Reworking Public Domain World War Posters For New Use

WW2 Poster

Image by Nevada Tumbleweed via Flickr

Public Domain Posters are so much fun to just look at.

Even if you don’t have a plan to use them in any way…  the posters are a history of our past.

But… what if you are interested in reworking public domain posters for a new use?

What would you create?

Of course you could use the images to make products on cafepress.com or zazzle.com

And – compiling them to sell on a CD or digital download to sell on eBay.com or Amazon.com is always a idea the pops up instantly.

Maybe – you could create full size posters to sell on eBay or Amazon.

All good ideas – Right?

It’s a matter of finding the image – making sure that image is at least 300 dpi – creating the product – Sell.

What question did you miss in that scenario?

Will Those Public Domain Posters Sell?

Amazon.com has books with compiled public domain posters for sale… and they have sold!

Why would someone buy a book with just images of old posters that they can see for free online?

It’s a small coffee table book – perfect for a gift.

Graphic designers also love to thumb through old poster images to get ideas.

Rosie the Riveter We Can Do It  Poster

One of the most well known American posters has been printed and sold for years.

My youngest son used this poster image to create “go get ‘em” motivational posters for his woman’s basketball team!

This U.S. Marines Public Domain Poster is gorgeous.

It would be popular with Marines of all ages… young recruits to retired military.

Naval Public Domain Posters are very popular in my oldest “navy” son’s home.

History buffs love this stuff – right?

War Posters On CD

Many others have thought of this concept.  Listing every war poster they can find and loading them up on one CD to sell on eBay.

Makes it easy to see them all on your computer and print out an use yourself – if they are 300 dpi.

4,000 posters – who know there were that many war posters?

Did All These Public Domain War Poster Products Sell?

YES!

  • Did these marketers sell a ton of them? No.
  • Did these marketers sell for enough to be highly profitable? Probably Not.

Why aren’t these products hot sellers with high profit?

If you can source and purchase public domain posters at wholesale (very cheap) and load up on inventory… there is a possibility for a profitable business.  Most of the posters that sell “regularly” on eBay go for about $9.95 and the least expensive “us little guys” could have a poster produced is about $6.00 each with shipping.  You might make $4.00 per poster.  This is actually not a bad business model for someone who is willing to sell in volume.  My research shows that the average eBay seller would sell aprox. 4 posters a day.

$16 per day profit.  Each poster must then be packaged and shipped.  Individually.  (Think about how different it is to ship a packaged CD than a packaged poster… I’m just saying).

My personal opinion…  They are available everywhere.  I could find similar items at the local mall – and they have been available for years.

If you follow the same path as others – those that are selling products for pennies – you will make pennies.

You really only have two choices when it comes to making money with public domain content.

  1. Make something that is similar to what everyone else is doing.
  2. Make something that is somewhat unique – OR – totally original.

I’ve already shown you what products have sold… although for small money.  These are the first “types” of products that come to mind when you think about selling public domain posters (or just about any public domain products).

What I Am NOT Saying…

I’m NOT saying that someone CAN’T create products similar to those shown above and make money.  That wouldn’t be a fair statement… because I know for a fact that public domain war posters can – and do –  sell.  Otherwise you wouldn’t see them for sale in store after store – over and over – for years.

What I AM Saying…

Products that Sell Well Now - are products that are unique OR compliment (rather than compete) with an already established market.

I’ve seen the typical war poster made into coasters, clocks, jewelry, magnets and paperweights.  These are mostly commercial ventures and you (as the little guy) could get “crafty” and start making something similar.  It does require materials, workspace and a commitment to manual labor.

One of the best (easy, cheap and doesn’t require you to make physical inventory) is digital images for a specific purpose.

I’ve found several different ideas so far – one of the best is small image sheets for artists and crafty types.

Altered artists, scrapbooking and jewelry designers are always looking for new images to use.

These are called “collage sheets” and they can be digitally delivered.  NO Shipping…

The average price of these digital jpegs are about $2.  My research shows that the avg. sale day is about 11 images sold.  That’s about $22 a day.

More Public Domain Poster Information

Public Domain Film Posters

Public Domain Performing Arts Posters

Check out these public domain posters reworked into “Save The Library Posters” and the flicker file is here.

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Do I think that using public domain war posters (as is) to make products is a good idea? Not really… because I’ve found better ideas. Ideas that don’t use the “easy button”.

There really are some very smart marketers selling products created with public domain content. They sell products they created several years ago and those same products are still selling today.  These products are not found on the shelves of your local mall stores or on the tables of vendors in the local swap meets.

Still others are just as smart and know how to take public domain images (right out of books) and sell them as prints on eBay… for a nice chunk of change.

It really can be easier than you think to find good product ideas to create and sell.  But… like I always say – “You need to do your research and know your market before you jump in”.

I’m here for ya…

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi and thanks again

    You continue to “Bring It” … “It” being the “Good Stuff”

    You must not sleep … I imagine a caffeine IV drip

    best

    elmo

  2. says

    Hi Debra:
    Great article to make us all think out side of the box… A person taking any item on public domain and cross sell it to me a very smart business person. I like your idea’s and they are fresh… Keep up the good work on helping us with creating multi-streams of income.
    Your loyal reader!
    Reg

  3. says

    Hi elmo…

    I have coffee in one hand and rock star in the other… permanently have the “jitters” LOL

    I can’t sleep until I get this stuff out of my head and shared with you!

    We love you around here elmo, don’t ever leave. Your attitude and thoughtful input is just what I need.

    Debra (Bring It) That Public Domain Diva :)

  4. says

    Hey Reg…

    Good point! The Big Ideas (profitable) are not always “copy/paste – easy button”. I work hard on products… but they are quality – evergreen products that should sell over and over for years to come.

    Debra

  5. says

    Hi Debra,
    Very nice article. I especially the statistics you put together. Makes one try to think of other ideas. In the past I had WW1 posters reproduced as oil painting to sell! They look great on a wall but are a bit slower to sell due to the cost. But the profit is high.
    Thanks,
    Adam

  6. says

    Debra great ideas – I’m one of 13 exhibiting artists acknowledged by the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commission to honor and pay tribute to Vietnam Veterans and their families during the 50th Anniversary of the war commemoration. This will kick off this Memorial Day at the Wall. I have been creating paintings then reproducting them using the Giclee process. But I think posters sound like the way to go. Thanks again

    THE Nam-Art COLLECTION

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