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A year of selling on Society6

It's been about a year since I looked into Society6 and decided to try selling on the platform. Here's my honest (unsolicited, unpromoted) review of the platform as a designer.

Society 6 homepage screenshot of design elements and user interface
Society6 Homepage - pretty well designed if I do say so myself!

Society6 is a print on demand based platform connecting independent artists to buyers looking for unique graphics. My first impression was that it filled a niche for fine art pieces and high quality items that the usual mill of print on demand sites seemed to fundamentally lack. That is to say, there was a clear (and vaguely intimidating) bump in quality for all of their products. Even just from the design editing process to uploading capabilities, it seems very fine tailored to fit the sort of exacting standards one would expect from a more classic, professional designer-store-customer model. Whether that's an asset or a detriment - well. That's to be decided, and probably more personal preference than anything.

Here's some big takeaways I got from my months using the platform.

Quality is King

There's no real 'one size fits all' option. In general, it's good design practice to design with the end product in mind. If you're designing a phone case, obviously you should be designing in a vertical/portrait ratio as opposed to horizontal/landscape. In theory, this makes perfect sense. In practice, as an independent artist with limited time and a cost vs. time equation hanging over your head it's a bit less clear cut.

That being said, their products - from what I've seen personally at any rate - really reflect that dedication to high end work. I have both a face mask and a yoga mat from S6 and I'm really impressed with the quality of both. For comparison, my Redbubble masks tend to be very hit or miss on actual quality control of the product in reflection to what it looks like on their online editor. I've had masks that I've designed precisely to their specifications and received them off-center and with white ends sticking out of sides that weren't there in the preview. Not the case in Society6. The detail of their printing process also seems to be of higher quality. You can see a lot more detail and in higher resolution than RB and other PoD competitors.

Part of that is likely reflected in their editing process. I noticed S6 has the maximum for uploaded artwork set at 150mb. That's incredibly large, and offers a level of DPI you usually can't get away with on the other sites, and there's no max sizing on the megapixel end either. I don't actually remember off the top of my head what RB's is, but I think it's somewhere less than 25mb for files. I have never been able to upload something I uploaded to S6 on RB's platform - I always get an error code saying the file is too big.

Their Catalogue is Expansive

This is one of the things I adore about S6. The breadth of available products for you to design for is leagues ahead of their competitors. I have no idea who's in the market for barstools and cradenzas, but the fact that I can design for those sort of products is really quite impressive. Their Bed & Bath, Home Furniture, and Outdoor Furniture section are really what set them apart in my opinion. Yoga Towels? Sunshades? Coffee tables? The options are endless.

Some of my favorite highlights for S6 products are the hand and bath towels, the table cloths, and especially the all over graphic tee. In comparison to Redbubble, which has something funky going on with the sleeves of their graphic tees, the all over print on Society6 just looks incredibly polished.

As far as depth of product linegoes, Society 6 is not on the (quite frankly, staggering) level of Zazzle, but there's not much overlap in their products.

The editing process is inefficient

On a scale of Redbubble to Zazzle, Society6 is actually worse than Zazzle. Again, they seem to focus more on the uniqueness of the art and final product than the efficiency of the uploading process or the usability of a single design. They don't have a 'copy' button to use the same tags and toggled products as a template for similar products. It's not the end of the world, but that really does put a damper on efficiency. They also don't have a pattern/tiling feature, which means you're designing and exporting a design in multiple sizes for each product. Some products do have similar enough ratios that S6 will automatically apply your sizing and cropping to all of them at once, but it's really not much.


In summary, I would consider Society6 a solid contender for the Print on Demand space that fills a niche that otherwise gets neglected. But the community it serves - while more likely to spend more money on high quality, unique items - is also by that same turn much smaller. I think in total sales last year I made somewhere around $35 - as opposed to the $10k+ I did on Redbubble, and the $500+ on Teepublic. Even my Zazzle, which came out at around $75 last year and only had about two designs on it did better than that.

I would say the ideal designer for Society6 is someone who deeply enjoys making art and is very ambivalent but positive to the idea of making some passive income on what they already do. Ideally you already have an expansive portfolio that you can spend some time editing and resizing for print. Maybe toss them a bone every once in a while, but I wouldn't spend much time on this one.

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