How to Sell on Redbubble

Unfortunately for the creative folk, there is a reason that the term “starving artist” persists. Fortunately, the internet has created a world of opportunity for artists to share their work with the public and, better yet, get paid. Artists and designers have turned to websites like Etsy, Printful, and Society6 to sell their art, but one of the most popular websites is the print on demand platform Redbubble

In this article, we are going to delve into the why and how of Redbubble, helping you earn money by doing what you love by showing you how to sell on Redbubble.

What is Redbubble?

First launched in 2006, this Australian print on demand website has become one of the most popular platforms among artists and entrepreneurs who are looking to sell merchandise with little — if any — work on their behalf. Redbubble works similarly to other print on demand (also known as POD) services in the sense that it bridges the gap between artists and consumers. 

Without a print on demand service, you have to do everything yourself: create a design, print it on a number of products, keep track a large inventory while you wait for people to buy the items, then when someone finally buys something, go to the post office to ship the sold item (and, if you are really unlucky, personally absorb any losses). When you use a print on demand service like Redbubble, all you need to do is create a design you want to sell, then create an account on the platform. Redbubble does the rest for you! However, this does mean that the company takes their cut.

Some POD services require you to host your own website, but not Redbubble! In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why the platform is so popular. Instead, Redbubble serves as its own, standalone website with a massive online marketplace that hosts (along with its subsidiary, TeePublic) more than 800,000 independent artists and 2 million of their unique designs. As you can imagine, this is also a huge draw for consumers. With 4 million users from over 200 countries across the world, the platform’s artists have earned a combined sum of more than $100 million since Redbubble’s launch in 2006.

How much does Redbubble cost?

Some print on demand platforms charge artists to use their services, and while Redbubble does take their cut, they technically don’t charge you anything, which makes the service free — technically.

Selling on Redbubble requires no out of pocket costs for artists. Additionally, learning how to sell on Redbubble is easy and doesn’t cost a cent — be wary of people offering the “keys to success” in exchange for money, as all the important information is already out there… or in this article (wink, wink).

How much can I earn on Redbubble?

Like fellow POD platform Merch by Amazon, artists who sell their work through Redbubble don’t see all the profits that their merchandise makes. However, unlike Merch by Amazon — which only pays you a small percentage of the profit in the form of royalties — Redbubble actually factors the artist’s payment into the retail price of every item sold on their platform. However, this can result in fluctuating prices and payments which can be confusing for both sellers and buyers.

On their help site, Redbubble breaks down their pricing and payment into a simple equation: base price + artist margin = retail price

Determined by the platform, the base price includes Redbubble’s service fee for hosting the item on their online marketplace, the cost of materials, and the printing and manufacturing fees charged by the third-party manufacturing companies that Redbubble employs (it may be a POD service, but that does not mean Redbubble does everything themselves!). However, the base price is subject to change, as their website notes: “Changing the delivery address at checkout could very well change the total because of different local production and material costs charged by the respective manufacturer.”

The artist margin (AKA what you get paid) is a markup based on a percentage of the base price. The default artist margin markup is 20% but in a refreshing turn of events, artists have the ability to raise or lower the percentage to determine how much they get paid, and can be customized for each type of product sold. This is both a pro and a con, because the buyer must absorb the additional cost as set by the seller. Some buyers are more than willing to pay artists their worth, but others… not so much.

To put this in perspective, Redbubble provides a great example:

Large framed art prints going to the US have a base price of US$125.00.

You set a 20% markup for large framed art prints.

20% of the $125 base price means you get an artist margin of $25.00.

$125 base price + $25 artist margin makes for a $150 retail price (before tax).

Additionally, your payments from sales on Redbubble can be affected by sales and discounts. Many artists will run sales or bulk discounts in order to entice customers, but since this lowers the base price of the items sold while the artist margin remains the same, sellers will earn a bit less from each individual item sold. However, you could potentially make more using this tactic, as buyers will be more likely to purchase your items at a discounted price. More sales means more money, even if you are not making the “full” amount.

The biggest downside to this is that sellers cannot always control whether or not their items are at a discounted rate, as Redbubble frequently will run site-wide discountsin order to bring more customers to the platform. As you can imagine, some artists feel cheated by this.

How do I get paid by Redbubble?

Redbubble’s payment method is fairly simple, which is a breath of fresh air in the world of ecommerce. You can receive your Redbubble earnings through PayPal or by direct deposit, both of which are free — though you may incur charges from PayPal or your bank.

That being said, you are not able to get paid at the drop of a hat. Instead, Redbubble pays out their sellers on a monthly basis within each “payment cycle”. Fortunately, these payment cycles are month to month, rather than quarterly, beginning on the 15th of the month and ending on the 15th of the next month.

Does Redbubble charge sellers for shipping?

As a proper print on demand platform, Redbubble handles all of the grunt work involved with selling merchandise online, including shipping. 

However, Redbubble does not offer free shipping on any of their products. Instead, buyers must pay for shipping themselves, which is calculated based on the weight of the item, where the buyer is located, and whether they choose to upgrade to faster shipping options. Especially for larger items, shipping can be expensive, which is a big drawback for some buyers.

How do I get started as a seller on Redbubble?

Ready to begin your journey as an artist on Redbubble? The platform makes it easy to get started. These are the steps to help you begin along with a few tips:

To begin, you will need to create an account on Redbubble, which is completely free. When creating a seller account, try to think of a unique and memorable profile name that gives buyers an insight into who you are and what you offer. Stay away from “keyboard smash” usernames — you want buyers to be able to find your profile easily!

Next, you will need to trick out your artist profile page and storefront! This is where buyers get to know you see all of your art, so it’s important to make a good impression from the get-go. 

  • Start by adding a profile picture, this does not have to be a photograph of you, but it should represent who you are. Many artists draw or design these themselves, our favorites are self-portraits done in the artist’s personal style. 
  • Add a cover photo. This large photograph is like a billboard for your personal page, so be sure to show off your flair. Again, we love to see cover photos created by the artists themselves — bonus points if it complements your profile photo!
  • Don’t forget to add an artist bio! Here, you can tell buyers a bit about yourself and your art (this is a great example of a short and sweet bio). You can even add links to your social media pages so buyers can see more of your art, contact you about commissioning pieces, and get insider information about your upcoming product releases. Many artists are reticent to talk about themselves, but be sure to take advantage of your artist bio. There are massive amounts of bots in the online art world (many steal art, too!) so it is a great way to ensure buyers that you are a real person who creates original art.

Finally, and most importantly — you need to upload your art to sell on Redbubble! To do this, you simply need to click “Manage Portfolio” after creating an account and logging in, then “Add new work” to upload. Add a title, description, tags, and choose what products you want your art to appear on, and voila! You’re ready to sell on Redbubble.

Although Redbubble is a huge marketplace full of all types of art, the platform does have rules about what artists can and can’t upload. Make sure your art follows Redbubble’s guidelines, otherwise it will be removed and you could potentially be banned. Here is a full list of what types of content Redbubble does not allow on the platform: banned content.

How can I be successful on Redbubble?

Even for the most talented of artists and designers, creating an account and uploading your work is not even close to half the battle. Since Redbubble is an online marketplace, if you want to make a healthy profit, you need to understand the platform’s ecosystem, online marketing tactics, and customer service and use them to your advantage. These are some of the best secret and not-so-secret tips and best practices to ensure your success on Redbubble:

Harness the power of keywords.

One of the most important — if not the most important — things to know when learning how to sell on Redbubble is knowing how and when to use keywords. Keywords help buyers find your products and let search engines know what a web page is about. Be sure to use corresponding keywords in your product title, description, and tags so it will show up in buyer searches on Redbubble and Google for increased visibility.

Tag your social media accounts on your artist page.

If you have an Instagram dedicated to your art, definitely plug the link into your artist profile page so that buyers can follow you. Not only are buyers more inclined to purchase your work when they get to “know” you online, this can offer opportunities for commission work and the like. Additionally…

Take your own product photos for social media.

Redbubble provides product mockups for every design, which is why the site looks so homogenous. However, these mockups don’t look great on social media, especially if your art or business account has its own aesthetic. A great way to make your designs stand out on social media is to spend a little money purchasing your own products from Redbubble to photograph them yourself, making your art look more like art and helping buyers understand what the products look like outside of Redbubble’s dull mockup photos.

Track your sales and add new products accordingly.

Redbubble offers great analytics for sellers about how well (or not so well) your designs are selling, which is a great way to plan your next upload if you are focused on making a profit. For example, imagine your Berserk art t-shirts are flying off the shelves, but only one person has purchased your Ouran High School Host Club shirt design. Even though you love Ouran, perhaps you should make more Berserk-themed art, since that is what buyers are more interested in.

Upload new artwork or designs frequently.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! The more product designs you have available in your shop, the better — but don’t sacrifice quality in order to simply cast a wider net. Additionally, try to upload new designs often. If a buyer likes your art style, they may want to purchase from you again, so be sure to give them the opportunity to do so by uploading new designs.

Alter your designs to fit different product types (or make sure it works with all of them).

Let’s face it — artwork that looks good on your wall might not always look right on a t-shirt. Depending on the design, you may be able to make small alterations to the design, such as making the background transparent or changing the dimensions, to ensure that it works for many different types of products in a way that is still cohesive.

Release different versions of every design.

The customer may not always be right, but they do certainly have their preferences. It can be prudent to upload different versions of your artwork, such as with different colors or wordings, in order to test which appeals best to consumers.

Now you know how to sell on Redbubble — good luck out there!

Making a living as an artist, designer, or entrepreneur isn’t easy, but Redbubble certainly helps. Let us know if our guide helped you on your journey or if we missed any of your favorite Redbubble tips!