Print on Demand or POD is what has taken the e-commerce world by storm recently due to its alarming success rates as a business model. With no upfront cost and no requirement for a dedicated workforce, you can earn your passive income with artwork and creativity.
The challenge presents itself when you have to sell and market these POD products and need a reliable platform to do so. While you have plenty of options, two of the most popular ecommerce platforms that can get you the audience and set up are Redbubble and Shopify.
Keep reading to get a clear idea of which one would be best suited for your business.
What is Redbubble and How does it work?
Redbubble is one of the largest print on demand (POD) online marketplaces. Founded back in 2006, the ecommerce platform is focused on artwork that is mostly submitted by independent artists. The online marketplace includes products such as t-shirts, leggings, covers, stickers, scarves, and many more.
Redbubble is free to use and is a risk-free way for artists and designers to earn an income stream. With over 5 million customers and over a million artists on the platform, Redbubble is a dependable platform if you wish to focus on your art, whilst having them manage everything else.
So how does Redbubble work? Artists and designers use the platform to upload their designs. These designs are then made available on various products like t-shirts, covers, scarves, stickers, etc.
As customers make a purchase, artists earn a profit margin on the sales, while Redbubble cuts a share of themselves as a commission.
To get started on Redbubble, you would have to sign up on Redbubble and create your account to upload your artwork.
Once you have your profile all ready to go, choose what products you wish to have on your page. Next, you would have to add all the necessary product information including images, descriptions, and keywords. If you’re all set, you are ready to publish.
As a customer browses around and chooses to purchase one of your designs on a product, Redbubble manages the rest of it. Not only do they print the design on the selected product, but they also manage the shipping process.
Is Redbubble Good to Sell On?
For artists and designers, Redbubble is a great platform to sell on. If you have print on demand products like stickers, masks, gifts, accessories, fashion items, baby products, or home décor items, you would find Redbubble to be worth the investment.
The product range on the online marketplace is incredibly varied. However, you would need to be wary of the costs that incur to use the platform.
Redbubble is a good platform to sell on because it takes the burden off your shoulders. You upload your work and enjoy passive income, cutting down on all the steps that are usually involved when you want to sell any artwork online.
Not just that, the millions of global worldwide customer base that Redbubble gets you is also what you need as a seller. Keep in mind that selling on Redbubble also entitles you to face competition from other artists!
What is Shopify and How does it work?
Shopify is a Canada based ecommerce platform that was established in 2006. The leading platform allows sellers and businesses like you, to create their online stores, and sell and promote their goods and services without the need to have any technical knowledge or expertise.
It’s a complete e-commerce solution where you can also avail of other services like content management, inventory management, shipping, and order management.
You can design your own store using premade tools, templates, and themes and customize it to match your own brand identity. Shopify’s user interface and drag and drop editor, along with its organized layout make it accessible and workable.
Shopify works by providing you with an interface that is simple and intuitive, where you can create your store, add and list products and edit them before going live. Once you have your store set up, you would be able to earn from your customers.
Although Shopify does have a free trial followed by a limited time extension, you would need to get on one of the paid plans to get your sales going. Shopify charges a monthly subscription fee and transaction fee that varies according to the plan.
Is Shopify good to sell on?
Shopify is an excellent platform to sell on and offers just the right tools and features to create your store. One of the reasons why sellers prefer Shopify is because of its reliability as an ecommerce platform. Shopify guarantees scam-free transactions and protected payment processing.
As days go by, you would see conversions and results, thanks to the global exposure of the platform.
Other than that, Shopify is great to sell on because of how many categories and niches it covers. Except for the restricted items, Shopify has a market for most niches you can think of.
Quick Comparison Table For Redbubble Vs Shopify
|Purpose||Ecommerce Platform||Print on Demand|
|Customization and Design||Myria of Templates, themes, fonts||Limited to own designs|
|Third party app||Integrate with thousands of apps||Only social media and design tools|
|Customer support||24/7 live chat, phone, email, text||24/7 chat, text, email|
|Price||3 plans and a free trial||Price based on flat rates and transaction fee|
|Branding||Easy to build brand||Difficult to create brand|
|Products||All niches||POD niche|
|Control||Complete control||Minimal control|
Redbubble Vs Shopify: Exploring the Details
Redbubble and Shopify are both e-commerce platforms that work in their distinctive ways. Let’s compare each feature side by side to get a better understanding of how both platforms compare:
On the face of it, Redbubble and Shopify are both ecommerce platforms but they do have very different purposes.
The purpose of Shopify is to provide you with a simplistic platform comprising all the necessary tools required to start an online business. It gives you one streamlined dashboard so that you can build your own store and create an online presence.
Whereas Redbubble serves as a platform for artists to showcase their work and earn money by offering interested customers an opportunity to purchase unique and personalized items.
Shopify does not specialize in one particular product. The product and niche range is what makes Shopify one of the most diversified platforms you can find. Electronics, fashion, food, home, and kitchen, you name it. You can sell both physical as well as digital goods and services on Shopify.
Redbubble is an online platform focused on the print on demand industry. The purpose of Redbubble is to provide artists and designers with a platform where they can showcase their designs on different products for a commission. The artist does not have to worry about the management of orders and shipping as it is taken off by the platform itself.
Shopify is a highly customizable platform that provides you with options, themes, and templates to choose from where you can craft the look and feel of your store.
Not only can you customize the design of your site, but you can also personalize product pages and checkout pages according to what serves you best.
Customizing your site with Redbubble is not possible since the platform handles all the site technicalities. The most customization that you get with Redbubble is with your designs and artwork.
You can change and customize gifts, merchandise, products as much as you like but be careful of copyright issues if it is not your own. You do have complete control over your designs and how you want them to be customized.
Third Party Apps Integration
Shopify’s own app store has over 6000 different apps that you can integrate with. The applications range from landing page builders to social media like Twitter and TikTok, drop shipping tools, product personalizers, and many more.
Third party app integration with Redbubble is quite limited. You cannot integrate Redbubble with Shopify or any other similar platforms, to begin with. You may find a few applications that are allowed by Redbubble which lets you automate publishing on social media.
You can, however, use designing software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop with Redbubble.
From GymShark to Plant Circle, and Mollyjoger, all these stores have been successful in creating their brands on Shopify.
Although personalization is limited as compared to a custom website, with proper market research and brand voice, you can create the right branding with Shopify. However, choosing your brand voice, typography, colors, and style would depend on you as a seller.
Artists don’t like the lack of freedom to brand their own when they are on Redbubble. Redbubble takes complete control of how your product is displayed and reaches the customer. They don’t even allow you to come in contact with a customer so there is almost no chance to create any brand awareness.
Shopify, although not free, is one of the more affordable options to create an online presence. Shopify has 3 pricing plans currently, which range from $39 to $399 billed monthly.
You may also be interested in Shopify’s excellent trial and extension offer that allows you to test out their plans for 3 months for only a dollar each month.
Keep in mind that Shopify does have a high payment processing fee and transaction fee which makes it an overall expensive platform for low income vendors.
Redbubble is free to join and does not charge you any monthly fee either. The pricing structure of Redbubble is based on a flat rate which they cut off from each of your transactions. The artist’s margin is what the artist earns, while the platform keeps the rest of the amount. The transaction fee is 3 to 5%.
Payment processing in Shopify is convenient, secure, and simple. All thanks to the many options you can choose from including Shopify payments.
Here everything is done under Shopify’s protection and monitoring. Additionally, you can also get other payment processors like Paypal Express, Amazon Pay, Sagepay, and Word Pay.
Redbubble accepts all major payment types that include bank credit and debit card payments. You can also pay via Apple Pay, Google Pay, Paypal, and Stripe. Nevertheless, unlike Shopify there are no third party payment gateways that you may use with Redbubble.
Shopify lets you use various marketing tools to ensure that you have a better reach and a broader audience base to convert. You can grow your business with SEO tools, blogging, and social media connections.
It is also possible to connect and market using email marketing tools, through Shopify Forums and other apps like Google Adsword.
Marketing with Redbubble is made easy with all the integrated SEO tools and options. You can also have access to email marketing, social media marketing, and tools to integrate your advertisements. The likes of Google or Facebook Ads help market your work.
Shopify provides excellent customer support in the form of live chat, phone, email, and text. What’s great about their customer service is they are available to respond every hour of the day and the responses are most relevant and quick.
You can reach out to them via forums as well. You can also take advantage of all the video tutorials and free learning materials available on the website.
Redbubble’s customer support is responsive and you can reach out to them 24/7 via calls and live chats. They also provide post-order services and guide you with their extensive knowledge materials. Redbubble has also dedicated a team to cater to your all needs and queries.
One of the key perks of Shopify is its scalability and ability to accommodate businesses whether they are tiny, small, medium, or big. The plans offered by Shopify include the business of all sizes. Plus, because it has a cloud based hosted structure, your site would not crash in case there are huge increases in traffic and sales.
Redbubble is quite a scalable platform where you can upload one artwork or many. There are no limitations nor upper marks to how many designs you need to have.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Redbubble
Now, let us get on to understand why you would want to use Redbubble and why you wouldn’t.
Benefits of using Redbubble
Great Income Potential
Redbubble lets you earn that passive income without having to do much. Keeping commission and transaction rates aside, you would only need a few minutes to upload a design that could potentially earn you a money stream for years to come. If your design is a hit, that is.
The good part about Redbubble is there is no bad artwork or bad design. Even if your first art does not make you anything, it does not go to waste. It would not be taken down either, so you could always bring it back to print on demand!
One of the biggest benefits of using Redbubble as an online marketplace is the incredible range of available products. There are about 75 different types of products that can have your designs printed on them.
So, your customers might be in for a t-shirt, but they would be tempted to get another of those designs on a sticker or a mug. If you want to drive sales, one way to get it is to upload your art or design on as many products as you can.
Self paced and easy
Redbubble is an incredibly easy to use platform. It’s uncomplicated and makes uploading a task of a few minutes. The most you need to input are a few of the descriptions and tags of your designs. You can also add a title and allow or disallow whether your design can or cannot be printed on a particular product.
What’s even better about Redbubble is that you are to set your own pace and hence the fate of how fast you get sales. It is rather self-paced, so the more you design and the more you upload the better you earn.
Big customer base
When you wish to sell art, the one thing you would have to look for in a marketplace is whether they can provide you with enough visitors. Redbubble has over 19 million visitors which only means that you get a bigger exposure.
The bigger the customer base, the higher are the chances that one person or the other is going to like your design and make a purchase.
Not all print on demand marketplaces allow fan arts. This is where Redbubble aces the race. Fan arts are in demand and make great revenue.
Redbubble allows you to create fan art, and sell them, that too while managing all the more complicated issues like copyright. Here you can sell your fan art without having to worry about copyright legalities.
Drawbacks of Using Redbubble
There’s no easy way to put it. Redbubble does strip its clients of a lot of freedom and control and leaves little room for you, as an artist, to build a relationship, let alone get in contact with your clients.
So, when a client shows an interest in your artwork, you never get the client’s contact information, nor do they get yours. This is because the customer is treated as Redbubble’s, rather than yours.
One of the worst sides to this is that Redbubble holds the control to be able to divert your customers to a potential competition of yours, that is, another artist. This would also mean that you don’t get to brand your product in your name at any cost.
It’s all Redbubble who gets the credit and the brand boost. For an artist looking to build a sustainable art career and a brand name, this could be quite damaging!
A saturated market
The marketplace has millions of customers but also thousands of artists. Many try to sell the same type of designs while others try to sell similar products. With so much competition, it may become difficult to get seen.
Unless you have the right keywords and tags, you always run the risk of getting lost in the competition. Remember that you would also have to compete with many top artists, although they are not a lot in number in Redbubble.
The hard truth of earning a passive income is that you don’t earn a lot overnight. One sale or a few barely gives you anything. You would need to make a lot of sales to earn an income that you may deem significant.
Redbubble does take a lot of transaction cuts, to begin with. Not just that, selling artwork is a tough job, and takes time to build any substantial income. Chances are that a lot of your artwork would not sell for months to come on any prints at all.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Shopify
There are both benefits and drawbacks to using Shopify. Let’s understand what you can expect from the platform:
Benefits of Shopify:
Wide range and categories
Unlike Redbubble, Shopify is not specialized or focused on the selling of artworks or designs on prints. At Shopify, you will find niches ranging from fashion to gadgets, grooming to fitness, kitchen to home décor.
You can, of course, sell and market your print on demand products and others alike. Drop shipping and legal sourcing allows you to white-label products, innovations of your own, and digital as well as physical goods and services.
Customizable themes and templates
There are hundreds of brands selling their goods with unique store concepts on Shopify. This only means that you can too. With all the possibilities of customization, you can choose from a variety of templates as well as themes. Plus, the drag-and-drop editor makes it all the simpler to create the look you want.
Brand Presence and Marketing
Shopify would not steal your thunder whenever a customer wants to make a purchase. You can connect with your customers and create your brand presence. Moreover, Your store won’t struggle to be found when you are on Shopify.
There is a lot of competition too, but because you can customize your store and market and promote the products of your free will, you can be heard, seen, and reached by more customers.
Marketing, SEO, and social media promotion are all made simple with shopify.
Security and Protection
Shopify takes it upon itself to guarantee that you are not scammed in any way when you are on the platform, as a seller and a buyer.
With their screening process, protected payments, and continual monitoring of dubious activities, you can rest assured that questionable transactions are not what people are looking for in this platform.
They also provide SSL encryption and PCI compliance to protect customers’ interests.
Ease of use and support
Shopify is meant for beginners who want to sell online. As a result, the designers focused on creating an interface that requires you no time and effort to learn and master. You can navigate and build a store within days.
Additionally, the customer support on Shopify is top-notch, and provides help to you whenever you need them, day or night.
Cons of Shopify:
Not the most affordable
Shopify pricing plans are increasing by the day. The more features and themes you want to access, and the more you grow your business, the more you would have to pay.
Shopify does have considerably higher transaction fees and payment processing fees as an e-commerce platform. If you are not earning enough revenue, chances are you would find the costs all too hefty.
No email hosting
Despite allowing businesses to build a brand of their own, Shopify is yet to introduce any email hosting services. It does not even have email storage in any of the plans.
Surely strict policies on an ecommerce platform are meant to be a good thing. With more security comes more scrutiny. So, if you are planning on selling print on demand products based on fan art, you would need to be careful about copyright regulations
Which is better for you: Shopify or Redbubble?
Redbubble and Shopify are both effective, safe, and profitable online marketplaces that can help you earn a passive income without having to lose sweat and brain power.
But, it all comes down to what is better for you. And that primarily depends on what business you are in and what purpose you want the platform to serve your business.
For instance, for any print on demand business, Redbubble may be a better option to choose from only based on its specialization.
The chances of finding the POD niche related buyers on Redbubble might be higher as well. Redbubble may also be a more affordable option compared to Shopify as the entry to the platform is free.
However, if you are an artist who wants to be seen, and intend to build a brand of your own, Shopify should be your calling. Shopify, hands down, has better customization, designs, and personalization features and tools to work with.
Other than that, you have complete control over your business operations, customer interactions, and scalability. Shopify lets you own and control your business, while Redbubble controls it for you.
What else is out there other than Redbubble & Shopify?
If you don’t want to use Redbubble or Shopify, here are a few alternatives you can look into:
Teespring is a platform that lets you choose, create or upload designs that get transformed into print on demand. You can sell more than 50 different types of products on Teespring. When compared to Redbubble or Shopify, Teespring is more like Redbubble than Shopify. Teespring focuses to cater the needs of artists and designers more than other niches.
Bear in mind that, like Redbubble, Teespring is also completely free of cost. Also, they do manage all the other factors like shipping and printing for you so that you don’t have much work apart from creating or uploading.
Founded in 2013, the comparatively new on demand print and fulfillment platform closely competes with both Shopify and Redbubble. However, the basic difference is that Printful will connect the online store you created with customers who might be interested.
And as the customers make a purchase or place an order, it will be transferred to Printful. Printful offers more services similar to Shopify.
The features that you can expect range from ready made integrations, warehousing, photo and design services, on-demand drop shipping, and many more. They also let you avail of services like automatic order import and fulfillment in certain regions.
Unlike Shopify or Redbubble, Printify cannot be classified as a marketplace. Rather it is a service provider where you, as a seller, will be able to connect to a global network of print on demand industries.
You can create your designs, buy designs or upload a professionally made one, it is up to you and Printify allows all of the mentioned.
Your store will be connected to Printify and when you receive an order or complete a transaction, your bank account is debited. At the same time, Printify cuts a certain commission as the platform provides you with the service.
Etsy is an independent, and third-party online marketplace, much like Amazon, where you would find artists, crafters and collectors, and makers selling their products for an income. Products range from handmade jewelry, and vintage clothing, to unique crafts.
As a seller you would be charged a fee for each product you list on the platform while you would also have to pay a transaction fee per sale. However, getting on Etsy is a free process.
Unlike Redbubble, you can communicate verbatim and constantly with your customer whether it’s regarding tracking or shipping.
Additionally, Etsy does not require you to have a business license to start the business or operate it.
Do you have to file taxes for Redbubble and Shopify?
You do need to file taxes for both Redbubble and Shopify when you are doing an online business. While Redbubble calculates, remits, files, and collects taxes for its customers, Shopify will not remit taxes for you. Keep in mind that the taxes on products on Redbubble are subjected to ones from independent sellers that are shipped to the US by third parties.
Do I need an LLC to sell on Redbubble and Shopify?
You do not need an LLC or any form of business license to sell on Redbubble. You don’t need an LLC to start your online store on Shopify but it is recommended you get one. Having an LLC on Shopify helps to reduce your taxes. Additionally, you also get liability protection if you have an LLC as a seller on Shopify.
What percentage does Redbubble take?
By default, Redbubble takes about 80% of the retail price which leaves you with 20%. Keep in mind that you can change this percentage of share by changing the margins.
Do you need PayPal to sell on Redbubble or Shopify?
Redbubble allows you to make and receive payments through two options. You don’t need PayPal for Redbubble if you have a bank account. If you don’t have a bank account, you would need a verified Paypal account for Redbubble. Although PayPal is one of Shopify’s default payment processors, you do not need to use only PayPal. You can use other payment gateways to sell on Shopify.
On Redbubble, you might get a much wider, niche specific audience for your POD business. There is no effort and you would not have to worry about any of the technicalities after you have uploaded your artwork to go into print products.
With that, you would also be restricted to how much you can control. Redbubble does everything for you and takes credit for it as well. With Shopify, you can create a brand identity and a personal relationship with your customers.
Although more expensive, Shopify provides the tools that you can use to elevate your customer’s shopping experience.