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You might have noticed that when I relaunched my website I quietly launched my new Redbubble shop. I’ve wanted to create physical products for a while but, let’s be real, I am only one person. One person who already juggles a full-time job alongside this blog, design work, and the rest of my life. But it is a big dream of mine. So I’m starting a Redbubble shop!
I looked into various drop shipping options – where product manufacturing is outsourced and then shipped directly to your buyer. But there was still quite a lot of admin involved – I still would have had to set up a shop website, I still would have had to deal directly with customers if things went wrong, and I still wouldn’t have 100% control over the product. For me, when I finally get the chance to embark on a project like this, I want to do it right. I want to have my own processes and packaging and a bigger piece of the pie. So starting a “proper” shop isn’t feasible for me, at the moment.
But I love drawing and being creative. I love stickers and stationery. And, most of all, I love the thrill of physically holding something I’ve created. It’s not something that happens often when you’re primarily a web designer!
What is Redbubble?
Redbubble is very similar to the dropshipping services that I mentioned above, except they aren’t white labelled. People go to Redbubble specifically to find printed items, usually from independent creators and often of the fan art genre. Many of my laptop stickers are from Redbubble. I was able to search for things that I liked, find a cute design, and then a small percentage of the sale goes to the creator.
Starting a Redbubble shop is easy
You just sign up and start uploading artwork. You can then decide if you want to allow your design to be sold on all of the products that Redbubble offer, or just on specific ones.
How much money do Redbubble artists make?
I’m sure this varies greatly. By default, most products are set up so that the artist takes around a 20% cut of the sale. I’m sure more popular artists with larger audiences are able to bump this up quite a bit.
For me, I’ve only been on the platform briefly, and have had 6 items purchased (admittedly, all from people I know!) since starting a Redbubble shop. So my grand total of earnings is £8.91 thus far. Redbubble only transfer your earnings to you when you hit £20/$20, so I’m still a bit off seeing any actual money!
For me, though, this isn’t really meant to be a money-earning venture. I enjoy doodling on my iPad Pro. It’s something I do for fun, to unwind, and mostly just to share on Instagram. But I figured, if I am drawing these things anyway, why not take a minute to pop them up on Redbubble.
Then if someone comes across my work and likes it, I might make a few pennies. If not, no harm done!
Designing stickers for Redbubble
Since starting a Redbubble shop, I’ve mostly stuck to stickers (with a couple of t-shirts which were a custom request from a friend!). This is mostly down to the fact that I used Redbubble to initially find stickers for my own laptop, then decided to make a few custom ones for myself.
Using Redbubble’s design guidelines, I simply create a canvas in Procreate at the recommended size for a product, then I doodle as I normally would. The image is quite large, which means it can then be used for my usual Instagram posts. I do take a bit of extra care to ensure that everything is coloured in solidly and that there are no spare pixels outside of the shape that I want for the sticker.
By default, the stickers also have a thick white border around them, so I try to make sure my design will still look nice when that is present. You can also only offer transparent sticker options, though.
You can even make sticker packs! To do this, you need to place smaller graphics into one sticker-sized canvas, making sure to leave enough space for the white borders. If they don’t touch, the cutting machine will cut each illustration individually, creating multiple stickers rather than one large one!
It can take a bit of practice. I created a small custom sticker pack to fill some gaps on my laptop and two of the stickers were still attached. Nothing some scissors couldn’t fix, but perhaps not the best customer experience if you’re selling them publicly!
My Redbubble shop plans
While I want to keep my Redbubble experience casual, I also want to use it as an opportunity to learn a bit more about physical product creation. For me, I don’t just want to make something and slap it on every product available. I want to put thought into how my artwork will be best displayed on a product. This is why I’ve mostly stuck to stickers at the moment – I think the shapes and colours of the drawings lend themselves well to stickers. The next logical step may be creating prints of these pieces.
But I also want to work from the other end of the process. I’m interested in looking through Redbubble’s product catalogue and seeing if any of the items available inspire a design. For example, I really want to try designing notebook covers that aren’t just one of my illustrations printed on the front, but rather a notebook that I’ve put time and thought into creating.
Then, one day, who knows – maybe I will have enough experience and passion to try setting up a “proper” shop and taking control of everything myself. For now, I’m happy to just create and see a few pennies trickle in!