For many members of the Threadless community, making art is a lifelong passion. But how does an artist turn that passion into not just money, but a reliable source of income? That’s what Threadless focuses on since we set up shop more than two decades ago. Over the years, we’ve partnered with thousands of independent artists, many of whom experienced great success. Some have even gone on to create their own businesses. And we couldn’t be more excited!
If you’re an artist looking to make money at Threadless, the first step is knowing and understanding the different distribution channels where you can sell your art. The three main ones include your Artist Shop, the Threadless Marketplace, and the Earn More Program. Each channel provides its own benefits and a unique space for customers to discover and purchase your art. We highly recommend using all of our distribution channels, thereby maximizing your earning potential and reaching the widest audience possible.
Let’s break down the nuances of each distribution channel and how it can benefit your Artist Shop. After all, the more money you make, the more incentive you have to make stellar art!
Channel 1: Threadless Artist Shops
For new Threadless artists, this is where the journey begins. Threadless Artist Shops gives you a free platform to build your own fully customizable online storefront where you can upload and sell your art on hundreds of print-on-demand products. Who uses Artist Shops? Everyone from graphic designers and digital artists to musicians, nonprofit organizations, small businesses, authors, schools and more. Here are a few reasons why people choose to sell their designs on Artist Shops:
- You have full control over your shop. You set your own prices, choose which designs and Threadless products to sell, and customize the look and feel of your shop to suit your brand identity.
- The Threadless catalog is robust and continues to grow. With the simple Product Creation Tool, you can sell your art on a wide array of Apparel, Accessories, and Home Decor in just minutes.
- Threadless handles the product inventory, manufacturing, shipping, and customer care. Your main focuses as an Artist Shop owner are to create art, regularly update your shop, and spread the word. We take care of the rest!
Out of all of the distribution channels Threadless offers, Artist Shops enables you to make the most money per product sold. Why? Because you’re responsible for marketing your own products and driving traffic to your shop. The amount of money you make is directly dependent on how often you promote your shop, so don’t keep it a secret! Promote your products in your email newsletter, on social media, and in your blog (if you have one), and include a link directly to your Artist Shop.
Channel 2: The Threadless Marketplace
The Marketplace lives on the Threadless website. Here, you’ll find a virtual catalog of designs we regularly curate specifically for our customers. In order to be eligible for placement in the catalog, you must opt your shop into the Marketplace. By default, every Artist Shop is automatically opted in, which means any of the shop’s products are eligible. Double-check if you’re opted in by going to your Artist Shop Settings and making sure “Allow my shop’s products to be considered in the Threadless Marketplace” is toggled ON.
Keep in mind, opting into the Marketplace does not guarantee we will include your designs in the Threadless catalog. We select designs based on a number of factors, including, but not limited to design quality, commercial viability, and relevance to our customers’ search behaviors. Threadless also manages the pricing of all designs selected for the catalog (this will not impact any pricing your Artist Shop). If we select any or multiple of your designs, it could give your sales numbers a significant boost. That’s more money in your pocket!
How Can It Boost My Sales?
The Marketplace makes it easier for Threadless customers to find and purchase your designs. The more eyes on your work, the better your chances are of making a sale. Plus, you might also gain a new customer that will follow you on social media and/or frequent your Artist Shop. (Don’t forget to add your social handles to your Artist Shop About Page!) Here’s a few ways the Marketplace makes your art more visible to potential customers:
- Discoverability from the Threadless search page. If you properly tag your designs with precise and relevant keywords, visitors should be able to find your designs when they search those words.
- Appearing in Threadless promotions. If you opt into the Marketplace, there’s a chance we could feature your designs on our homepage, in promotional emails, on social media, and in blog posts. Any of these scenarios could introduce your work to new customers. Like we said, more eyes equals more moolah!
Wondering to what extent the Marketplace can impact your earnings? In 2020, shops that opted into the Marketplace had a 104% lift in sales compared to shops not opted in.
Channel 3: The Earn More Program
Picture this. You walk to the apparel section of your favorite retail store and find a stack of neatly folded T-Shirts with your design on it. Threadless can help make this a reality with the Earn More Program, which unlocks additional earning potential.
How does it work? Threadless only invites a small, curated group of VIP shops to this program. If you qualify, you’ll find more details, along with contracts, in the Earn More section of your Artist Dashboard, under Sales & Marketing. Once opted in, Threadless will work with its partners to distribute products featuring your designs to third-party retailers around the world. Some of those retailers may include Hot Topic, Box Lunch, PacSun, Target, and GameStop, among many others.
The Earn More Program can significantly boost your earnings with the following distribution opportunities:
- Online Virtual Catalogs: Additional online sales channels such as Amazon or Shopify may add your designs for print-on-demand manufacturing.
- Offline Retail: Threadless may include your designs in pitches to dozens of offline retail partners for sale in brick-and-mortar retail stores.
- Product Licensing: Our licensing partners may consider your designs for use on other product categories such as drinkware, greeting cards, and stationary.
Please note, it’s ultimately up to our retail partners to decide whether your designs are suitable for distribution from their business. Regardless if they pick your designs or not, you can unlock an array of additional benefits by making your Artist Shop exclusive to Threadless.
Why Make My Shop Exclusive?
For more potential earnings, of course! Depending on your shop, we may encourage you to opt into Online Exclusivity or Full Exclusivity. These contracts can vary, but essentially you would retain ownership of your art and grant us an exclusive license to produce and sell the work you upload to our platform. If you opt into Online Exclusivity, you would still be able to license your work yourself outside of online shops.
If you decide to make your shop exclusive to Threadless, you’ll receive additional benefits such as:
- Exclusive Threadless Marketplace discoverability
- Monthly samples allowance
- Increased earnings at a premium rate
- Potential brand protection against IP infringement
- Early access to new products
For more information about distribution and exclusivity, feel free to contact our Artist Relations team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These three distribution channels all have an impact on how much money you make selling your art at Threadless. It’s entirely up to you to determine if they’re right for your business. Come back to Creative Resources for more advice on marketing and selling your art!