There has been a lot of talk going on about Society6 these past few weeks since they announced their new plan to charge a monthly subscription for selling on the platform, and honestly there’s been a lot of talk about them BEFORE that because so many artists were seeing their sales drop. In this post I want to share my experience on Society6 over the years and tell you how I’m moving forward!
How It All Started
My husband and I started uploading designs to Society6 in 2017 because after building a successful Spoonflower shop together, we realized we had a lot of designs already made that would probably sell on other platforms. We uploaded our top selling designs from Spoonflower to Society6 and immediately made some sales.
We could see that the more we uploaded, the more monthly income the shop produced. We were hooked!
Then There Were Two
Over the years, I’ve developed my own personal creative style and brand, so the original shop is not exactly something that goes well with my current work. That being said, it still produces a monthly income for us for literally no work. It’s hard to complain about that no matter how much we make each month.
My current style features hand-drawn animals, plants, and a vintage historical feel.
The shop I started with my husband in 2017 features mostly image-based math, science, and historical related patterns.
While I have Society6 shops for both of these, I don’t do much with either of them, so when Society6 started talking about charging artists a monthly subscription it was time to look at the numbers and figure out how to move forward.
What is This Whole "Artist Plan" Thing?
In October 2023 Society6 announced that they will start charging a monthly fee for making more than 10 designs for sale. There are several tiers of pricing that vary based on how many designs you want to have in your shop.
Image from Society6.com (if you’re reading this after November 2023, check their site for current pricing in case it has changed!)
In the end, this was an easy decision to make because our original shop still makes a few hundred dollars a month even though we haven’t touched it in years. So it definitely makes sense to pay for the Pro plan to keep all those designs for sale.
In terms of my new shop and style, I never put more than a few designs up in my personal shop, and thus haven’t seen many sales in that shop. Which leads me to the question I think every artist should ask themselves when considering these monthly fees:
Are you really going to put the time and effort in that it takes to run this shop?
There is no point in half-(you know whatting) a print-on-demand shop. Being successful in print-on-demand takes a lot of work with writing tags, titles, and descriptions, and typically means you need to produce a large volume of work to be successful. So if you are going all in, then by all means pay the fee and build that shop. If you are going to work on it a few times a month and skip fully filling in tags and descriptions, then don’t waste your precious time and money!
My Time is Precious
Like your time, my time (especially my creative time) is precious and fleeting. There seems to be less of it each year (maybe because I keep having babies?) and I value it more than I ever have in my life. That means I also make sure that all the goals I am pursuing are extremely specific and targeted, and that I’m not wasting any time dabbling in things I’m not going to put my whole heart into.
I COULD build a successful Society6 shop with my new work, but that simply isn’t my goal right now. So I am happy saying goodbye to Society6 when it comes to my personal work and focusing on my other creative endeavors.
How Will This New Artist Plan Thing Affect Sales?
I have never considered myself much of a psychic medium, but I think I’m pretty good at making predictions about print-on-demand since I worked at Spoonflower for 3 years and have had shops for 7 years.
What I see on all platforms that have a “barrier to entry” (i.e. a payment or application that blocks anyone from immediately making designs for sale) is that barriers improve the climate for everyone. What we all want (to state the obvious) is less competition and less results on search pages, and charging a fee makes that happen naturally.
I imagine it will take some time for things to “level out” though because a lot of artists are going to have to figure out whether or not the fee is worth it for them. My guess is that even Society6 is not 100% sure how things will play out over time yet, but it does seem likely that this is a switch that will be good for all of us.
Did Sales Drop?
When we started on Society6 and were actively uploading designs, we were making up to $1000 a month for designs that we had already made for another platform. So that felt like a pretty fair trade considering the low amount of time and effort we put in to build the shop (we literally copied tags, titles, and descriptions over from Spoonflower!).
Over the years as we’ve stopped uploading new designs, the sales have gone down to about 25% of what they used to be. That being said, we haven’t touched it in years so can we really complain??
For our original shop, $13 a month feels like nothing in exchange for having much less crowded search results. We literally make that in a single sale of an art print, so I have no complaints about paying it for that shop.
For my personal shop though, I can see that I’m wasting my money if I pay to keep a few designs for sale that I didn’t even really design or list in a print-on-demand specific way. Not sure what that means? I share all about it here:
- Learn what it takes to build a successful print-on-demand shops
- Understand SEO, titles, tags, and descriptions
- Stop wasting your time listing designs that won’t sell!