Artist Shops vs Redbubble vs Society6: How to Make the Most Money

When you first start selling your designs, online marketplaces can seem like the perfect place to start. After all, sites like Society6 and RedBubble can help grow your audience and make your designs super discoverable, right? But when you take a closer look, it’s far too easy to get lost in the ever-growing crowd on marketplace sites, your customers aren’t yours so much as they are the marketplace’s, and typically? That marketplace host is getting a better chunk of your profits than you are. C’est La harsh reality of Vie.

Enter Threadless Artist Shops! With Artist Shops, you get all the manufacturing and shipping conveniences that marketplaces give you while getting the earnings and all the customizability you (and your designs) deserve. From the look of your site, to your promos and customers, to your earnings, your Artist Shop is yours to stand out from the crowd; not to disappear into it. Period.

Now, I’m sure we sound a little biased here…so let’s look at the facts! We did a little research and compared Threadless Artist Shops vs Redbubble vs Society6 to find out how you can make the most money. Check out the earnings and platform comparison below!

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For the tl;dr version of this post, let’s cut right to the money chase and look at earnings. We put together this handy infographic of how much you can make when you sell a $24-$25 tee on marketplaces like Society6 and Redbubble vs your own Artist Shop. Society6 came in at dead last, a $24 tee earning you only $2.40. That’s a 10% earning. RedBubble was a liiittle higher, coming in at $4.13 on a $24.80 tee – a 20% earning.

With Threadless Artist Shops? A $25 tee puts $15 in your pocket. That’s 60% – the rest just helps make the design on premium materials.

But comparing these sites, as well as marketplaces vs individual shops, is more than just money-deep. Let’s look at the pros and cons!

Society6

PROS

  • Discoverability: The marketplace sea isn’t always bad – searching around on Society6 is a great way of discovering new artists.
  • Reputation: Society6 is a trusted marketplace. Chances are if you mention it, people have heard of it.

CONS

  • Not customizable: Besides a little “About” tab, there’s next to nothing personalized about your page on S6 to set it apart.
  • Product additions are automatic: If they have a new product or a sale going on, it’s automatically added to your shop (side note: automatically added products aren’t necessarily bad; after all, it saves you time. You just can’t curate your product offerings). 
  • Low earnings: Two complaints I saw about Society6 on forums were that they lack a bit of a human element in the messaging to artists, but also that the earnings, as you saw above, were pretty low.
  • Set fees: With the exception of art prints, you don’t get to set or adjust your own prices.

HOW PRICES ARE SET

Flat fees*. Here are a few examples of prices your products will be set at:

  • T-shirts: $24 (you make $2.40)
  • Tanks: $22 (you make $2.20)
  • Zip hoodies: $42 (you make $4.20) 
  • Phone case: $35 (you make $3.50-$3.80)

RedBubble

PROS

  • You decide what you make: Every product has a base fee**, but you determine how much you make on top of it (a.k.a your profit margin) and they adjust the price from there.
  • A ton of products: Seriously, if you want to sell on a product, RB probably has it!

CONS

  • Base prices change: the base prices can change at checkout depending on a slew of factors, changing your price and earnings.
  • Sales are automatic: Like with Society6, if Redbubble has a sale, your stuff goes on sale too.
  • Cost variation: Dark and light fabrics as well as slim or heavy duty phone cases are priced differently.
  • Tough to get discovered: this forum mentions that RB is a bit hard to get discovered on unless you’re featured in an RB group.

HOW PRICES ARE SET

Set base fees are subtracted from whatever the final price is after you decide your profit margin. Here are a few examples:

  • T-shirts: $24.58
  • Tanks: $17.29 white fabric, $20.48 dark fabric
  • Zip hoodies: $42.54 white fabric, $43.68 dark fabric
  • Phone case: $20.83 slim phone case, $25 tough phone case

Threadless Artist Shops

PROS

  • Higher earnings than Society6, Redbubble, etc.: Need we say more?
  • The Discover Artist Shops feature: Discover Artist Shops feature The  makes your shop discoverable right on Threadless.com, connecting you directly to the wide Threadless audience.
  • Customizable: Between your About page and cover photo (to name just a few features), make your Artist Shop look as cool as you want! This also means that you can use your Shop for anything from selling your art, to fundraising for a charity or cause, to supplementing your comic book.
  • Complete control: You set your own prices, you run your own sales and add (or keep out) products, and you have access to your customers’ names and emails so you can reach out. Your customers are yours, your brand is yours, your Shop is yours.
  • Reputation: While S6 and RB are a bit newer on the scene, Artist Shops are backed by Threadless – the reputable, stable, private company with over 17 years of e-commerce experience. We got your back.

CONS

  • You market yourself: It’s not easy to market yourself on social media, but in the long run? You would have to do this anyways with a marketplace site as well – might as well make more money for the same effort! Plus, we have tips for you here on the blog.
  • File requirements: while this can get a little confusing, we got you! Artist Shops provides design help and consultation, and we’re here to help you out with anything you need. 

HOW PRICES ARE SET

Set base fees are subtracted from whatever price you set for your products. Here are a few examples:

  • T-shirts: $15
  • Tanks: $18
  • Zip hoodies: $30
  • Phone case: $18

So…who should you use?

If it were up to us? We’d say you should make Artist Shops your main squeeze. We created Artist Shops because at Threadless, we want artists to get the hefty earnings they deserve and to be able to make a Shop all their own with none of the hassle that an independent Shop would normally require – things like cost, manufacturing, shipping etc. As an artist, it’s beneficial to have your art on a few different platforms to get your name, your brand, your work out there. But at the end of the day, we recommend Artist Shops as the place that will earn you the most and that you can truly make your own.

Just so y’know:

*Base cost = the amount of money that Artist Shops or sites like Artist Shops takes out of a sale to cover manufacturing costs. For example, if you sell a $25 shirt, we take $10 because that’s the base cost for a tee, and you earn $15.

**Flat fee = when a site provides a single, non-adjustable fee for a specific type of product (ex. setting all tees at $24).

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Don’t have an online store just yet? Try Artist Shops for a free online store.

We’re an artist community built on the power of helping each other succeed — if you’re reading this and have tips of your own to share, please do so in the comments! Thank you!

Illustrations done by the amazing Katie Lukes

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15 responses to Artist Shops vs Redbubble vs Society6: How to Make the Most Money

  1. NDTank says:

    One quick clarification about Society6 sales. Your profit doesn’t change during sales. S6 absorbs the discount, not the artist.

  2. Sharon says:

    No mention of quality and durability of products, i.e. t-shirts. Very important to me as there is a wide range in manufacturing, from cheap thin fabrics and plasticky unappealing printing methods to high quality jersey knit and lasting image transfers. Guess I need to go research reviews.

  3. Sharon says:

    Well, it didn’t take long for me to see that Threadless has a strong reputation for using poor quality t-shirts. Darn. Still looking for the right company to partner with.

    • Andrea says:

      Really?! My sister and brother-in-law buy shirts pretty much exclusively from Threadless because they so love the feel and fit of the shirts.
      (I have no affiliation to Threadless other than that I’m planning to get up and running with an Artist Shop soon).

    • Mieya says:

      I got a few samples and am not too excited about the quality either. Threadless doesn’t have a nice of products as society 6.

  4. Vanessa says:

    I made a Threadless shop after reading this and have yet to be able to actually upload anything. Each category has a suggested file type, but once you go to upload your 2nd file it just gets stuck. I’ve found forms of others with the same issue and contacting the site didn’t resolve the issue. I’m looking into the other websites now :/

  5. Dwayne Ward says:

    This is a bit misleading as most ads are! The $10 base cost tshirt is for a generic tshirt that I would be very upset to pay $25 for from any artist shop!
    They have premium Tshirts as well, their base cost are $15 – $18 per shirt.

  6. Yukiteru Yamagishi says:

    Appreciate your insight. Which Company has the BEST quality t shirts and printing.

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