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Post-Redbubble Passive Income – Lessons learned

I don’t know when I first developed the mentality for passive income, but once I got that taste, I realised it was for me. Following on from my previous post, I think now would be a great time to summarise everything that I’ve done so far regarding passive income, as well as what I intend to try next. Maybe you’ll get some ideas too.

I’ve also spruced this article up with some low quality GIF’s as well, so uh, enjoy.

While I am still appealing my Redbubble account closure, I’m starting to come to terms with the fact I will be losing out on that income. What was a solid £1000 a month is now nothing, so let’s address that first.

What it feels like to lose a successful Redbubble account

Really fucking shit. The fact is, my main Redbubble account was bringing in half of my total income every month. I have a little work from home job, I have a lodger, and I have a few other income streams, and still Redbubble was half of what I was getting. All that and tt didn’t require any effort to upkeep.

It’s a painful loss to see it go. This may sound dramatic but it was more than an account on website, it was a little entity of my own that I tended to for five years. I put a lot of work into my Redbubble store, and it vanished in an instant.

I didn’t think it’d happen to me, and maybe you think the same. But it can. A minor infraction can spill out and wipe out your entire relationship with Redbubble. Be aware of that.

Why did I lose my account?

I lost my Redbubble account because of a side account I had a few months ago. The side account was banned because of some low quality work.

It wasn’t spammy, I didn’t make many sales at all, I just left it up and it got too many warnings and by the time I checked the warnings and went to login to delete the account, it was suspended. There are other accounts up now, with similar work showing, which isn’t nice to see.

A few months later, two weeks ago, *poof*, my main account has been suspended too. It feels like a gigantic kick in the teeth and two weeks later to the day now, I am still not fully over it.

Update: Bad news. I had a number of little side accounts on Redbubble and it looks like they’re all gone. It’s very upsetting to lose everything over what was a tiny mistake.

Lesson one; Do absolutely nothing to jeopardise your accounts on these POD platforms. You do not own the platform, so play by the rules, even if others are not. It is not worth losing an account and being unable to sign up again. Don’t make my mistake.

I sent an apology to Redbubble. Even if I don’t get my account back, I just want to be clear with them what I was doing.

Luckily I’ve stopped thinking about the money I’m losing every day, and I’ve started putting energy into other ventures. I’ll summarise EVERYTHING I’ve done relating to passive income previously in this article. Who knows, maybe you’ll get some ideas!

My passive income streams and mentality

I absolutely hate working for somebody else, and I hate trading my time for money. This is a common thing you’ll see in the passive income space. I honestly feel like many jobs exploit the worker, and time is something you’ll never ever get back. A lot of my past career seems like wasted time to me.

I started getting interest in passive income in 2013 or so, mainly Amazon Associates. I made a few websites and saw some income trickle in. As with everything it started small and terrible, and grew from there.

Web Development and content marketing

Always a passing interest but never really a passion, web development for me has more been a means to an end. I have learned a few languages and picked up a few bits, even had a few jobs in some companies making websites.

Web development for me has more been about content marketing. Like JeezPOD, the website exists simply to serve information which can be monetised. There is plenty of money in making cool little web apps, but for me I think I’ve realised that programming, especially web programming, is not a passion, and I’m not going to pursue it.

Content marketing is a different matter, and it’s why I like WordPress so much. It’s very easy to get an information based website off the ground, sling some ads on, and make money. Most of the following schemes tie into Web development; Amazon marketing, Google Adsense etc.

My main success story with content marketing was the large site I sold for £10k. In terms of website sales, that isn’t even big in the grand scheme of things, however it did set me up to put down a big chunky deposit on a flat. I had many sites before this one, and it was a lot of work to create, maintain and finally sell the site mentioned.

Amazon Affiliate Marketing

I had some success with affiliate marketing, but I hit a barrier that was more of a personal thing than anything else. It felt essentially soulless; I do not buy a lot of things, and I don’t like to buy a lot of things, so it’s hard to persuade other people to.

I did tend to promote some products here and there and I have had pay-outs from Amazon, but it’s not enough for me to live on. Amazon Affiliate marketing would work for somebody who knows what they’re talking about, in niche that has lots of products to promote, but it isn’t for me. I found it extremely draining to write product reviews every night.

I started probably five or six websites solely based on Amazon affiliate income. It was an easy time in my life, I had a few jobs here and there and I was living with my parents so no major outgoings. I had time to experiment!

Google Adsense

My main focus for monetising my websites after Amazon turned to Google Adsense. No reader likes ads, but they’re a godsend if you’re creating a website. Plenty of people do not use ad blockers and if you go for the right niche, you’ll reach a sweet spot.

The website I talk about in this post was monetised by Google Adsense. It wasn’t bringing in too much, maybe £100-200 a month, but it was all passive and at the time was the most money I’d earned passively. I still remember being happy about earning a 50p a day! How times have changed.

Google ads used to be my main focus. It really was money for nothing. I have three websites I now run in this sort of game, but i don’t really work on them at all. Too many projects, too little time!

eBooks and Kindle

The first ever eBook I wrote was unsurprisingly about passive income. I set a challenge to myself;

‘Can I write and publish a kindle eBook in a day?’. I said that to myself in the morning and by 11:45pm I’d published it. It wasn’t good at all, but it has made sales and even gotten good reviews. If you have the motivation, then you can easily make money right now by publishing something on kindle. It’s a slick easy process.

The same website as before also lent itself very well to an eBook. Rather cheekily, I took all the content I had written, formatted it as an eBook over a few days and published it. It didn’t sell great, but it did and still does sell now and then.

Once you have content, you may as well reuse it in different market places. Which leads me on to;

Print on Demand

Print on demand only became my main focus in November 2019, nearly a whole year ago. I’ve shared this before;

After I started looking around online at how good print on demand profits can be, I switched focus to my Redbubble stores. From £50 a month to £250 is a masssive leap.

And it just kept on going up. Those tips were damn good. Just goes to show that it’s not necessarily the designs you have uploaded, but how you present them, and their pricing.

Changing the pricing of my stickers in Redbubble was the main catalyst for this change. I was already selling lots, but increasing the margins to 100% did not deter any buyers whatsoever. If you are selling stickers on Redbubble but haven’t upped your margins, do it now.

Looking at those charts you can see why I am upset about losing my Redbubble accounts. The most money I’ve earned passively online so far is with print on demand services.

Moving on from Redbubble

‘What do do when your Redbubble account has been suspended’. That is a question I’ve been asking myself for two weeks. Finally I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ve lost that income, but there are some things I haven’t lost;

  • All of the art and designs I uploaded to all of my accounts
  • A memory and record of what were my best selling products
  • A deep overview of how things sell and the timeframes to expect with print on demand
  • The thought that it’s not at all impossible to get back to the same stage I was at, and quickly

I may have been kicked back to square 1 (Maybe square 2), but I think I have the knowledge to work safely on other POD platforms and at least get back to the level I was at.

If you’ve been banned from Redbubble recently, then don’t lose heart. It is a good platform to sell on, but there are other places to focus as well. Here’s what I’ll be doing in the next few weeks.

Other platforms I’ll be focusing on

Merch by Amazon

My MBA account is in a low tier, but it’s selling. Honestly I just haven’t focused on it. If there is something I learned, its that I put too much work into Redbubble, and not enough elsewhere.

These are my Merch states to date. Not brilliant, but better than nothing. I have one design that is making all of those sales, but that’s to be expected when you’ve only had 10 designs or so up for months. I’ve only recently tiered up to T100, and I’m filling my 5 slots a day.

My technique is not glamorous when it comes to MBA. If you aren’t aware, you have a number of slots. The more you sell, the more slots you unlock. I currently have 100 slots to fill, and can upload 5 designs a day.

The best selling shirt there is cheap, and it’s simply pulling me through the tiers so I can level up and unlock more slots to fill. My designs are nothing special. I’m taking what sold well on Redbubble, and I’m making original work for MBA. More than anything, it is just a grind. Soon I’ll have more slots than I can fill anyway!

TeePublic

I have started selling on TeePublic. I’ve had three accounts for a while now. Two are in different niches (One I created after my Redbubble ban, so no sales yet), one is a general store. I love the upload process. It is better than the Redbubble one by far, but with a smaller selection.

I am a bit worried that as I’m banned from RB, I might be banned from TP at some point (they’re the same parent company), but we’ll get to that later. It’s quite easy to have a workflow that allows both MBA and TP. I use the same file size for both, so uploading is a breeze.

These are the stats for my two TeePublic stores with sales. Nothing to boast about but like MBA, I just haven’t put work on them. They have maybe 50 designs each, and that’s after a little upload spree I ran in the past day or two. I’m certain they’ll pick up steam when I start consistently uploading content.

Checking back, TeePublic has been selling more and more every month, so I’m quite confident for it heading towards Christmas and into next year.

Teespring / Own print on demand store

I’m considering taking my main niche and setting up shop on TeeSpring, or failing that my own store. The real margins are when you set up your own site and set up your own print on demand with something like Printful or Printify.

I’m somewhat confident in growing an audience and promoting it and it’s a niche I know very well, and it’d be a new challenge that would be a bit more secure than relying on a wholly owned platform somebody else hosts.

Course

It feels silly to want to make a Redbubble course now that I’ve been banned, but I have so many tips I’d like to share. I honestly think I could coach people to make more money on their existing stores, and there are definitely things I do that I haven’t seen any ‘gurus’ talk about.

I did say all my info would be free here and that’s true, but I might go so far as to share my niches, best selling products etc, elsewhere in some video and text course. Something to think about.

Goals moving forward

Personally I need a goal to aim towards. As my passive income right now has been completely shot, I need to fix that. I’ve gone from making a solid £1000 on Redbubble every month to £0. I’ll be lucky if I am making £100 a month right now in total over all of my streams (apart from my lodger), but I’ll have to wait and see until all my payments come in.

My first goal after finishing this post is:

  • Make £100 passively, online

My actionable goals are:

  • 100 designs on Merch by Amazon as soon as possible (60 uploads to go, so 1 days at the very least unless I tier up before then)
  • 100 designs on TeePublic accounts 1,2 and 3 (50 design upload limit so this week at the earliest really)

I also want to look into other POD platforms. I have a Zazzle and S6 account, but I don’t really like either of them. The upload process is bulky, and the audience is smaller and much different to Redbubble.

In summary

  • Don’t do anything to put your Redbubble account at risk.
  • Diversify your income streams as soon as possible
  • Organise your uploads so you can easily pop them on other platforms