I reached the £1000 a month mark much sooner than I anticipated; 6 months too soon to be exact; June 2020 instead of December 2020! As of right now, Redbubble is my main source of income! Looking to the future, this might not be the case, but I consider it a personal success! It’s something I aimed for and achieved.
From basically nothing in November to the equivalent of minimum wage, and all it took was a little bit of effort. It is true, the success is ability multiplied by motivation. So long as you have one of those, you’ll get somewhere. I will not pretend it was easy, I simply put a lot of work in.
In this post I’ll summarise what I did to go from £100 or so a month to ten times that amount, and I’ll spice it up with other things I’ve been doing, outside of Redbubble and POD to earn money on my own terms.
Right now, I’m not entirely sure what the future will bring, I don’t think any of us are. Are we going to get hit my a global recession? Maybe. Will people still buy things like stickers and art prints online? Almost definitely.
November 2019 was when I stumbled onto Passive owl’s channel on Youtube. Specifically this video that he made about a single design, which I suggest you watch right now. If you haven’t seen his videos, while they are a little dated, you’re going to get more value from them than this post, so just continue your journey there!
I went on to watch every other video on his channel. While clearly he is not an expert or guru, his advice and experience is worth listening to and I made it a goal then on to surpass his income, then £800 a month as he mentions.
Putting his advice into place really paid off, as you can see in my very first post here:
I went from under £100 or so to over £250, just by following his advice. I don’t even think I uploaded many new products, I just optimised what I had. The results were almost instant, and staggering. Redbubble went from being a forgettable side hustle to my main focus, and has been my main concern since.
After this initial surge, things just kept on increasing. The more I sold, the more I felt motivated to upload. It’s a brilliant cycle, and I doubled my designs uploaded to where it currently sites; at around 350. Branching out from my initial niche, I started adding all sorts of designs.
I was made redundant from my full-time job in late January, and was at a bit of a loss of what to do. I spent a lot of time optimising my Redbubble store.
Some of these designs shot up; my current fourth and fifth selling designs of all time are something I uploaded about a month ago. It goes to show that you can just strike it lucky, and that it may not be best to stick to a niche.
When the global lockdown hit, it didn’t really affect sales at all. May 2020 was my best month so far. I suppose everybody is stuck, indoors and bored.
The End (and the new beginning)
It’s not the end at all, but it’s the end of the beginning. If things continue, it’ll mean I have wangled myself a fully passive job that is equivalent to something minimum wage. Great, this was my exact intent!
Worryingly, since my redundancy, I have been relying on Redbubble as a main part of my income. To somewhat alleviate these worries I’ve done the following.
- A dodgy Redbubble project
- A new sensible Redbubble project
- Expanded to other platforms
- Taken a freelance role
- Gotten a lodger
I’ll discuss the income streams I am working on, and then give a rough estimate to their profits afterwards.
Dodgy Redbubble project
I’m now running three Redbubble shops. My main one is a general one, and the other two are niches. The first is a dodgy, NSFW (not safe for work) themed shop. I have had so many designs removed that it’s likely to get taken down, however it is making sales so I am leaving it untouched.
I would not recommend starting an NSFW shop on Redbubble. There are just too many hurdles and it’ll take up too much of your time. Keep it nice and vanilla!
I have, however received my first payment from the shop in the last few days, £40. Hmm. Not bad. I’ll just leave the shop for now, 20 sales or so in the first month isn’t that bad but it feels like too fragile a project to fully invest in.
Sensible Redbubble project
The sensible Redbubble project is a lot different. I won’t go into it in any detail at all as the niche is a good one, but the general idea is that I am uploading one or two designs per day, and have been for the past two months (admittedly with some breaks).
One design a day does not sound like much, but it all adds up. 30-60 designs per month is more than most stores have in total. Now that I’m making this my full time thing, I may even make it 5 designs a day, however it’s unlikely that it’ll be more than that.
When you find a good niche, I think it is best to be consistent. Upload on a schedule and don’t relent. So much of print on demand is just being consistent. Have a consistent level of quality to your designs, and upload them consistently. Eventually some of them will sell. I’ve made a few sales already, enough to justify this project already.
Expanding to other platforms
I have had a TeePublic account for ages, but I’ve only just started uploading to it in the last few months. I’m selling a lot less than Redbubble, but still they are sales I wouldn’t see otherwise. In reality, I should be duplicating my current general store across as many platforms as I can.
Merch By Amazon is also seeing some sales now, and I expect I’ll be out of Tier 10 soon. Amazon had issues with the COVID lockdown and suspended sales, but now that’s alleviated I’m doing much better than before. Definitely something to consider and such a powerful marketplace.
Taking a Freelance role
Not at all passive, but helpful to have now. I’m stuck indoors in lock down anyway, so I may as well put my time to use! I won’t go into detail again, but I am working as a moderator for an app, and they pay per ‘action’.
So for example, say a user complaint comes in, I fix it, and get paid for that bit of work. They pay straight into Paypal, and it is probably one of the easiest jobs I have ever had. On average, this works out at around £12 an hour, so it’s not too shabby.
I haven’t added this to the passive income either, so thats still income on top of my passive income! Jobs like this are out there, especially now. You just need to look for them. It’s so easy to make a full time living working from home, passive or not.
Taking a Lodger
Basically a no-brainer and I have mentioned it in previous posts; my lodger pays me £500 a month, tax free. I’m not even using that room! I don’t count this in my business income, but personal income. In the UK, you don’t pay tax on lodger income if it’s under a certain amount. It’s like, free money.
It’s strange to see it illustrated; Redbubble accounting for half of my monthly income, but I’m just trying to show what is possible.
It took me six months to go from less than £100 a month to over £1000 a month, and I am not special. I just read advice and put it into practice. It was all hard work and application over any skill and there’s no reason you can’t do it too. Hell, I’m trying to do it again.
I’m really happy to have achieved my self employment goals sooner than I thought! I have some long off goals to consider, some which you might be interested in looking into yourself!
I am somewhat treating this business as a 4X game, where I am eXploring new possibilities, eXpanding my current ones, eXploiting trends I see and niches that I am familiar with, and I suppose exterminating my old 9-5 life? Not too sure about that one.
My future goals aren’t so revolutionary, but all relate to how I want to live. I’ll list and discuss them below as I did above;
- Max out my premium bonds
- Start consistent stock investment
- Move onto Etsy, or onto my own site
- Sell or rent my house
Max out Premium bonds
Premium bonds are a type of savings account that exists in the UK. To put it basically; you put money into an account, and instead of generating interest, every £1 you enter is put into a prize draw each month. The odds are low, but so is savings interest currently. there is a maximum allowance of £50,000 per person.
I’m looking to max out my premium bonds account when I can. I currently have £5k in there. With prizes up to £1Million, it’s not too shabby, and your money is protected by the UK government.
Start consistent stock investment / ISA
Something I found quite boring when I first read about it; stocks and shares are a great way to earn passive income. It’s so easy to start now; you can trade for free on apps or websites. I have a few shares I am confident in but I’d like to get a bit more knowledgeable about the area as a whole.
Of course this isn’t without risk, and we may be heading to a global recession soonish as well, so I’m not exactly rushing into this one.
Move onto Etsy, or onto my own site
While I have three Redbubble stores right now, I am still relying on another company for my income and that worries me. Thinking long term, I would like to move away from these smaller services onto my own platform.
I have a niche I should be capitalising on more and I would be making so much more money! However this is long term thinking, but does appear to be the natural evolution of this sort of print on demand business.
Sell or rent my house
I think I’ve realised I don’t really like home ownership. Maybe this just isn’t the right thing to do right now. I am not a very material person and owning a house just feels like a liability more than an investment right now. I’ll hold onto it for now and see what I can do, but I don’t feel this is a long term thing.
What you can take from this post
Personally, I like to read about other peoples experiences with online business, but if there is one thing you actually take away from this post, let it be this:
With a little bit of hard work, you can make money online.