Day 132 - Why Open A Redbubble Shop - awesome products from independent artists like you
It can be confusing where to sell your art online these days and where will you find the time - what with your website, Etsy, NuMonday, Folksy, Fine Art America, SatchiArt, Facebook Shops, Amazon to name but a few. It is impossible to find the time as an independent to use them all and each have their pros and cons. Your website should always be the centre pin to everything with a well engaged mailing list so that you can aim for the majority of your income to come from direct channels, however, 3rd parties income streams really help too as long as you do not rely on them entirely!
Redbubble is one that only recently came to my attention and yet has been around since 2006 and is one that many artists should consider. I think part of the reason it has passed me by could be that it started out on the other side of the world in Melbourne, Australia although now it also has offices in San Francisco and Berlin and ships worldwide. It is probably only recently that technology has reached a point where organisations like Redbubble can do the amazing photographic previews of your art on products before any have even been produced which has contributed to its success with the public and takeup with artists!
Redbubble is a company that produce products on demand. They fulfill the order from manufacturing through payment and customer service. They do not produce product until a customer orders it and then the company send the order directly to the customer without you have to do anything except upload your work and organise your shop. You don't get the usual 50%+ profit margin on orders that you fulfil yourself but you do get a 20% commission by default on each product sold for the use of your artwork on it but think of all the time you save by not fulfilling the order yourself, the new products you can place your art on with no investment needed and the extra income stream you will achieve. It is recommended you start with the default margin of 20% (net cost excluding tax / VAT) but if you wish to increase this you can and it will adjust the product price accordingly. Its definitely a win win in my book if you do things carefully and well.
If you create an account with Redbubble you get to create your own Redbubble shop. You can upload an unlimited amount of artwork and for each piece of artwork you get to choose what products you can print your work on. There are over 80 products available from clothing through bags, phone, tablet, laptop skins and sleeves, notebooks, mugs, clocks, aprons, bath mats, shower curtains and more. All products are quality sourced (as you can see in many of the reviews not only on their website but independently on TrustPilot) and Redbubble have a great sustainability and ethical manufacturing ethos. Once uploaded you get to use amazing software to add your image to each product.
The process is simple, you add a high quality image once then set up your keywords and image description then Redbubble previews your designs on the 80+ products using amazing virtual reality software. You can then get to choose which of the products you would like to sell in your shop and which you don't (some designs will be more suited to certain products than others - some will favour square products, some portait, some landscape, some cylindrical and so on). Then for designs that seem to work you can adjust positioning of the image on individual products and set background colours and other elements of the design to get it just right. You can also upload a fresh version of your design just for that 1 product if you need to tweak it slightly to work with that product.
Redbubble lets you create 'collections' to group your products into ranges and themes. It allows customers to follow you and favourite your shop in a similar way to Etsy, for example so that you can build up a loyal following on the platform. Also like Etsy it lets you look at other artists. You might not be able to see how many sales they have had like you can on Etsy but you can see how many and what products they are using and how many people are following them and how many times they have been favourited. This information alone helps you to work out which ones are using the platform well with their choice of products, images, product descriptions and keyword tags. It doesn't tell you the whole story but it does help you to learn from others rather than reinventing that wheel yourself.
A word of caution though before proceeding - don't make that fatal mistake of thinking if you upload your work your customers will come. They won't unless you drive them there and you need to focus on how to do that as with any platform and your own direct sales. If it was easy everyone would do it and everyone would be a success and that clearly isn't the case. A few quick searches and you will find people with thousands of followers in amongst lots more with very few indeed. Many people have been on for many years and taken a long time to reach where they are now but others have joined much sooner and driven customers there with hard work.
Start with a few simple images from your best selling designs and find a handful of products in each of the product types available. Don't go overboard and just throw them at everything if you brand is quality and tasteful (although it works for some). See which images fit which products best and which products you want to associate with your brand. Involve your audience on your mailing list and social media and ask their advice about which images they would like to see and which products they might purchase them on. Work with the most popular ideas and drip feed them into your Redbubble shop blogging about them and mentioning them in social media and your mailing list each time you do. Regularly ask people on your mailing list and social media to visit your Redbubble shop, to favourite it and your products. Concentrate on your product descriptions and keywords. Are you being found in the platform itself? Gradually refine these over time to get found better using similar SEO techniques to those you might use for your website products such as using Google Keyword Planner etc.
We recently launched our first Redbubble shop for my partner Lucy Gell so it is early days here but the signs are good. Remember CHRISTMAS BEGINS IN AUGUST - you should be planning Christmas marketing now and Redbubble could be a part of that but watch those delivery dates carefully? Lucy has transferred her art to a number of products already but purposely not to paper print and canvas. As an artist you might find that is easier and more profitable to produce and sell direct but other products are not so easier and you might be happy with the lower profit margins on those products for the convenience that order fulfillment by Redbubble brings.
I would love to hear from anyone who is further ahead of us and has any further advice and tips about the platform and if you start a new shop on the back of this post please let me know how you go on?