I heard good reviews about Redbubble. So, in januari I pulled the trigger and opened my own Redbubble shop. My attitude is not to be on to many Print-On-Demand platform. It will cause too much maintenance which can’t be justified by the meager sales you get. So why start another shop then?
There is a good reason to look around for successful POD platforms. Last two month sales were really slow, especially Amazon Merch is doing poorly. I noticed that other platform will pick up the slack and prevent my royaties incom from a total collaps.
Adding a new POD platform with a good track record can provide income when other platforms are doing poorly. So I picked Redbubble as my new experiment. Since I have the designs already for ready use, it didn’t take me long to get a shop up and running. Seven designs to start with, and januari showed sales from the get-go. As did februari, mostly stickers but an easy income stream for very little work.
Stickers are popular items that Redbubble sells a lot. I expanded the number of designs from 7 to 37 and made sure that at least the stickers were well designed. That should do the trick, right?
Alas, in march I sold nothing and also in april up-to this day. So, why did I go from a great start to a total collaps of sales? Perhaps poor ranking of my design in the Redbubble search has to do with it. For instance my Haida art design are ranking badly, even though many designs in the search result aren’t Haida art at all!
I think Redbubble is still a good bet, I only need to promote the shop better. First I made a proper banner in order beautify the shop as seen in the image above. On Pinterest I made a board with all the Redbubble stickers, since stickers is a big seller. And I need to complete my Redbubble profile better, linking to my social media accounts might give me more traffic. Posting on social media is a must if I want traffic to my merchandize. Let’s see how my shop will fare.
Recently I added medieval romanesque patterns as a new product line. Now, some posts ago I mentioned I didn’t want to focus on patterns since they don’t sell very well. Illustrations of, for instance, animals do so much better. But, patterns are made quickly and put on products easily.
Therefore I started a second shop solely for patterns, I didn’t want to clutter my main shop with tons of patterns and tile designs. Mentioning tiles, in the new shop I rely on the tile function of the Zazzle tool. This function allows me to just create one tile and apply in on the product template I created (over seventy products are in this template). In this way I’m able to create a ton of products with not too much effort. Hopefully this small effort will justify the lower sales.
An example is a medieval romanesque pattern. Not sure if this medieval thing will fly, though. In the future I hope to create at least up to twenty medieval romanesque and gothic patterns.
It doesn’t mean I won’t do any non-pattern illustrations. Japanese Mon still do very well and I added some time ago the famous Kiku Chrysanthemum design. This one is on my Cafepress shop.
I had my doubts about Cafepress, but lately I started to sell stuff. Which will motivate me to pay more attention to my shop. My European shops at Spreadshirt are as lively as a piece of rock. No sale what so ever. A bit more patience is needed there. Print on demand online shops do take time and constant effort to make them into a success.
In my previous post I mentioned that I wanted improve on my formline designs, this resuted in a Haida Killer Whale. This time I looked closely at the different formline elements. The example I found on the internet I modified there where necessary. All in all I’m pleased with the result.
Besides a new design I’m still tinkering with leveraging my designs to a bigger audience. I already started a Cafepress shop which started to fill up nicely. Obviously also with my Haida Killer Whale.
I asked the lady of five green lizards if she also used different print on demand services liek Cafepress. She tought the inteface of Cafepress too much hassle, so se doesn’t. Indeed it is a pain and you don’t have the flexibility of Zazzle. But I want to give Cafepress a try because sell cheaper products, maybe I can access a different audience. To date I only made one sale, so not much luck yet.
Zazzle and Cafepress cater mainly for the US market and I don’t want to skip the EU market. My first choice is Spreadshirt, a German company. They usually target per language in the EU, so my Dutch shop only sells in the Netherlands and Belgium. But the also have an EU wide website. I started a shop there and put some designs for sale, but Spreadshirt really uses your designs through their marketplace. So I made sure my Haida Killer Whale is on the market place for all Europeans to find.
Both the Cafepress and Spreadshirt shops need time to get some sales. In the mean time I’ll look for another POD service for the EU.
One type of illustration always did very well and that was my Haida salmon, I therefor added a Haida art Thunderbird. In fact, I use the Haida Salmon as my logo. This salmon did very well and I like the aspects of a salmon. Swimming against the stream and against all odds.
It took me a fair amount of time to get the salmon done, but I decided to create a bit more ambitious project. Again, it is a recreation of an example I saw on the internet. A tedious job which took me a couple of months, just an hour work now and then. I kept putting of finishing the damn bird. The end result is not to bad I guess.
Probably the most important reason I found this job more tedious than all the other projects is that I really don’t know Haida art works. Why are the elements constructed the way they are? Well, you can read about ovoids and u-shapes and stuff, but how do you put this all together?
Day 1: Formline Workshop with Steve Brown from Kathy Dye on Vimeo.
By chance I stumbled upon a workshop by Steve Brown which was taped and put on the internet. It is video of two days and together you have to watch 6 hours of footage. But for anybody who wants to make a go at Haida art, this is probably the best start you can make. And I did watched it completely.
That was after I finished my Haida art Thunderbird. Looking back it doesn’t seem that excellent because my Haida art Thunderbird doesn’t follow the set of rules very well. Nevertheless I’ll put the illustration on Zazzle and Cafepress products since people like this type of art.
One thing about Haida art is that it suits vector art very well. So I ventured to get myself better aquainted with Formline art. I hope to get that way better quality illustrations which sell, without losing the convenience of vector art.
Since my last post I noticed that my production of new illustrations started go down. I might have touched this point that creating an illustration for a design is a bit harder than a pattern. For a pattern it is easy to get inspiration. Patterns are everywhere, in advertisement, on the web, there are even books just about patterns. Once a pattern is made in a tile, images are quickly made for every type of product, be it from Zazzle or Cafepress.
An illustration needs more planning. What style do I use? What subject will sell? Will I keep to vector graphics, which need less artistic prowess? Or do I start digital art directly in bitmap format? For instance in Gimp or Photoshop. Also, won’t my new illustrations to much restrained in product choice?
For now vector graphics will be my main craft. Japanese Mon designs sell reasonably well and I added two to my collection. First a “three geese” design.
And secondly a cute little bunny rabbit. I found an example on the web, but I didn’t like the line work very much. I gave it my own interpretation. I’m pretty pleased with the result. Also because I learned more about Inkscape functionality.
In the mean time I started to revive my drawing skills, because I can’t be to dependent on vector graphics. Illustrations sell and patterns hardly, so I have very little choice. Maybe I’ll start showing my progress in my drawing skills on this website. As a means to keep me motivated.
Years ago I set up a Cafepress shop for the Dutch Mars Society. Cafepress was the place to go for print-on-demand t-shirts. I always found the user interface unfriendly and difficult. Soon after I discovered Zazzle and was impressed how Zazzle implemented their user interface. I left the Cafepress shop for what it was and moved on to Zazzle.
Nevertheless I’m in the business of selling digital design, which means I have to explore every possibility for selling my stuff. Over the years I have collected a number of images and it would be a shame not fully exploit them. So I gave a Cafepress shop a second chance.
Fortunately Cafepress improved their website and the user interface for shop owners. Now it is easy to put a design on many products, not as cleverly done by Zazzle, but good enough. Creating a shop is easy and you have products on display in mere minutes. My Cafepress shop is of course named DigitalHomestead. And I’ve already got a few designs on display:
There are two things I don’t like about a Cafepress shop. First, most importantly, the customer can’t adjust a design on a product to his or hers liking. Which means I have to adjust the design on for instance a t-shirt myself and hope shoppers like my choice. Zazzle in this is absolutely brilliant. With Zazzle a shopper can do almost anything with the design. Scale, move, rotate etc.
The second thing is that a Cafepress shop won’t be used that much. After a query Cafepress will direct buyers to their own market-place where a shopper can purchase your product. Only, at the low commission Cafepress set as default for their market-place.
Nevertheless I want to use my design as much as possible in order to make money online. Every dollar is welcome. And a Cafepress shop will help me in this. I guess it’ll be a couple of month before a make a sale.