Society 6 Shop
My Earnings Report
So how much can you earn on Society 6?
I've had a Society 6 shop for just a couple of months shy of 2 years now (I started at the end of May 2015), and I thought it was about time to have a look at the $$$ and analyse the stats.
The results are interesting to me, and I know that before I started my Society 6 shop I couldn't find much chatter about earnings online, so I hope you'll find this information helpful :)
(If you don't know what Society 6 is or how it works, check out their seller guide.)
I should say that over the whole time I have had the Society 6 shop, I have posted new designs regularly (as much as 1 design a day for a while) and promoted other people on the site often too.
At this point (March 2017) I have currently around 700 designs in my shop (mainly photos). And unfortunately... I'm still not rich (!)
Please note that the links to Society6 from this page are affiliate links, meaning that I receive a small commission if you buy a product from Society6 via one of the links. This won't affect your order at all. Thank-you in advance if you do make a purchase :)
My most popular products?
Wall tapestries, phone cases and leggings seem to be my overall best sellers.
And the least popular?
Canvas and metal prints, towels, tote bags and clothing (although I don't have many designs on clothing so this is to be expected.)
My largest sale?
A 10-pillow order in the early days of my shop. The 2nd biggest order after that was only for 2 items, so that first big sale was a one-off unfortunately!
Notable points in the life of my shop?
- My first sale happened at the end of May 2015, and by that point I had 9 full pages of designs in my shop. I already had a lot of photos and graphic designs in my collection, ready to go, so I definitely started with 'quantity' being the name of the game.
- I got my first design into the Society 6 shop when I had 13 promotions on the design and I’d sold 20 products so far. My second design into the S6 shop, less than a week later, had 12 promotions.
(I don't know if this still happens actually, as I've not had an e-mail for ages, but when you received around 12-15 promotions on one design, you'd get an e-mail from Society 6 saying that the design was now included in the Society 6 shop.)
- One of my pumpkin designs was featured in a 'cool new products list' on 11th October 2015, for a Halloween theme roundup. I was really excited about this, but I didn't notice an increase in either sales or promotions as a result :(
Little extra notes:
- The designs I sell most of are not the most highly promoted designs...in fact the ones I've mostly sold have very low numbers of promotions.
- My first payout was in August 2015, for sales made in June. I've received at least one sale every month after that.
- As of now, 20 is the most promotions I have on any one design.
- I've had around 20 designs added to the Society 6 shop, due to them getting enough promotions.
- I was in a restaurant in England recently and saw one of the best-selling Society6 prints (called Street Walker) on the wall, so I can only imagine - and be envious of - the sales numbers of that print if I managed to stumble on it randomly in a small Manchester eatery!
- A few of the top sellers on Society 6 were already known illustrators, and came to S6 with many fans already. This obviously gives them a major early boost (examples; Gemma Correll and Marc Johns.) If you already have fans, social media or blog followers, you have a great head start so make the most of it.
- Society 6 have previously stated on their blog that some top sellers have earned over $5000 a month, which is the kind of motivation I need! That would be a great full-time salary for most people, and certainly for me, but to be honest I'd be stoked with even a tenth of that. The fact that those kind of numbers are possible helps me keep going.
Here is a graph showing the number of my designs I have sold per month, plus commission totals:
So, as you an see there is a small but steady upward trend, with peaks in December due to Christmas sales.
Overall, I've earned several hundred $ over the almost-2-year time period that I've had my shop.
After looking at the totals, you might be thinking that it's just not worth it, and looking at it from a money-in-exchange-for-time standpoint, I suppose you are right! So why do I still spend a lot of time working on my shop?
a) I enjoy it. I think if you don't enjoy this kind of work, don't do it. A bit like blogging, you need a sustained effort over a long period of time to get anywhere, and if your heart isn't in it, it usually shows...plus you'll be miserable.
Start off doing these sorts of things for the enjoyment and not for the money, then you can see the money as a bonus. As soon as money starts coming in, you'll be in a better position to assess the opportunity and decide whether it's worth putting more work in to increase the income.
b) The lure of passive income. I work from home and frankly any income streams I can get are needed to keep my self-employment going. I have tried A LOT of print-on-demand companies and other so-called passive income opportunities, and I'd say only one has been a true source of passive income, in that I have been paid an appropriate (minimum wage) amount for the time I've put in overall...and that one I've been working on for 10 years!
It definitely takes time and a lot of work to build up any passive income stream, so the term 'passive income' is not the best because it makes it sound like the income just rolls in with no effort.
The advantage of passive income of course - and the 'passive' part of it - is that if I stopped work on my shop tomorrow, sales would probably still keep happening in future months.
Perhaps if I did that and kept earning for a few years, I would earn enough to pay me an appropriate amount for the time I've spent working on my shops. But also maybe not. That's the joy of passive income! If you don't have a crystal ball, you can do all this work for barely any payback.
That's why there has to be another reason why you do it. You have to like doing it as an enjoyable pastime really...and if you're an illustrator or photographer, it's no doubt worth doing just to get your name and your work out there on one more online venue.
c) Waiting for my 'big break'. I always have a vague feeling that maybe my next design will be the big one - the one which gets featured on the front page and goes on to top the search result pages and sell a tonne. I think everyone is aiming for that really, since one killer design can bring in large numbers to your whole shop and boost you enough to become a bestseller on the site.
It's unlikely, but it's a thought that motivates me and I'm sure many others!
It does seem to me that a few shops are the 'top dogs' and their designs are often featured prominently in search results...you'll definitely see the same shop names over and over.
For the most part, I can see that these shops totally deserve it and they have a lot of great artwork. One of the best and most popular photographers on the site is Tordis Kayma, and the design in the picture above has the most amount of promotions I've ever seen...I can only dream of those numbers!
It appears that once you become one of the 'chosen shops', from selling a lot of product presumably, you get a huge amount of regular exposure - so once you've 'made it', I imagine you can ride that wave for a long time.
But this is very much the minority of shops, and there are many shops with awesome designs that have few promotions and followers. So there's a bit of good luck involved too.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you've found it useful!