I've always loved to draw. As a kid, I didn't think about it as a career path—not like writing. I've practiced drawing and painting digitally over the past few years. I'm still learning and don't plan to stop learning. Artists (whatever your art form) should always keep learning. I've decided to have fun and put my drawings on t-shirts!
Merch by Amazon
- By Invitation Only. KDP allows anyone to upload an e-book at any point. Merch has an application process which can take months for approval (and apparently your application can be rejected). The application process is pretty simple. It's mostly submitting your tax information and answering a couple questions. Then you wait. I requested an invitation a while ago, then got a notice I needed to reapply. I did that maybe a month or so ago and was approved the other day.
- Tier System. Merch limits uploads on a tier system. When you first sign up you're capped at 10 designs. The more designs you have, the more money you'll make—just like with e-books. Some may sell well, others not. To reach higher tiers you need to sell products. After 10 sales you can move up to the 25 designs tier. Advancement also depends on the quality of designs.
- Upload Limits. Merch limits the number of designs that can be uploaded each day based on capacity and your tier. For instance, today I'm limited to one new upload.
- Payments. Merch pays monthly for sales that shipped in the previous month. This isn't a big difference, but KDP pays monthly for sales two months ago rather than one month. You just get paid faster with Merch. Royalties are set based on the price selected for the item.
The interface differs (of course, being designed for t-shirts) but essentially is the same process. You upload your work, add metadata, and submit for review. Your design goes live once approved.
If you're interested in learning more, check out Michael Essek's resources.
Redbubble sells print-on-demand merchandise such as t-shirts, phone cases, stickers, and many other items. Unlike Merch, you can simply create an account, fill in your information, and start uploading designs. Because it offers so many different products there is more work to do to upload and offer your design on many different items. Some may require variations of your design. The interface does allow for customization of size, placement, and background color on some items. You do have options to customize your royalty settings for different products.
Fun Side Hustle
It's possible to make a living at this sort of thing. I'm doing it for a few different reasons. First, to have fun and draw more. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with new designs and getting those up on the sites. It gives me a tangible reason to practice and motivation to keep going. Second, it is another potential cash stream. It's healthy to have multiple streams of income. I'm going to be happy if it brings in enough to offset my business costs, things like website costs, software subscriptions, books, courses, etc. After that, who knows? I'll be curious to see how it goes. Finally, it's also interesting from the perspective of merchandise based on my books. As I create new cover art for books I can see adding those designs to physical merchandise. That's another way to share my work.