In today's digital world you have a lot of opportunities to get out there and start selling your custom design prints. There are more than a dozen websites, places, tools & solutions suited for this purpose, however, most of those can be put into three main categories - a website, a marketplace, and a social media shop.
The classic option is to buy a domain (for example, ours is printseekers.com), then build a website with shopping capabilities on it. You might think that it means a lot of work and expenses, but there are some solutions which take care of both. Let's call them "website builders" - basically, the site is created, based on a template, which you can customize. No need to do programming or hire a web designer, it's mostly just clicking, drag & dropping, arranging stuff. The most well known website builder for businesses is Shopify, which has everything you need to create an online store and start selling.
The best thing about starting your own shop is that you are in control - how your website looks, how to approach marketing, what special features to add & more. However, the drawback is that there is no built-in audience. Your website is alone in the vast Web, and it is a serious challenge to make it visible, attract people and convince them to make a purchase. That's where marketing and SEO comes in.
The second big option is to find a platform which has a lot of different shops on it, and start your own there. People who visit the marketplace are often already interested in a purchase. They search for something and a lot of different products from different shops show up. One of the most popular online marketplaces is Etsy - customers know that's the place to go to find all kinds of custom, handmade, vintage and other items, including custom design prints! Opening an Etsy shop is quite easy, in many ways similar to starting a social media account. You get to choose the shop name, add listings, photos, descriptions, put your products on a marketing budget and more.
As mentioned, joining a marketplace is great because of the built-in audience - even if you have a small shop there, people can and will find it if you sell something they're interested in. Moreover, it is very easy to run it - all the features are standard, well explained and in one place. The disadvantage is that you will be playing by the marketplace's rules. All shops have quite limited customization options, the marketing is based on simple product promotion in search results, and you can get banned or downgraded by the platform for not following their guidelines.
A bit different approach is to rely on social media for selling. This is an especially good strategy if you already have a follower base and you aren't doing business yet. The idea is to use your account as a storefront - add posts with products and their descriptions, as well as pricing. Then negotiate the payment and other details in direct messages or email. Instagram is a good example, since it is a very visual platform, you can add high quality product images and other promotions, and the audience will see it all on their feeds. It also allows to tag products in images and even sell things on the platform, though these features may not be available in all cases.
What's cool about selling on social media is that you already have an audience which is interested in your content, and might be interested in purchasing from you. Moreover, you can keep everything on the same platform - your shop, your followers, your advertising, your content. Social media accounts are also really easy to set up. However, this approach is very manual and has limited scaleability. If you start doing really well, then it will take a lot of time and effort to take care of all orders. Instagram & other social platforms are not natively built for selling, so they are missing a lot of systems that are necessary and / or make life easier for shop owners.
In general, you have three broad options - start your own website, join a marketplace or sell via social media. All of these are different in terms of complexity, scaleability, costs, feature lists, etc., so it is up to you to decide the best place for your business! Or, as some companies do, use all of them!
In case you were wondering about how to start selling custom prints without major costs, Printseekers can help. The business model is called print on demand dropshipping, and we have a blog post about this very topic! It also includes information about where to sell, so check it out!