For creative people, making beautiful things is a natural instinct. However, you will probably need to find some way of selling your art in order to make a living from your talent. That is where platforms like Redbubble and Etsy can help.
Both of the marketplaces allow creative people to reach buyers who are looking for unique items. The question is, which one is better for you: Redbubble or Etsy?
In this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at each platform and make a direct comparison between the two. Keep reading to find out which platform is better for you!
Good question! The answer lies in what kind of products you are offering, and how you want to sell them.
Before we start diving into the details, let’s first start getting to know these two platforms a little better.
Founded all the way back in 2006, Redbubble is a “print on demand” marketplace where creatives can upload any kind of visual design.
Customers can then have the design reproduced on a variety of different products, with artists receiving a cut of the sale price. The range of merch includes T-shirts and other clothing, stickers, mugs, bedding, and more.
Based in Melbourne, Australia, Redbubble currently has around 800,000 users who upload designs. According to the last official report, the platform generates sales from about four million customers each year, who purchase around two million different designs.
Another veteran of e-commerce, Etsy was founded in 2005. This online marketplace is dedicated to bespoke, hand-crafted, and vintage items.
In contrast with Redbubble, all products on Etsy are created by sellers; the platform simply provides a shop window, much like Amazon or eBay.
This particular shop window gets plenty of attention. In the year ending December 2021, Etsy connected 96.3 million buyers with 7.5 million sellers. The site also plays host to 120 million individual products.
Now we know what kind of platforms we’re talking about, it’s business time. Here is a step-by-step comparison of the two platforms, as seen from the viewpoint of a professional artist or an aspiring creative professional:
The first step to selling online with either of these platforms is to create your account.
Redbubble makes things quite easy. On a personal level, all the platform requires is your email address, your name and physical address, and some payment details.
You can then choose a name for your store, and start uploading designs for sale whenever you want.
Signing up as an Etsy seller takes a little longer. While the platform mostly asks for the same details, you are forced to create your first listing during the sign-up process.
And as we will discover next, Etsy listings are quite detailed.
The differences between Redbubble and Etsy really start to emerge when you begin uploading your work for sale.
On Redbubble, you can only upload any artwork in either JPEG or PNG format. From that point on, you are simply choosing which Redbubble products should be decorated with your design.
You can enable or disable individual products with a tap, and edit them so that your design fits nicely. Redbubble also allows you to add a title, a description, and some tags.
Once you’re happy with your product selection, the final step is to choose your sale price.
Redbubble sets a base price for every product, and this covers the cost of reproducing your design on demand (along with some commission). As an artist, you can add any percentage on top of the base price as your markup on the sale.
Overall, listing items on Redbubble is quite easy. You don’t even need to take any product photos. The trade-off is a low barrier to entry, meaning competition is fierce — and you will probably need to mess around with the designs and pricing to get what you want.
As we mentioned earlier, Etsy has a much more thorough listing process. In part, this is because the platform plays host to a wide variety of products, created by sellers.
To list an item on your Etsy shop, you will need to provide at least a title, a description, a product category, information on provenance, your own shipping arrangements, and some product photos.
(Want to learn how to take better product photos? Check out our complete guide to product photography!)
In addition, you have the option to add a product video, product variations, information about materials, and personalization options.
As both the seller and logistics provider, you can set whatever sale price you want on Etsy. You can even offer free delivery if you prefer. And folks with experience in e-commerce will appreciate the built-in inventory management features.
It’s clear that Etsy is designed for small-time creative entrepreneurs who want to set up their own online store as a business, rather than busy graphic designers wanting to make a few dollars on the side.
Your choice between these two e-commerce platforms may ultimately come down to the type of products you want to sell, and whether you have created your own.
With Redbubble, you can only choose from a set list of products. And you won’t even get to see those products in real life unless you order them from Redbubble yourself.
Of course, this hands-off approach is part of the attraction for creatives who are pushed for time.
When you make a sale, Redbubble will print the on-demand products and ship them to the buyer. Your only involvement is collecting your profit from the retail price.
And it must be said, the selection of on-demand products is pretty deep. Some of the best-selling items include:
This means you can create and run a pretty comprehensive online shop with minimal effort, besides making your art.
In comparison, Etsy lets you sell virtually anything that is handmade, vintage, or a craft supply. In this case, vintage is defined as an item that is at least 20 years old.
Some of the most popular categories include:
The key difference is that you will need to make or source the products yourself. As a result, the selling process with this platform is a lot more hands-on.
But then, that means you can oversee quality control of your own products and deliver a more personal service to buyers.
Because Redbubble and Etsy provide two very different services, it will come as no surprise that these platforms have completely different fee structures.
With Redbubble, you decide what markup you want. Most top sellers on the platform aim for between 15% and 20% above the base price.
The base price of the available products varies enormously. But to give you some idea of what you could earn, here’s an example:
Going higher is obviously tempting, but it may make the sale price high enough to deter some potential customers.
Sellers on Etsy generally get to keep a far larger chunk of the sale price. The platform takes a 6.5% transaction fee from the total of every purchase, including shipping and gift wrapping. For payment processing, Etsy takes another 3% plus a flat rate of $0.25.
Etsy also charges $0.20 every time you list a new product or want to renew an existing listing (after four months or when you run out of stock, whichever comes sooner). If you want to sell an item in multiple quantities, you will be charged an extra $0.20.
So, a quick example:
In this instance, the seller gets to keep over 90% of the sale price. Even down at $10, you should still receive 86% of what the buyer paid — although be aware that fees are a little variable around the world.
Before you make a final commitment one way or the other, it’s worth taking a look at the payment options provided by Redbubble and Etsy.
For sellers on Redbubble, profits are paid out automatically every month once you reach $20. There are two payment options here: PayPal or direct deposit.
If you choose the latter, be aware that Redbubble will only pay out to Australian, U.S, and U.K. bank accounts. However, you can choose your currency.
In times past, Etsy also offered PayPal as a primary payment option. However, the site recently introduced a new payment processing feature called Etsy Payments.
This gives buyers multiple ways to pay, and delivers money to sellers via direct deposit.
Etsy lets you choose how often you want payments to be forwarded to your chosen account: daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
Whichever option you choose, you will need to meet the minimum threshold for the money to be sent, and Etsy will always send earnings in your local currency.
Many creative people sell their work on both Redbubble and Etsy. And both platforms give you the opportunity to make some serious cash. But if you had to choose, which one should you pick?
Redbubble is great for artists who want to focus on creating, rather than selling. This POD (print-on-demand) platform requires minimal input, and the site attracts a large number of buyers. Just as importantly, you can set your own margin for every product.
The downside is that, in reality, most sellers won’t make more than 20% on each sale. In comparison to Etsy, there are far fewer buyers on Redbubble, as well.
Etsy is the ultimate marketplace for selling handmade products and unique art. Sellers can create their own Etsy storefront, and keep the majority of the sale price for each item. It feels like a hybrid of Shopify and eBay.
Of course, you do have to work harder for that larger artist margin. You can only build an Etsy store if you already have a complete product to sell, and you should expect to do plenty of packing and shipping.
Tl;dr: Redbubble is best for fast, easy profits, while Etsy is better for maximizing profits from your existing product.
It’s worth mentioning that Redbubble and Etsy aren’t the only two platforms that allow artists to sell online. Other options include:
Whichever sites you choose to explore, there are some fundamental principles that you should learn if you want to sell art online. Here’s a quick roundup:
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