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.
Spring cleaning is something you need to do every year. This means also for my Zazzle shops. One of the shops does not perform at all, so it is selected for an experiment.
Until now I mainly used the “quick create” tool of Zazzle. With mixed results. Yhis is a handy tool to apply a design to a whole batch of products. That way I’m able to create a lot of products, but most of them won’t get any views from visitors at all.
Over a year in my shop, never had a view. Pathetic!
Zazzle started a new regime where product that didn’t get view or a sale in the last six month will not be visible anymore in their marketplace. Which sucks since most customers do their searching in the marketplace.
The advice Zazzle gives is to refine every product on title, tags, and descriptions. In that way each product is more individual and better for SEO. But that defeats the purpose of the quick create tool.
About more than 80% of my products in my Freshpatterns shop never had a view in the last six months, so I decided the following spring cleaning actions.
- Remove all individual products that didn’t get a view and were in my shop already about a year.
- Remove a complete set of product’s that both never sold or got views. I will only concentrate on product classes that either sell or get views.
- Update the remaining products and make them individual in title, tags, and description.
One result of this experiment will be that I’ll focus on quality in stead of quantity. And not using the quick create anymore. This also means adding one product at the time and making sure the design is optimal placed.
So how am I going to measure success? One way I’m thinking of is watching the 180 days views. If more pages have products viewed in the last 6 months then I’m on the right track.
As I write this I have 7.1 pages with 96 products each which had at least one view in the last 6 months. Ten pages would a good goal, about 40% of my total amount of products.
Owning a small business is all about creating value. You’ll hear entrepreneur’s often put a lot of emphasis on creating value. Without it their business won’t have a reason for existing. But what do they mean with value.
Many of us work for big companies, like I do. Deep inside a large hierarchy it is difficult to see if our work has any impact on the organization. Although these days with new fads like Scrum and Agile there is a lot of talk about adding value, just try to figure out of your new piece of software adds anything to your big corporate.
In a small business creating value is much easier. You create a product or design, market it and see if it sells or not. For instance this Barcelona cement tile design is based on an existing one. I copied it and put it on Zazzle products like iPhone cases. Lo and behold, I sold products and made a profit. Therefor I for a couple of people I created value.
I can put a figure on value. And I can experiment with creating value. I wasn’t pleased with the original design, so I tweaked it. Making sure that it was more like an Islamic geometric pattern. With the following result.
The new version I introduced in my Society6 shop and hopefully it will start to sell.
The point is that in my online business I know that I’m creating value. And that I can improve on creating value, either by new insights in marketing and designs or new skills in making designs. That is a powerful control on your life and income.
Working as an underling in a big corporation you’ll never really know if your work really matters. Or more scary, after you get a pink slip, it really doesn’t matter for the rest of society also. Over the last four I saw many colleagues leaving the company, voluntaryly or involuntaryly, and not being replaced. As if their jobs never added value after all.
So take control of your life by taking control of creating value.
Ever needed to focus your attention with a meditation Mandala? Well, I do. My last post was October 2015 and since then I’ve moved. In November to be exactly. That meant that since October not much focus was put on my online money making business. And that has to change.
Don’t get me wrong, I reached a very major goal, buying an appartment and and moving to the new address. And sales in November and December were very good. So I shouldn’t complain.
But this is a new year and a new goal has to be set. Sales this month are sluggish and half way this year I want to double my sales. That means more blog posts and more designs. And a better upkeep of the stores I own. For instance I added a new Japanese Mon and Kamon store to my Dutch Spreadshirt site. I called it Dejima.
If you do meditation, one way to focus your attention is by using a meditation Mandala. Don’t ask me how, but I like the designs of Mandala’s. I started with a simple and geometric one.
My Haida Formline designs keep selling well and I added a new one which was waiting to be finished for months. It is a theme of my own as is the design. A sea otter chasing a salmon. Prey and predator in a Yin and Yang symbol.
Islamic geometric design keep popping into my head. I do want to make more of them. They look pretty and they are so easy to apply on products. This is a Moroccan design from a picture of tiles.
Doubling my sales by July this year is ambitious together with my day job. If I manage then I know I’m on the right track. A good resolution for 2016.
The output of new designs is low last months due to a moving house project, but I got some Shogunate and Ottoman empire designs to show. Firstly, I have two new Japanese kamon designs. On is fictional and the other is real.
I start of with the Hattori mon. It is a clan mon from the Shogun Total War game, although it is a little bit based on Japanese history. It’s a fictional clan based on a famous Japanese samurai and ninja Hattori Hanzou. I liked the Total War PC games a lot, in my opinion one of the best strategy games for PC. I bought the Shogun 2 verion some years ago and I thought “why not use one of the mon from the game”. This version is gold texture on black, but I’ve got also the game colors red on dark grey.
The second one is the kamon of the Inoue samurai clan. This japanese clan came to prominence during kamakura and edo period. The kamon consists of feathers groups in a cirkel. I used a gold texture on a black background in thid example.
When I started with my little business I created a couple Ottoman Empire designs. Most of them are meant for patterns with tiling. But you can use a single tile as a stand alone illustration. I did sold some products this way, but I never used on as many Zazzle products as possible.
Now I’m using templates in Zazzle, I can create products in large batches. A couple of Ottoman designs are revisited and tweaked for processing this way. There a other designs I can use the same trick on, but that is for the future. But first these three.
Last week Zazzle posted an anouncement on the Zazzle about changes in searching the Zazzle marketplace for your products. They noticed a lot of designs of Zazzlers did not sell at all, for ages. So they decided that all products that didn’t had a sale or a view for the last six months won’t show up in the marketplace. But only in your store.
The advice was to take a good look at the description and tags you made for the products. And make sure they were SEO friendly. Now, in the beginning of my shop, I didn’t pay attention to tags and that stuff. A bunch of my early designs didn’t sell at all and I thought that most likely SEO wouldn’t make a difference. The designs weren’t simply good enough.
With the Zazzle post I started to wonder. Zazzle did put an emphasis on search friendly tags and descriptions. Zazzle also said the search engine traffic from for instance Google, Bing and Yahoo is very important. I therefor started to look again at my early designs. I did put a lot of effort in them. It’s going to be a pain to create a good set of texts an tags. Probably one design per day, the tags have to be investigated with for instance a Google Adword tool.
So far I did a couple. This is a popart design which didn’t sell at all:
These are two cartoon images I put a lot of effort in. But no sale 🙁
This Humulus lupulus hop in art design did reasonably well. People like more traditional designs.
Also, most of the early designs I didn’t use with templates. So the amount of products is low. For now I only concentrate on early designs which are real illustrations with little tags and poor description. And I’ll see if I can boost the product amount with the Zazzle templates I created for this purpose.
It is going to be an interesting experiment to see if the SEO friendly tags and text will help increase sales.
Last week I finished a new Barcelona tile design for my Zazzle store. This time it got a flower pattern in the tile. I think, but I’m not sure, that flower and nature images sell well on Zazzle. My top product is ink art drawing if a hop plant. That is the “fruit” an leaf. It was my first ever attempt on zazzle, just for laughs. Oddly enough it sells well.
This kind of ink art takes a lot of effort, though. It taught me one lesson, nature sells well. Unfortunately efficient designs and graphics tend to be more abstract and geometrically. The trick is then to combine the two, nature and efficient, in a design. This Barcelona tile design does it well and I’m very curious to see how it will sell.
As you can see, it is not only cool cases that I sell 🙂 Why not try this soft and comfortable pillow.
Next little project will be figuring out how to leverage the Zazzle affiliate program. I have an idea and I’ll show it to you pretty soon.