We often get questions about where we do our printing, where we get our business cards, or who does our web hosting for us. As indie creators, it’s important to have some good places to get your products and collateral produced. Many of these places were referred to me by my friends, so I thought that I’d share them with you.
Here’s a list of some of the folks that we’ve used over the years. I plan on updating this as I go.
Overnight Prints (Collateral printing)
I’ve used OvernightPrints.com on more than 8 jobs for postcards, business cards, and fliers. I’ve had good quality printing and good experiences there every time. The turnaround is about a week to a week and a half, at least here to Arizona.
Transcontinental (Book printing)
I’ve used Transcontinental for 3 books that I’ve printed – Caught Creatures, KlawBerry, and After Halloween. (Feel free to check them out in person to see the quality.) Transcon is professional, easy to deal with, and quality minded. I can’t recommend them enough. It’s taken me about 2 months from the beginning of the process, to having the books in hand.
We’ve used StickyRicks a couple of times for screen-printed vinyl stickers. Rick was cheaper than some, and more expensive than others. High quality, though the lead-times can be long.
Fat Rat Press (Stickers)
We’ve also used FatRatPress.com for vinyl screenprinted bumper stickers. 2-color, they turned out great. Fat Rat also does t-shirts, air fresheners, buttons, and banners.
Print 100 (Business card printing)
I’ve used Print 100 on about a dozen jobs now, for high end, die cut business cards. The quality is awesome, and the aqueous satin coating is fantastic. I love my cards with these guys. They’re out of Hong Kong, but they’ll still turn your print around in 7 days.
Backer Boards and Bags
I use Clearbags for all of my print and book bags, as well as backer boards. (If you’re selling prints, you’ll want to bag them. It really helps sales to have them protected.) The quality is great, and they’re pretty much a standard for such. Bags come in an insane variety of sizes… from very small to very large. My only gripe with Clearbags is that there isn’t a 12×18 backer board solution, aside from custom cutting. 12×18 is my standard size, so I’m out of luck.
Nasco is a school supply house, where I buy my backer board. I need backer that is lighter and cheaper than Clearbags; I fly to shows and the backer board is the biggest weight that we carry. So, we use “tagboard” from Nasco instead.
I’ve been using MailChimp to send our Secret News newsletter for the past couple of years. In short, it’s easy to use, your email looks good, and they rule. They’re always improving and expanding their system. Buy $250 of credits at a time to save money over the long haul. I found that they were about 1/2 the price of Constant Contact. (At least for my list size.)
Dreamhost has been hosting all of our websites for many years now. They’re cheap, they’re up most of the time, and their management panel is really nice to use. I think that their “1-click installs” are a really great way to get WordPress and Joomla sites up fast. Also, I’ve gotten fast and high quality customer service from them. No really. They’ve been good to us.
StoreEnvy is a free, social-shopping site. They host your store, the cart, and most of the hassles for you. It’s a great alternative to BigCartel and Volusion if you’re short on funds or don’t want monthly fees. Here’s my StoreEnvy shop.
If you want a self-hosted solution (and have or will have more than 100 products), I can’t recommend OpenCart highly enough. It’s free. It’s open-source. It loads fast. And it does require some work. However, it’s YOUR brand we’re talking about here, and YOU can really control it best yourself. SteamCrow.com is my OpenCart store.
Up until now I’ve tried and given up on: OsEcommerce, ZenCart, wpEC, Shopp, PayPal cart, and a bunch of other Joomla and WordPress plugins. The trouble with the “add ecommerce to your Joomla/Wordpress is that the overhead can sometimes be way-WAY too much for a shopping site. I found that my sites were rather slow.)
Etsy isn’t so bad, if you want to get selling really fast. My problem with them is 3-fold. 1) You can’t really define your brand other than a header banner. 2) You’ll have little traffic if you don’t promote the heck out of it. 3) You’ll likely get lost in the shuffle. Now, you’re right that #2 applies to your website anyway; however, long-tail traffic is never going to find your products on Etsy. You’ll have a better chance with people finding your products on a Google search with your own self-hosted store, IMHO.
That said, their fees aren’t too bad. Here’s my Etsy store.
We’ve moved to printing and manufacturing our own buttons. It allows us to have a much larger variety than we could afford to have printed. We bought our machine off of eBay. That said, we also have had other folks make buttons for us with good results.
We’ve used PureButtons when we didn’t feel like fulfilling a 300 button order for a local restaurant. The quality is good, though not quite as good as our own. (Attention to detail.) However, the colors were bright, the Mylar was shiny, and they did the job for less than most button places.
We’ve also used RockButtons.com. We had some trouble with one of our orders (shipping bag was ripped open and 200 buttons were missing) and RockButtons took care of us right away. They seem to be a standard for band-folk.
Good bubble mailers at cheap prices. We ordered a whole bunch and got them when they said we would.
Unline seems to be the defacto standard for shipping and mailing supplies. They ship very fast to us here in Arizona, and their products are solid. Prices can be beat, but not their range of stuff.
Impress Rubber Stamps
We use Impress Rubber Stamps on at least 5 occasions so far, for branding our mailers and boxes that we send to our customers. It’s a cheap solution, until we can afford our own custom printed bubble mailers and boxes.
I will continue to update this as I remember more folks that we’ve used.
Daniel m. Davis is the co-owner (with his wife Dawna) of Steam Crow LLC, a Phoenix, Arizona studio that creates characters/stories/goods with a monster imagination.
He also creates the Monster Commute, a 5 day a week monsterpunk adventure comic. He likes pie.