How to report art theft on Redbubble, Merch by Amazon, and Etsy

You can report people that steal your stuff on Redbubble, Etsy, and Merch by Amazon, but should you? My (possibly controversial) opinion on the matter and useful links below.

### Redbubble
Designated Agent for complaints can be reached at:

### Etsy

### Merch by Amazon

Redbubble review – 3 months of passive income

A quick update on my RB situation over the past 3 months, explaining why I think my earnings have increased/decreased. More useful content that can actually be applied will be coming very soon.


Etsy – 3 Month Review – Passive Income

It’s currently 18th May and I finally have the opportunity to type up some results from April. I’ve had such a busy month and a half due to working abroad, then going straight on holiday to a different country, coming back and going to Uni, then working away again! I’m travelling on a train right now, so have a bit of time to provide an update.

Due to the severe lack of time I’ve had, I’ve pretty much neglected POD because my only spare time has been dedicated to the Passive Owls FB group and YouTube, which takes quite a lot of effort to manage, and has well over 1200 subscribers now, by the way!

Therefore, I’ve literally uploading no new designs to any POD site since well over a month ago. If you remember from my 2 month Etsy update, you’ll know that I decided to stop all adverts and see how it affected sales. My initial Etsy strategy was to utilise their paid adverts to get established as a reputable seller and hopefully getting positive reviews/sales ranking would boost visibility of my shop and I’d get organic sales.

I’m pleased to report that after turning off all adverts, I got 15 orders during April, which equates to $145.09 pure profit (roughly £106.67). I wasn’t expecting so many orders at this point. In fact, I wasn’t even planning on turning off adverts for another couple of months to try and get even more established on Etsy.

Feb: Views: 737 / Visits: 418 / Orders: 13 / Revenue: $294.44 <- $5 per day on ads
Mar: Views: 1280 / Visits: 708 / Orders 28 / Revenue: $520.59 <- $10 per day on ads
Apr: Views: 540 / Visits: 320 / Orders 15 / Revenue: $274.20 <- $0 per day on ads

This is great news because it shows that I’ve made almost as much organically as I did when I first started and had to use ads to get sales. Probably due to having a lot of 5 star reviews now and my products showing organically in the listings because of I’ve got lots of sales, too. I’m very grateful for the 5 star reviews because there have been times  where mistakes happened and could’ve easily resulted in bad review. I just offered amazing customer service to try and resolve things which seems to have paid off. People have generally been understanding but if the event that they’re not, I’m more than happy to fully refund a customer for an issue. As I’ve said before, a bad review just isn’t worth it. I had no other people contact me in relation to the issue I had last month with the dodgy printing so I seem to be out of the woods by now.

I have, however, had a few issues with Printful which I’m not happy with. I’ve contacted their customer service now a few times, which was generally good historically, but there were 2 very annoying issues:

Firstly, Printful put a hold on one of my orders, but didn’t tell me this had happened. I only found out when a customer emailed me weeks after ordering asking where his item was. I contacted Printful to find out what had happened because they usually email. They were absolutely adamant that an email would have been sent to me and it must be a problem with my provider or I deleted it. I’ve received a number of these hold emails so I knew I definitely didn’t get one this time as they’ve always come through before. I had to persuade them to look into it further and the results were that their system failed and didn’t send an email. To their credit, Printful agreed to refund me for the shirt as an apology for getting it wrong, but what annoyed me was their refusal even consider they could’ve made a mistake when I first contacted them and it was only because of me pushing it that they looked into it further. I was very fortunate that the customer was totally cool with the delay and even refused a partial refund that I offered for the inconvenience.

Secondly, a customer ordered 2x mens shirts, but somehow the Printful system sent out 2x female shirts. The listings was mens/unisex and I actually have a completely separate listing for female shirts, so they couldn’t possibly get mixed up. Printful syncs to Etsy on their end so it’s all done automatically and I haven’t touched it since. When I contacted support about it, they were again adamant that it was my mistake rather than theirs and that I must’ve changed things. I definitely haven’t changed it and have no reason to, but they wouldn’t entertain that it could’ve been something wrong on their end. I asked them to look into it, as surely if I’d changed something there would be evidence on their end. Of course, they couldn’t provide any evidence that I’d done it and instead refused to take any responsibility, saying it wasn’t possible for their system to make such an error. Sort of like how their system couldn’t possibly make an error with emails before, but did? It wasn’t worth my time arguing with them further, but I had a lot of work to do with the customer to make up for it, and Printful refusing to accept any responsibility without investigating was beyond frustrating. I had to give a partial refund and do a lot of customer service to sort it out.

I’m going to leave adverts off during May and to be honest, it’s still a hectic month so I don’t think I’ll be developing Etsy much at this point. My future goal (June onwards) will be to add a hell of a lot more products because I currently only have roughly 35 uploads! Imagine if I had 10x that – my profit would be way healthier, it’s just having time to get on with it. I think this is a valuable lesson though that sometimes life does get in the way and you can’t get as much done as you’d like, but it doesn’t mean you should give up – just do what you can, when you can.

Etsy – 2 Month Review – Passive Income

Welcome to my 2 month Etsy report!

As mentioned in my 1 month update, I’m using Etsy in conjunction with Printful to automatically fulfill any orders I receive.

I got my first positive (5 star) review almost immediately after I posted my February update, and the good reviews kept on coming, which was a great relief because I didn’t really know what the quality would be like from Printful. I have at least five 5 star reviews at time of writing, which is great social proof. I also got a PM telling me that the quality is amazing and shipping was super fast.

As promised in my previous post, I upped my advertising budget from $5 to $10 per day just to see what happened. I got more than double the amount of orders when compared to last month:

Feb: Views: 737 / Visits: 418 / Orders: 13 / Revenue: $294.44
Mar: Views: 1280 / Visits: 708 / Orders 28 / Revenue: $520.59

Interestingly, a significant number of orders didn’t come from ads – more on that later. I’m still pricing at rock bottom, which is a problem that has become apparent this month and I’ll elaborate why in a moment. I was initially going to wait until I have ten 5 star reviews to increase the price, but I’m going to disregard that and do it sooner rather than later.

Printful has been slightly annoying this month in that their report function only shows 28 days of history. You can’t specify a date range, so it’s impossible to quickly check your profit without manually adding up figures, which to me seems insane. They have a ‘report’ page, but it only shows you revenue rather than profit and there’s no way to change this. I contacted customer service about it and found that it’s just not a feature they offer.

It’s difficult to make informed decisions without a lot of manual calculations to figure out how much profit you’re currently making. I think the service generally from Printful is amazing, but that oversight is absolutely ridiculous. I didn’t have a problem in Feb since I’d just started and the month happened to be 28 days long so it fit in perfectly with their 28 day history, but this month it has caused problems.

I’ve also had an issue with the printing of one of my designs, which has only become apparent within the last few days since a customer complained and sent me a picture. I contacted Printful who said it was because of the transparency of some of the design aspects. They offer a quality checking service which I thought should’ve picked this up as they have done with some of my other designs prior to printing, but they stressed that this is a courtesy service and can’t be relied upon.

Rather than risk a bad review, I just refunded the customer entirely, which unfortunately was a significant loss, but it would’ve been much more detrimental to receive a negative review. Customer was very happy with my handling of the situation and even said they’d leave positive feedback (unprompted).

I am concerned about this printing issue because there have been about 5-6 sales of this particular design before I was alerted to the issue, so I could end up giving many refunds out. Learn from my mistake – make sure you don’t use transparency on Printful!

Another issue is that female specific shirts are expensive. I’m getting $10-11 profit for a male shirt, yet $2-3 for a female shirt, which means that I’m actually losing a significant amount of money when I take into consideration advertising costs to get the sales. For that reason, I’ve decided to phase out female specific products and just offer Unisex.

This is my Etsy advert performance for March 18:

It shows good value in that I spent $188 to achieve $301 revenue, but we’ve got to take into consideration that revenue isn’t profit and that I’m pricing very low, so although it definitely seems worthwhile to run ads, you must make sure that your profit margin covers the cost of doing so.

An interesting point to note is that only 16 out of the 28 orders were from adverts, meaning that 12 were found organically. This is very positive indeed and preliminary searches have revealed to me that my products are actually showing up on the front page for some search terms organically now.

My Etsy balance looked healthy. This is all from March. My advertising/listing costs came to $262.43 overall, which works out at around $8.50 per day.

My goals from last month were to get positive reviews (✓), increase my advertising budget (✓),  and add more products. I did add more products, but only about half of what I intended to. That’s because I got seriously distracted by Merch by Amazon and basically left Etsy on autopilot.

A mixture of focusing on Merch, leaving expensive adverts running without evaluating them, making a loss on female shirts, having to refund dodgy prints, and being unable to see my profit in real time on Printful has resulted in a loss this month. Despite selling more than double the amount of products, I’ve made a significant loss of £94.09, which is approximately $130. This is way worse than I expected. I knew I wasn’t making profit, but I didn’t really care too much since it’s more about establishing a brand at this point, but a combination of the above factors has really screwed me over this month. Oops.

Oh well, lesson learnt! I’m going to do an experiment in April and turn all adverts off just to see if I make any sales organically, and hopefully recoup some of the loss I’ve made this month on Etsy.

Hope you appreciate my honesty. I might be a Redbubble expert but when it comes to Etsy, I’m pretty clueless so I’m just experimenting and learning as I go. Hopefully you found the information in this post helpful!

Will report back at the end of April and let you know how it goes! In the meantime consider joining the Passive Owls FB group as there will certainly be more Etsy discussion going on in there.

Full Disclosure: Printful is an affiliate link, so if you’ve found my FB group, YouTube, or this blog helpful and want to support me, then I would appreciate it if you signed up via the link.

Etsy – 1 Month Review – Passive Income

As I mentioned earlier, my plan to double up on my passive income this year involves diversifying my income streams by starting an Etsy store. This is my 1 month report on Etsy.

First of all, the juicy results for February 2018:

What an amazing first month! I can see Etsy having a significant impact on my passive income as I learn how to use it to its full potential. Now, this is revenue, of course, so let me elaborate on my strategy before I give you a further breakdown.

How did I do it?

It’s ridiculously simple.

  1. I signed up for Etsy
  2. I signed up for Printful

Printful is the only print on demand/dropshipping site to be partnered with Etsy, and I have to say it’s an absolute pleasure to use. It’s also FREE, which was a huge selling point for me because I didn’t know whether I’d make any sales at all during my first month on Etsy and therefore I didn’t want to be paying the monthly subscription cost associated with other POD sites.

What’s the catch with Printful? Well, the only one that I could find is that the cost price of products isn’t the cheapest out there, but I believe for our purposes it’s the best.

The main reason is that it saves you a ridiculous amount of time. When you list your products on Printful, it automatically integrates them in all colours, sizes and prices to Etsy. It also sets the tags, shipping options, and provides mockups for your designs. Basically, it does absolutely everything for you in just a few clicks. These things would take hours to sort out on Etsy manually, but on Printful, you just set how much profit you want to make and you’re good to go.

When you get an order on Etsy, it’s automatically picked up by Printful without you doing anything. They process it and send it out to the customer white label (without any indication it’s from Printful) and they even use your pricing rather than the cost price on the invoice.

I thought it would be too good to be true and I’d have to get involved once the order was shipped, but no. It’s ridiculously passive because they even update your Etsy and mark the item as shipped, so you truly don’t have to do anything.

You can pay for all sorts of fancy extras like custom tags in the clothing, custom packaging, etc. I didn’t do that at this stage and I’ll explain why in a moment. One thing they do offer you for free is a custom message to put on the invoice, which I thought was a nice touch.

My PROFIT from the first month on Printful

As you can see, my  revenue was $252.12, but my profit was $142.27, so despite the fact that Printful isn’t the cheapest print on demand company – AND I’m pricing at rock bottom to attract customers – the opportunity to make huge profit is still there. I found it to be the most hands off out of everything I researched for my first month on Etsy.

There are a large range of products available on Printful, so it’s really up to you which you choose and how much it costs you. As I said, they’re not the cheapest, but the convenience factor does it for me, and since you set your own profit margin, you can recuperate the costs immediately if you wished. I’m making on average $10 per item sold, which seems insane if you’re used to selling on Redbubble or Merch by Amazon.

Moving on then, why didn’t I go for any fancy extras at this stage?

My Strategy for Etsy – Month 1 (Feb 2018)

As a new seller on Etsy, I felt I should be pricing competitively. When you have no sales and no reviews, you’ve got to have something to attract a customer! This isn’t like Redbubble and Merch by Amazon where there’s a huge company backing your products with guarantees. The customer has to either trust you enough to purchase, or think the product is cheap enough to risk buying from you.

Adding fancy custom labels at this stage seemed superfluous and would increase production cost or retail price, so I left it out. I might add them in at a later stage when I increase prices, but can you believe that $147.27 profit is from pricing at rock bottom? Crazy!

So my strategy was to price low. I could’ve gone lower, of course, but I needed to make some profit to cover my expenses. Expenses? What expenses? Yes, Etsy is expensive.

It’s easy to take for granted the lack of listing fees, transaction fees, and advertising costs on websites like Redbubble.

Etsy Fees

First of all, there’s a fee to list an item, which is $0.20, plus VAT of $0.04. There’s also a transaction fee for each item you sell. My transaction fees were around $0.60 each. If you’re unfortunate enough to live in the UK like me, then you’ll be dealing with conversion fees, which aren’t pretty, and I found myself paying just short of £1 ($1.40) just to get the currency converted, which as far as I’m aware seems to be unavoidable. There’s also advertising costs involved, which deserve their own section.

Etsy Advertising

I have to say, Etsy advertising seems to be amazing. You just go into your settings and turn it on, set a daily limit, and they do the rest. This is literally all I did to attract all my sales this month.

You can set which products you want the site to advertise and which you don’t. Etsy shows the listing to people who are likely to click it, and then you pay per click. I set a daily budget of $5, but most of the time Etsy didn’t actually spend that much. You’re also given access to detailed analytics which helps you understand your customers and their behaviour.

As you can see, I spent $94.22 on Etsy ads in order to achieve $237.59 revenue. In other words, I got $143.37 profit out of it. A worthwhile trade, I would say. I like Etsy advertising because it’s very much ‘set it and forget it’ then watch the sales roll in, which is perfect for passive income.

Etsy Payments

My payment for February is looking healthy:

But we have to take into consideration the costs.

Etsy Bill

My Etsy bill, which is comprised of listing fees, transaction fees, conversion fees, and advertising fees, came in at $130.48

And of course, we have the cost of printing and sending products out to customers, which I’ve already listed above in the Printful section.

I got $147.27 profit from Printful, which means my total profit after all Etsy costs are taken into consideration comes to a whopping $16.79!

This is to be expected, as I’m pricing low to attract customers and I’m relying on Etsy ads for traffic. This is the first stage of a long term Etsy plan. It involves pricing low and getting sales/reviews. Once I’m reputable, I can increase the prices significantly, plus I’ll hopefully be found organically by customers, which will save me paying out for advertising.

Etsy Goals for March 2018

  • Get positive reviews – I have yet to receive any reviews whatsoever and this is a concern of mine. I actually considered reaching out to customers at one point, but was too worried they’d ask for a refund if I reminded them about their purchase so I left it! Printful have produced 17 products on my behalf, which are out in the world somewhere right now hopefully being enjoyed by customers, but who knows! I just have to have faith in the service that Printful will deliver quality products. But if there are any problems, I am fully prepared to offer refunds and apologies to customers. A bad review would be very destructive at this stage. When I get 10 positive reviews, the price is going up on my products.
  • Increase advertising budget – As soon as I get a positive review, I’m going to double up on advertising from $5 per day to $10 per day. If $94 in advertising gets me $140 profit, then $188 in advertsing will get me $280 in profit, right? 😉 We shall see.
  • Add more products and review existing ones – More products will result in more opportunities for customers to purchase. I’ve only got around 20 uploaded right now, so I think a reasonable goal is to double that to 40. I’ll also review existing products and stop funding them with advertising money if they aren’t selling.

Will report back at the end of March and let you know how it goes! In the meantime consider joining the Passive Owls FB group as there will certainly be more Etsy discussion going on in there.

Full Disclosure: Printful is an affiliate link, so if you’ve found my FB group, YouTube, or this blog helpful and want to support me, then I would appreciate it if you signed up via the link.

Etsy for Passive Income

Etsy is another avenue which I’m going to try out this year to generate extra passive income. My passive income success thus far has been hands off in the sense that the Print On Demand websites manage everything for me.

The POD sites I’m accustomed to using all offer to print, package, ship, and most importantly: handle customer service. It’s something which I elaborate on in my first YouTube video when describing how Redbubble works – check it out if you want to know more about the process:

It’s easy with these websites to have a ‘set it and forget it‘ mentality. It’s for that reason why Etsy is a bit scary. It involves doing more work yourself, and therefore accepting more risk, which can easily be taken for granted because POD websites take care of that for you.

However, the extra work provides opportunity for huge profit. Costs are kept down, which means it’s possible to make a hell of a lot more passive income for what is essentially the same product, even if you allow the customer to pay less. Here’s an example:

Redbubble T-Shirt (20% markup)
Customer pays $19.05 – your profit is $2.72

Etsy T-Shirt via fulfillment company
Customer pays $19.05 – your profit is $7.10

You can see that even if you price competitively with Redbubble, you’ll be making a lot more money, so you can afford to lower the price. This is just one example. The t-shirt I selected was one of the cheapest available by one of the most expensive companies, but there are loads of fulfillment companies with various products and prices.

The idea is that you create a listing on Etsy, and then either set the listing to automatically be fulfilled by a dropshipping company, or manually fulfill the order yourself. There are many options available to you.

I’ve gone for the most passive option, which involves using a fulfillment company to automatically collect orders from my Etsy and send them out to the customer as/when I make a sale. This isn’t the cheapest route. There are much cheaper alternatives, but for this project, I value my time more than saving an few extra dollars.

I’ve been on Etsy 3 weeks now and have already made sales amounting to $134.65 revenue (£95.99). Now remember, this is revenue, not profit.

I’ve definitely made a profit, but I don’t know the final figures yet as I’ve got to pay:

  • Product fees
  • Shipping fees
  • Etsy listing fees
  • Manufacturer fees
  • Product advertising fees
  • Currency conversion fees
  • Possibly other things which I’m not even aware of

I also have no idea whether the product that I’m selling is any good because I’ve never used the fulfillment company before, so this could blow up in my face and I may end up having to give out refunds to customers.

I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I can handle that, so please bear with me while I test the waters. I will be giving a more detailed breakdown of how I did this and how you can replicate the success, but first I need time to make sure it’s a good course of action. What I don’t want to do is recommend something and influence people to give it a go if it’s no good. Things are looking promising, though. A full report will follow.

In the meantime, I urge you to focus on Redbubble or a similar POD websites which are free (list available in the description of this video) so the worst case scenario is that you don’t make a sale rather than actually losing money. Check out my YouTube channel or the FB group so you can set yourself up for success, and when you’ve got designs which you know will sell, you’ll be able to see in my follow up post(s) whether doing this would be a good idea for you too.