If you’ve ever delved into the huge print-on-demand scene you will have seen many images of products emblazoned with logos or other artwork, be this on t-shirts, mugs or stationary. As you may have gathered, most of these images will be a fake or a “mockup” of the real thing made using a template. This avoids the need to print every single combination of design and product type. They are also used by graphic designers to showcase work to clients on simulations of real-world applications.
The most popular sites to sell mockups are Etsy and Design Bundles for the general public and Creative Market and Graphic River for creative professionals. The standard of mockups and sale price vary greatly between the two categories, so it is important to choose the right one based upon the product quality.
If you find this post interesting then check out my article 35+ Ways To Make Money as A Digital Creative which will run through a number of other ways to use your creative skills as a side-hustle.
As print-on-demand has exploded, so has the need for mockup templates – creating and selling them can be big business! I conducted some research on a few of the more popular platforms so here’s what I found out…
It is common nowadays for print-on-demand sites such as Merch by Amazon and Zazzle to have a built-in product mockup generator which eliminates the need for a third party image template. There is however, still a massive market for these on other platforms and also non-POD applications such as graphic design.
Let’s talk about some of the more popular marketplaces for mockups that I mentioned before, remembering the difference between their target customers:
|Marketplace||Target Customer||Mockup Products|
|Etsy||General public||Lower-quality flat mockup templates. Low-quality smart object mockup templates. Clothing, picture frames, mugs/glasses|
|Design Bundles||General public||More smart object templates than Etsy. Clothing, mugs/glasses, packaging|
|Creative Market||Creative professionals||High-quality, smart object, mostly bundles, clothing, packaging, misc – eg: fabrics|
|Graphic River||Creative professionals||High-quality smart object, mostly bundles, print media, stationary, clothing|
Where To Sell Mockups to the General Public
Marketplaces targeting the general public typically offer a lower standard of mockup. I was expecting to also find them at a cheaper price with a ‘stack-em-high and sell-em-cheap’ approach but I was wrong. Personal licenses actually earn a higher price tag on some of these platforms than those aimed at professionals. Commercial licenses is a different story however.
The main customer for these templates appears to be those offering print-on-demand products and so there are a lot more clothing items and mugs. The background images have mostly been photographed from real-world items unlike the professional category which have a lot of 3D-rendered images.
Cheap and cheerful but hugely popular. Templates are targeted at the general public that make and sell a variety of craft products both on and off the platform. The standard of product mockup for sale varies widely and there are a lot of very poor examples. If you lack the skills to make a higher-end template then Etsy might be your best bet.
It’s also worth considering, due to its large market, creating simple templates that are sold a lot of times can generate some serious money. Many mockup templates listed consist purely of a jpeg background image and it is up to the customer to add their logo on top. This may suit photographers more than digital artists since there would be no creation and manipulation of smart objects but the output is potential much less realistic if the geometry is complex.
Etsy does not offer specific license management so it is up to each seller to specify their terms in the description. This can be confusing for the customer as each seller has different terms.
A lot of sellers of mockups exceed Etsy’s file size limit of 20Mb – this is easy done with a psd file or a bundle of items. They therefore offer a link to allow download upon payment. This means there is some extra legwork and maintenance required on hosting files elsewhere.
Benefits to using Etsy include easy listings creation and management, including an app. There is also significant support for marketing seller’s products and attracting new customers with coupons, etc. For the expanded set of tools Etsy do charge an additional $10 a month however.
Check out Etsy’s info on setting up a store here.
Design Bundles sells a wider variety of product mockups. I found the usual clothing and mugs/glasses that you find on Etsy but also a larger number of miscellaneous items including packaging. I was pleased to see that there were a lot of templates using smart objects which is where the skills comes into creating these.
From the pricing analysis I conducted I actually found that the average price per mockup was actually the highest out of all four marketplaces when comparing the lowest licenses on offer.
The reason for this is that despite the site name, the most popular mockups on Design Bundles are actually not sold as part of a bundle (80%+). As you expect items selling as singles are priced much higher per file than those included in a bundle and hence push up the average price. Another contributing factor is that Design Bundles also has a minimum sale price to stop undercutting. This appears to be working.
Design Bundles states that all files can be used for commercial use and they offer two types of license at point of sale: Premium License and Corporate License. The corporate license increases the sale price on average by x8 which is lower than the professional marketplaces but vastly surpasses Etsy’s single license model.
Find more info on setting up a store on the Design Bundles site here.
Where To Sell Mockups To Creative Professionals
Now we’re into the big leagues. If you really know your stuff then you can create some epic templates and many of those on offer are highly complex indistinguishable from real life. I guess that is what you’d expect however if you’re selling to professionals. These mockups are more used for showcasing graphic designer’s work than print-on-demand products so the types of templates sold differ. Less t-shirts, more packaging an print media. A large number of these product mockups are 3D models that have been rendered rather than products photographed.
I was expecting these premium mockups to be sold for much higher prices than those found on the platforms selling to the general public but in fact this is not the case for standard licenses (the mockup cannot be used in an end product that is charged for). It does beg the question then, on a purely economic level, why would you spend much longer to create something for the same or less sale value? The answer is in the extended license where the end product can be charged for. These licenses can sell for 30 times more than the standard license and makes much more economic sense.
Creative Market are aiming their mockups at e-commernce, education and miscellaneous design projects. During my research for this post I found the majority of their mockups are spread across clothing, packaging and more niche topics such as fabrics.
The templates on offer are of a high-quality and almost all based on smart object psd files. None of that cheap flat mockup JPEG stuff here.
Creative Market states they have a customer base of 7 million members. While this is large it is about 5x smaller than Etsy, although it is unclear what percentage of users on both sites are actually searching for product mockups.
Presumably in an effort to curate the quality of items on sale, Creative Market require you to apply to become a seller. They will then vet your application, which includes links to your design portfolio, where you already sell and a short description on why you want to open a shop on the site. I’m going to assume typing “show me the money!” or “I want to earn a living and pay my bills!” here isn’t going to cut it so you’ll have to invent some stuff about realizing your creative vision and how Creative Market touches your inner being.
Once approved however they seem to trust sellers more as they allow setting your own prices and instant listing approval. They also allow you access to your customers.
Unlike Etsy, there is a larger filesize cap so you don’t need to worry about external hosting of files.
Creative Market offer three types of license:
- Personal – non-commercial products;
- Commercial – Can be sold or used in advertisements with some volume limitations;
- Extended Commercial – Can be sold or used in advertisements with less limitations plus apps and games.
There is a large markup on the extended commercial licenses, so tailoring content towards those seeking these licenses will net the biggest return.
Check out info about how to open a store here.
Graphic River is part of Envato Market, one of the internet’s largest players in creative assets aimed at professionals. It seems to love to name it’s sites after natural entities and Graphic River is no exception.
The site features high-class mockups on a wide variety of products but there is a much greater focus on print media and stationary than the other sites I have looked at. There is still the obligatory place for clothing mockups however.
Graphic River (and the rest of the Envato family) offer the following types of license for the majority of their content:
- Regular – Creation of a single product free to the end user
- Extended – Creation of a single product that is sold to the end user
For more info on the types of license trek over to Graphic River here (link goes to Theme Forest, another Envato site).
From my research I found that Graphic River offer the highest fees and also on average the lowest sale price out of the sites I looked at, which are not freely set by authors. This means a double loss. The fees can be reduced if you agree to make your content exclusive however and these will also reduce further the more that is sold.
There seem to be more restrictions and a fair amount of negativity on forums about Envato in general but due to the fact they are such a large player, it is certainly worth considering and making up your own mind.
How Much To Sell Mockups For
Deciding on a price for your mockup depends on a couple of things: where you are selling them (what the direct competition is priced at, or pricing enforced by the marketplace); and the quality of your product. Designers who are established in a particular market place may also be able to offer higher premiums. Some market places also enforce controls on how much designers can sell their work for.
If you are serious about running a business then you need do some calculations when setting prices to make sure the time you spend actually gives the best return.
I would suggest starting with some competitor analysis to see what other sellers have set their prices at. Customers will only buy your product if it is priced competitively and offers value for money. This assumes comparable quality of course for which you will have to select the right marketplace that suits the type of product that you are able or willing to produce.
I have put the together the table below and also a handy chart to help you review the approximate price of an average product on each of the sites I looked at. I filtered the mockups by the best selling items or trending if that was not an available option. I have averaged the sale price of 50 most popular mockups (where item is a bundle the average price per mockup scene was taken).
|Marketplace||Avg. Price Per Mockup (USD)|
|Design Bundles ||$4.20 (Premium License)|
$31.09 (Corporate License)
|Creative Market||$3.78 (Personal License)|
$5.41 (Commercial License)
$17.60 (Extended Commercial License)
|Graphic River||$1.36 (Regular License)|
$17.91 (Extended License)
How Much Does Selling Mockups Make?
After identifying the marketplaces I wanted to look at how much money can actually be made on each. They all offer a different fee structure which can be very complicated. I have tried to summarize this in the table below but I encourage you to look at the links to the fee structures underneath to get a more detailed picture and up to date information. All platforms can be subject to tax withholding on top of this as well depending on your location.
|Marketplace||Fees per Sale||Other Fees (USD)||Profit on $10 Sale||Profit on $100 Sale|
|Etsy||8% + $0.25||Listing fee: $0.20|
Offsite Ads Fee: 15%*
|Design Bundles||25%||Affiliate commission: 25%**||$7.50||$75.00|
|Graphic River||Regular license: |
$3 + ((Sale price -$3) x 55%***)
$15 + ((Sale price -$15) x 55%***)
|$0||$3.15 (regular license)||Regular license: |
See below for a bit more detail about the way the different marketplaces structure their fees.
Etsy Fees: Link
- Fees per sale:
- Transaction fee (5%) + Payment fee (3% + $0.25)
- Other fees:
- Etsy charges a $0.20 per listing which is only payable once until the first sale and then each listing expires after 4 months.
- Off-site advertising fee: 15%. Etsy advertises elsewhere or the net and if a sale happens due to one of their adds then they take an extra cut.
- Enhanced marketing tools: $10 per month.
Design Bundles Fees: Link
- Fees per sale:
- Other fees:
- Affiliate commission: 25%. Design Bundles has an affiliate program and if a sale is made through it the affiliate gets a commission which comes from the seller, making a total of 50% deducted.
Creative Market Fees: Link
- Fees per sale:
Graphic River (Envato) Fees: Link
Envato charges a “Buyer Fee” per sale which is $3 for Regular Licenses and $15 for Extended Licenses. They also charge an author fee which reduces if you list you item exclusively with them (37.5%) and also reduces down further if you sell more product. This is on a sliding scale of total sales value down to a minimum of 12.5% if you have sold $75,000 of items to date.
- Fees per sale:
- Buyer fee ($3 or $15) + Non-Exclusive Author Fee (55%)
- Buyer fee ($3 or $15) + Exclusive Author Fee (12.5% – 37.5%)
Deciding where to sell product mockups comes down to two main things: economics of selling and seller experience.
The economics are influenced by marketplace fees but also the size of the potential market. Graphic River has a large market as part of Envato and even though their fees are high, the number of potential customers can still make it worth your while. A similar argument could be made for Etsy. The race to the bottom on price on their site is once again offset by the large potential market. Design Bundles offsets their smaller market share by offering smaller fees and minimum pricing meaning that sellers need less sales to make the same amount of money.
A large part of the analysis you should conduct when deciding on which marketplace is right for you is how long it takes for you to create a product. If you are going to be creating a high-quality product over many hours then chances are you want to be selling on one of the professional marketplaces to take advantage of the extended licenses and the creative professional customer base. If however you will be creating simple print-on-demand mockups then one of the sites aimed at the general public might be more appropriate. Especially if you can create the product quickly and it has mass appeal for the larger market.
Whilst economics are important, seller experience is also a large factor as well and one that may become more apparent to seasoned sellers. Having more control over pricing, no exclusivity lock-ins and less aggressive fee structure makes Creative Market a tempting marketplace if you are targeting professionals with your mockups.
My advice is to experiment with selling on all of the platforms to see the pros and cons for yourself but hopefully this post has provided some useful information on where to start.
If you found this post interesting then check out my article 35+ Ways To Make Money as A Digital Creative which will run through a number of other ways to use your creative skills as a side-hustle.
Featured image: Rawpixel.com / stock.adobe.com