When I first started designing fabric for Spoonflower, I scoured blogs and forums trying to find out what I might expect in sales. I did find this discussion and this helpful blog post, but not a whole lot of recent information. In general, it seems that people are reluctant to talk about how much they are making. There are Etsy forum discussions where people say that even asking what they make in their Etsy shop is offensive. This, I think, is a problem.
I can’t find a link now, but I believe Spoonflower once shared the average users make in a year, but that number doesn’t tell you anything about how many of those designers are actively trying to get sales, the average amount made on one design, or how much that number is driven by the handful of top sellers.
So, as a non-top seller with a relatively modest number of fabrics available (200 as of this moment) and a minor social media presence, I wanted to share the sort of information I was looking for back in February of 2016 when I was deciding whether or not to proof my first batch of fabrics. And here it is:
So, what does this mean? First, I’ve made over $100 in profit for the last 3 months. I am on track to hit somewhere around there this month, too. Spoonflower gives 10% to the designer, so that means that for those months, I’ve sold over $1,000 in fabric, wallpaper, and wrapping paper. It sounds way more impressive that way, doesn’t it?
Second, the black line is the trend line for my sales data. If I keep doing what I’m doing now, it is possible that I could reach $200 in profit in a month before the end of this year. That would be wonderful.
Third, though I’m not about to quit my job, I’m making enough at the site that I can pay for all of my proofs and all of the fabric I use to make things for craft fairs without having to pull out a credit card. The only real benefit of this is psychological, but it still feels good. I’ve also been able to roll some money over into my account to use for non-fabric things.
Fourth, if I decide to stop posting on Instagram or take a break from designing, those numbers probably won’t change much. I could become busy at work, have another baby, or just lack inspiration and it probably won’t make much difference to my sales because people will still be out there looking for Hamilton fabric.
Last, the main thing I get out of this is an outlet and constraints for design. In another context, I would never be drawing golf fabric, but thinking about what people want has provided inspiration and has also helped me think about what to make for craft fairs. And I have no end of ideas for what to make next–there are a lot of activities out there. Designing for Spoonflower has also led me to draw more and illustrate for other projects.
So, should you jump in?
Well, count on spending at least $100-200 in proofs before things start selling. If you have some really great ideas that people want and can’t find anywhere else, then you might be able to start with less. Either way, you don’t make any money until you proof things, and so you have to take some chances. Also, don’t count on anything happening right away. Those number for May, June, and July of 2016? They are all around $5. For the month.
But, if you want to have some fun designing, see your designs printed on fabric (which is always thrilling), and maybe make a little money, then go for it!