First, apologies. Been sick and away from all the different things I’m doing Merch/blog related. But I’m back now and ready to continue. Hope you are too! This post will be about how I started my shirt selling journey on Redbubble and Etsy while waiting for Merch!
So, back when I applied for Merch, August 2017, you knew you were in for a wait and a half. If you did your research, you found that most people advised learning what you can about design and the ins and outs of Merch during this wait period so you can hit the ground running when you DO get accepted. When I applied, I was expecting a three month wait period (this was the ‘norm-ish’ from what I found on Facebook forums). I started a countdown calendar. Yes. I actually did this. Sad.
The other thing most people advise is to get your designs on other Print On Demand platforms. I got straight to it all.
Redbubble and Etsy
Redbubble is a platform much like Merch by Amazon. 1) Upload a design to the website. 2) Set your pricing structure/percentage of royalties. 3) When it sells, they give you your share of the profits. There is no initial outlay – like Merch – WINNER! Another win with Redbubble is the amount of different products you can get your design onto. SO many! I loved this and got cracking, immediately putting my designs on as much as possible.
My first sale came on September 30th – a Donald Trump shirt of all things. Made my month!! I believe the royalty was around $3!
Soon after discovering Redbubble, I found Etsy and its integration with Printful, the Print On Demand company. Etsy is a marketplace which traditionally has been for handmade item and cute niche trinkety type things. A completely different customer to Amazon and Redbubble – usually looking for great quality and happy to pay a premium for it.
With the new integration with Printful, I could upload my designs on an array of their products (much like Redbubble), and then they would be ported across to my new Etsy shop! Bonza!
This in actual fact is a bit of a faff and not at all as easy as Redbubble. Having to make sure the back end things in Printful work with the front end things in Etsy is sometimes a fine art. You do get used to it after a few uploads, but things can go astray.
The other thing about the Etsy/Printful integration is that you have to pay up front. Boo. You receive an order which gets pushed from Etsy to Printful. Etsy receive money from purchaser and holds it (yeah, thanks). Printful receive the order and charge you to print it (you need to have a balance with Printful, or a credit card listed). After a few days, Etsy releases the money to you, which is more than the price you paid to Printful.
This is all automated (if you managed to set it up properly) so you rarely have to do anything. Maybe a customer wants to put a gift note in with their item, in which case you DO need to amend the order on the Printful side, or they may want a customised item, and the same goes – you need to change things on the Printful side.
However……the Etsy market is great and the profits can be too. I think the usual royalty on a Redbubble/Merch item is roughly $5. On Etsy you can make $11-13+ depending on what it is you’re selling.
Worth a punt, for sure. And don’t forget all the other PODs out there that you can try.
When I first started my Redbubble and Etsy journey (whilst waiting for the God that is Amazon to bequeath me a Merch account), I used an iPad app called Over to make my first designs (link on Resources page). It is SUPER easy to use and has a lot of elements already on board such as pictures and fonts so you don’t have to go on the hunt for these. You can, of course, upload your own design elements and fonts to Over, which makes it even better, but you don’t have to when you start.
After becoming acquainted with Over and getting a bit more design experience and confidence under my belt, I moved over to Photoshop, which is fabulous and has so much scope to design exactly what you want.
For both Over and Photoshop, you will find an abundance of free training on YouTube to help you with your projects.
Anyway – I strongly urge you all, if you haven’t already, to get on with applying for your Merch account and get on other PODs asap.