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society6 vs redbubble vs printful
Beginner's handbook Ecommerce platform guide

How to Know When to Leave Society6 and Redbubble to Start Your Own Online Store

By Reading Time: 5 minutes

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.

Selling on Society6 and Redbubble

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.

Benefits of using platforms like Society6 and Redbubble

  • Quick store setup. With Society6 and Redbubble you don’t need any technical know-how to start selling online. These platforms come with full setup, from storefront to payment processing, product descriptions, and more.
  • Easy design upload. You can bulk upload your design on several different products at the time. This is especially helpful if you’re planning on selling a huge variety of products with the same design.
  • Access to the existing customer base. Society6 and Redbubble have thousands of shoppers who are on the lookout for products with unique designs.

Drawbacks of using platforms like Society6 and Redbubble

  • Limited branding options. If you’re selling on Society6 and Redbubble, your work is partially under their brand. While you can personalize your storefront, you can’t have branded URL or product packaging. And that means there’s very little you can do to provide a branded experience for your customers.
  • Stiff competition. While these platforms have a lot of incoming traffic, there are also hundreds of thousands of artists competing for the visitors’ attention.
  • You have less control over what you earn. As mentioned before, pricing your products can be tricky on these marketplaces. With Society6 you make 10% off the retail price—the margin is set, so you can’t make it bigger. Redbubble has a base price and lets the artists add the markup themselves.
  • You only receive your money on payout days. Both Society6 and Redbubble have payout days once a month which means that you won’t be able to access your earnings whenever a sale is made. Redbubble also has payment threshold—$20.

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.

Running your own online store

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.

  1. Pick your ecommerce platform
  2. Connect it to a white label third-party printer like Printful
  3. Upload your design on the products
  4. Push them to the storefront
  5. Start selling

Of course, just like with selling on Society6 and Redbubble, selling through your own store has its benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits of running your own online store

  • Everything is under your brand. Since you’re running a store independently, you’re in control of how your brand is perceived by your existing and potential customers. The best part, you look more professional because you have a branded domain name and email address, website design, product photos, etc.
  • Instant income. Since it’s your store, you get the money as soon as the customer makes the order. This can be extremely helpful if you want to invest some of your income in marketing or new product development.
  • Your customers are yours. Selling on Society6 or Redbubble means that people who purchase products aren’t really your customers, but rather the customers of the marketplace. You don’t get to directly communicate with people who buy your art and that can make it harder to retain customers in the future.
  • You have more freedom to experiment. Since you’re not working under another brand, you get to do things your way, let it be adding new products or creating and updating your website as you think best.

Drawbacks of running your own online store

  • It can take longer to set up. Even though the process of setting up your store and connecting it with a third-party printer like Printful is quite easy, it can take a little longer than setting up with marketplaces like Society6 and Redbubble.
  • It requires time. Running an online store requires time, whether it’s responding to customer questions, or making sure the store is functioning as it should.
  • It comes with extra expenses. To make your store looks professional and keep it up and running, you’ll have to invest in a domain name, hosting, and ecommerce platform services. This can cost you around $35 a month.

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.

Making money on Society6 vs Redbubble vs your own online store

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:

  • Framed print (16”x17” on Society6, 16”x16” on RedBubble, 16”x16” on Printful)
  • Canvas (18”x16” on Society6, 20.7”x16” on Redbubble, 16”x16” on Printfu)
  • Throw pillow
  • Mug
  • T-shirt
  • Sublimation tote bag
  • Phone case

Please note that these products aren’t identical, but are comparable.

 Price you sell at (pre-set price on Society6)Profit with Society6Profit with RedbubbleProfit 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
Throw pillow$37.99$3.80$10.29$18.98
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.

It comes down to you

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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  1. alex

    You seem to be ignoring the most obvious benefit of going with on-demand printing, which is that you don’t have to print any of the stuff yourself, therefore you don’t have to invest large sums of money in the large print runs that go with printing almost anything and you then don’t make a loss on the items that didn’t sell. Not having to take care of shipping yourself is also a bonus if you work full-time.

    Why people complain or are surprised that they have to promote their products on these websites is beyond face-palm worthy.

    1. Julia Gifford Post author

      Well put, Alex! The reason we haven’t mentioned the benefit of not printing anything, is because it would be true for both platforms – the POD sites like Redbubble and Society6, as well as using Printful to dropship from your own store. But of course, it’s undeniable – dropshipping rules!

    2. Sara P Gomez

      EXACTLY. I work full time and go to school online half time, so how am I gonna find the money and time to print and ship all my merch? On-demand is ftw.

  2. Tim

    I would like to start an e-commerce store but don’t know which one would best fit my needs and most important easy enough to set up cause I am not that great with computers. Also one that works well with printful. Thank you

    1. Scott Larsen

      I started with Printful a couple of years ago and the learning curve was pretty high, so I didn’t integrate it with my website until recently. I had no real opinion as to what e-commerce platform to use, so I basically just chose one. WooCommerce works well, but adding products is difficult, with so many options, and I felt like getting one item per week added to the store and working well was a decent goal. I quickly learned that I also needed to set up credit card processing (easy)(many people don’t like PayPal) and I used the WooCommerce Theme for WordPress to make sure the whole thing works smoothly. But still, it’s slow to add products. I’m not sure if other platforms are easier.

      ***BUT*** Printful’s new Add Product Generator is awesome. Worked perfectly the first time, and I’ll be able to add many products per hour to my store (so now I need to get to work creating the print files!) So be sure you select a platform that works with the Add Product feature.

  3. Yasmine

    I totally agree! I recently opened a Society6 page but after reviewing the artist profits and price control (or lack of) more closely, I’m going to close my account. Printful sounds fantastic. I’d like to start selling leggings with my designs. My only hesitation after looking at Printful’s leggings vs Society6 is the design and sizing options. Printful offers 2 adult sizes where S6 offers 5. Also, the leggings on Printful are a much simpler cut and appear less versatile than the ones S6 uses, which I think are a more preferred style. The 6-panel cut of the ones S6 has are more of a sure bet for fitting various body types and the wide waist-band makes a big difference when doing activities like yoga. What are the chances Printful might switch to a different legging style or offer a second style?

    1. Julia Gifford Post author

      Socks might be in the pipeline, unfortunately hoodies aren’t a feasible sublimation product, since it has so many nooks and doesn’t lie straight. I’ll definitely add the home decor elements to our list of requests 🙂

  4. Mark Twain

    Went back to college at age 55 and studied Internet Technology. There is not one good thing about regular PODs. NOT ONE. You may make a few sheckles on your product line, but the POD is really just a store with extra bandwidth that they “lease for free” out to you (and me) as an afterthought, and, if you look carefully at their hyperlink, EVERYTHING is geared toward luring people to THEIR stores. You are their “slaves” (really) to do their free marketing. I call them “Brandpires” and I am so glad my wife and I are finally learning what they really are. Unless you put your name BOLDLY on the product, the customer feels he/she is buying a product from Red Bubble, Society 6 et al.
    Even the sticker on the package is there’s as is the shipping slip. They get the email info (which is everything in building a brand); especially if you ever sell it or have it valued. Thank you for creating this firm. It is the first to even look after the creator. I had been tinkering with the PODs for 7 years before you opened. It’s a little legwork to open but I think it will be worth it. My wife is already open. Good. Life is good.

  5. Adam Vaughan

    Thanks for the insightful article Julia, if someone was to leave society6 or red bubble or both, what are their options then for having things printed and shipped so that they won’t have to stock a bunch of inventory and handle all the shipping.

  6. Michael Ferreira

    Hi, I am an illustrator and I have created a line of both B&W and color illustrations that I feel would make great T-shirts. I have decided to create my own web site and market my own brand. In the past, I have wasted valuable time trying to sell prints on Etsy and Fine Art America, competing with 1000s of other artist. I am totally new to print on demand. I understand that it keeps me from paying for and stockpiling merchandise, but to be honest, I’m in my late fifties – I know my way around Adobe Illustrator, but most of the double speak and buzz words about POD go over my head. Is there any material I can get that explains the process in simple terms. Do I send the POD printer artwork each time it is ordered, does the POD printer keep a file of my art work on file, do I down load software? Who gets paid when? Please advise

    1. Nora Inveiss

      Hey Michael,

      I highly suggest checking out Printful’s YouTube channel. Here’s our basic “How it works” video:

      Basically, with a POD dropshipper, you don’t have to buy or stock merchandise – we print everything on-demand when you get an order from a customer. You don’t have to upload your artwork every time; you can upload and sync it to products so it’s saved in your Printful account. And here’s a video on how payment works:

      Hope this helps and good luck with your store!

      1. Ivan

        I too am an illustrator looking to learn about POD services. This post was made in 2017 and the video links no longer work. Do you have any updated videos I could watch to get a better understanding of how it works.


  7. Eric

    Is there a way to import price lists from British/European fulfilment providers? Other competitors have options to select price lists from other photo laps which is great… but they don’t offer the wonderful integration of Printful.

    The big problem is that as I’m based in London, delivery for even the smallest product is HUGE as it’s printed in America… and therefore, customers will be put off and I won’t make any money.

    Any ideas?



    1. Nora Inveiss

      Hey Eric,

      Printful is planning on opening a fulfillment center in Europe. No exact ETA, but we’re hoping it’ll be up and running within the year.

  8. Frederick Kinski

    I don’t understand the difference between Printful and Redbubble, except that you can sell them through your website.
    Because they both take care of everything; Charge, Print, Mail, Pay.

    Am I wrong? I really want to know.
    Also, can anybody tell me where Redbubble, Society6 and Printful print their products.

    1. Frederick Kinski

      Sorry I do understand some of the differences, those explained above, but where I don’t see a difference is in the prices.

      Thank you

    2. Nora Inveiss

      Hey Frederick!

      You’re right about the main differences! Redbubble is a third-party site, so you don’t own a store. One plus is that it’s easy to set up and you get good discoverability. But a downside is that you don’t get access to your customer information and the store isn’t under your brand.
      With Printful, you can create your own online store, under your brand, and you know who your customers are.
      I don’t know about Redbubble or Society6, but Printful prints its products in-house at their fulfillment centers in LA and Charlotte.
      Hope this answers your questions!

  9. nick

    I’ limited to selling ten items in my subscription with weebly. Which product skews wouuld you recommend i sell. which ones sell the most or highest profit potential? t-shirts? leggings? sweatshirts? greeting cards? mugs? etc.

    1. Nora Inveiss

      Hey Nick!

      I think that really depends on your design and your audience. What do they want to buy?

      T-shirts are a classic option, and they’re the most popular product category at Printful. They also range in prices, so you can choose between selling more premium brands, or go for a more wallet-friendly option.

      Leggings are great, but they’re more expensive to manufacture. So you really need to know your audience and make sure they’d be willing to buy at a price that would give you the profit you want. Mugs are also great – they’re another popular category at Printful.

  10. Angie V.

    Thank you for writing this post. You say big truths here.
    It is absolutely true than in Society6 IT IS ALMOST IMPOSIBLE to get noticed. There are a ton of great designers and ideas there. I believe is easy to upload your designs and as a creator to feel pleased to see them on products pretty easily… Then your friends and followers maybe order some things and that’s it.
    Your post made me want to dare dive deeper since I have already tried to establish my blog’s platform. And I am seriously thinking of extending it to a shop.
    thank you

  11. Lisa Bernier

    I enjoyed your post and find it helpful, except one thing….
    If I forego Redbubble and the like, who prints all my stuff for me?
    Thank you!

  12. Ali Shahbaz Mehdi

    Well there’s one thing you don’t talk about..
    I’ve used society6 as well as I have a bit of experience with setting up my own estore. The question I’d like to ask is; Okay great society6 (or similar) provides payment options, client base, ready-made setup instead of doing everything forms scratch but how do you fullfill orders automatically? They also provide high-quality printing on a number of items and setting up our own store, printing can be a problem, right?

    Are you implying Printful supports dropshipping kinda print service for artists and designers using their own store?

  13. Adam

    I agree that all those 3rd parties platforms are full of millions of great design. I started to use Amazon Merch but it’s the same as others. Nobody will promote our design without us taking part in self promotion. Here the good question from the blog comes. Why don’t open own shop. WooCommerce – a lot of work to set up and must pay anyway
    Shopify – very known but must pay monthly too
    My question is. Do I have to have a shop to use your services? Thank

  14. Robin

    I am moving to an online store, but I really wish Printful offered more options (Scarves, duffle bags, little pouches, stickers, etc.) I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to add them as a choice on my website, then doing my own ordering to fulfill. It’s convoluted and possibly not even something I can do.
    I do appreciate that Printful is adding new things recently. I’m looking forward to the future!

    1. Edward Zarins

      Hey Robin,

      You can easily add your own products to your online store. 🙂 We’ll only fulfill items that are synced with us. We’re already working to add more products (We just added stickers. Check them out here.) Thank you for the feedback and feel free to reach out to our customer support if you need any help!

  15. Yvie

    I’m struggling with the deluge of designs on Redbubble and Society6 (which I have yet to be able to upload a single design to), and would much rather have a shop straight from my own website. I’ve just been looking at your stock available, but sad to see that stationary is missing from the list. Any plans to add this in the near future? Many thanks.

  16. Natalie Larson

    Thank you so much for this much needed information, especially for a noob and amatuer like me!

    I do have a question though. When setting up your own online store, what website building sites would you recommend for people to use?

  17. Robert F Seven

    THANKS for this great article, great follow-up convo, and the hard work of all those involved……i have a “crazy idea”…..i ordered a shirt from Redbubble a few years ago to check quality. I was “sure” at that time that i, as a regular customer, was able to both size AND position the image on the shirt i selected, giving me that tiny, but valuable, sliver of the feeling that i had a part in the process. I have been bragging on this feature ever since, as i talked to friends and cohorts about making some of my art available this way. Now that im FINALLY days away from setting something up, im realizing that customer feature i THOUGHT i had experienced does not, in fact, seem to be available on ANY of the sites!….ha…..opportunity knocking?… very impressed with p’ful’s mock-up versatility, so….it anyone could ever add either of this two part feature, particularly the “sizing” component( i have declined to buy shirts i really wanted because i don’t like huge designs all down my chest and belly….ive done most of my hand screened pieces at about 5x5in chest-centered, and a very popular line of them with that size print down on either the left or right shirt “tail”, the nice, flat, printable area about 5in off center in either direction, and about 2in above the hem… (try a couple, its a great look with a more sub dude feel)…..i have the link to send to your official suck jestion box, but im not signed up yet (will be in a few days!), and just happened to run across this great article/thread…..when i have an idea arise through such odd circumstances, i always try and pay attention… often seems some ideas “want” to be born, so i try and water those whenever possible…..again, THANKS!
    rob seven, asheville, nc,

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