I have been selling my digital art through Redbubble’s print-on-demand platform since 2020. It started out as a way to create fun designs related to the topics of this blog and blossomed into a much larger form of self-expression of multiple types and subjects of art. At our height, we had 199 designs listed on Redbubble. While this store was never a big money earner for us, we had gotten to the point where we were making at least one sale every month and this seemed to be increasing the more time we invested in marketing on social media. But we have made the decision to begin leaving Redbubble in response to recent changes to Redbubble’s payment policies.
Redbubble’s Tier System
On April 19th, Redbubble announced a change to their payment system for contributing artists. Prior to this change, artists by default received 20% of the cost of a sold product in royalties, and any increase in that cut required an increase in the cost of the product. However now, Redbubble is taking an additional 30-50% of those royalties as a fee. So if previously I made $8 on a $40 shirt, I now take home only around $4 for the same shirt.
This change was accompanied by the implementation of a “tier system” where artists with a standard account are charged these additional fees and artists who manage to qualify for the “higher tiers” are exempt from those fees. The stated intention of the system is that if you are selling enough “high quality” designs, you’ll be promoted to a higher tier and earn more money.
However, there are currently no concrete definitions about what qualifies you for those tiers and no transparency around the process of evaluation. There have been many reports from high-earning artists that they have not qualified for the higher tiers and have to pay the fees, whereas accounts that have never made a sale did qualify. It’s unclear whether your tier placement is entirely random or if Redbubble is charging fees primarily to high-earning accounts, so that they can earn more money. Regardless, the actual patterns for placement do not seem to confirm Redbubble’s claims for how the system works.
Leaving Redbubble for a New Store
While we are privileged enough to not be dependent on Redbubble income to survive, I have serious ethical problems with Redbubble’s decision to drastically reduce the royalties they’re paying artists rather than address the numerous problems reported with the platform. I have not personally run into these problems, but I know many others have struggled with inaccessible customer support, unpredictable shipping times, and poor-quality products.
There are also reports that Redbubble, as a company, has been struggling for a long time and that this new fee structure is likely a last-ditch effort to stay afloat. But the response to this decision has been for thousands of artists to close their shops or at least stop promoting them, and for customers to avoid purchasing from them entirely. It seems likely that Redbubble, as a company, is not likely to survive much longer.
For all these reasons, we are working on opening a new print-on-demand-based store on Etsy.
Because we have literally hundreds of social media posts and images on our blog that link to Redbubble products in our store, we have decided to leave our store up for the time being, so our social media isn’t covered in defunct links. Instead, we plan to transfer our designs one at a time to the new store as we have the resources to do so. We have no concrete timeline other than our goal is to have a store up before the beginning of June. So, don’t be surprised if you come across an old Redbubble ad between now and when we complete that transition!
While this change will require a lot of work and research up front, long term it’s likely to be a big improvement. Our profit margins are likely to be higher than even before the payment policy change, shipping times could potentially be shorter, and we will have far more control over the quality of the products that we sell.
How This Change Impacts You
If you had been considering buying something from our Redbubble shop, it won’t harm us if you still do that, we will just receive a smaller cut. But if you were wanting to do so in order to financially support our work, we recommend you wait until that product is available in the new store.
We also encourage you to contact us in the comments if there was a particular product or design you had your eye on! The process of adding new products in the new platform we are pursuing is much more time-intensive and we’re happy to prioritize the designs there is concrete demand for.
If you were hoping to buy something from someone else’s Redbubble store, I encourage you to contact the artist and ask them if there is another platform they’d prefer you purchase it from. It’s possible that Redbubble is still the best way to support them and I encourage you to let the artist make that call since it is their income that is being impacted.
Lastly, our Spoonflower store has been unaffected by this change and we still encourage you to shop for your fabric and wallpaper needs there! You can see the full range of patterns available in our Spoonflower store here.
Update: Our Store is Live!
Introducing our new Etsy store: KellaCoCreations. In this new store you’ll find 100% original digital paintings and designs intended to center and celebrate marginalized communities. In my art, you’ll find themes such as LGBTQIA+ pride, chronic illness, disability, social justice, activism, and plurality. You’ll also find pretty patterns and cute animals.
Because of our social justice-based values, I prioritize choosing mockup photos with models from a wide range of physical and ethnic backgrounds, and I keep my clothing size ranges as large as I can. My T-shirts and Hoodies both go up to 5XL!
About the writer: Kella Hanna-Wayne is the creator, editor, and main writer for Yopp. She specializes in educational writing about civil rights, disability, chronic illness, abuse, and Dissociative Identity Disorder. Her work has been published in Ms. Magazine blog, The BeZine, and Splain You a Thing and in 2022, she released a self-published book of poetry, “Pet: the Journey from Abuse to Recovery“. You can find her @KellaHannaWayne on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Medium, and Twitter.