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Blog / Style & trends / Redbubble vs. Etsy: Which Is Best for Your Online Store?

Style & trends

Redbubble vs. Etsy: Which Is Best for Your Online Store?

Redbubble vs. Etsy: Which Is Best for Your Online Store?
Ilze Elizabete Strazda

By Ilze Elizabete Strazda

11 min read

Do you want to turn your art into profit? If you’re an artist looking to sell art online and make money, you’ve come to the right place.

Selling high-quality products, like custom t-shirts or custom hoodies, has never been easier. Nowadays, artists can open a print-on-demand online store in just a few clicks without worrying about upfront investments or inventory.

However, when you’re new to the game, it can seem a little overwhelming at first. Where do you even start? What platform should you use to open up your online store?

We’re here to help. In this article, we’ll discuss two popular online marketplaces—Redbubble and Etsy—and determine the type of sellers these marketplaces are best suited for. So, let’s look at what it’s like selling on Redbubble vs. Etsy.

Redbubble vs. Etsy at a glance

If you’re planning to sell physical products through an online marketplace, you’ve likely heard of Redbubble and Etsy. But what kind of sellers do these sites cater to?

Who is Redbubble best for?

Redbubble will work best for people who don’t really have time or the desire to build a full-time business but want to see a little money roll into their bank accounts every month.

If you’re a graphic designer looking to make money on the side selling t-shirts with your art, Redbubble will be the marketplace for you.

Who is Etsy best for?

Creating an Etsy shop is the go-to option for anyone looking to sell handmade goods. While there are a few other marketplaces that focus on crafted and vintage products, like Amazon Handmade, Etsy is still the undisputed ecommerce leader when it comes to handmade goods.

Etsy requires more investment of time and money than Redbubble, so it’ll be a good fit for entrepreneurs with an artistic side who want to build a strong brand.

What is Redbubble?

Before we jump into our in-depth analysis, let’s cover the basics. What is Redbubble, and how does it work?

Background

Created back in 2006, Redbubble is an online marketplace that allows independent artists to sell products with their designs online. Today, Redbubble helps connect around 700K artists with customers all over the world.

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How does it work?

Redbubble is a print-on-demand marketplace, which means that it takes care of your product fulfillment, packing, and shipping, allowing you to focus on the creative aspects of owning a business.

Here’s how it works: you register as an artist and upload your designs. Then you select the products you want to sell with your designs; Redbubble will give you a base price for the product that includes the manufacturing costs and service fees. You can adjust the end price of the product and set your profit margins.

Once a customer purchases a product from your store, Redbubble will print, pack, and ship it to them. Additionally, Redbubble will handle the customer support side of the business.

a graphic of a t-shirt with a cat faceSource: Redbubble

What is Etsy?

It’s likely that anyone who’s browsed Instagram or Pinterest has come across a product sold on Etsy and knows a bit about the platform. But let’s have a quick refresher—what is Etsy, and how does it really work?

Background

Founded in 2005, Etsy is an online marketplace that focuses on craft supplies, handmade and vintage items, and print-on-demand products with original designs. Etsy is one of the most popular players in the ecommerce world, with over 7M sellers and 95Mn active buyers.

How does it work?

When you want to open an Etsy store, you have to create your free seller account and then open up a storefront. Once your storefront is set up, you can start uploading products. Since Etsy doesn’t take care of manufacturing and shipping, you need to set product prices and shipping methods yourself.

If you want a more detailed guide on opening an Etsy shop, read this blog article on how to start selling on Etsy.

RedBubble vs. Etsy: an in-depth comparison

OK, we’ve got the basics down—we know what these marketplaces are and how they work. But the big question remains: how do you choose the best marketplace for your business? Let’s dive into our analysis of Redbubble vs. Etsy to find out.

Sign-up process

First things first—how quick and easy is the sign-up process?

Creating your Redbubble account is easy. All you need is your basic info—name, email, and password—and you can start working on your store. You can immediately upload designs and set up your shop info and personal details, like name, physical address, phone number, and bank account information.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Redbubble

Opening an Etsy shop is a bit more complex. After you’ve opened your shop—on Etsy, it’s called a storefront—and added in your personal and payment details, you’ll have to create your first listing or, in other words, add your first product.

Because you’ll be selling and shipping your own products, you’ll have to add more details on Etsy than Redbubble. For a first-time seller, this might seem a bit complicated and hard to understand.

a screenshot of a computerSource: Etsy

When it comes to the signing-up process, Redbubble is more intuitive and easier to figure out for first-time sellers. It’s quick, and you can set your own pace, whereas, with Etsy, you might need to look for a tutorial on how to sign up.

Audience

Although Redbubble and Etsy have been around for approximately the same time, they vastly differ in the size of their audience.

When we dig into the statistics of the past three months, Redbubble boasts 23.7M monthly visits and 71.2M total visits. That means the competition on the site is steep, and you’ll have to put in extra effort to promote your work on social media to attract buyers.

Regarding demographics, Redbubble’s audience is evenly divided in terms of gender—both men and women shop and sell on the site. The dominant age group is people aged 25–34, followed closely by people aged 18–24. These two age groups make up around 57% of the site’s total audience. If your art is geared towards a younger demographic, Redbubble will be a good platform for you.

Etsy, on the other hand, is a juggernaut of the ecommerce industry, so its audience is much larger. With 503.3M monthly visits and a whopping 1.5B total visits over the last three months, you can probably imagine what the competition on Etsy is like.

But don’t let that dissuade you from selling your custom or handmade products on Etsy. With the right niche, you can build a customer base that’ll come back time and time again. Here’s an article that focuses on the top print-on-demand niches of 2024, so take a look and get inspired.

When it comes to demographics, Etsy is slightly more popular among women—they make up 58% of the site’s audience, and men make up around 41%. It’s also favored by a slightly older age group. Similar to Redbubble, people aged 25–34 make up the largest share of Etsy’s audience, followed by those aged 35–44. Together, these age groups make up around 48% of Etsy’s total audience.

Products

The real differences start when we look at how you can sell products on Redbubble and Etsy. When you want to start selling artwork online with Redbubble, you upload designs and add them to products.

a screenshot of a computerSource: Redbubble

Once you’ve uploaded your work in a PNG or JPG format, you can choose what products you want to sell with this specific artwork.

The advantages of Redbubble are that it’s very easy and quick to add new products to your store. You can edit several photos at once, and you don’t need to worry about any product details apart from basic info about the design and adjusting the Redbubble base price.

However, there are several disadvantages to this process. The editing options on Redbubble are very limited, as is the product range. You can choose from around 80 products in categories like apparel, home and living items, or stationery and office products. When you compare Redbubble with a print-on-demand company like Printful, which offers more than 300 customizable products, 80 is a very small number. Plus, you can’t add your own product visuals on Redbubble, so it’ll be quite challenging to make your products stand out from the crowd.

Etsy, on the other hand, allows for way more customization options. You’ll be running your own shop, so you get to call the shots on things like product visuals, pricing, shipping, and returns. You also have a much broader product range—you can sell any handmade and vintage items, plus any custom products you create with print-on-demand partners like Printful.

a screenshot of a computerSource: Etsy

The advantage here is that you’ll have much more control over your business and your products. You’ll be able to infuse your brand and your personality in every aspect of the shop, which will allow you to connect with potential customers and build their loyalty.

Of course, the biggest disadvantage with Etsy is that you’ll have to put in a lot more time and effort than Redbubble. You’ll have to think about how to create product visuals, how to ensure fast shipping, how to price your products, and more.

Store customization and branding

Both Redbubble and Etsy are online marketplaces, which differentiates them from ecommerce platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce. On ecommerce platforms, you can build your own website from scratch; on a marketplace, you only open up a storefront that the marketplace’s shoppers can browse.

If you’re using Etsy or a print-on-demand marketplace like Redbubble, keep in mind that your store customization options will be more limited than if you were using an ecommerce platform.

On Redbubble, there’s very little you can customize on your page. You can add your artist profile picture, a banner, a short description, and your social media info. Redbubble is very product-oriented, so there’s not much you can do to brand yourself apart from your designs.

a screenshot of a social media postSource: OMEGAFAUNA on Redbubble

Etsy’s customization options are similar but with a few additional features. Generally, what makes Etsy different from Redbubble is that you have more opportunities to tell your brand story. Aside from things like a shop icon and banner, you can add an “About us” section to tell your customers who you are.

Etsy sellers also have more branding options when it comes to packaging. Since Redbubble handles shipping for you, it doesn’t allow any custom branding on its packaging. But as an Etsy seller who’s selling handmade goods, you control everything—what your packaging will look like, how it’s branded, or how durable it is.

If you want to sell print-on-demand products with branded packaging, don’t worry—it’s still possible with the right supplier. Take a look at Printful’s custom packaging options.

Seller fees

Another big difference between Redbubble and Etsy is the fees both marketplaces charge. When you’re selling online with Redbubble, the marketplace gives you a base price that covers the production and shipping costs. You can then enter your desired margin percentage to get the selling price.

Once a customer buys the product and pays the retail price, you receive the profit margin, and Redbubble deducts the base price. You don’t have to pay any other subscription or transaction fees.

With Etsy, however, you pay fees for every sale you make. You’ll have to pay a listing fee of $0.20 for every item you add to your store, as well as payment processing and transaction fees for every item you sell.

There are additional costs as well, like shipping fees, advertising and subscription fees, and more. You can learn about the fees Etsy charges here. It’s also worth mentioning that Etsy offers a wider range of payment options than Redbubble, available through its payment system, Etsy Payments.

For example, if you’re selling a t-shirt for $20 on Redbubble, you’ll get to keep around $6. On Etsy, after paying the listing fee, transaction fee, and payment processing fees, you’ll get to keep, let’s say, $15. But you’ll also have to deal with the production and shipping costs that come with running your business.

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Customer service

Customer service is one of the biggest headaches for store owners. It’s inescapable—when you start to make sales, somebody will inevitably want to complain, leave a bad review, or demand a refund.

If you decide to go with Redbubble, you’ll be happy to hear that you won’t really have to deal with customers too much. Redbubble handles customer service on their side, so you won’t have to take care of refunds or returns.

On Etsy, however, refunds and returns are handled between the seller and buyer without any involvement from Etsy itself. That gives you more control over your own online store and how you communicate with your customers. However, it also means you’ll have to spend more time solving each customer’s problem.

Integrations

Third-party integrations are an important part of running an ecommerce store—they allow you to add important business or promotional tools that enhance your store’s performance.

If you’re thinking of selling online with Redbubble, know that Redbubble doesn’t offer any third-party integrations. Etsy sellers, on the other hand, have access to quite a lot of valuable integrations, from social media management and SEO tools to inventory and bookkeeping apps.

Which online marketplace should you choose?

Was this head-to-head comparison helpful? If you’re still unsure which one to choose, here’s a little summary.

  • Choose Redbubble if you’re looking for a low-effort, low-cost way to make a little money on the side from your art online. You’ll be able to sell stickers, t-shirts, wall art prints, and more without investing a lot of time and resources into your business.

  • Choose Etsy if you’re ready to put your heart and soul into building a real brand that connects with customers. Etsy will offer more control, more customization, and more options to create a brand that really reflects who you are. However, it’ll also require more attention and investment of time and money.

Ready, set, go!

Remember that it’s OK if you feel overwhelmed when you’re just starting your ecommerce journey. The important thing is to know where to look for advice.

At Printful, we offer a ton of good resources about the ecommerce industry—the newest apparel trends, marketing news, business tips, and more. You can find valuable information about managing your online store on our blog or YouTube channel, so make sure to follow us and keep up with the latest ecommerce news.

Good luck, and get to selling! 

Read next: Etsy vs. eBay: Which One is Best for Your Online Business?

author

By Ilze Elizabete Strazda on Mar. 14, 2024

Ilze Elizabete Strazda

Guest author

Ilze Elizabete is a freelance writer with a background in law and international relations. In her free time, Ilze is an avid reader and painter.

Ilze Elizabete is a freelance writer with a background in law and international relations. In her free time, Ilze is an avid reader and painter.