Creating art is a rewarding and fun hobby, but making a living from it can be a distant dream. The good news is whether you’re a painter, photographer, or graphic artist, you can easily use Printify to boss your business with Shopify.
Shopify makes it easy to sell your work online and create your web domain. With Shopify Shop, you’ll also gain a substantial built-in source of free traffic.
Rather than dealing with Etsy’s notorious algorithm changes and account closures, the entrepreneurs in today’s success story decided to tread a different path.
Husband and wife team Michael and Carly Kreiser now sell Michael’s artwork to a worldwide audience, ditching Etsy in favor of a Shopify store. In doing so, they’ve successfully sold a range of original fine art designs using Print on Demand.
A Lifelong Passion for Art
Michael attended art classes from age five and eventually went to art college. While working in an Olive Garden restaurant for 19 years, he was able to use his skills to sell artwork to supplement his income.
“I used to make oil paintings and other commissioned pieces but eventually went digital because reproducing my work made much more sense,” Michael explains.
“I had aspirations to make and sell as many paintings as possible. In the beginning, my plan was to generate an online income to pay the bills so that I could give up working in the restaurant trade altogether.”
A Surprise Diagnosis With a Silver Lining
Michael’s side hustle allowed him to cut down to part-time hours. However, an unexpected medical issue became the catalyst that would prompt him to quit regular work entirely.
“One day, I began having issues with my hip and was diagnosed with a form of necrosis, meaning the blood wasn’t flowing as it should. In the end, I had to wait six months for a hip replacement and go through rehab, so I couldn’t do anything other than work on my art every day. Luckily my business took off while waiting for surgery, so I didn’t have to return to the Olive Garden.”
The artist managed to stockpile a huge volume of designs just in time for the eCommerce boom that would take place due to COVID-19.
“I didn’t start selling online in large volumes until the pandemic hit in 2020. I was on Etsy and also had a separate printing company, but I had difficulty responding to all the inquiries.”
A Family Business Is Born
After the couple had their second child in 2021, rather than going back to work after maternity leave, Carly opted to help grow the business.
“Michael was working eight to nine hours daily and needed to bring someone on board to help with customer service. We both decided it would be best if I took on that role, working from home together,” says Carly.
That was two years ago. Now, the couple has created a thriving and lucrative online business, combining Printify and Shopify to sell fine art prints, clothing, and much more.
However, Carly was certainly thrown into the deep end. “After around a month and a half, I found myself in the middle of the busy Q4 period. It was pretty chaotic and also our most profitable year to date,” she admits.
The Big Move to Shopify
As their business grew, Michael and Carly started seeking options for long-term stability and a platform that gave them more control over their shop. After experimenting with Squarespace, the couple eventually settled on a Shopify store.
“Shopify has definitely given us more freedom,” says Michael. “I own my site and domain name, but I also know that Shopify’s customer service is fast and friendly when I need support.”
Many POD sellers worry about losing Etsy’s built-in traffic source when they consider migrating to Shopify. However, Michael is remarkably relaxed about the switch.
“Honestly, I probably spend the same on advertising as I did when using Etsy, and sometimes even less. In addition, I also get traffic and make a decent amount of sales through Shop.App.”
Shop.App is a standalone Shopify app that lets customers see their orders and shipping notifications across all their favorite Shopify stores. The platform also suggests new shops that customers might like based on previous orders. It’s a system that works a little like Etsy to help sellers gain traffic.
Printify – The Final Piece of the Puzzle
Once Michael settled on Printify as his POD provider, he was able to migrate all of his listings into his Shopify store using the Printify Connect feature.
“It took a day or two to get everything up and running, but overall, everything was very streamlined. Our previous provider took several days to respond to customer service inquiries, which was one of the main reasons we were keen to switch to Printify,” Michael explains.
Before moving to Printify, Michael and Carly were offering posters and t-shirts. Today, Michael says they have expanded their product range considerably.
“We now offer canvases, framed pictures, phone cases, sweatshirts, and multiple types of t-shirts. I sold stickers for a while, but the huge number of variants meant I hit Shopify’s 50,000 listing limit. Comfort color t-shirts are also very popular right now and are available in a huge variety of options, so it’s easier than you’d imagine to reach the threshold.”
Expanding to a Global Market
Today, Michael and Carly sell their designs worldwide. So far, they’ve had positive experiences with customers from the United States to the United Kingdom and beyond.
“I think people expect things to take a little longer since the pandemic. Back then, shipping times could be up to 45 business days, so people have realistic expectations about overseas shipping and are generally pretty relaxed about the whole thing,” Carly notes.
The Importance of Marketing on Shopify
Since discovering POD in 2020, the duo has overcome plenty of challenges, including promoting their business using marketing campaigns.
“We’ve had to learn how to target specific audiences using advertising. We started small and slowly began increasing our campaigns. We’ve also had to become experts at social media marketing,” says Michael.
“We try to post across TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and even Reddit. I like to have as many eyes on the store as possible.”
Michael also uses SMS marketing to contact customers who have signed up for alerts and has also embraced email to reach a wider audience. However, with such a broad marketing strategy, the couple risk having their designs stolen. Michael is currently exploring how to trademark his designs.
“I guess it’s always going to happen, and it’s a huge problem, but I’m trying to get a trademarked logo and watermark on all my listings. Without some form of copyright, it’s incredibly difficult to have stolen design listings removed,” he explains.
Success on Shopify After Years of Hard Work
Many creatives worry they’ll end up living the life of a financially-challenged artist. However, Michael proved that it’s possible to overcome that stereotype. Today, the couple’s hard work has resulted in some incredible sales figures.
“POD helped us go from $85,000 in sales to $500,000 in a single year and $750,000 the year after. I want to see that growth pattern going up and up, but I’d be more than happy if the business continued to tick over like that,” says Michael.
“We’ve managed to buy a bigger family home and go to Mexico, as we never got the chance to have a honeymoon,” Carly adds.
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
The couple are keen to point out that running a business is tough, and there will be plenty of challenges to overcome along the way.
“You have to be comfortable putting yourself out there. You’ll hear good and bad comments, but you just have to keep going. When I had my hip replacement surgery, it forced me to keep creating designs. You don’t have to make masterpieces, but I think it’s vital to keep practicing every day and get better at whatever you’re doing,” says Michael.
Michael explained that POD isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. “You’ll need to put in the hours while still working a regular job. There’s a common misconception about how much work it takes to launch a business yourself.”
“Ask for help when you need it. If you aren’t very good at sugarcoating things, get someone on board to deal with customer service issues,” says Carly.
Boss Your Business With Shopify and Printify
Overall, Michael and Carly are glad they decided to quit the corporate world and take their artistic side hustle to the next level.
“I don’t have to ask my boss if what I’ve created is good enough, and I can choose my working hours, which is important as we have a family,” Michael reflects.
“I think Michael was too intelligent to waste away in a corporate job. It was eating away at his soul,” Carly adds, explaining that she also gets to work on her own terms, trading her office job for an iPad.
Michael and Carly have used the combination of Shopify and Printify to build a thriving eCommerce store. If you’d like to connect with them, check them out on Instagram and TikTok and follow their amazing journey.
We hope they’ve inspired you to check out both Printify and Shopify to create your own POD success story.
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