Deciding to sell your designs online is a smart choice, but also a brave one.
If you are new to print on demand (POD), chances are you would get lost in the crowd on these online marketplaces since your customers and profits aren’t yours alone.
The good news is, if you finally get the hang of it, online marketplaces can be the alleluia to your sales problems with the manufacturing and shipping conveniences they offer.
You basically have to design and customize your products to your taste, sit back, and watch as your earnings troop in.
The thing is there are many good marketplaces to choose from depending on several variables ranging from pricing, storefront, audiences, and whatnot.
In this post, we will be comparing two popular print-on-demand websites: Threadless and Redbubble.
Threadless is unlike the conventional online marketplaces you are used to, being that it is an artist shop.
What this means is that Threadless gives you the opportunity to customize your shop and designs to your taste, while still getting all the conveniences that come with other online marketplaces.
Earnings made in previous months will be paid the first week of subsequent months via PayPal.
Here’s what Threadless looks like:
- It is easy: You do not require any technical knowledge to sign up or customize your designs, nor do you need a bank account verification to publish your designs.
- Complete control: One thing many sellers wish for is to have complete control of their shop and products, which is what Threadless’ artist shop offers that other marketplaces don’t.
- It allows you to set your own prices, add, and remove the products you want, and obtain your customer’s names and contact info.
- High royalty: If you are a big fan of making profits, then Threadless is your best bet. You make your earnings after a stipulated base fee for printing and delivery is removed from the retail fee paid by the customer.
- Experience: Online marketplaces like Redbubble and Society6 are relatively new to the online space, but Threadless has been up for more than 17 years, which adds value to its reputation.
- No minimum order size: Threadless would allow customers to get the exact custom size they requested for.
- Self-promotion is a must: This is the major turnoff for prospective sellers. Unless you have a good idea about online marketing, you might not have a lot of luck using Threadless.
The Threadless marketplace is a good place for artists. It’s an advantage because you can set up your Threadless artist shop directly on the online marketplace or make use of a third party eCommerce platform.
This is unlike other print on demand marketplaces like RedBubble that only lets you sell on the platform.
Furthermore, Threadless makes it easy for you to promote your online store on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
You can easily link your artworks to these platforms. The Threadless POD platform works with many retail partners. Therefore, as an artist, you have a variety of options to work with.
You can make as much money as you want with your Threadless artist shop; it all depends on you. The pricing options on the Threadless marketplace are fair and you can set up your account for automated pricing management.
As mentioned earlier, the POD site lets you work with other eCommerce platforms and promote your customized products on social media.
With all of these sales channels, your earning potential is increased. Among the metrics you get from Threadless are your customers’ information. You’ll know your customers’ names, email addresses, and residential addresses.
That way, you can better optimize your custom products to meet their interest. Subsequently, you make more sales.
If you have ever used Merch by Amazon, then you should have an idea of what Redbubble is like. It is basically the same modus operandi.
You upload your designs, Redbubble handles printing and shipping, and sends you your commission. But unlike Merch, Redbubble targets a much younger audience and unconventional artists.
You can sell a host of items on Redbubble like t-shirts, posters, mugs, and phone cases among other products.
Here’s what Redbubble looks like:
- They do your marketing: Redbubble would pretty much handle the promotion of your product. It receives high volume traffic every month, coupled with the fact that they employ retargeting ads.
- All you need do is create a kickass design and upload.
- Product flexibility: While sites like Amazon and Threadless have a limited number of products they focus on, Redbubble gives you a wider variety of products to sell. You are really only limited by your imagination.
- Lower competition: Redbubble’s in-site search options cut down on competition for sellers. This way, a user will get a search result of products only on Redbubble rather than getting results from competing sites on Google search.
- Analytics: Redbubble goes further to tell you how your products are faring and who is buying them, plus an option to integrate your Google Analytics account.
- Smaller Royalty: Compared to the likes of Threadless and Merch by Amazon, earnings from Redbubble are a lot smaller.
- Base price may vary: This happens when the delivery address is changed at checkout and commission is changed as a result.
A question most independent artists ask about RedBubble, especially on Reddit and Quora, is if the platform is safe and legit.
To start with, RedBubble has been around since 2006 which means the platform has been operating for about 15 years. Furthermore, RedBubble handles artist protection with seriousness.
There are a variety of tools available to keep you safe. Notably, there’s a tool to scan the entire RedBubble shops and marketplace for artworks and your original designs which others may have stolen.
Once detected, you can easily generate a copyright notice to request for the infringing art to be taken down. That’s how easy it is to stay safe on the POD platform.
Like every other print on demand service, there are many RedBubble alternatives and competitors.
The first one to note is Threadless which is compared in this article. There are so many others including Fine Art America, Cafepress, Zazzle, Printify, Printful, and Society6 to name a few.
What makes RedBubble exclusive from its competitors is that the print on demand site focuses on just artists and designers, their art works, fan arts, and other original designs.
There are millions of such original designs available in RedBubble shops and you can have them on about 70 different custom product types. This include t shirt designs, hoodies, and home decor amongst others
You might have heard that sites like Redbubble are print-on-demand sites, whereas Printful is a print-on-demand fulfillment site.
The difference between these two is that POD fulfillment sites provide only backend functions, such as printing and shipping for a seller, which means that sellers using Printful would have to employ other platforms like Shopify or Woocommerce to take their orders.
It can be a lot of work having to get your product out there rather than simply uploading it to sites like Threadless and Redbubble but it does have its own advantages.
For one, you get to dictate how your products are presented to customers with your standalone brand. You also get more profit (up to 40% or more) per sale whereas sites like Redbubble rewards you with merely 20%.
Zazzle resembles Redbubble in terms of operation but unlike Redbubble, it allows sellers to upload third-party images for their products.
Zazzle offers more in-depth customization options but at the same time, it might take a while to get used to.
Royalty is quite poor compared to Redbubble and Threadless as Zazzle’s recommended royalty rate is 5-14.9% and that is before discounts and sales, which they conduct very often.
As the name implies, Teepublic focuses mainly on T-shirts.
Just like Redbubble, Teepublic garners a high volume of traffic which makes it desirable for sellers with little or no marketing plan.
Commission rate per $20 T-shirt is $4.
It is easy to use and it uses analytics to help sellers monitor the performance of their products. Teepublic does not do Google ads (yet) but their products usually rank very high on SERPs and so will your product.
Society6 is one of the major players in the print-on-demand industry with site traffic of around 3.5 million. It allows artists to upload a variety of cool products from cards to shower curtains.
Sellers are entitled to 10% of sales except for t-shirts, where they reserve the right to set their own price. Payment is made on the first of every month after a 30-day purchase grace period.
It requires a sign-up fee of $1 and does not make use of Analytics.
Cafepress is a free-to-use POD platform but it does offer a premium package for higher volume sellers for $6.95 monthly.
It offers a wide range of products including home decorations and baby items.
Cafepress pays a flat rate royalty of 10% of each sale made and the payout threshold is $25 made via PayPal or check. Sellers are also entitled to a 10% bonus on sales made.
However, Cafepress does not perform well on search engines, so ranking high on search engines is very difficult.
There is really no clear winner between these two, but deciding on your main squeeze should depend on different factors.
If you suck at marketing (like a lot of designers) Redbubble might be a good place to pitch your tent, since it already has a pool of potential customers waiting for you. Plus, it offers less competition since it has its own built-in search engine.
Threadless would work better for the artist seeking more control over the whole customization process and is not shy about doing some heavy marketing themselves.
I would, however, recommend uploading to both PODs because it does double your exposure and chances of making more money for very little extra work.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing.
Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.