- Introduction to Beyond Teepublic
- Key Changes to the Teepublic Platform
- Alternative options to Teepublic
- Beyond Teepublic – Conclusion
- Crafting new horizons
Introduction to Beyond Teepublic
Ever since I have been interested in online business and passive income the print-on-demand industry always fascinated me.
I came across Teepublic by chance and the way it was set up to make it easy for beginners grabbed me and I jumped onto it. It very quickly became my favorite while everybody else was promoting Amazon merch and Teespring.
I just loved the organized and clean business model they were presenting which created a level playing field for all sellers. I have always been a great supporter and promoter of the platform because of this.
By using Teepublic I have developed myself into a better graphic designer by having to learn all the skills required.
But by doing this I have also realized that there are many other ways that these skills can be applied to online opportunities.
That is why I was very disappointed when Teepublic announced their tier system because after all the effort I was downgraded to the “Artisan Tier”.
In a way, I could understand they’re thinking behind the move as they are in the business to make money.
But as you will see from this article something just does not make sense. I think my biggest disappointment is that they are not playing open cards with their sellers.
Key Changes to the Teepublic Platform
Tier System: “Artist” vs. “Apprentice”
On the 5th of May 2023, Teepublic announced a new tier system and sellers were automatically placed on one of the two tiers.
This had a massive impact on sellers including myself as they automatically allocated you as a seller to their tier of preference.
With immediate effect, they basically reduced your income by half. The seller has no option but to accept that all the hard work to help build the platform to what it is today was for nothing.
Most sellers moved on to other platforms but being a Stoic I accepted this and will be leaving all my designs on the platform. Keep in mind some sellers have built up huge portfolios which provide a steady income.
If they were allocated to the wrong tier that income is now gone and they have to start from scratch somewhere else.
The new change limits the opportunity for new online entrepreneurs to use this platform as a “passive” income stream. Also, understand that creating a selling space like this online is hard work and Teepublic obviously doesn’t like “passive”
Not to say it is not worth the shot and you can conjure up some great non-generic designs. If you are lucky you can be allocated to the “Artisan” tier. In this case, Teepublic can still be viewed as the best POD platform out there.
Reduced Sales Commission | Half The Earnings
In the past, you could at least get a $4 commission on the sale of a T-shirt and $2 when the TeePublic promotions are on.
Even with plenty of promotions, you were still able to make a fair amount of money with a large portfolio.
In the new structure, you will only earn $3 on a sale and only $1 when the Promotion is running which they have a lot of.
Because of all the regular promotions they are running, you are very unlikely to generate the same income as you did before. My view is that the only way to counteract this is to increase your portfolio of available designs and spend more time marketing your store.
If you are lucky enough to be on the “Artisan tier” you can still make a fair amount of income with a good portfolio.
Most of the designers on the “Apprentice level” will feel done short by this change and will not put in the same effort as before to increase portfolios.
These will be the designers who bucked the system and saw an easy way to make money. I on the other hand will put in a bigger effort to put in better designs and increase my portfolio. I have just put too much effort into this venture to write it off as yet.
At least the income pays for the other avenues I am exploring currently. It still remains a good source of income that will allow you to explore other sources of income on the internet.
Visibility Issues: Apprentice Accounts No Longer Listed
One of the reasons that I have selected Teepublic was the exposure to the 12 million plus visitors they get a month. All you had to do was stick to their rules and make sure your SEO was above the board in order to get found by one of the visitors.
I have constantly been successful at listing my product on the front page of specific keywords without using sperm tactics or using pirated designs.
It seems like this did not work for me as I was viewed as an Apprentice while others clearly applied dubious methods to get onto the front page. By the way, most of those are still on the front page.
When I queried the disappearance of some of my designs I was basically told to take it or leave it as you will see from the correspondence I received from the public directly.
All Apprentice designs will no longer be available through the site search and will also not be listed. This only means that those 12 million visitors will not have access to your designs unless you have directly marketed that to them.
Basically, the public has turned around their method of driving traffic to the site where 80% of the designers will still drive traffic to the platform through independent marketing. In that way, they won’t lose their visitor status or Google rankings.
It all comes down if you don’t market your designs yourself you will not get any sales.
Unclear Artisan Status Criteria
Exactly how Teepublic has decided on the allocation of tiers to the designers is a bit sketchy in the least.
What you are told and what you see is not the same thing when looking at the platform and the designs listed.
According to Teepublic “insiders” and experienced artists it all comes down to the following criteria:
- Non-generic designs
- Designs that do not contain clip art or graphic bundles
- SEO structure and keywords
- Active participation on the platform
All of this does not make sense as when you visit the platform you will see plenty of generic designs, images from graphic bundles, and spammy keywords.
You will still find these designs listed on the first page and even suggested by Teepublic as best sellers.
As for SEO and keywords Teepublic itself has many tutorials on how to apply SEO and keywords they provide themselves. It seems like following all of these guidelines did not assist designers at all so why even bother listing them on the Teepublic blogs?
The worst is they do not even offer an opportunity for the current designers to clean up their act and qualify for the “Artist” tier. You would expect more from a well-run platform such as Teepublic by providing proper guidelines to change your current situation if needed.
Alternative Options to Teepublic
As I have mentioned before I have no intention of removing my designs although I’m sure the time and effort can be better spent on other new ventures. For me, Teepublic has now become fairly passive as my initial intention was and I’m content with it.
As said it still pays for my other ventures such as web hosting, buying design bundles for my online stores, and much-needed software.
For those who are wondering what is next here are your only options if you want to stick to print-on-demand.
- Keeping Designs on Teepublic: Leave it passive, work on it when you have spare time, and do some of your own marketing to drive traffic
- Exploring Other Print-on-Demand Platforms: There are plenty of other platforms such as Teepublic such as Redbubble, Spreadshirt, Amazon Merch, and Zazzle. Explore them and find what suits you then direct the effort to those
- Starting Your Own Website with Printful: Printful will print and handle all your logistics for your customers. Prinful integrates with most shopping applications and you can obtain better profits from your sales. You are in control of designs, pricing, marketing, and sales.
- Dropshipping with Printful from Etsy: Although a bit costly for some of us not in the USA it is an option because of the huge amount of visitors they receive. It will all depend on your target market. Even Printful will integrate with your Etsy shop to make drop shipping easy
There are always options but once again keep in mind that online nothing is permanent.
Beyond Teepublic – Conclusion
Reasons why Teepublic is now less of a priority for me:
- Too much effort was put into it to abandon it totally
- I can spend more time on other projects
- I can only allocate real “spare time” to it as it will make no difference
- Bigger profits are elsewhere
Here are my reasons for staying on Teepublic:
- It is still the easiest platform to use
- I still make enough to afford other resources
- I can be more selective on what I upload to them
- It forces me to do more regular marketing for my shop
- I can increase my portfolio in my own time
- I hope things change and I’ll be still in it prepared
- In short, I just love the platform
We all have seen our options but it is up to you to decide what suits your designer style best. It is of course also important to decide what will be the best return for effort.
As a new beginner, it will be very difficult unless you consider yourself the very “artsy” type. Make a decision based on available time, ease of use, and profit sharing in order to create a successful income stream.
Crafting New Horizons
That said, I will never regret joining Teepublic as I have learned so much since being part of the platform. I have built skill sets that will be very beneficial in my quest to develop other income streams.
Even sales from your own portfolio website or blog can be an option.
If you have more information or have different experiences please share it with us hustlers.