In this post I declared my intentions to start uploading a ton of simple designs to my print on demand sites in the year 2022. After the explosion of AI generated images, I already can’t believe that I once wrote that I worried about the ethics of manipulating stock art that I bought the rights to use…what a difference a year makes.
Anyway… I managed to cram a total of 200+ designs into my two most frequently used print-on-demand stores before the year ended, and have been doing my best to shove more in as we enter 2023. So the question becomes: did it help?
The answer is yes, it appears to have led to a significant increase in Redbubble sales. Teepublic ended up being about the same overall, although it seems to be picking up steam this year with 7 sales already this month.
Yeaaaaaahh all of this experimenting I have been doing is with an E X T R E M E L Y tiny amount of sales. As much as Redbubble assures me I am “on the way to becoming a Redbubble superstar!!!!!” it’s more like an Andy Warhol “Factory” superstar, ie the title doesn’t mean anything in terms of mainstream folks knowing anything about your brand, or earning anything approaching a living wage.
That said, let us look at my pathetic efforts to increase my even more pathetic print-on-demand sales numbers.
There you have it, the above is all the money I have made so far through Redbubble and Teepublic. I have had the odd society6 and Fine Art America sale here and there, but I haven’t been as consistently focused on either of those stores.
Here’s what I noticed happening over the last year or so as a result of my increased relatable schlock-designing efforts.
- Both stores experienced more unique sales in 2022. In the case of Teepublic’s “33 sales” of 2021, 20 of those are the same sticker that were all purchased in one order. Hence, there were 13 unique sales in 2021, as opposed to 18 in 2022 with an additional 7 following close on those for 2023.
- Bumping up the margins on the stickers on Redbubble helped immensely. The first few years, I was making as little as $0.16 on a sticker or magnet. Now, you still can’t change the margins on Teepublic, so prepare to make $0.50 on your stickers and magnets as of this writing. But at least my margins on Redbubble are a lot better now.
- Roughly two thirds of the newer sales were the simpler/”sellout” designs I made, meaning one third was older and more serious art designs that got noticed now that new eyes were on my shops.
- When I designed for newer Redbubble categories like jigsaw puzzles, people bought ’em.
- People seem to be responding positively to art that has words and phrases associated with it.
Making a lot of simpler designs and updating with them often seems to be helpful. Not only did I make more money than in previous years, my more serious and older art pieces got a second chance! Now more of them have gone to a good home. I will definitely continue to make simple designs in between my serious commissions and passion projects.
I hereby declare the Sellout Experiment of 2022 to have been a success. Twelve dollars turned into thirty-six! Six sales became twenty-one! BOY HOWDY!
further sellout goals for 2023
I have recently read that Redbubble favors artists who upload once or twice a week, but I haven’t tested this so I can’t confirm it. Sounds like the next thing for me to test out!
I have lost all respect for Twitter so I don’t mind spamming it with self promotion. Who cares anymore!
I figured out how to make things go on sale on Etsy so I’ll hold sales and promotions and things such as that, or let people know when sales COMPLETELY BEYOND MY CONTROL hit my print-on-demand shops.
I have started experimenting with tagging my work according to trends. I am not energetic enough to create art to follow trends, but at least I can shovel them into apropos trending categories.
What will come of it all? Will twenty sales turn into *gasp* SIXTY?!?!?!?!? I sure hope I don’t get a big head and forget all my friends when I strike it rich.
See you in a year, fellow kids!
2 thoughts on “SELLING OUT: How it’s going”
It’s so interesting to see your very honest experiments with numbers with POD. I’m falling in the same category. I’m not sure how a lot of these artists you hear about are making enough to make it worth the time. I too, use Fine Art America and pay for the upgraded version. It’s usually a wash on that fee getting paid for vs. sales. I recently opened a Society6 shop, but haven’t put much in there. I’m finding it clunky and when I go to modify a product, it totally gets screwed up. I think I have a a Redbubble account but haven’t used it. Not sure I can get behind the .50 margin on Teepublic.
Thanks for sharing your findings. Wishing you a million times more success! – Jaime
Many thanks and I also wish you success with it!! But yes, most of the artists I’ve actually spoken with about it, or have been asking for help on forums, etc, would also seem to be experiencing these sorts of low numbers. And I get the impression that while all of us were probably prepared for it to “not pay the rent,” we couldn’t really anticipate EXACTLY how little of a profit we would see from it (at least, so far). And I personally haven’t seen any other posts where anyone breaks down exactly how little money it is and exactly how slow growth is. All of it is either extremely vague, or very impressive success stories without compelling evidence to back it up. So for all the hapless artists who are just starting out and commenting, “I just started my shop today and am hoping to make $500 a month out of it, how many weeks do you think that will take?” I hope this post and our comments may help them to realize what they can actually expect.