Trying Different Platforms – Etsy and Redbubble

In the long run, I hope ​Merch by Amazon will be my primary platform for selling t-shirts on the Internet. So far it has been a slow process getting started there though. I am still on tier 10 and, from what I read, it may take months to begin getting sales. That's why I need another outlet for designs.

​About Teespring

Phone Case

​I have been using Teespring for that other outlet and I find that platform easy to use. Not only does it give me a place to list a lot more shirts but I can put other products on there too. Phone cases, mugs and tote bags are good examples.

Teespring might be easy to use but it is also limited when it comes to learning and marketing. There is no community of users on the Teespring site itself (there are Facebook groups) and the product images are pretty plain.

There are plenty of other options when it comes to places to market my designs and I have been exploring a couple lately.

​Trying Etsy

​The first option I tried out is Etsy. Th​ey are a major player in online craft and art market but they also support print on demand products. The biggest issue I have with Etsy is that they do not do the production and fulfillment in house. For that you need to partner with yet another company.

Two POD producers that interface well with Etsy are Printful and Printify. With both of these sites, you link your account to your Etsy store then load the design onto the production site (Printful or Printify).

Printful Design Upload

​Once the design is in your library, you can place it on many different products from apparel and hats to accessories like bags and cases to home products like pillows, mugs and wall art. 

Unlike Teespring, there are a wide selection of mock ups to make your products look appealing. Models wearing your clothing and household products in home settings.

Product Placement

​Once the products are set up, the final step is to sync them to Etsy. Then they appear in your Etsy store. The process is a little complicated but not hard. After a few tries it becomes a logical step-by-step procedure.

Still, I was not really happy about dealing with two or three companies (you can use both Printful and Printify at the same time) to get products into the store.

If you want to have the prestige of an Etsy store it is the process you need to learn for marketing print on demand products. I will probably keep ​my Etsy store -  for now anyway.

​Next ​Prospect - Redbubble

​The other ​company I have been experimenting with is Redbubble. This is actually a site I looked at before Teespring but, as a newcomer to POD, I found it hard to use. Now, after getting a little experience with print on demand and working with the complexity of Etsy and Printful, it doesn't seem so intimidating to me. I am back for another go at it. ​There are some things I really like about Redbubble and a few I wish were better.

To start with, Redbubble does production and fulfillment without a third part. Having just one company to deal with is much less complicated than the Etsy/Printful system.

​Setting up an account and store are easy to do and there is plenty of help available if you need it. Just make sure you give some thought to your user name since there is no way to change it later. If you really need to, the only way is to delete your account and start over.

There are two options when adding new designs. You can copy settings from ​one of your existing works or add a new design from scratch. The add from existing choice is particularly good if the images you are uploading are the same size because it will mean a lot less work fitting them to different products as I will show later.

Add New Work

​Whichever way you add it, the next step is to upload your artwork and size it to the extensive list of products. If you chose to copy existing, and the new artwork is the same size, ​it should fit pretty closely.

Adding Designs

​From here you just go down the list of products to tweak the image fit and turn off products that don't work with this design. I this example of a kids shirt, I turned off most of the men's and women's fashions and ​products like clocks and art posters that just aren't needed.

​Finally, at the bottom of the page, fill in the settings​. Things like media type, default product to display, is the design is for mature audiences and if it is private or public.

Also in this section are two other settings that pertain to Redbubble features I really like.

First is collections. These are categories y​ou define to help organize your work. They will be grouped on your main store page to keep things organized.

​The other is groups. You can join groups of fellow artists and designers to share your work and get inspiration. This community is a wonderful feature that is missing on most other POD platforms.

The last entry is a verification that you have rights to the design. Please only upload artwork that you actually own!

Redbubble Artwork Settings

​Save your work and the new products will be added to your Redbubble store

The store is organized by artwork and not by products. This was an issue I had with Teespring. On that site, your store listings get huge and it is hard to find individual products. On Redbubble, the potential buyer just picks the designs they like and ca then see the products that it is available on. Click the image below to see it full size. You will notice how the collections help with organization.

You can click here to see my store with current designs.

Grandpa's Tees

​Redbubble Summery

​So right now, I am leaning toward Redbubble as my second platform. Merch by Amazon will still be first of course.

I like the mock ups on Redbubble although I wish there were more of them and that I could choose different ones for each products like Printful.

The social aspect of RB is great and I expect to use it a lot as I learn and grow a following. So far it has been helpful to see other peoples work.

One problem I see when adding artwork for t-shirts is that there is no way to select which colors are available. White text on a white shirt just disappears but there is no way to deselect white as a color option. Same problem with black on black shirts, blue on blue shirts, etc. I know Redbubble is aware of this problem and looking for a solution but there isn't one yet. Their plan at this point is to make it possible to disable colors and that would help.

It is possible to upload different artwork for each product and that is a great feature.  ​If I want to feature dark colored shirts I can upload a design with light text but that just means the light colors look bad. I wish Redbubble would extend that option to be able to assign colors to two versions of the art.

Overall though, I like Redbubble and I will continue working with the platform. This just might replace Teespring entirely.