Have Your Own Canvas Printing Business Without Owning the Equipment

There's a great business opportunity out there to sell beautiful prints like these to your customers without even needing a printer!
There's a great business opportunity out there to sell beautiful prints like these to your customers without even needing a printer! | Source

Interested in Printing Your Own Canvas or Canvas Printing Business Opportunities?

A few years ago, I had bought a number of canvas prints from eBay to hang in the hallway of my newly refurbished home. At £30 each I thought I was getting a bit of a bargain compared to some of the other prices being touted online. When I found myself in the position of buying another two a few months later, curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to find out how difficult it would be to do them myself. I was amazed at the sheer volume of canvas sales taking place on a daily basis on eBay alone and I was hoping there was a slice of this lucrative pie to be had.

More research yielded positive results for me. I learned that it was possible for you to easily print your own canvas and start your own canvas printing business, without even needing to purchase the printer (although, I initially did purchase a printer). Read on to learn more.

Setting Up Your Canvas Printing Online Shop

First things first, don't get discouraged! You'll inevitably run into some snags along the way. Here's how my shop set-up process started out:

After around six weeks of researching online, I eventually took the plunge and bought a refurbished canvas printer (a nice 42" HP plotter to be precise) for just under £1000. From my research, I was able to determine that an average A1 size colour canvas, mounted and ready to hang, would cost me around £5 in material costs, leaving me around £20 profit per sale after eBay, Paypal, and shipping costs.

What a result, count me in. What's next? Setting up shop.

I set up my new venture in my spare room and started up an eBay shop. I offered a variety of different canvas sizes and images, some of my own, some from the public domain, and many images that customers sent to me of their kids, wedding day, favourite places, etc.

All was going well until I got my first complaint! They (my customer) were not happy with the quality of the canvas print and wanted their money back, which put me out of pocket on the wholesale. I soon realised that I didn't have the proper Photoshop knowledge or skills needed to manipulate images to ensure they would give the best possible printed result. To be honest, I had no photoshop or graphic-manipulation skills at all and was just printing the images in the resolution I had them in.

Next, my printer developed a problem which I wasn't able to fix without calling out an engineer. He arrived next day which was great, however the two parts needed to fix my printer wouldn't be available for another four days! I was backed into a corner and had to agree to this. I was almost £350 lighter with nothing to show for it.

Outsourcing Your Canvas Prints in Your Business

With sales building up and no printer to meet demand, I was running out of options. I didn't want to refund all that lovely money sitting in my Paypal account.

So, I started to look at my competitors again and took the plunge of contacting a few to see if they would offer me a discount if I ordered a block of prints at the same time. I was sitting on over 20 sales I needed to process so hoped I could negotiate a decent discount that would mean I could keep my customers happy, whilst at the same time ensuring I wasn't going to be out of pocket. I got a number of positive responses, and eventually went with someone who agreed to do the canvas prints for £17 each, inclusive of packaging and UK mainland delivery, if I ordered at least 10 (separate) prints.

Not only was I able to fulfil my customers orders, I was still able to make a profit by outsourcing the printing. Now, this was getting interesting.

Developing My Canvas Printing Business

I soon decided to sell off all my printing equipment and outsource the work 100% percent. This has to be the best decision I've ever made. I am able to make between £12-£15 profit per sale using the same principal. I have been doing this for around two years now and am averaging about 80 sales per week!

I don't just sell on eBay, I also do local flyer drops in and around the city where I live. 10,000 fliers cost me about £150 to print, then I can source a couple of people from Gumtree to deliver these for me in the geographic areas I choose. I usually get around 6-8% of those potential customers buying from me after these flier drops (based on some quick analysis based on where the orders are being shipped to against the geographic location that the fliers were distributed in).

Benefits of Outsourcing Canvas Prints For Your Business:

  • The person I outsource to is responsible for the full transaction, therefore if my customer isn't happy with the quality I just go back to my outsourcer and they resolve the issue.
  • I don't have to do any printing, shipping or packing, which is great as it can be a real nuisance to do.
  • I have a number of different outsourcers I use, which helps when one is either on holiday or unable to cope with an increased workload.
  • Any orders that come into my inbox get forwarded straight onto my outsourcer, with image attached, and that's pretty much the end of the work for me. £12-£15 profit per email sent. Good times!
  • My outsourcers are happy to provide the goods to my customers as a 'white label' item, i.e. they don't include any of their own contact details with the shipped item so my customers are unaware that the printing has been outsourced.
  • As well as customers sending me their own images, I use a variety of online resources that supply images and photos free of charge for any use. There are literally hundreds of websites that provide images that are in the public domain and completely royalty free. You can also go to some of the more commercial suppliers of images where you can pay per photo, although some of them require you to buy a different license if you want to use their images in a print run.

This is a great opportunity for anyone that wants to make an extra income without too much hassle.

Top Tips for Being Successful at Your Canvas Printing Business

  • Contact as many potential outsourcers as possible to give you the best opportunity and value possible.
  • Negotiate a sliding discount scale with them based on sales per month.
  • Ensure that you agree on a sound returns policy with your outsourcer, as well as setting out some terms and conditions for dealing with unhappy customers.
  • Have at least two or three different outsourcers at your disposal.
  • Agree that they will provide the items "white label" to your customers, or even supply your fliers to promote your business further (include a discount code for repeat customers).
  • Stockpile as many decent images and photos as you can.
  • Look at what your competitors are selling on eBay to get an idea of pricing, type of images to sell, etc.
  • Try to come up with some unique items too so you can try to develop a niche market for yourself.
  • Local flier drops can help boost business and awareness.
  • Review your pricing on a regular basis to remain competitive.

Comments 16 comments

Andy 3 years ago


Thanks for this information it has been really really helpful in a few different ways. I keep looking online for royalty free images but to no avail. I feel a bit lost at what sites i can use for free. When i google royalty free images it comes up with payments all the time. Maybe im not looking in the right place. Any information you may have to help me get this up and running would be more than helpful and appreciated, i do feel that when i ask people for information i have a lot of doors shut in my face, im finding it hard for peope to help steer me in the right direction. thanks for taking the time to read this and hope to hear from you.


mableray 3 years ago

Good Tips. For the frugal entrepreneur, a canvas printing business is a good choice because of the low start-up costs. It is also one of the easiest businesses to start. This business can be quite lucrative and if you plan well, it can provide year-round profit.

However there are some good sites as well where you can directly upload your pics and get them print on large canvas. Recently I have seen among most of the site and was delighted at the quality of print they delivered to their customers.

James 2 years ago

Hi LinusRubik,

This is great to hear as I'm trying to determine viability of doing just this!

I'm wondering what you think the best way to find a printer is?

Gillian 2 years ago

Hello there, what company do you outsource with? I am trying to find someone online but it's hard to do. Thanks!

Javier 2 years ago


Sandile RSA - DBN 21 months ago

This is very useful, dankie mfana!!

Justin Franklin profile image

Justin Franklin 20 months ago from somewhere under a bridge

wow this is fantastic. I was wanting to get into this business but more as a graphic artist selling original work rather than taking requests from customers. would you still say outsourcing is the way to go and if so who would you say are the best suppliers to get a good price/decent quality print?

Marcella 20 months ago

Im slightly confused about the outsourcing. Do the printer place prints onto canvas and then send them to your customers? Or are your clients just sent prints? Help!!! would really like to get down to setting up ASAP. Thanks in advance

vlad 18 months ago

your article is nearly convincing... it has data that makes it more funny then anything else.. like couple of orders off local flyers, that you had more success on ebay then the printers who know the market way muche better then any so called part time antreprenors so.. on.. don't confuze people..

Kakanyo Sekgetle 17 months ago

i need a name of canvas printing machine that have all different sizes from small to the larger sizes

tina 15 months ago

I am looking for a website template that allows my customers to upload pictures, for me to provide prints. Does anyone know the best provider? I have been searching online for some time and can't seem to find any.

Painty 12 months ago

Interesting article - but it would be nice to know who you're outsourcing to! Also an idea of prices. I run a pop up art studio business and have an idea for a slight pivot in my business model for certain events... Am trying to build a list of potential suppliers

Gibbsy 5 months ago

I was actually looking at setting up in a shopping centre or market on weekends

Glyn marsh 5 months ago

Do you have names of company you use looking to start printing my photo be big help email g.marsh55@ many thanks

Koki 3 months ago

Very fruitfull information

I was having a delema in searching online fir a canavs prouduction

I need to ask if there are printers that gives a textured canavas

Ramat Lewis 5 weeks ago

Thank you for this wonderful information.

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