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Are you eager to start selling your artwork online but perhaps feel overwhelmed with all the options out there? Wondering if print-on-demand platforms like Society6 and Redbubble are right for you? Do the technical aspects involved in creating on online shop and uploading your artwork effectively keep you from moving forward?
In today's blog post I'll be sharing my entire process for creating products to sell on Society6, as well as essential information you should definitely know if you're thinking of opening a shop of your own on this platform. I'll also be providing a list of pros and cons about Society6 to help you make an informed decision on whether opening this type of shop is right or you.
Society6 is an online marketplace that allows artists and designers to easily create their own shops and sell their work not only on prints, posters, canvases, and other kinds of wall art, but on a large variety of accessories like phone cases, tote bags, apparel and even furniture! One of the reasons why I decided on Society6 over other platforms is because, in my research phase, I heard great things about the quality of their products from other artists.
About a year and a half ago, when I first started learning about different options for selling my work online, I was taken aback by the amount of platforms available and the differences between each. Some of them require artists to go through application processes, others ask for fee payments for each artwork uploaded, others keep a huge percentage of the artist's earnings, etc. Of course, there are marketplaces like Etsy through which the artist assumes all responsibility for customer service, packaging and shipping orders, which you can go for right-off-the bat if you want more control and direct contact with your customers.
I decided to create shops on both Society6 and Redbubble, as they are fast to open, easy to use and require no monetary investment. However, since before starting with my online art business journey, I knew that my end goal was to eventually sell my original artwork through Etsy. The way I saw it, these smaller shops would be a great way to start developing a habit for creating new pieces and uploading them on a semi-regular basis. They would also enable me to test out what people liked most and to start marketing my different products through social media.
I saw these shops as a stepping stone, as I knew I still had a ton to learn about before opening my shop on Etsy. Also, I'm all for creating a variety of income streams and plan to keep these smaller shops running even after my Etsy shop has gained some traction. Setting up multiple income streams is a total must for artists of all kinds, in my opinion.
Visit my Society6 shop here or by clicking on the images below. :)
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There are three things that you should do before concluding whether a platform/marketplace is right for you or not:
a) Research, research, research (but don't get stuck there)
This entails visiting the site yourself and reading the information the company provides. You must know what their terms are, the support they provide, how/when you're getting paid, the quality level of their products, etc. I also recommend listening to reviews from at least three different artists or designers that have been on the platform for a decent amount of time. Also, think about whether the company's overall vibe (the mood and attitudes they transmit through their site, social media channels, advertisements, etc.) meshes with yours.
b) Give thought to what goals you have for your artwork
There are so many ways an artist could go in. Is your dream to sell paintings for large amounts of money and getting into galleries? Are you primarily a commercial illustrator working with clients? Would you like to venture into surface pattern designing? Would you like to have your own larger shop on Etsy (or on your own website) through which you'll take care of all production and shipping to your customers in the future? You have to know what it is you want to do before investing too much time and energy into something that may or may not be right for you. What does your gut tell you?
c) Actually do it and give it a decent amount of time
Once you've come to a decision (be careful not to spend such a long time in the research phase that you never actually get to anything), it's essential to put in consistent effort and be patient. You might be doing everything right and still see nothing happening for months. Remember it takes time to see results on any platform and it's essential to stay consistent for a while before arriving at any conclusions. Always continue learning what aspects you can improve about your shop and how you can get your work out there effectively.
If you enjoy this video, I highly recommend subscribing to my YouTube channel. I publish a new one every-single-week sharing art tips, drawing/painting tutorials and encouragement for beginner/intermediate artists! :)
How to Scan, Edit and Upload Artwork Onto Society6
1. Creating Your Artwork
You can upload any kind of artwork onto Society6 and choose any (or all) of the items available to place it on if you so desire. However, it's important to take into account that not all kinds of artwork will look good on all types of products. And, of course, the less amount of items you make available, the less options you will offer to your visitors, which translates into less sales.
With my limited amount of time, I decided to create patterns using the watercolor illustrations I was already creating for the calendars I send out to my newsletter subscribers every month! With one same pattern, I would be covering most of the items offered by Society6 at once and they would look awesome.
I know creating patterns might not fit your own artwork but, if you wish to create patterns with your illustrations as I do, I highly recommend creating your artwork with little to no background so that it's easy to "clip out" in Photoshop (or the photo editing software of your choosing).
As you upload your first drawings or paintings and start placing them on products, you'll find what types of items suit your work best. As much as it's great to have more products to offer, don't feel obligated to create products that don't make your artwork shine.
3. Editing Your Artwork & Creating Your Designs
Once I have a high quality scan of my illustration on my computer, it's time to open Photoshop and move onto the cleaning/editing process, as well as creating any sort of pattern I'd like with it. If you don't currently have Photoshop, and don't want to pay for the software, don't worry! You can download Gimp for free, which is a very popular photo-editing software you can get online for both Mac and PC. This popular alternative is even used by professional illustrators and contains pretty much all the tools that could come in handy for you as an artist.
In Photoshop, I mainly remove the background from my illustration, do any cleaning necessary (to remove hairs, etc.) and perhaps increase the contrast a tiny bit at times. To "clip" the illustration from the background I like using the Pen Tool, which provides me much more control than the Magic Wand selector. You want to be careful when cutting your illustrations out, because any white spots you leave outside of your illustrations will get printed on the products! I always make sure to re-check my work when I'm done.
Every now and then, I also use Photoshop to manipulate colors so that I'm able to create colorful patterns using only one "base" illustration.
Once I've successfully separated my illustration from it's background, it's time to create an appealing pattern with it! I visit Society6's Pixel Dimension Requirement page to make sure I'm creating my file in the right size before working on my pattern. In this page, Society6 lists out the document sizes (in pixels) needed for each of their products. But don't worry, you don't need to create a separate file for each!
What I do is create a new document in Photoshop with their minimum recommended size of 6500 x 6500 pixels and create my pattern there. This size is covers most of the products on the list and the platform will automatically place it on all the products that require this size or smaller, which saves a lot of time. There are currently only 2-3 products that require a larger size than this and you can create separate files for those if you wish. There are also a couple of products like stickers and t-shirts which you'll probably find need a separate design or layout.
Once I'm happy with my pattern, I deactivate the background layer in Photoshop and save the document as a .png, which allows the background to remain transparent. This is the file you'll upload onto Society6.
Because I know I'm most likely going to have to come back to Photoshop to create separate .pngs for stickers and t-shirts, I leave it open.
3. Uploading onto Society6
Once that's done, all you have to do is click on the button at the top that says "Sell" and you're going to be taken through a very straightforward 3-step process. The platform take a minute to process your artwork when you upload, as it's placing it on all available products that it fits on.
Next, you'll have to fill in a title for your work, as well as tags and a description. A tip here is to put yourself in the buyer's shoes. Instead of typing in a subjective title for your artwork, think about what words visitors actually type into Society6's search bar when looking for products. Be descriptive, create a five word title, use up all the available tags, and create a good little paragraph.
Finally, the fun part! You'll be taken to the last section, in which you'll see your design on all sorts of awesome items. You get to decide which to deactivate if you wish. I highly recommend taking time to look over every single product to ensure that your design is at an optimum size in each. All you have to do is click on each item and shift your design's size/location.
As you scroll down the Create Products page, you will see what products require a separate .png file. I usually need to create a separate file for stickers, as a sticker page has to have fewer elements and they have to have a good distance between them (stickers have a white outline around them that shouldn't overlap). I also create separate patterns for t-shirts that are usually more vertical and contain less elements than my initial pattern.
Create whatever .png files you need and upload them separately onto individual products by clicking on those items.
Finally, hit Publish and, in around 15 minutes, your products will be up on your shop!
*Next step! Market your artwork!
While Society6 does a great job attracting shoppers to their site, their marketplace is saturated with incredible artists that have been on the platform a very long time and have formed a history/reputation for themselves. All of us need to go through that and have to accept and learn to enjoy the phase we're in.
If you're serious about selling your work online, I suggest optimizing your social media accounts so that you give your audience a clear idea of what you do and offer. Pick one or two and keep them professional. Refrain from sharing personal things and stick to uploading pictures of your creative process, your favorite tools, what you find inspiring, links to useful articles that your target audience would find helpful, and share your new products!
Visit Society6's blog to find great tips for getting your work out there.
Pros and Cons of Society6 (and other similar online shops)
Links To Useful Sites
My Artwork For Sale
Painting With Oils
Student Art Shows
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