Will I get banned for using X in my design? How come there are lots of designs on Redbubble that seem to infringe copyright. Are they allowed under fair use?
Discussing the amount of competition on Redbubble and whether it’s possible to makes sales in what appears to be a crowded marketplace.
SPOILER: It’s less competitive than you might think, but watch the video to find out why.
It’s 1st April, which means it’s time to write a report about March – my second month on Merch by Amazon 🙂 you can read about my first month here, in case you missed.
I got tiered up to T100 literally hours after I posted my February end of month report – so T25 to T100 in the same day – awesome! This gave me the ability to upload 5 per day, which I did daily for a week or so, but it just wasn’t sustainable for me due to other commitments.
I also upgraded to the ‘Basic’ version of MerchInformer as I felt having access to Merch Hunter would allow me to make great progress this month, which it did. I made a quick video about how I use the website here, if you’re interested, and if you decide to buy it for yourself, use code PASSIVEOWL to get 20% off.
2 month Merch by Amazon progress report:
- 65/100 possible designs uploaded
- 69 sales which equates to $306.60 profit (£218.75)
As was the case last month, most of my sales came from one design. I do wish it was more diverse, but oh well. I’m very happy with the sales this month and profit achieved. Only 3 designs sold last month, but this month I managed 9 different designs, so I’m pleased about that. This brings my total sales to 94, which means I’m only 6 sales away from being tiered up to T500. I’m sure this will happen within the next couple of days.
My goals for March were to tier up to T100 (✓), max out my submission allowance by uploading 25 designs (✓), and diversify sales by experimenting and creating more popular designs (✓).
Honestly, this month has been a bit frustrating because I haven’t been able to max out my uploads and I got a bit disheartened with scrolling through MerchInformer and looking at all the designs on there. The sort of content making a lot of money on Merch is what I consider to be total shit – i.e. “This girl is AWESOME because she was born in FEBRUARY” or “Psychologist, because Awesome Multi Tasking Ninja wasn’t a job title“. I just can’t stand it and it’s getting on my nerves having to scroll through it all while I research.
The positive news is that I’ve uploaded 55 more designs this month compared to last months 10, and more than doubled my sales/profit. It can be very frustrating on Merch – and any POD I suppose, because it feels like you’re doing a lot of work for nothing. I try not to upload bullshit, I meticulously research niches, make good quality designs, and spend time researching keywords, writing titles, descriptions, etc, however, 56 of my uploads have (thus far) failed to sell, so it feels like a lot of wasted time. Not to say that they wont ever sell, but it can get you down. I see Merch as having the potential to overtake my Redbubble income though, so I’m going to keep going with it as much as I can.
April will be a difficult month because I’m working away and wont have as much time to dedicate to Merch, but I’ll just do what I can. I’d like to get at least 100 uploads on there and if I can increase my sales/profit, then that would be great.
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 Merch discussion going on in there.
Full Disclosure: MerchInformer 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.
Welcome to my 2 month Etsy report!
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.
Make 600% more profit on Redbubble with duvet covers and other profitable items. This video compares various high profit margin items on Redbubble and lists some things you should take into consideration to increase your passive income with Print On Demand.
600% = £2.41 (t-shirt profit) vs. £17.71 (duvet cover profit)
Really simple thing you can do on every upload to ensure you have (1) the opportunity to make almost double profit when compared to a regular shirt sale and (2) have more quality products showing up in your portfolio.
I always see artists that have failed to do this and will be missing out on sales as a result.
Quick vid about Merch by Amazon and how I use MerchInformer to make good decisions. You can get 20% off the product with code PASSIVEOWL.
Okay, slight clickbait in that the $6k shirt wasn’t mine, but in this vid I demonstrate how I use MerchInformer to find profitable niches. Looking forward to posting my 2 month review of Merch at the start of April.
How to make passive income on Redbubble, Merch by Amazon, or any Print On Demand site by using MerchDesigner – no design skills required!
I also celebrated surpassing 200 subscribers on YouTube when I posted part 1. Checked today, 5 days later, and I’m already up to 250! I’ve also been getting some lovely comments recently which really encourage me to keep going. Managing the Facebook group, updating the blog, uploading new YouTube videos all take a lot of time and effort, but when I check my notifications and see loads of nice comments, it’s really motivating.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My payment for February is looking healthy:
But we have to take into consideration the costs.
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.