Redbubble has gotten seriously more competitive over the past few years.
This has been driven by the increasing popularity of the website, and exacerbated by tag spammers.
On top of that, many more people are finding out about the research tools and methods that only a few had access to before.
I had a taste of how hard it was to make sales on a new account recently, when I created a new account in 3 July.
Even with an optimized method, it took me around a month to make my first sale on this account (1st August).
That being said, the average Redbubble user takes around 3 months to make their first sale, out of all the ones that actually do (less than 50%).
Therefore, choosing the correct niches and keywords before uploading is crucial to maximize your chances of making sales.
In this article and accompanying video, I will show you a method of finding and organizing niches, so you can figure out exactly which are the best options to design for first, with validation.
This means you can target those, and have the maximal chance of making sales for the amount of time you put in.
While this method has worked for me personally, this is obviously not a 100% guarantee all the niches you find will sell.
Your design, SEO, competition and promotion play a big part in your earning potential, as well as how much you upload.
However I believe this method is optimized for targeting the niches that are most likely to sell.
Links & Tools
Below are a list of links to recommended tools. See the video for a demonstration of each tool in use.
- Bubble Trends (FREE) – find trending keywords on Redbubble for today and any given date from 1/11/2020
- Redbubble Popular tag tool (FREE) – find the most popular tags on Redbubble today
- Notion (FREE DOWNLOAD) – workspace app that provides tables you can filter and order
- Trademarkia (FREE) – trademark search engine
- Redbubble tag generator (FREE) – find the tags of the best selling products on Redbubble
- Lets you analyze data, copy tags and see top 20 trending and popular keywords at a glance.
Setting up your spreadsheet
We will be collect niches with potential in a Notion spreadsheet.
I like notion because you can order results by number and filter by criteria. You can use Excel if you like but I don’t know how to do that in Excel.
You can download a template of the table I created in the video below.
Then we can sort the niches by preference e.g. least competition first, most sales potential.
According to our preferences, we can easily decide which niche to design for first.
Download Notion, open a new page and set up an inline table (type “/inline table”) like so:
- Name: tag or keyword.
- Competition: number of results for this keyword – find this most accurately by searching for it on Redbubble.
- Intellectual property: check this keyword is not registered on Trademarkia. Also Google it to find out some basic information and determine whether it is appropriate to sell in. This must be done on a case by case basis, comes with experience and just try your best to be as safe as possible. Some specific examples are shown in the video. Don’t expect to get it right 100% of the time (most sellers including me have had a few works removed) but learn your lesson from any warnings thereafter.
- Sales/mo: the number of sales made by the top seller in this keyword per month. This helps validate that the niche is converting, giving a very rough estimate of sales potential. Find this using the premium version of Bubble scout (discount link above).
- No tag spamming: check if many of the best sellers are tag spamming. If a niche has too many listings on page 1 with tag spamming it’s best to avoid it.
- Tags: copy the unique tags that the top sellers are using (WITHOUT tag spamming). Use the Merchtitans Redbubble tag generator to create a list.Any other data you want to collect e.g. best selling product.
Those are some basic columns to start out with. Others you may want to add include:
- Bestselling product (e.g. shirt/sticker)
- Date of trend
- Google trends data e.g. interest over time, related queries.
- You can access this data through Bubblescout.
Now we’re ready to find and add some niches.
Here is an example of a filled out row:
You can watch the video to see a demonstration of how I did trend research for 25 September.
Use Bubble trends to see today’s trending niches, and collect the ones with less than 500 results in your table.
I think this is reasonable competition.
If you would like to be more selective choose a lower threshold. Points to note:
- The number of results on the right side may not be accurate as there is a time lag. Make sure to copy and paste the keyword into RB and have a look for yourself how many results there are.
- You’ll also find these results if you type in a letter in the RB search engine.
- These are listed in alphabetical order, not popularity order. To see the top 20 trending tags of these, use the Bubble scout chrome extension. Prioritize these.
Historically trending niches
To see niches with lower competition and fewer tag spammers, go back in time.
Just because something’s not trending today doesn’t mean it doesn’t still have search volume. Some die out quickly, but others remain. A keyword that has trended before in the past will likely have reasonable search volume compared to other keywords for a few years.
I wouldn’t be making daily sales from uploads I made a year ago if trends died out instantly.
If we’re thinking very long term, over many years the trends may die out further so the best thing to do is target as many as possible, so a few have a chance of sticking.
Once the sales get rolling consider designing in popular evergreen niches also.
Sort through the keywords with lower results on the popular tags tool. They update data every Monday, so check and add these on Mondays for best effect.
Because these will have more search volume than trending tags, set a higher threshold for the tags to collect e.g. write down anything with less than 1000 results.
Again, make sure to check the actual number of results by searching for the keyword.
You will have to go several pages in to find niches with low enough competition that aren’t other people’s IP.
If you want to validate demand for a keyword e.g. you want to design “flower patterns” you can also search for it here. If it isn’t on this list I wouldn’t even bother designing for it.
What’s the difference between trending & popular tags?
Popular tags are the most popular search terms on RB at a given time.
Trending tags are tags which have seen a massive increase in popularity over a short space of time.
Equate trending tags to ‘movers and shakers‘ on Merch By Amazon, for shirts that have had a massive drop in BSR over a short space of time. You can find these using Merch Informer.
Designing for popular tags is ideal, but they usually have too much competition and tend to be trademarked or copyrighted.
Trending tags probably won’t have as many searches per month as the most popular tags but there is still decent demand for them. Demand is likely to increase in the near future also.
Collect and target both trending and popular tags.
Intellectual property tips & traps
There are so many grey areas and differing opinions when it comes to IP.
I personally hate dealing with this topic as a seller. You can probably relate. But I appreciate these laws as a creator and designer.
It’s very important for protecting the rights of creators, as well as keeping you and your platforms out of trouble and avoiding getting your account suspended.
Here are some general tips from experience:
- If a word is clear of trademarks, it applies to THAT WORD only – not associated tags. E.g. ‘you got mossed’ – no trademark, probably can be used. Related tag: ‘NFL’ – definitely trademarked, DO NOT USE. Check all your tags you have suspicions about before using them.
- If I was to give you a list of niches to avoid at all cost they are: Warner Bros., DC Comics, Marvel, Pixar/Disney. Not just regarding fan art but anything associated with them. These actually have employees looking for infringement 24/7 and have the money to sue you. I’m sure there are plenty more out there, these are just from experience and cautionary tales.
- If a word is clear of trademarks, it doesn’t mean RB can’t remove your design for it as it could be a ‘flagged’ word in their system.
- This is why it’s important to Google the word and find out the full context. Better understanding the niche can also help inform your designing.
- Generally avoid words that are the names of other businesses or people even if they’re not trademarked (or use at your own risk, up to you).
- Images e.g. on Google images are automatically protected by copyright. So are song lyrics, poetry, other people’s logo/print on demand designs and other creative works you can find online. Don’t copy these.
- Places like Pixabay, Canva etc have copyright free images which are generally ok for commercial use, but some may come from other places or be stolen. You can reverse search images on Google and try to find where they came from originally.
- I’m not an IP lawyer so I don’t get this right 100% of time, and neither will you, but all you can do is try your best.
- Each word is an individual case.
- There are unlikely to be serious ramifications from a few removals of non-trademarked words.
‘Is it ok to design for xyz keyword?’
The answer is unless it’s explicitly trademarked (in which case, no) then I don’t know.
I could give you an answer on whether I would design for it personally, but that would be irresponsible as what I do isn’t always right or without consequences.
At the end of the day, it’s your decision. Any risks are on you and your account.
Keep in mind your design only really gets removed if:
- A keyword triggers Redbubble’s algorithm.
- The IP holder sees your design and contacts Redbubble asking them to take it down.
- Someone else on the platform sees your design and reports it for infringement.
If you’re concerned always get in contact with someone officially associated with the thing you’re unsure about.
Get explicit permission in writing that you can use this word on apparel and other items commercially.
Which Niche to Start With?
Once you have collected as many niches as possible in your table, it’s time to sort them.
- Make sure to filter by intellectual property first.
- Then filter by non-tag spamming or other criteria of your choice e.g. Google analytics data, up to you.
- Then sort the results with lowest competition first: ‘ascending’.
The result that comes out at the top is the one you should start with. Work your way down in order.
If two niches have very similar competition design for the one with higher maximum sales first.
Spreadsheet from video
Use this as a template, and as practice for filtering and sorting the Notion table – rather than trying to oversaturate the tiny number of viable niches I happened to find on 25th September. Do your own research!
Instructions: download notion, register for an account and open the file above. Click ‘duplicate’ and log in.
Never run out of niches.
From now on you won’t need to trust me or anyone else that a niche has amazing sales potential, because you can actually validate it for yourself: all the niches in your table will have demand, low competition and you’ll be able to see whether other people are making sales in it.
Repeat this procedure and add to your table as much as you need.
You can filter through every day in the history of Bubble trends, every page of the popular tags tool, and come back every day to add today’s newest trends.
Hopefully this article gives you a clearer understanding of the criteria to look out for when finding a profitable niche on Redbubble.