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How to find your RedBubble niche for Passive Income

Hello and welcome to the real secret sauce - part 1. Before it is my primer on some really basic stuff you should think about before deciding RedBubble should be a part of your Passive Income strategy. Should I really be offering this advice for free? Well, your eyeball is here, isn't it? Thanks for that btw, four for you Glen Coco, you go Glen Coco.

What is a Niche?

I don't care what Red Bubble is trying to put on my front page, niches are where the money is and everyone knows it. Yes there are fabulous works of art for sale on Red Bubble, but how much time and effort did it take for someone to make that? This goes back to the balance of quality vs quantity. Aka, doing just enough to be proud of what you've made, but not enough that you'd regret it if you got crickets in response to uploading it.

So what's a niche? Check out the RedBubble Tag Boards and see for yourself. It's basically what's trending in the world around you. Think of the free Britney movement. Or the launch of a new Marvel movie. It's basically the unspoken secret that most designs are skirting the line between parody and plain copyright. I don't have any clue how they decide what gets to be called 'real fanart', but it's a rigorous process so aim for it but don't set your hopes up high. And yes, you don't have to be making 'real' fanart to make money. But meme stuff is also the quick buck type stuff, and not really the niche that'll turn profit for you in the long run.

The real secret to a niche is making your own

Does it sound easier said than done? A little, but let me explain what I call the 'niche remix mashup'. Remember, quality vs quantity. Making a good design that also has a level of repeatability to it. The way I do this is by smashing two random things together and making something easy (for a given definition of easy) and repeatable out of it. You've probably seen Niche Remixes before even if you don't call them that.

Demon Slayer Graphic Design Poster
Demon Slayer Colors

Here's a pretty popular one I've seen around that I tried my hand at. I'm a graphic designer so I love colors and color palettes. I actually have tons of palettes in my Adobe Creative Cloud and I really do tend to name them after whatever show I'm into, so mashing them together and creating these graphic design posters was a light bulb going off. I've seen plenty of Pantone color stuff on RB before, but never a set like this or particularly optimized for the right products. Here's where the quality vs quantity balance comes in - the idea is repeatable and requires minimal editing once you've set it up, and the trick is to have multiple versions of it for the right products. In my experience, the products that sell are: Shirts, stickers, zipper pouches, masks, phone cases, mugs and prints. I divide them by orientation basically - a square-ish design for stickers and shirts and mugs, a horizontal one for pouches and masks, and a vertical for prints and phone cases. This helps narrow down what Niche Remix I go with, because optimally its something I can make look good in all of those orientations.

Also keep in mind the audience of Redbubble when choosing your niche. People come to Redbubble for the uniqueness of its products. That's legit how they brand themselves, so ask yourself if this is something someone could walk into any regular store and buy. People buy things off Redbubble because they have a lot of products available, and the artists of the works tend to be genuine fans of the shows as opposed to corporate marketing employees debating designs in a branding meeting and you can see that in the content they provide. Also, corporate marketing tends to have a finite amount of designs they can print for a certain campaign - meanwhile, the world is your oyster. Take Demon Slayer as an example; there are plenty of really cool Demon Slayer products out there already all over the web. What's going to make your design sell is its uniqueness. Maybe it's hand drawn, maybe you just make really epic, super cool t-shirt designs (as opposed to the Hot Topic era cringe anime paraphernalia, don't give me that look everyone has that phase okay), maybe you just make manga panel stickers look awesome. Whatever the case, there's a lot of avenues for you to pursue that corporate either doesn't have the time or effort to do.

Demon Slayer Horizontal for Zipper Pouch
Demon Slayer Slim for hats and shirts

Of course even Niche Remixes can be hit or miss, so it's good to come up with one and toss out a few designs before committing in full. But the nice part about them is that once you've hit a jackpot it's easy to crank up the voltage and produce more and more of it.

Niche as a collection

This is what I call a Niche Remix Collection (I know my naming abilities are insufferable lol). Once you've got it down and it's starting to sell, now you can branch out into other niches/fandoms and rinse and repeat. As I've said before, the trick is to mash two things together that are unique but not crazy intensive. The whole point of Redbubble as a passive income is for it to be, well... passive. As I said actual 'passive' is impossible, but you're still doing this as a side gig, you don't want to be pushing incredible hours into it. (I mean, unless you want to, and in some regards it's actually beneficial, although more on that in the next installment ;) )

How to find a niche collection

This is one of those 'the simpler the better' exercises and they tend to be right under your nose. The key is 'collection'. Whatever you pick, it needs to be something with multiples. Take it a step back, and even just ask yourself 'what sort of useless ** do people already collect?'. What comes to my mind are things like trading cards, tarot cards, stamps, and limited edition collectibles of waifus in different outfits. Narrowing that down to what is the least time intensive but still interesting led me to stamps.

Here was my thought process: people already collect stamps. They tend to be limited edition runs of some kind, or they're location based. And sure, you could make stamps of actual places, but why do that when they exist already exist? This train of thought actually led me to two different collections - one was a stamp series of some of my favorite anime locations, and the other was a collection of vintage-state park inspired stickers of Halo 3 multiplayer maps.

Geofront Stamp Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion Stamp Sticker

The Narrows Halo 3 Sticker
The Narrows State Park Sticker

Next up on my saga of Passive Income Redbubble advice - which for the record I know is such clickbait, but this truly is my honest experience and advice - growing your niche collections and achieving stability!

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