beaver brothers.
Basically, it works just like Cafepress, where they encourage art enthusiasts to try their hands on designing and uploading it onto their site.
The company holds an A+ rating and has won several awards in the past years, but one of the greatest achievements they receive is the “Hottest Silicon Valley Company” award. ⭐
They are also very popular because they have been featured in various articles such as in The New York Times, CNBC, Time magazine, The Huffington Post, and many more.
On social media, they seem to have exceptional performance as seen on the number of followers they have: 184k followers on Facebook, 59k on Twitter, and 56k on Instagram.
Compared to Cafepress, they have significantly lower followers on Facebook but have outperformed them on Twitter and Instagram.
Are you looking for an extra promotion? 😊
In that case, I suggest that you use Zazzle just because you can reach out to more Instagram users, and many of them being online buyers that might be interested in what you have to offer.
Just like Cafepress, Zazzle also empowers designers to craft designs related to their media partners.
However, you have to take note that their brand partners are better than those connected with Cafepress. This includes:
- Disney ✓
- Getty Images ✓
- DC ✓
- Star Wars ✓
- Pixar ✓
- U.S organizations ✓
Round 1 winner: Zazzle ✔
Both of the companies help designers to be connected with clients all over the world for free without taking the role of being the middleman.
While they share a whole lot of similarities, I think that the franchise partners of Cafepress are a little bit old and are not as exciting as those connected with Zazzle.
In this sense, the winner for me is definitely Zazzle. ✅
Round 2: Service
Now let’s talk about their main differences in terms of the products that they offer, the common concerns of the customers, and the price difference between these companies.
How does Cafepress work?
Signing up with Cafepress to start your digital business is easy. You just have to head on their site and click on the sign-up button where you can simply link in your Facebook account for easy access.
Once you are in, you will have to choose what type of earning opportunity you want:
- Fan Portal ✓
- Partner ✓
- Open shop ✓
If you think you want to do design concepts based on your favourite media or book series without thinking about all the legal loopholes, then you should consider the Fan Portal.
In here, you will get to choose the brand you want to make fan art for and check the concrete guidelines outlined by Cafepress.
Please do note, that each brand partner has its specific set of rules so be sure to read all of them first (see the example for Star Trek) 👈
If you feel like you want to earn without actually allowing yourself to be stressed on how to learn Photoshop or Illustrator, then I believe that affiliating with the Cafepress Partner Program is the best choice for you.
I have always loved the idea of affiliate marketing since it allows you to earn from commissions by simply promoting the products of other people.
I recommend this path for those who have it better with words than with art. 🎨
However, if you know you that you make one hell of a design, then opening your own Cafepress shop would be your top priority.
I mean, its free and all you have to do is upload your designs and get ready to add your mark up prices at the end. Trust me, it’s simple as 1-2-3.
How does Zazzle work?
Signing up with Zazzle is pretty much the same as signing up with Cafepress. All you have to do is use your Google or Facebook account.
Once you’re signed up, you have to choose what type of passive income opportunity you want to try with the company. You have three options:
- Maker ✓
- Designer ✓
- Associate ✓
If you think you want to accept custom orders with specifications from actual clients, you can try out the Maker program.
This type of opportunity allows you to upload your own products and make use of the Maker Engine that comes with graphic design tools, patented technology, and access to print-ready elements that you can add to your design.
Please note that as of writing, the Maker Engine is currently being redeveloped which is some of the tools mentioned may not work well yet.
On the other hand, if you feel that you have what it takes to make designs that can launch a thousand ships, then opening your own POD shop and selling your design is the definite way to go. It works just like Cafepress, where you have to upload your designs on the site and write out the descriptions and tags properly.
After a maximum of 72 hours, you will receive a notification on your email whether the company approves your design or not.
Now if you want to earn as an affiliate marketer, you can also do that by joining the Zazzle Associate Program where you can earn as high as 15% depending on the item you are promoting.
If you become lucky and find clients who will order items in bulk, you might even be able to reach at least 18% more in royalties.
Round 2 winner: Cafepress ✔
I appreciate that both of the companies have extended their business offerings and allow users to become both marketers and designers as well.
I have already tried both of these services a few years back, and at that time, they still did not have the affiliate marketing category.
Now that that type of business model is changing the landscape of marketing, it’s good that they added it to help people maximize their earning potential from their websites.
With Zazzle, I find it a bit weird that they did not have a page with lengthy guidelines on how to craft (legal and copyright-free) basic designs.
While I know that they have a rigorous design approval process which usually takes some time, I think it will lessen their burden if they become more transparent on the design criteria, right?
With Cafepress, as long as you read the guidelines for the fandom media that you want to design, you can guarantee that your art will be approved right away.
You do not have to spend hours re-designing because, from the start, you already have a clear picture of what the criteria are.
Round 3: Royalties 🤩
What should you expect from Cafepress?
So let’s say your product is a long sleeve t-shirt with a one-sided design. Cafepress will show you the base price while you input the markup price to compute for the actual retail price that your customers will see.
If your item is sold, Cafepress will keep the base price, and they will send you the markup price as your design royalty.
What should you expect from Zazzle?
You can also set up your own prices with Zazzle, but unlike Cafepress, you can markup beyond $15 to even a hundred for your royalty fee. And if you want to increase your earnings, you as the designer can also promote your items and earn an additional percentage as an affiliate.
Round 3 winner: Cafepress ✔
With Cafepress, you have to be sure how much of a markup you will input since if you go beyond $15, the company will charge an additional .25 cents for every item sold.
As of writing, I found out that they have over 235 basic and premium products with low-cost base prices.
I used the term “low cost” because to be honest, their prices are budget-friendly and much lower than the prices in your local stores.
With Zazzle, I was quite surprised to see that their computation is not as structured as what you can see from Cafepress.
This means that some of the items on their marketplace are way overpriced since the designers want to increase their earnings to the maximum level.
In this sense, who would ever want to pay $300 for an average looking phone case when you can find almost the same quality at Cafepress for less than $20? 😐
Cafepress vs Zazzle: And The Winner Is… 🏆 🏆 🏆
I hope that I was able to give you a fair review of these sites because I know how important it is for you to know everything before signing up on either of them.
While I was writing this, I was really geared into cheering for Zazzle since their site is auspicious along with all those news features with media giants, but I was quite surprised at how unregulated their prices are.
Unlike Zazzle, Cafepress seems to pack all the right elements with its clear guidelines and effective pricing strategy to ensure that each item is good looking at a pocket-friendly price.
There are still other POD companies out there, but for now, I seriously recommend Cafepress. ✅
But, wait! I have a Better Alternative For Passive Income!
Since I have been mentioning affiliate marketing in the post, I realized that it is also the perfect time for me to introduce you to one of my most recommended ways for earning online, full-blown affiliate marketing.
This type of business model allows you to establish your very own source of passive income online and earn just like the designers you have seen on some of the Print on Demand sites we discussed above.
Wait, what, when, how? 🤯
Well, in here, all you have to do is to ensure that you promote products or services that you are really passionate about. By doing so, you’ll be able to earn commissions for products that you’re not even owning.
Day in – Day out! 🌞 🌙
The business model works like a charm, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. You can indeed make some good money out of it, but it all depends on how much effort you’re willing to invest in it.
Same as you, I was once a beginner who knew nothing about building websites, promotions, marketing, and all those crazy things.
However, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon one of the most supporting affiliate marketing communities you can be apart of today, and the rest is history. I’m now comfortably earning four figures of passive income per month, and I want to teach you how to do the same.
The community I’m referring to represents the same platform that gave me all the pieces of training, tools, and support to innovate and thrive in this wicked online world.
And you know what?
It can unquestionably do the same for you as well. ✓
It goes by the name of Wealthy Affiliate, and the forever free membership model that it has attests to how legitimate, trustworthy, and valuable this affiliate marketing platform is.
I’m so transparent in recommending it to anyone that’s thinking of starting online, and there’s a good reason behind that.
Without this community, the blog you’re on now wouldn’t have existed, nor I would happily sitting here and writing this Cafepress vs Zazzle showdown.
I don’t want to bother you too, and that’s why I’m putting a cap on this review. The choice is entirely yours, my friend, but know that I support you fully in whatever you decide.
As always, stay safe and keep on thriving! 🚀
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If you ever find yourself lost and stuck on whether you should purchase or subscribe to a seemingly sketchy online opportunity, let me do the dirty work for you.
Just drop the name below, and I’ll do my best to serve you the latest bits of most honest information about it.
To be honest I have never heard of these two platforms but print on demand is something that I have been interested in for several months now. I still don’t understand the difference between dropshipping and print on demand though.
It seems like a fun way to make money online where you can show your unique style and creativity. If I hadn’t started an affiliate marketing business already, I would probably give print on demand a try.
The two business models are entirely different, but they do have some similarities.
Dropshipping mainly revolves around finding and buying cheap products (mostly from China) and selling them with paid advertising in the United States for three times as much.
On the other hand, Print-On-Demand is a business model where you share your design with companies like CafePress or Zazzle and let them do all the selling for you.
You can choose what you want your design to be printed on. They usually give you the option to select between tees, cups, scarves, and other printable products.
And yes, Delyana. I do agree! It’s a great way to express your creativity, but so is affiliate marketing.
That’s an excellent “battle review.” I LOVE the format. Seriously, it’s been super fun to read. I made a few designs years ago and tried selling them via spreadshirt.com.
It wasn’t that successful, though. Maybe my designs weren’t as good as I thought they were back then (which is likely), or I was terrible at marketing them. Probably both.
Have you ever heard of Spreadshirt? How would they compete with CafePress and Zazzle?
Hey, Chris. Thanks for the kind remarks, and know that it’s nice to have you on my blog.
As for your question – no, this is the first time I hear about Spreadshirt, so I wouldn’t know how it compares to CafePress or Zazzle.
Don’t feel bad about not making money, though. I’m sure your designs weren’t as bad as you think they were. It’s perhaps just the platform was bad at promoting them.
When I was still living in the Netherlands, I had a subscription to Zazzle with my own graphic design studio.
And I am truly amazed I have never heard of Cafepress before. I see that they are even a year older than Zazzle.
Honesty also commands me to say I never earned much with Zazzle. I had many assignments back then, leaving me no time or hardly any time to invest in the platform.
And that is, as you know, a condition. Earning online is never leaning back, waiting for the gold ship to arrive in the harbor.
But like you, I love my online adventure. And equally love to read about your recommendations. So thanks, Gorjan.
I’m sad to see that your investments didn’t work quite as planned, but I’m also happy that you’re in great spirits and looking forward to seeing what the future holds for you. Just keep that healthy mindset of yours, and I promise that you’ll thrive within any field.
Wow, this is one detailed post on online money makers! Keep up the great work! I enrolled in a graphic design academy several years ago, but it was canceled, so I only completed one year.
I originally wanted to start my own business in graphic design, but after the course went down hard, I put the dream away and joined the writing industry instead.
Your article has inspired me, though! It has made me want to invest in a graphic design course again and see where it goes — at least I know it is possible to earn money online with graphic design now. Thanks!
Thank you also for providing info on affiliate marketing. I love this method of making online income. It is truly a modern way to do business!
I look forward to seeing you succeed wherever your path takes you. Just remember, whatever you do, do it with passion, persistence, and a twist, of course! Being original at what you do can pay off huge!
Wow, great info! Any designer will be floored by the information you have provided. There is so much earning potential here for graphic designers.
After reading your post, I find both Cafepress & Zazzle quite reasonable & competitive; it is just a matter of preference and the product I am offering.
I know a friend of mine, who is too good with his logo & designs and has been looking for opportunities. I will share this post with him.
The other aspect which stood out for me is the markup price. There is no capping for Zazzle, so on that note, my winner would be Zazzle.
Thanks for recommending this article to your friend. I’m sure it will benefit him highly!
I’m not saying that Zazzle is a terrible platform. It’s just that some of the designs are way overpriced, and that alone can harm how the visitors look at the outlet. It’s better to sell 1000 pieces worth $10 than five worth $379.
Weirdly enough, I have previous experience of Cafepress vs. Zazzle, but in an affiliated marketing capacity (one of your favorite things, I know).
I’m guessing it was around 2009 I first got involved with Seth Godin’s creation, Squidoo.
These were basically single-page hosted articles, where you could create content about pretty much anything.
The chances of ranking in Google and the other search engines were high in the early days, and many affiliate marketers (including myself) plundered their content onto this platform.
As well as the ability to write affiliate reviews, Squidoo also offered an ad-sharing revenue scheme, based on traffic and rank.
However, within each of our articles (or lenses, as they were known), there was further advertising and the ability to earn additional shared revenue.
Things like Adsense, Amazon, and it just so happens, Cafepress and Zazzle.
Back then, this was all relatively new to me, but I recall creating an article (lens) around Battlestar Galactica, which had just been re-released onto our TV screens.
The show was huge and had a lot of fans.
This led to various people creating Battlestar Galactica designs for items such as t-shirts, mugs, socks, gloves, scarves, mirrors, etc. You name it, and there was a design for it and a thing it could be placed on.
I actually did quite well out of income from Cafepress and Zazzle, and I seriously considered creating my own designs.
And this was over a decade ago now.
Based on your review, it seems like both companies are going from strength-to-strength and still offer a fantastic opportunity to earn money.
Plus, can you just imagine how much more modernized and superior they both are now compared to when I first came across them?
I personally think that if someone has that creative flair or an interest in graphic design, this is the perfect opportunity to earn an income from those skills.
A thoroughly enjoyable and informative comparison, and thanks very much for the trip down memory lane.
Both of these platforms have improved quite a lot since then, and your chances of earning huge on both of these are drastically increased by now.
The only issue is that there’s far more competition than there was ten years ago, and I know that you’ll agree with that.
Thanks for sharing your story with the other readers of this blog and me, Partha. Your kind words mean a lot to me, and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. I hope this article evoked some good memories of yours!
Hey Gorjan, thanks for sharing this showdown. I’ve dabbled into this industry, mainly searching to buy printables.
However, it did dawn on me that people are making a fair amount of money selling these, but I’ve had no idea where to start or what to do.
I’ve heard of Cafepress and Zazzle, and now, I know everything I need to know about these two companies. It seems that both are excellent choices, but as you said, Cafepress appears like a winner.
Also, you recommend affiliate marketing too. I’m quite interested in this business model too. Can you tell me more about what one needs to get started with your program?
Thanks in advance, and thank you for sharing this comparison between Cafepress and Zazzle!
POD sites are a great way to create a source of passive income online, but I can reassure you that affiliate marketing beats that any day of the week.
This may sound like a silly answer, but the only thing you need to get started with Wealthy Affiliate is a dedicated mind and the willingness to succeed.
As mentioned in my post, it’s not a get-quick-rich scheme, and if you’re comfortable with that, you should consider joining.
You’ll be given all the training, tools, and support to create your very own affiliate marketing business, and I’m even willing to mentor you every step of the way.
Their starter membership is forever, and that should give you plenty of time to decide whether this platform is something you want to be apart of.
It’s simple, create a free account and see if you like it!
I wish you the best!
Great review in this post. I knew about Print on Demand but never heard about Cafepress and Zazzle.
I have an Etsy shop myself where I sell handmade bags and backpacks. It’s the right choice for affiliate marketing when you take a good seller.
Thank you for sharing
Thanks for the kind remarks, Lyne.
I hope 2021 is your year and that your Etsy store crushes it!
This is an excellent post, Gorjan.
One of my old business networks had a print on demand and logo/embroidering franchise in my city here, and I drove past the shop last week and noticed it had closed down.
To me, this highlights an old business model versus online business models.
The two giants you have presented here – Zazzle and Cafepress by operating on such a large scale, have vast economies of scale, so it makes it harder for the smaller niche businesses to compete on price – so unless they offer personalized service and extra services, then they will become extinct.
I guess that the t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc., can always be produced cheaper by the industry’s giants.
You have also opened my eyes a bit to the print on demand industry. I’m very impressed that their companies allow people to operate as a maker or designer or even opportunity as affiliate marketers too – associate.
The terms may differ between companies. Etsy shows this whole industry is booming. I can’t help but think that the designers/makers selling on Etsy will always face competition – price from other sellers.
So this and advertising costs would trend to lowering profit margins over time for Physical products. Still, digital products, as you highlight, could be the future and maintain higher profit margins.
You have really got me thinking here! Thank you.
I’m sorry to hear about the downfall of your friend’s business. That’s how it is these days. You either adapt or go extinct.
You’re right. It’s harder for smaller companies to compete with such giants, but you also have to consider that the market is enormous and that everyone is familiar with Zazzle or Cafepress.
Adding more services and specialized offerings will definitely help, and I agree entirely on that with you.
As I mentioned earlier, adapting is the only way to survive, and it has been like that since the beginning of time!
I appreciate you for taking the time to share your opinion with me, and please know that it’s always welcomed.
I wish you the best of luck, my friend!
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