What to expect and my experience on the RB platform
I have been on Redbubble since December 2017 and it is my first”serious” print-on-demand site. If you’re looking to get into the print of demand business, Redbubble is an excellent place to start, because it is one of the giants in the industry, has a very good product line and a very intuitive and user-friendly interface.
I’m not here to tell you to get on RB, but I’d like to share a bit about my experience there if you’re wondering if it’s worth it. Well, there are no initial costs, you upload your artwork and just watch the money come into your PayPal account – a perfect passive income, right?
Setting up an account and uploading your artwork
Setting up an account is super easy, just fill out the info asked of you and you’re good to go.
Recently, I recorded my upload process to Redbubble to help out a couple of friends, so check out the video, maybe it can be helpful to you too…
Here’s a few things I do and are working good for me:
- Uploading vector graphics at 350dpi, minimum of 10.000 px on the largest side
- Enabling ALL the products
- Know your products… Shirts are my best selling products, so the main artwork I upload is the one that looks best on a t-shirt
- Redbubble lets you upload different artwork for different products, so take advantage of that. I always upload different artwork for clocks, sometimes I make patterns and sometimes I make both a vertical and a portrait-oriented artwork. I can do this because I make vector graphics and it’s not that difficult to make these variations.
- Write relevant tags. I also tag my name – both “von Kowen” and “vonkowen” so it makes it easier for people to find me on Redbubble’s marketplace
- Going over every product to make sure they will look good when printed
- Uploading new work at least once a week or as often as possible
- Being true to the overall theme of your Redbubble shop, developing your brand and listening to your followers
- DON’T EVER EVER EVER DO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT!!! This will ban you from Redbubble. And if you’re not sure something is copyrighted, here’s the rule of thumb: IF YOU DID NOT CREATE IT, IT IS NOT YOURS TO SHARE OR UPLOAD ANYWHERE. (I’ll be writing a separate post about IP, copyright and art theft, so sty tuned). Also, there is a Redbubble fan art program in case you’d like to sell officially licensed fan art.
What Redbubble does and what you do
Redbubble offers it’s marketplace – literally millions of people will potentially see and buy products with your artwork on it.
When someone buys a Redbubble product with your artwork, Redbubble sets up production, packaging and shipping of the product and also does customer support. They do quite a bit for you, so you can concentrate on making great artwork.
They pay you, the artist, a percentage of the retail price. The cool thing is – you get to set your own margin. I keep mine between 23 to 35% depending on the product.
Redbubble pays your cut monthly, around the 15th each month. They brought back the payment threshold of $20 – meaning you won’t get the PayPal payment unless you make $20 or more. Don’t worry, your money won’t go to waste, it will be transferred to next month and you will receive your money when you pass that threshold.
Don’t forget to promote your Redbubble shop as often as you can… and that brings us to next point.
What’s the catch?
Competition is KILLER!!!
That is the most prominent downside. If you don’t already have an awesome and big social media following and a great portfolio to upload on the Redbubble platform, you are probably going to struggle for a while. And you might never make it.
There are people who made no or very few sales in months or years they have been on Redbubble – and there is a very big chance you’ll be one of those. Realistically. I was one of them.
I almost failed
I have been on Redbubble for five months before I made my first sale. OH, HAPPY DAY! Here’s a screenshot of my first few RB payments, because I want to be completely honest with you and don’t want you to have unrealistic expectations:
(reminder: I joined in December 2017, the first payout was in May 2018)
I mean, sure, I can laugh about this now, but there were so many times I wanted to say TO HELL WITH IT, curl up in a ball, cry and quit. It has been 10 MONTHS… THAT’S ALMOST A YEAR AND I MADE 7 FUCKING EUROS!!! WHAAAAAAT?!?!
I felt awful, like a failure, ashamed, thought my art is shit and that everyone hates me and my dumb dreams. Living in a country where nobody quite understood what I was trying to achieve did not help. I felt like people were laughing at me behind my back. All along I read about how people are successful POD artists and that they make a decent income… What was I doing wrong? Why was I a failure? WHYYYYYY?!?!?!
…but I did not quit.
I worked my butt out to grow my social media profiles, primarily my Instagram and Facebook . Then I joined some groups on Facebook where I can share my art and others where I can learn about print on demand business. There are some beautiful likeminded people I found online and we support each other and help each other grow and develop new skills. Listening to what people online liked and disliked helped a lot and I put all my heart and soul into my artwork and continued to improve my art skills… For example, here’s a recent level-up:
I have given myself 5 years to make something of myself. I had some small goals I wanted to accomplish along the way. Halfway through things are picking up and that makes me so happy!
Now, 2,5 years in – I think I’ll make it, I’m not crying anymore! I am nowhere near my final goals, but people actually like my art and they proudly wear it on themselves or decorate their rooms with it – that’s the most amazing thing ever! It was worth all the struggles and tears.
There are literally THOUSANDS OF ARTISTS who are a part of Redbubble, and the place is getting even more crowded by the day. To get your voice heard you will have to work hard.
This is why I don’t consider any print-on-demand platform to be a “passive income”. Well, it could be if you have a huge amount of money to invest in promotion. I’m guessing a minimum of $1000 a month – and I did not have that. I tried paid promotion and it just made me feel bad 😛
I had an old Toshiba laptop, Inkscape installed on it, love for art, and a fiance who supported my craziness.
There are people very different from me, who are all about the “niche”, who spend a lot of money on promotion and hiring designers, who follow trends and try to make a quick profit… I guess I can write more about the types of people who get into print on demand, that should be an interesting read.
Is it for you?
So – if you are wondering if you should get into POD, please don’t have unrealistic expectations about it. It’s not easy money, it’s not a passive income, it is actually a full-time job.
A job that is very likely to fail and will not bring you a profit unless you invest (time, money, or both) in it. Maybe you’ll fail regardless.
If you’re joining this world, I wish you welcome and hope you have nerves of steel, you’ll need them! Set some goals for yourself. Small ones, nothing overwhelming or too fancy. Don’t be afraid to search for help.
Take baby steps, it is probably going to be long, hard marathon, but you’ll learn so much along the way!