This is an update to my previous post regarding Print On Demand services.
First of all I would like to make a general comment. I am a beginner with print on demand (POD) service, so my notes thus far is about my first impressions and first learnings.
Second thing is for photographers used to sell photos via stock and/or microstock agencies. With stock agencies, photographer's work is over after the picture is available from the agency' website. Selling via POD is very different. With POD artists need to advertise and promote themselves actively. Unlike stock photography, uploading the work and waiting for buyers to come does not work with POD.
RedBubble is Australian company operating worldwide, and having people in many different locations.
In one sentence RedBubble is free, and it is artistic community with commercial possibilities.
Unlike other print on demand (POD) services, RedBubble is completely free. There are no "basic" and "premium" accounts - all accounts are at the same level, and any member can upload and sell as many pictures as he or she wants. There is no entry inspection - any member can upload any images that are in line with terms of service.
RedBubble is an artistic community place, not an art store. That sounds similar to DeviantArt, but in fact RedBubble feels completely different. Members can share their art works (photographs, drawings or paintings) and they can choose whether the work is for sale or not. Another option is to share/sell t-shirt designs. Members can comment each other work, can mark any work as their favorite, and can add other members to a watch list.
Selling art work is an option, and it's up to the artist to define the margin on top of base RedBubble price. Art pictures can be ordered as post-cards, as unframed prints, as laminated prints, or as framed prints (with several framing options). It is important to know that the artists have to promote their work by themselves. I am not sure how much marketing RedBubble is doing, but if you want your art work to be purchased on RedBubble you need to advertise it yourself.
It's worth to note that RedBubble has very quite simple and logical interface.
There are ways to combine images in groups for promotion, or to promote individual pictures. These are a few examples:
Imagekind is another POD service. It focuses on high quality photo and art prints (no t-shirts). It has many more framing options comparing with RedBubble - many more types of paper, more types and colors of frames, different matting and glazing options.
All work uploaded to Imagekind is for sale. There is community at Imagekind but it's hard to say that it is community driven. Similarly to RedBubble artits can put other artists in favorites list; and can comment the work of each other. However forum is completely separated from the main site.
Artists can register at Imagekind for free, but free accounts are very limited. Artist can upload maximum 24 images with free account; and they all have to be in one gallery. The number of keywords is limited by 10 per image, what significantly reduces sale opportunities.
Artists can upgrade to Pro ($7.99/mo.) or to Platinum ($11.99/mo.) level, that offer unlimited number of uploads. Uploads can be placed in various galleries; much higher number of tags per image is allowed (50 and 100 corresponsingly) and there are some other benefits.
In my option free account allows to get the feeling about the site, it interface and about other artists, but artists would have to upgrade to paid account for any serious commercial activity. Still, promotion of your art is pretty much in your own hands.
Similarly to RedBubble there is no moderation of uploaded images at Imagekind.
Imagekind has very clean, simple and logical interface.
Combining images in groups doesn't make sense with small gallery and with number of tag limited by 10, so I can't test it. Promoting individual images outside of Imagekind is possible, similarly to RedBubble:
artistrising.com is a division of art.com that focuses on POD from un-known artists. It is much smaller and younger than any of the above services.
Out of 3 services, artistrising has the most complex interface that isn't easy to understand for novice users. Also, the site is the slowest for me.
Artists can register for free at artistrising. Free account allows up to 50 images to be uploaded, that can be placed in up to 50 collections. Premium account is $50 /year and it allows up to 2000 images to be uploaded (and categorized in up to 50 collections).
Another difference between two accounts is that Premium level allows Fine Art prints while free account only allows Poster prints to be set up. Fine Art is meant for large size high quality pictures; and setup of every single picture will cost artist some money (variable fee).
Unlike the other two services, artistrising has to review and approve all submitted images before they will be available for sale. In theory it should make the site more attractive to the buyers and prevent crap from appearing at the website. However, if promotion will still be made by the artists themselves, the overall quality of site content will not make much difference for buyers (i.e. if they will come from elsewhere to see specific artist/specific work).
There is forum at artistrising, and similarly to the other two sites the artists can comment each other work; and can add other artists to their Favorites list.