Building an audience: Redbubble, Threadless and Society6

When I first started this website I was thinking about different ways to try to make money out of my art. In the last few months I’ve been trying out a few different websites that enable you to do this, and now have profiles on Redbubble, Society6 and Threadless. All three websites work on the model that you upload high quality digital photos to the website which can then be printed via good quality digital printing on a range of products, which include wall art, T-shirts, bags, clocks, mugs and stationary. All three sites give clear guidance on the file types and sizes you will need for the different types of product.

I have been thinking about writing this post for a while while I get the hang of using these sites. They all have positive features and drawbacks, which I will probably need to make a few posts on while I continue to get the hang of them. Here are a few early thoughts:

Control over how your design looks products: For me Redbubble have the clear advantage here. Their interface means that you can change the size, and position of your art on the respective product. At the moment Redbubble is also the only site in which you can have your image appear as a repeated pattern on the the product without effectively creating a new design. It is also relatively easy to change the background colour of a number of products, which isn’t that easy on the other two platforms. The other two platforms are much more reliant on the work you do to prepare your files in the first place in ensuring that your image looks good on the products.

Building an Audience: All three platforms operate a kind of internal social media system where you create a profile which is visible to other people who buy or sell art through the sites. In all three platforms you can follow other artists and hope that other people will follow you. The advice appears to be that most sales will be made to other platform users, so collecting likes, followers and comments is a good way of monitoring if your work is being seen, and of eventually generating sales. I have found that so far it has been much easier to build a follower base in Threadless, and Society6.

Threadless runs a regular design competition which enables you to submit a design and invite other Threadless users to vote on your design, which is great fun. Designs with the most votes are likely to be featured on the main website. There appears to be a core group of people who participate in voting in these competitions on a regular basis, so it is a good way of getting your stuff seen. I have a design up at the moment, you can have a look here.

Society6 has an App (unfortunately only on iphones/ iPad at the moment) which functions a bit like instagram, which means that it is relatively easy to scroll through other people’s art and find artists that you like. Commenting and liking other people’s art is a way of drawing attention to your own work, and I have been relatively successful here in a short period of time.

I have found Redbubble less easy to negotiate when trying to build up an audience. While you can participate in challenges, forums, comment on people’s work and follow people in Redbubble I have not been particularly successful in getting my stuff seen there. I don’t find the website particularly easy to use in comparison to the other two platforms for this purpose. I am not quite sure why I am finding it difficult, and this may possibly be a ‘getting the hang of it’ issue. They have a new App which again operates in a similar way to instagram, and which looks good. Unfortunately at the moment you can’t log into it with your profile so it’s not helpful in drawing attention to your own work through interacting with other people (I have been told they are working on a log in feature – personally I think this will really help). That said, I have made sales to people other than my boyfriend, or my boyfriend’s mum, through Redbubble, so it’s not clear to me that gaining lots of followers actually translates into money in the bank.

Getting paid: Both Threadless and Society6 pay through Paypal, and there doesn’t appear to be an option over the currency you are paid in here for either site. As both sites are American, I will be paid in US dollars, while living and designing things in the UK. Redbubble again is the winner here – you can choose to be paid directly into your bank account and you can also choose which currency you want to be paid in, which definitely works better for me.

Tax: For all sites you are responsible for paying income tax in your own country on your earnings. You may also be responsible for paying sales tax in the countries in which your art is sold if you make enough sales to take you over the relevant country’s tax threshold, although they appear to collect VAT so it’s not entirely clear. I am not sure what this mean at the moment, I have some more research to do here.

Those are my thoughts this morning – I am sure that there will be more to follow. I would love to hear about other people’s experiences about using these platforms.

 

I entered another Threadless competition…

So I entered another design to Threadless. Threadless have a rolling competition that you can enter your designs to and get the Threadless community to vote and comment on your stuff. It’s lots of fun, and helps other people get to see your stuff, which may help you build a following and possibly sell somethings. I entered the design below this time, which unfortunately is anatomically backwards, but never mind.This is the photoshopped, finished off collage of this piece here. I’ll write a blog soon about how I got there.

If you click on the link here it should take you through to my entry, where you could vote for it, if you wanted to.

Sunshine on my heart, a cool t-shirt design

You can buy my stuff here. If you wanted to. Just saying: Threadless Redbubble Society 6 

Buying my own swag – experiences with Threadless and Redbubble

Tote bag from Threadless


Over the last few weeks I have ordered some of my own swag from Threadless an from Redbubble to have a look at the quality of the products and to see what the experience of being a customer to either platform is. As far as the quality of the products goes, I was happy with the things I received from both organisations. The tote bag in the picture at the top of this post was from Threadless, it feels really solid and strong, the colours of the digital printing are really good.

 

Tote bag from Redbubble


The blue tote bag above is from Redbubble. I would say the quality is similar, the digital printing again is really nice and the cloth is a little softer which I prefer I think. 

I think the main difference has come in the form of my experience of getting the products shipped to me in the UK. Redbubble appear (from one experience so definitely not a systematic exploration) to have world wide shipping sorted out. I ordered things last week and they are all already in my sweaty excited hands.

Threadless unfortunately do not seem to have this cracked. I think I made a mistake in the early stages of ordering – you can opt to pre-pay surcharges and I didn’t do this as I didn’t quite realise I needed to do this (if you live outside of the US do this). Two of my items are now floating around the uk postal system somewhere. I contacted Threadless’ customer service team for help with my undelivered items and let’s just say I had a very frustrating interaction with someone who didn’t seem to understand my problem, or didn’t care that the did give me a second tracking number, which I had not seen before, so I could work out the problem for myself. I am not trying to work with the courier, having had to find contact details for them via google, to find out what I need to do next – I think I need to pay a customs charge, but not really sure as neither Threadless nor the courier have actually contacted me directly to tell me what to do next. So basically I’m having to do far more detective work than I have time for to get my hands on my own products. I am hoping this is a one off shipping problem, and not their general approach to customer services as it is pretty disappointing so far.

Another thing – I submitted a design to a Threadless competition this week- it’s the first time I’ve ever done something like this – if you had a spare moment I would really appreciate your votes, which you can submit here.

Getting out there to sell my swag.

Still here 2

A few weeks ago I launched some of my creative things out into the world through setting up shop on both Threadless and Redbubble. I can’t imagine this will surprise anyone, but since setting up I have sold one thing, to my boyfriends mum. So I’ve not exactly been a roaring success, which is ok because I’m still learning how to do these things.

I have been investigating how it is that people actually sell stuff on these forums and one of the things that seems important, which I doubt will come as a surprise to any bloggers out there, is raising your profile within the community that uses a particular site. Threadless has a nifty way to help with this – it has a rolling competition which allows you to submit a design for other members of the community to vote on. This will allow other people to see your style as you invite them to rate your stuff. If you win, I think your design may be selected to be printed up and sold on the main website, which would be pretty awesome. In any case I think this is quite a fun thing to do.

So, to that end, I’ve just submitted my first design to Threadless. I would really appreciate it, if anyone reading this had a moment, if you could pop over there and vote for my new design (pictured above).

Courgette update: time and benign negligence 

The courgette keeps on growing with very little attention for me. We have had rain and sun this week and all I’ve needed to do is top up the moisture levels with a few watering cans of water now and again. We actually have six of these ladies busily gaining size and volume. If we are lucky and all of these plants go on to fruit we’ll be facing a bit of a glut later in the summer. This suits me well as my boyfriend is particularly skilled in making courgette chutney, this is something to look forwards too.


We’ve also got lucky with a few little tomato plants, which have self seeded themselves from plants we had last year. Luckily I am too lazy to do any serious weeding and so we now have four little tomato plants with very little investment in effort from my end. I have watched these little guys, day by day, sprout up first with curiosity and then with admiration as these tiny plants continue to grow and establish themselves. 

For various reasons I have been thinking a lot about patience, and about how sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing. A little careful watching and waiting can sometimes be more effective than knee jerk active responses in taking you to where you want to be, or even to somewhere you didn’t know you wanted to be, but are very pleased to arrive. In the last few weeks patience, or benign negligence, has filled my little garden with an abundance of natures blessings. 

Like any of the art work featured on this blog? You can now buy my stuff at Threadless, or at Redbubble.

Some more news: Redbubble

spring blue back 2

After doing a little digging I have decided to try out Redbubble as a route for selling my designs alongside Threadless. I am really new to selling art online and I am not sure which option will be best for me so I am going to experiment with both sites for the moment. Both sites allow for a similar service, but have a slightly different range of products and different arrangements for paying UK artists. I will be blogging a bit about how I get on with both sites, but for now I will leave it at introducing my Redbubble portfolio (which happens to look a lot like my Threadless portfolio).

I have been using paper cut and mixed media techniques at the moment and have been pretty pleased with the results. Both sites seem to be handling the digital photos of my work well, which is important as my style is relatively delicate and the details are important to making the aesthetic work.

So here is is, my Redbubble portfolio.

On finishing things, summer down pours and downtime.

summer 2

I think summer has arrived in the UK. I love spring, and autumn, and am fond of winter. I’m not particularly a summer person. I don’t particularly like the heat, and we don’t really seem to know how to do air conditioning. I seem to be particularly affected by fatigue, and struggle with lethargy when it is too hot, which may go some way to explaining why the blog has been a little under active of late. I have been taking lots of down time, lolling around on the sofa, and watching documentaries on Netflix. I was particularly moved by this documentary called Laerte-Se, and would recommend an afternoon spent with this.

Last weekend weekend we went to the Cotswolds, and went walking in the woods, one of my absolute favourite things. The trees, which are numerous in variety in that area, are an amazing shade of lush green at this time of year. While out walking this weekend we were caught in an amazing downpour. We stood for a while in a dry patch, surrounded by a curtain of these fat, heavy rain drops, saying to each other, ‘it will pass over in a minute’. It’s didn’t pass over, but instead settled firmly in. We ended up walking through the rain most of the way home. The air had been warm and sticky, and I found the delicious slip of water through my hair and down my neck refreshing and exhilarating. It has been some time since I have been caught in the rain like that, and I was happy for the experience. It made me think of how the amount of control we think we have other things is really an illusion. People make plans and Nature laughs.

However, despite all the lolling around and walking in the rain, I have been a bit productive. In the past I have always had a bit of an issue finishing things, as I have previously written about here. Recently, while not exactly finishing things, I have managed to bring two projects to a relatively satisfying conclusions. Last weekend I submitted a draft play to the Bruntwood Prize. I don’t really expect anything to come from that, but it feels a bit like drawing a line under the project, which means I can move onto the next one. In recent weeks, during my down time, I have had ideas for two new animations, so, patiently, watch this space on that.

I also recently opened an Artist Shop with Threadless, where I am selling prints and bags based on a series of artworks I have been working on for over a year. While the artworks themselves aren’t actually finished this feels like a satisfactory conclusion. I’ve even had my first sale, with I think was to my boyfriend’s mother. From small acorns, great oak trees may grow.

A little bit of news – I opened a threadless shop!

summer 1 - resized.jpg

Over the last few months I have been working on ideas which would enable me to earn a bit of side income from my art and interests in creativity. I have been looking at different options and have been particularly inspired by the prolific Sableyes and his Little Fears project.

Having looked through various options I’ve decided to follow his example and dip my toe in the water with a Threadless Artist Shop. I’m a bit excited about this as it feels like I have been able to come to the end of a project with an actual product out there in the ‘real world’. I have picked a small selection of products including high quality prints and a few bags – please go over and have a look if you are inclined to do so.

So, drum roll…. here is the Magpie at Midnight artist shop, where you can buy my stuff.