These days, there are plenty of options for artists to monetize their work. Some join online marketplaces like Society6 and Redbubble that have a great number of existing and loyal shoppers. Others choose to run their own stores using popular ecommerce platforms and third-party fulfillment partners.
Both options are great, but have their benefits and drawbacks. And that’s exactly what we’ll be looking into today.
Society6 and Redbubble are online marketplaces where artists upload their artwork and sell it on a variety of printed products. To get started, you create an account on the platform of your choice, upload your design, and select the products on which you want your designs to be printed—it’s that easy.
The main difference between Society6 and Redbubble is the pricing system.
While Society6 determines how much you can make for the sale of a given item (usually it’s 10% off the retail price), Redbubble lets you decide how much you want to sell the product for, or in other words, how much you want to make for it. A suggested profit margin on Redbubble is 20%, but you can do 5% or 50%—it’s up to you.
Is Redbubble and Society6 worth it? Marketplaces like these are good options if you don’t have much time, or don’t want to deal with the technical side of things that come with selling online.
If monetizing your art by selling it on printed products is something you’d like to pursue seriously, creating your online store is the right place to start.
Today launching a store is simpler than ever thanks to easy-to-use tools available at your fingertips. Here’s how this process looks like in a nutshell.
Of course, just like with selling on Society6 and Redbubble, selling through your own store has its benefits and drawbacks.
Now that you know what marketplaces and independent websites have in store for you, let’s take a look at the profit you can make with each.
We have already compared the artist profit on Society6 and Printful. This time, let’s add Redbubble to the equation.
Since Society6 has pre-set margins for their products, we’ll base calculations on Society6 prices.
To make the comparison accurate, we’ll be looking at products offered by all three platforms:
Please note that these products aren’t identical, but are comparable.
|Price you sell at (pre-set price on Society6)||Profit with Society6||Profit with Redbubble||Profit with Printful|
|Framed print||$54.99 (w/ $15 margin)||$15||-$55.49
(set base price $110.48)
|Canvas||$119.99 (w/ $20 margin)||$20||$24.96||$86|
|Sublimation tote bag||$24.99||$2.50||$9.76||$8.22|
|Phone case||$35.99||$3.60||$20.16 (iPhone), $11.75 (Samsung)||$25.33|
|Average profit margin*||15.40%||7.40%*||57%|
*To calculate the average profit margin, we used the following formula: profit ÷ price the product is sold for = profit margin.
** Calculated with profit margin when iPhone phone case is sold.
How much you make depends on the products you sell. But overall selling on your website with the help of a printing partner such as Printful is more profitable than selling on Redbubble or Society6.
Redbubble has higher profit margins than Society6 on most products. The only instance when Redbubble shouldn’t be your choice is when selling framed prints. The base price for this product (16”x16”) is $110.48, so if you’d like to earn $20, customers would have to pay more than $130 for your art. And that can be quite a lot to ask from someone who has never heard of you or your art before.
How to know when you should leave Society6 and Redbubble to open your own online store? It comes down to your business goals.
Platforms like Society6 and Redbubble are great for artists who are looking for another way to monetize their work, but don’t have the skills to set up a store or time to maintain it. But if creating and growing a brand is your long-term goal, you should launch your own store instead. This option will give you more creative freedom and let you be in control of your business and the money you make.
This article was originally published in February 2015; it has since been updated.
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