There's several online stores which allow artist to create a page, upload their work as prints or assign them to products like cases and apparel. Royalties and commission then get paid to the artist after the store sells, prints and post orders which use your work.
It seems like a great idea to earn from your artwork without needing to develop and run the platform from which you sell it on- you just spend a little time putting the art (which you probably already have created) online and then wait for the money to begin rolling in! In practice, it's not so straight forward and not as easy as it seems for the vast majority.
I spent about a solid week to set up an account, edit then add around 30 artworks as prints, shirts, skins etc. I watched a few people, promoted some art, got my store indexed on Google and waited several months. I got my first sale recently- made $3.50! Woohoo!
I appreciate I'm not the greatest artist in the world and my current offerings of manga and comic inspired characters aren't going be everyone's cup of tea, but obviously it wasn't worth my time.
Society6 is essentially a popularity contest
If work is good then it deserves to be prominently featured and I'm happy to see good designs gain popularity. However, as of now Society6 does not utilise a fair system of promoting and featuring quality new art on it's home page or at the top of it's search results.
I've seen some awesome artworks on the site which simply don't gain the love, recognition or sales they deserves because they're buried under a pile of designs which came before them. They don't get seen, so don't get likes so don't rise up the search rankings.
Where as designs which gained a decent amount of likes or sales early on in the site's history have risen to the front page or top of search results. These designs therefore get more views, which then leads to more sales, which lead to being more prominently featured, which leads to getting more views and then more sales and so on and so on. This popularity loop then makes it difficult for new artists to get eye-balls on their work.
Being popular and getting the views and likes on a design = more sales. But popularity on the site can be artificially generated or is circumstantial- As mentioned above, perhaps an artist was fortunate enough to acquire some popularity early on before the site gained more members and while there was far less competition (and therefore features more prominently on the site) This seems unfair to newcomers. Or perhaps newbies are being overshadowed buy so-called popular artists; Artists who've whored-out thousands of 'likes'/'promotes'/'favs'/'watches' with the expectation of having the same done in return. The more likes you get, the more popular you seem and the more chance your designs get seen and therefore bought.
I'm sure there are other loop holes or strategies which can be exploited to increase popularity. Much of the artwork on S6 is of an great standard, and with so much competition, it's never going to be easy for a newbie to stand out at the best of times. Popularity loops and other sellers artificially generating popularity with 'like-reciprocation' doesn't help matters.
Keys to success
The people that seem to have success on S6 (and similar sites) are either/and/or:
- Very talented at a top-end professional level and hence automatically built a reputation for themselves
- Good at self promotion. They have some Ok designs, but are promo and/or SEO experts so get noticed.
- Creating what people want. Either intentionally or because they also like it. For example animal based stuff goes down well, as does pop culture references i.e. Star Wars, Bat Man.
If you have all those three ingredients nailed, you're gonna make some good money, be it at Society6 or similar stores. For the rest of us, it's gonna be very hit and miss and you will just have to try it and see what happens, as I have. The hardest part is taking some time out (in my case, a week) to see how well you're art sells (or doesn't sell!). Trying it for yourself is the only way to know for sure.
Feel free to check out my store here: http://society6.com/BenKrefta