Selling stuff online now is all about niches. Very rarely now will you find an untapped audience. The internet is too prevalent in our lives that big companies can come along with their gigantic advertising budgets and obliterate a general interest.
It’s up to us to tap the little niches, there are still people with unique interests and even juicier wallets just waiting to buy that obscure Bangladeshi kite design or Indonesia basket weaving joke you’ve turned into a T-Shirt. The best place to find a potentially untapped niche is to start with your own interests.
Do you even need a niche?
Not really, no. You don’t need a niche, but if you’re starting out, it can be a great place to grow an audience, and somewhat theme your account. You definitely don’t need a niche to succeed in Redbubble.
I started my account solely based off of a website I was working on; it was the store portion of the website. As I’ve sold the site now, the Redbubble account is just a general account I have to upload work, most of it isn’t even related anymore.
Customers are more likely to search for specific products in the search bar than browse account pages.
What am I basing that off of? It’s just human nature. I have previously worked on online stores, professionally. Checking the analytics, people come to your store to find a specific product, rarely will they come to browse.
Simply don’t worry about ‘branding’ yourself if you’re just starting out. Your first goal should be to get work up, and get your first sale. Once you know what sells, post related work. You may discover a niche this way, organically.
Start with what you like
Okay, so you want to start with a niche anyway. Maybe you already have a good few ideas for some related products. Brilliant! If not, just read on to get inspired.
What weird hobbies do you have? What odd TV shows, beliefs, sayings or in-jokes, do you have? How could you turn that into a product for Redbubble? If you have an interest in something, no matter how small, then somebody else probably shares that interest too. My best selling designs on Redbubble are all based off an interest. It’s also lucky that this interest is easily turned into products.
There are other benefits for working within an existing interest of yours, and while at the start it might not seem obvious, eventually Redbubble and any form of passive income will rely on a lot of time put in beforehand.
You need to stay focused during the start. Things can get very boring very quickly.
Working within an interest you already have will make things so much easier at the start. Starting with your own interests is also great for a new account. You don’t want to bother yourself with things like keyword research at the start.
You just need to start getting products out there at the start. There is no need to ‘brand’ yourself if you don’t want to. Most customers won’t care.
It can be easy to get stuck with analysis paralysis when it comes to this sort of thing. The best advice anyone can give you when it comes to Redbubble, and pretty much any other aspect of your life, is to just start. Even if it’s terrible, just start. You can do improve it later on.
A good example is this site. JeezPod right now just looks absolutely terrible, but I’d already been putting it off for a month. When it comes to websites, it’s best to start and improve later. Google will rank your content quicker; audiences will grow and see your site change, there rarely is a negative. Just start.
What if you can’t market your own interests?
Maybe you’re really into movies, video games or other copyrighted material. While it will be tough to make designs off these that aren’t taken down or automatically deleted, you can still succeed. You need to ‘work around’ the intellectual property.
Personally, I wouldn’t suggest working on anyone else’s intellectual property at all, outside of the Redbubble fan-art programme. This, still unsaturated marketplace on Redbubble allows you to create and sell your own fan-art. I have recently put some some designs up here, and while they do take some time to get verified, I have heard some great success stories! I’ll be sure to report in with any sales!
If you’re determined to make that Zelda T-Shirt or Star Wars quote, there are some things you can do, but be aware that you’ll likely always be at some risk.
Quotes you’ve written that can be closely associated to the work will likely be accepted, even better if you write it in a similar font to the title header. You’ll see a lot of this on Redbubble.
There’s a downside to this sort of work though; it’s so trend based. Outliers aside, TV Shows, Movies and Games aren’t going to stay popular forever, and the ones that do will probably control their copyright tightly; think Nintendo, Disney, etc.
What if I’ve already milked my niches dry?
Well then strap yourself in because you’re going on a product research journey. Concise niches aren’t for everybody, and while my main Redbubble store started with a niche, it quickly grew out of it.
As Mr Pat Flynn used to say; ‘The Riches are in the Niches’. He’s right, but this doesn’t mean you need to stick to one niche. Cover multiple.
A great place to start when you’re stuck is to see what you and your friends already own, that could be sold on Redbubble. What’s popular in your local group? I used to work for a software developer, and you’d see a lot of Off-brand ‘Nerd’ T-Shirts that other developers wore. It’s this sort of thing you need to start to recognise.
In a non-creepy way, see what people are wearing casually when you are out next. You might spot a joke on a T-shirt, or a fancy phone cover that you’ve not seen on Redbubble before. A quick search is all it needs.
You can do the same thing online. Plenty of people post their own designs on the Redbubble subreddit, and Redbubble designer groups on Facebook. I’m not entirely sure why they wish to advertise to people they are competing with, but use that folly to your advantage, there might be something there to inspire you.
A final thing to consider if you have an idea is; ‘Is this something people would want to, or are able to buy?’
You may have a killer design for something like Minecraft, for example, or some flavour of the month meme. While the audience might be enormous for Minecraft, it may also be mainly children who have no means of purchasing from Redbubble. You may get the parent audience but it’s something to consider.
The Flavour of the Month meme might also net you some quick cash, but before long it’ll be completely dead, and you’ll be competing with so many other people who will set their prices low for a sale.
How I worked a successful niche
I was lucky to get in early with my website and Redbubble store and related niche. I talked about it a little earlier. Honestly, I was so casual about it at the start, I had no idea what I was doing, but this was in 2015. A lot has changed. At the start I didn’t even look for competition, I just uploaded a bunch of designs relating to a hobby and left it at that.
Over time, I kept going back, retagging the designs. I even went through each design (around 100 of them!), up-scaled each of them and retouched them so they would show on all products. This took months.
I really curate the niche I work in and because of that I’m lucky to make sales everyday. I am not here to brag, but when I compare designs to others that are similar, mine are better quality and sell well because of the effort I initially put in.
I didn’t enjoy months of retouching my art, but it paid off. That’s just the ethos of passive income.
Put the work in now, reap the benefit later.
There is more competition now, but even when there is competition, you should make our work the most appealing. if there is competition, it means there are sales.
Have the cleanest looking design, on the widest range of products, at the best price.
I’m not saying race to the bottom with price at all, as people will pay more for a better design.
One of the great things about getting in early is that you become become somewhat related to the area. I got so many repeat sales and requests to customise my work for others, and all off of what was at first an afterthought.
In summary; finding your own niche
- Start with your own interests
- Always keep open to new markets
- Look for evergreen designs over flavour of the month