29 March 2017, near midnight...
One of the fun things about digital service delivery is the ability to custom design your own products without the intervention of a design professional and without the cost usually associated with custom products.
Today, I'm referring to printed goods like business cards, brochures, yard signs, and other advertising and marketing items.
From what I can see, VistaPrint has been the leader in this area for over a decade. I've used them for a variety of products and always been happy with the results. Furthermore, there seems always to be a coupon or discount code so I seldom pay full price.
VistaPrint allows you to use their stock designs, upload a complete design, or design on their web site. It's actually fun to do the last one. You can build a printed product with a variety of fonts and nearly any color. You can add images -- theirs or your own. The results can be beautiful, if you take the time, or, well, frankly, hideous if you just slap things together. But that's pretty much true of any artistic endeavor.
Of course, VistaPrint isn't the only such service out there. Another big name is Avery. Yes, the same folks who make all those labels and other printables for home printing have an interesting web site where you can design your labels or whatever and print them at home or have them print and ship to you. I've use the print at home option frequently for small batch stuff. I like it and it seems to be constantly improving. I haven't used their print and ship service, so I can't speak to that.
Assorted print on demand services are FUN!!! Not only can you have paper goods printed, you can print on t-shirts, shoes, hand bags, coffee mugs, .... And, you can set up a "shop" which allows others to purchase goods with your designs. If you do this right, you suddenly have what is called "passive income" which simply means you can earn money while you sleep. Ah! My dream come true. LOL
The first print on demand service I can recall using is CafePress. Unfortunately, I can't recommend them because, the last time I used them, the user interface left way too much to be desired.
Now there's RedBubble, Society6, ArtsAdd, .... I'm sure if you search "print on demand services" you'll find many more. As with CafePress, I think Society6 is more trouble than it's worth. But, they do have a nice selection of printable products. My current favs are RedBubble and ArtsAdd; I have shops in both locations.
So, the next time you need some custom printing, consider exercising your creative muscles and doing it yourself through a print on demand service. Regardless of the outcome, it truly is good for the mind to stretch this way -- CREATE!
Deborah K Smith, PhD
As a self-proclaimed mixed media artist and creative professional, I am in my 3rd career, having spent 15 years as a software developer and another 15 as a university professor. My first love and my most demanding one has always been creating whether it be a drawing, a bit of crocheted lace, a cloth doll, a piece of software, a PhD dissertation, or a piece of digital art. I simply LOVE to make things and I see make and make-over opportunities everywhere. My only regret is that there is no possible way that I can live long enough to make all of the things I see in my mind.