Ahhh, passive income. What’s not to love about making money from existing artwork? Especially if someone else’ll handle the boring packaging and delivery bits. Redbubble, Zazzle, Society6 – there are myriad print-on-demand websites out there, all with their own quirks. Plenty of Illustrators Australia members opt for Melbourne-based Redbubble, so we’ve asked a few old hands for their top tips.
In the time it took IA’s Prez to sell three products on Society6 he’d made around 1000 small sales on RB. “I might make $100 a month in a good month, which isn’t amazing money but I don’t have to do anything for it,” Richard says.
Well, maybe a couple of things. “I do well personally with prehistoric animals,” he says. “If you’re interested in hippos in tutus, do that. Because Redbubble is set up for people with very individual tastes.”
Richard uploads two files per image: a PNG with transparent background for products like T-shirts and mugs and a JPEG with background for cards and prints. Big ‘uns: 5000x5000 pixels, impeccably cleaned up. Choose a username people know from social media and searchable filenames (not ‘Harold the Hippo’ but ‘Harold the Hippo in a Tutu’).
Christmas-time goes off. But Richard recommends buying your own products from RB (at discounted rates) year-round. You can sell them at markets and maintain a high ranking in Redbubble searches.
Market your work yourself. “Your artwork will be lost in there,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how good it is.”
Ben says he’s no Redbubble expert. But for the past few years it’s been a handy way of giving out-of-license artwork a second life, selling images from his books (while cross promoting them) and finding homes for images that don’t quite work in editorial jobs.
Ben uploaded around 40 images before whittling them down 10-ish. “It’s kind of like a folio, so only put your best work in there,” he says.
Not all images suit every product. Ben recommends previewing each option, editing artwork carefully, and turning off options you can’t make work. “Position it for every single product, zoom in, zoom out, re-size, make it a pattern or not a pattern – that kind of thing,” he says.
Writing about new work can get you noticed on the Redbubble blog and homepage. “That’s a huge boost to sales,” Ben says. “I’d say 500%. You get instant sales and for the first two or three days it’s up there you get a lot of people commenting and buying.”
Jenny’s an RB veteran of seven years. She was keen to sell through a local company and loved the competitions and early focus on chatting and sharing work with fellow artists. “I’ve actually got to know people that way and some of them have come friends,” she says.
As sales have become a stronger focus, Jenny’s T-shirts, mugs, calendars and popular greeting cards have become a fantastic though unpredictable passive income stream. “I don’t know why a particular thing gets popular,” she admits.
Jenny’s impressed with the quality of Redbubble’s products and says she updates her page and tweaks her images regularly in response to new categories.
She recommends uploading a profile that gives a strong sense of you and your work. “You do pick up other work,” she says. “I’ve had quite a few commission jobs just from people looking up Redbubble.”
Are you an Illustrators Australia member with a Redbubble store? Send us a link and we'll make sure to share your stuff!