Printing, shipping, and selling posters

How do you go about printing, shipping, and selling infographic posters?


I get this question a lot so I thought I would run down the nuts and bolts of the operation.  My process has changed and evolved over the years but this will get you started.


You want to make sure your poster is going to be a standard size.  This would be the size of frames you find at any hardware store or wallmart.  Custom framing is expensive so it helps to make the poster 11×17, 18×24, or 24×36.

There are really only four options for printing.

You can use a print on demand service like Cafe Press.  This option sucks, quality is low, and your revenue share will be peanuts, about $1 per poster.  If you are lazy, this might be an option as it requires the least effort.

You can also get your poster printed at Kinkos or some other printshop.  If it’s about 11×17 it will likely be “oversized” meaning they have to use the big printer, meaning you will have to pay big bucks.  Around $7 a square foot.  A 24×36 poster will cost $35 to print.  If you can sell it for much more then great, but likely not.  I sometimes use this option to get a one-off proof to see if any text is too small to read.

My preferred method is offset printing.  This is where the image is plated and then run on as many sheets of paper you can afford to feed through the press.  Offset is really cheap, less than $1 per print, full color.  As long as you get a quantity of 1,000 or more.  You can certainly get an offset run as low as 100 posters, but cost doesn’t start to come down until higher quantities.  It may cost $600 for 100 posters, $800 for 1,000 posters, and $1,000 for 2,000 posters.

There are lots of offset companies but I always use and recommend Print Pelican.  You will not find a cheaper price and they do good work.  If you are familiar with the Death and Taxes poster, it’s printed on 100# Gloss Cover which is pretty thick.  You will have to ask for this and its a bit more expensive than the standard paper they use, but if you are selling a product, its worth it.

Another option if you are looking to sell more of an art-type poster is to silk screen it.  This is where you have a limited number of colors and each one is applied to the poster in layers.  The result is a very high quality piece of work often with a subtle textured finish.  My 389 Years Ago poster was printed this way.  This allows me to sell the poster at a higher price, $50 and generally these runs are numbered so it’s more of a collectors thing.  The main draw back here is you are paying per color and the run size.  So if you can’t get your work down to 3-6 colors it’s not going to be worth it.  I think my posters were $12-$16 each.  Gradients are not easy to do and it helps to know a bit about the silk-screening process if you want to print this way.  I used D&L who are one of the best.  They have done a ton of concert posters.


There are a few ways to get your shipping done.

The easiest route is to get set up with a fulfillment company or service.  The posters are shipped to them and they hand the pick, pack, and ship.  This should really only be done if you expect a good volume of sales.  They will charge a monthly fee, $50, maybe a storage fee, and about $2-$4 per poster.  This is on top of the shipping fee.  So if your poster sells for $20.  Fulfillment can eat $8 to $12 of that.  There are a lot of fulfillment services out there.  I used Graphik Dimensions which owns because they could also frame a poster and ship it.  That rarely happened tho as it was expensive, $300+ for the user.  Currently the poster is shipped via Amazon.  While they have their own fulfillment service, the poster is shipped through Amazon proper, which you will need connections to get into.

Or you can do all the shipping yourself.  If you get offset or screenprinted posters you are likely to receive a small pallet of posters.  This is going to be heavy and might weigh a few hundred pounds.  Do not expect to be receiving this in your 5 story walk-up.  You are going to need a workspace to store, roll, and pack the tubes.  And supplies.  Uline has everything you need.  Tubes will need to be bought in bulk if you want a decent price, sub $1 per tube.  Also get at least a 2.5” diameter or you risk the tube getting damaged too easily.  Keep in mind tubes take up a lot of space.  If you order 250 tubes, they come about 30 to a box, which might be 3 feet high.   So all of a sudden you have 8 large boxes of tubes you will need to store.  I also packed each poster with craft paper to protect it.  Get a roll, and also a really good tape gun.

The shipping method is up to you.  Use whatever is easiest.  I was able to print and pay for USPS labels right from paypal and just affix them to tube.  The labeling process is going to take the longest so try to stream line it as much as possible.  Shipping is going to run between $5-$9 dollars per tube.  There is negligible cost to putting two posters in a tube and you actually save a great deal.  That’s why I always ran BOGO offers.  It may cost me $15 to print and ship a single poster, but $16 to print and ship two posters in the same tube.  Yet the customer is getting twice the value, or so they think.  You will need at least a 2.5” diameter tube to get more than one poster in. If you have 3 or more posters to ship to a single customer, just put them in tubes and tape all the tubes together to save on shipping.

It’s also possible to get some local kid or family member to do the shipping.  You still have to pay them a fulfillment fee but at least the money is not going to some corporation and you have more control over the operation.  My dear ol mom has shipping a good majority of the posters I’ve sold.


There are a million ways to sell your poster and there seems to be a new solution every week.  I have used paypal buttons, e-commerce carts like CRE Loaded and Magento, and other third party solutions like E-Junkie. I really recommend E-junkie as it is super lightweight, has tons of options and you can easily get all your data out.

Payment processors are a bitch, all of them.  I have used paypal payments pro, google checkout, amazon payments, and a standard merchant account + gateway.  For a single product I suggest something like paypal.  Yeah there is a ton of issues with paypal but it has served me fine.  The merchant account is $40 a month I think.  I haven’t stayed on top of all the options out there so they may be something better out there.  Don’t worry about percentage fees either.  You are not likely to do high volume so it doesn’t matter.

Don’t forget about Kickstarter!  It’s a great way to get an initial print run funded.  Remember there is a fractional cost to shipping more than one poster to a person so it works in your favor to offer rewards of multiple posters.  I didn’t need to fund my latest print through Kickstarter but I wanted to give it a shot.  I raised $6,800 on a $3,000 goal so it was a success.  Of course you really should know how to create, run, and market a successful kickstarter campaign.  There is tons of info you there so go find it.

Now go do it!

Where would I be without selling posters?  Who knows, but taking the initial steps have opened up 100 other doors of opportunity.  You will learn a lot about the merchant business from beginning to end. Sales to customer service.  If the above sounds to difficult, it really wasn’t.  I made lots of mistakes but nothing I was unable to bounce back from.

If you have any more questions just leave them in the comments below.

  • Dubsteptoker

    what about copyrights and so forth?  like what prints are legit to print and which ones arent???

    • Well if you are printing your own work, there won’t be an issue.  If its not your work, you need to get permission, unless it has the right creative commons liscences.

      • pd

        how to get permission or liscence???

  • Towera

    Ran across this article not sure if still active but I have someone intrested in buying my poster at wholesale not sure what to charge as reseller on a black and white  technical illustration poster

    • Depends on a a great number of things.  My poster sold for $24 retail, I would charge resellers $10-$14 on orders of 500-1000.

  • Hoss302

    This may sound stupid but I’m being serious about this. We have been dealing with a spirit at my home. The ghost has been using the carpet as a canvas and I have taken hundreds of pictures of “it’s” masterpieces. Some of which are very detailed. I’m interested in trying to sell them. Do you have any suggestions on how I should go about doing so?

    • Take high resolution photos, print them out, sell them. Also look into a litter box for the ghost.

      • Gabriel

        your customers will probably be ghosts

  • Great info. Thanks!

  • Thanks man.

  • Right now I use for my website ( They’re the best I’ve seen — but I hate that I can’t embed their service into my website. All my customers are redirected to their site to purchase. There must be a print service with a widget (or something) that can be embedded into any site?

    • How is the quality of the paper? I hate the thing stuff that cafepress uses.

      • Alex

        It’s quite high-quality, very glossy photo paper. The thing is, that medium is fine for photos (and maybe art) but not “vector” posters like mine that (and probably yours) that would look good on silky matte stock.

  • Doris Glass

    where can i buy tubes to ship?

  • ragt

    Personally I like this company the best. They have amazing customer service.

  • Johnny

    I sell my prints and posters on my site ( but I’m having trouble getting the site some exposure, what do you recommend?

  • Some great tips, thanks!

  • Sara

    Thanks for the great tips! I was wondering, how long do you think it would take for 1 person to package up 1000 posters, if you had all the posters and tubes there and the labels printed out?

  • Doug

    I plan on initially trying to see my poster in local shops. Any good advice for that approach? How about shrink wrapping? Is that difficult or too expensive to have done?

    • I haven’t had much success with local shops, they often like consignment, which is a bit lame. I don’t know about shrink rapping but with the weight of the paper I use, the rolled size is considerably larger than the shrink wrapped posters you see at wallmart for example.


    If i am looking to cut out the middle man by investing in a heavy duty HD printer to print my own poster which is the best one to buy? i am aware its a heavy investment but i am willing to take the risk as i am seeing this as also a hobby and have many designs id like to bring to life.

    • If you are just printing one-off copies, like the post printers at Kinkos, those are probably $5k+. If you are looking to into your own run of posters, offset equiptment is like $50k+.

      My suggestion, is to do limited runs with a silkscreen, which you could do yourself with practice and few hundred bucks in equipment.

    • Anthony Genuardi

      If you have enough sales volume (and I don’t necessarily mean a ton), getting your own large format printer is the best thing you’ll ever do. Once the initial investment is paid (mine actually paid for itself during last years’ Christmas rush), your cost per print is so much less than what you could get from any print shop, it’s not even funny. I have an HP Designjet Z3200ps 44″ model and I love it. It usually retails for about $4500, but I was able to find a fluke deal through Adorama and get it for $3200 (freakin’ awesome). I print as needed and the control and consistency that it gives me vs. a shop is phenomenal (I’m a perfectionist). It’s a 12 ink system with built in software to track your cost per print job based on what you pay for your rolls of paper and your ink. I always get my ink and paper online so I can find the lowest cost for the same materials. I typically print 11×17, 18×24, and 24×36, and with self-printing pay about $1.30, $2.80, and $5.60 a piece for each size. The shop I was using charged $5 and change, $12 and change, and $24 and change for those sizes, so huge cost difference. For me, it was the definitely the right decision.

  • Kiet Le

    Question. If I screen print on Cougar 100# Cover, could I still roll it up in a tube just fine?

    • Might be tight in a 2.5 inch tube. 3 inch tube no problem.

  • Alex

    When you say you can print 1,000 for $1 does that mean $1,000 of the same poster or may it be, say 100 posters 10 times each?

    Another question is, is there any service like where you can easily design posters, buy or use free stock photos etc.? Where do you get that part done? I have gorgeous things done on but one of their terms of service is, incredibly, not to sell their items as posters! Do you know how to get around that? Maybe get an extended license from them?

    • 1000 of the same poster. 100 posters 10 times would cost a fortune.

  • Nancy C. Eckman

    While I was in New York, I bumped into this printing company for I was so desperate to print my photos. I did take a risk and had my postcard printing there. Luckily, they never fail me. I am a satisfied customer.

  • Jim Peters

    Where Is The best Marketing Strategies To Jump Start My Poster Sales?and What Site Is Best For This Audience?

  • Ty

    The outfit is the best filter I’ve seen that provides fulfillment to your customers – just upload, pay, and they ship in an incredible tube. Upload, pay, and ship hassle free!

    Very slick!

  • Hey Jess, is there any reason you went with 100# Gloss cover, and not 100 # book cover? Gloss seems like a pain to hand roll.

    • Gloss was a little thicker I thought. Thicker seems like higher quality to the consumer, and I was selling posters at $24 + shipping which was a higher price point.

  • nemrac

    I love the poster!! I’m going to try this!

  • Badis Amoune

    Hi Jess, thanks for the important post. Please, what option is economic to me in selling A2 posters worldwide? I have posters but don’t have HD printer. First option: printing posters in homecountry by printing companies, shipping them via DHL in hard tubes to customers OR ELSE, Second option: sending them out (electronic copies) to printing companies in the country where my customers are and then having the printing company ship to my customers out there in no time and in simple envelopes instead of hard tubing package. What is cheapest? Thanks

  • Andrew Mast

    Hey, Jess! I know the post is kinda old, but do you think this is a good place to order posters?
    Should I do the 24×36 or the 27×39?

  • I am a hobby photographer. Is there a simpler sequence like:

    RAW file > emailed or digitally sent to printer > physical poster printed > Amazon picks it from printer > shipped to customer via Amazon? Help appreciated.