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 cup of coffee, of course! Coffee mugs are one of the most popular items to buy and because of that, they are also one of the best items to sell online.
If you’re looking for an extra 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 to marketing and selling your product.
make your design
You no longer need to be a Photoshop pro to create simple graphics. By far the most accessible way to create layouts is by using canvas. Canva has a free tier and a paid tier. While you get more options for creating graphics with the paid account, there’s still a lot you can do with a free account, and you shouldn’t need to upgrade unless you get bored with the free options.
In Canva, you can create mugs with simple quotes that require minimal work. You can also play around adding shapes, changing colors and using the huge library of graphics to put together a unique design for your fully customized mug. These are all free for commercial use.
Another popular option is Procreate, which is available for iPad. This allows you to draw your own designs digitally and easily save them as an image.
Of course, you can still choose to use Adobe’s suite to create your designs. This has a steeper learning curve and a higher price tag, but there are no limits to what you can create.
A note about copyright
Learning how to sell mugs online, many do not pay attention to copyright. It’s critical that you only sell designs to which you own the rights. This means not selling any images or words that you have not written unless you have purchased the rights to use them commercially. This includes:
- Photos you didn’t take (including pictures of famous figures)
- Lyrics, quotes or phrases you didn’t create
- Company logos or slogans.
- Sports team logos
- meme images
- Figures or images from movies or TV shows.
- Images found on social networks or search engines
What you can sell are original designs (including those made in Canva), original quotes, and generic phrases.
Disclaimer, we are not lawyers, so if you have questions about copyright and commercial licensing, be sure to speak with a legal professional.
print on demand
Print-on-demand coffee mugs are ideal for those who don’t want to create the mug by hand. With print-on-demand services, you can upload your designs and your supplier will print them on mugs for you. Some allow you to list your product on the site so people will buy it, while others allow you to link directly through your own website or other platforms.
The benefit of this is that it is relatively straightforward. You never have to worry about keeping inventory or shipping it to customers. Print-on-demand companies handle all the printing and fulfillment for you.
On the downside, this means handing over a portion of your winnings as well.
If you’re interested in using print-on-demand, here are some companies to consider:
spring is one of the most popular print-on-demand services. You can create all kinds of merchandise, 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 completely free to use and they take no commission on your earnings; you simply pay a fixed base price for each product you print, making it affordable to get started. They also offer volume discounts for high volume accounts.
While you can list products on Teespring, it works best by integrating the products into your driven network. This allows you to be listed on big hubs like Amazon and eBay. You must first meet their requirements to be eligible for the Boosted Network.
Printify is another great print-on-demand service that is very popular with Etsy sellers. First, you can upload your unique mug designs or use your tools to make one. You then select the type of mug you want your design to be printed 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. Every time someone places an order, Printify will take care of all the printing and delivery. That easy!
You also can’t go wrong using extended t-shirt for your print-on-demand mugs. When you start selling, you can either sell directly on the Spreadshirt marketplace or open a Spreadshop. On your marketplace, your products are immediately available to any Spreadshirt visitor. With Spreadshop, you can create your own custom website using the Spreadshirt platform.
They also allow you to use the SPOD network to sell on some of the most common eCommerce platforms such as Etsy, Amazon, and Shopify. They will then print and ship for you!
Why not work directly with the world’s largest eCommerce site? Amazon merchandise is Amazon’s own print-on-demand platform. It works much like other print-on-demand shops where you upload your design, select your product, and fill out a description. They will then print and ship any order 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 store with Amazon.
make your own cups
Of course, you can also make your own mugs! The most expensive mugs are those that are made from scratch, either by hand painting or using a potter’s wheel. But you can also easily print your own designs that you create in Canva onto mugs.
Home craft brand Cricut has a wonderful product for you to print designs on your mugs at home. Using the Cricut Mug Press, you first print your design using your Infusible Ink transfer sheets. He then glues the design to the mug and inserts it into the press. With the click of a button, it will transfer the design onto your mug. Better yet, it’s completely dishwasher and microwave safe!
If you plan to sell your mugs in person, making your own mugs allows you to control your stock and easily create custom designs.
Where to sell your mugs
Is it profitable to sell cups? It sure can be, as long as you really take the time to market your mugs and get the word out about your products. Here are some of the most popular ways to generate sales for your mugs.
You can literally sell everything on Amazon. Selling coffee mugs on Amazon will give you the widest global reach (although it can be hard to show up in searches!). Fortunately, it is quite easy to become a seller on Amazon.
First, you need to open a seller account. You can do a free individual option (if you only list a few things at a time) or a professional paid monthly account that allows you to list as many products as you want and easily integrate with print-on-demand websites.
Etsy is the largest online platform for selling handmade products, including mugs! You can choose to print and create the mugs yourself to ship or link up with a print-on-demand service, and they’ll do all the work for you. Like most sites, Etsy takes a small percentage of the revenue for using their site.
For new sellers, it can be challenging to get those first initial sales. But once you start getting reviews, the sales keep increasing! When creating your listing, be sure to fill out as much information as possible so that your results can appear in search.
If possible, offer a custom mug option on Etsy. Mugs make great gifts for special occasions, and people love to personalize mugs so that they have names, images, 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 personalized photo mugs for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day or any other special event. Plus, it takes minimal work to add a name or photo to an existing design in Canva.
Learn more about how to successfully sell 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 shop using a platform like Shopify, Wix or Squarespace. This allows you to look really professional and fully customize the site. You can create your own brand and logo and have a clean place for your customers to shop.
The only difficulty with having your own online store is getting people to visit it. This method works best for those who already have a following to advertise on 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 that shows over 40 different places where you can sell your handmade items.
Marketing your cups
Once you’ve got everything set up, it’s time to spread the word! One of the best ways to showcase your mugs these days is to use social media. Every business needs a few social media accounts, including your DIY mug business!
Announcing some of your new products on Instagram and Facebook is a great way to get the word out about your business online. If you’re feeling brave, try TikTok too. People love to see 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 on a different e-commerce platform like Etsy or Amazon, you want to fill out the product description as much as possible. Use keywords that you think people would search for in the product title and description. This allows your listing to be more searchable and actually get views on these websites. More visits mean more sales!
And this is how coffee cups are sold online! First, start designing and get the creativity flowing. Very soon, you will have many designs in a very short time and you can start making a profit selling coffee mugs.
Ready to start your home-based mug business? Be sure to grab our free business plan template.