What do you get for the person who has everything? Or the person you don’t know well? Or something you know someone will actually use? A coffee mug, of course! Coffee mugs are one of the most popular items to purchase, and because of that, they are also one of the best items to sell online.
If you are looking for a side hustle or a way to build a profitable and fun business, consider coffee mugs! Here’s how to sell coffee mugs online, from creating the design all the way to marketing and selling your product.
Make Your Design
You no longer need to be a pro at Photoshop to create simple graphics. By far, the most accessible way to create designs is by using Canva. Canva has a free tier and a paid tier. While you get more options for creating graphics with the paid account, there’s still plenty you can do with a free one, and you shouldn’t need to upgrade unless you find yourself bored with the free options.
In Canva, you can create mugs made of simple quotes that require minimal work. You can also play around by adding shapes, switching up colors, and using the huge graphics library to piece together a unique design for your totally custom mug. These are all free for commercial use.
Another popular option is Procreate, which is available for iPads. This allows you to draw your own designs digitally and easily save them as an image.
Of course, you can still choose to use the Adobe suite to create your designs. This has a sharper learning curve and a higher price point, but there are no limits on what you can create.
A Note on Copyright
When learning how to sell mugs online, many don’t pay attention to copyright. It’s crucial that you only sell designs you have the rights to. This means not selling any images or words that you didn’t write unless you have purchased the rights to use them commercially. This includes:
- Photos you didn’t take (including images of famous figures)
- Lyrics, quotes, or phrases you didn’t create
- Company logos or slogans
- Sports team logos
- Meme images
- Movie or TV show figures or images
- Images found on social media or search engines
What you can sell is original designs (including those made on Canva), original quotes, and generic sayings.
Disclaimer, we’re not lawyers, so if you have questions about copyright and commercial licensing be sure to talk to a legal professional.
Print on Demand
Print-on-demand coffee mugs are ideal for those who don’t want to actually create the mug by hand. With print-on-demand services, you can upload your designs, and your supplier will print them onto mugs for you. Some allow you to list your product on the site for people to purchase, while others let you link to it directly through your own website or other platforms.
The benefit of this is that it is relatively hands-off. You never have to worry about holding inventory or shipping it to the customers. Print-on-demand companies handle all the printing and fulfillment for you.
On the downside, this means handing off a chunk of your profits as well.
If you are interested in using print-on-demand, here are some companies to consider:
Teespring is one of the most popular print-on-demand services. You can create all kinds of products, including socks, phone cases, t-shirts, pillows, and, yes – mugs! Using their product launcher, you can upload your own designs or use their tools to design your own.
Teespring is totally free to use, and they don’t take any commission fees from your profits; you simply pay a set base price for each product you print, making it affordable to get started. They also offer bulk discounts for high-volume accounts.
While you can list products on Teespring, it works best by integrating the products into their boosted network. This allows it to be posted on big hubs like Amazon and eBay. You must meet their qualifications first to be eligible for the boosted network.
Printify is another huge print-on-demand service that’s very popular with Etsy sellers. First, you can either upload your unique mug designs or use their tools to make one. You then select the type of mug you want to print your design on and set the sale price. With Printify, you can choose from several options – travel mugs, glass mugs, insulated mugs, metal camping mugs, or traditional ceramic mugs.
They offer integrations to easily connect to your existing store, from Shopify and Squarespace to eBay and Etsy. Whenever someone places an order, Printify will handle all the printing and delivery. Easy as that!
You also can’t go wrong with using Spreadshirt for your print-on-demand mugs. When you begin selling, you can either sell directly on Spreadshirt’s marketplace or open a Spreadshop. On their marketplace, your products are immediately available to any Spreadshirt visitors. With Spreadshop, you can make your own custom website using Spreadshirt’s platform.
They also allow you to use the SPOD network to sell on some of the most common e-commerce platforms such as Etsy, Amazon, and Shopify. Then they will print and ship for you!
Why not work directly with the largest e-commerce site in the world? Amazon Merch is Amazon’s own print-on-demand platform. It works very much like the other print-on-demand stores where you upload your design, select your product, and fill out a description. They will then print and ship any orders for you.
The benefit of this is that Amazon will automatically generate a product page for you. You don’t have to worry about that extra step of integrating your shop over to Amazon.
Make Your Own Mugs
Of course, you can also make your own mugs! The mugs that go for the highest price are those made from scratch either by hand painting or using a pottery wheel. But, you can also easily print your own designs you create on Canva onto mugs.
The home crafting brand, Cricut, has a wonderful product so that you can print designs onto your mugs directly at home. Using the Cricut Mug Press, you first print your design using their Infusible Ink transfer sheets. Then you attach the design to the mug and insert it into the press. At the click of a button, it will transfer the design to your mug. Better yet, it completely holds up to the dishwasher and microwave!
If you plan on selling your mugs in person, making your own mugs allows you to control your stock and create custom designs easily.
Where to Sell Your Mugs
Is selling mugs profitable? It sure can be, as long as you actually take the time to market your mugs and get the word out there about your products. Here are some of the most popular ways to generate sales for your mugs.
You can sell literally everything on Amazon. Selling coffee mugs on Amazon will give you the widest global reach (though it can be hard to show up in searches!). Luckily, it’s fairly easy to become a seller on Amazon.
First, you must open a seller account. You can do a free individual option (if you’re only listing a few things at a time) or a professional paid monthly account that allows you to list as many products as you want and integrate easily with print-on-demand websites.
Etsy is the largest online platform to sell handmade goods, including mugs! You can choose to print and create the mugs yourself to ship or link a print-on-demand service, and they will do all the work for you. Like most sites, Etsy does take a small percentage of the profit for using its site.
For new sellers, it can be challenging to get those initial first sales. But once you start to get reviews, the sales keep trickling in! When creating the listing, make sure to fill out as much information as possible so that your results can appear in the search.
If possible, offer a custom mug option on Etsy. Mugs are a great gift for special occasions, and people love to customize the mugs to have names, pictures, etc., unique to them. For example, create a generic design for a bride to gift to a bridal party. Then, add an option to change the name on each mug – it feels like a much more special gift. And the opportunities for this are endless! You can offer custom photo mugs for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day or any number of other special events. Plus, it takes minimal work to add a name or photo to an existing design on Canva!
Learn more about how to be successful selling on Etsy in this article.
Create Your Own Online Store
You can use many of the print-on-demand websites to create your own online mug store using a platform such as Shopify, Wix, or Squarespace. This allows you to really look professional and customize the site completely. You can make your own branding and logo and have a clean-looking place for your customers to shop.
The only difficulty in having your own online shop is getting people to visit it. This method works best for those who already have a following you can advertise to or are prepared to put in the effort to drive traffic to their site.
Other Places to Sell
Want even more options? Check out this article showcasing over 40 different places you can sell your handmade items.
Marketing Your Mugs
Once you have everything set up, it’s time to spread the word! One of the best ways to showcase your mugs these days is by using social media. Every business needs a few social media accounts, including your DIY mug business!
Advertising some of your new products on Instagram and Facebook is a great way to get the word out about your online business. If you’re feeling brave, also give TikTok a chance. People love seeing behind-the-scenes videos of artists at work creating their products. Social media will help you reach more people beyond your community. You can even consider running your own ads on social media to promote your mugs.
The other thing you want to do is optimize each of your listings. Whether it’s on the print-on-demand website directly or a different e-commerce platform like Etsy or Amazon, you want to fill out everything possible in the product description. Use keywords you think people would search for in the product title and description. This allows your listing to become more searchable and actually get views on these websites. More views mean more sales!
And that’s how to sell coffee mugs online! First, just begin designing and get the creative juices flowing. Soon enough, you’ll have plenty of designs in no time and can start making a profit selling coffee mugs on the side.
Ready to start your home-based mug business? Be sure to grab our free business plan template.
This is a fantastic post! I am glad I found it, as an artist and graphic artist trying to rebuild her career, this is a great way to start!
Holly Reisem Hanna
Glad you enjoyed the article, Carolyn!
All the best with your business!
Really great post. I think that almost all of us have a special mug that we cherish. I think that it is a great area to create in and sell in.
Holly Reisem Hanna
Glad you enjoyed the article, Cindy!