Hanne Dinkel, Chief Customer Delivery Officer, Spreadshirt, looks at how women are using an ecommerce platform to turn a side-hustle into a business.
Monetisation has long been the holy grail of online content. For designers, ecommerce seems like a great opportunity, but monetising designs, rather than having them copied and shared for free, has been elusive.
Over at Spreadshirt something interesting is happening. There’s been a remarkable rise in women successfully using the platform to drive revenue from their designs. By using someone else’s technology, these designers have cut out the arduous process and expense of creating their own.
Seven women were in the top twenty commission earners in 2018, in a year when Spreadshirt produced its first commission millionaire. This is up from just one in 2013. And those women didn’t just fill the bottom rungs of the top twenty, the are amongst some of the highest earners. Last year, two women were in the top five.
So how are these female (and male) designers turn their creativity into revenue? By using established marketplaces, learning from their customers and tapping in to trends.
Use Established Marketplaces
On an established market place you can grow at your own pace. Many creators begin with just one design and progress to their own shopfront as the business grows. At this stage of the internet there are some big ecommerce players offering access to global markets through their platforms. Creators of different stripes can opt for marketing, fulfilment and other services at companies like Amazon, eBay, Etsy and us, Spreadshirt; the largest self-expression ecommerce company to come out of Europe.
Learn from your customers
With little or no initial outlay, designers can post their creations and see what works. Which designs sell best? Which t-shirts, hoodies or mugs do people like most? Creators can monitor their sales and see how followers respond to different ideas. Successful designs are picked up and used, which generates income for the creator. Designers who earn high commission often do so by finding ideas that speak to their followers.
Tap into Trends
This doesn’t mean jumping on the bandwagon of already-viral memes, but there are plenty of other trends that successful designers spot and respond to. One is customisation. On a marketplace or shop hosted and fulfilled by someone else, even small brands can offer a little personalisation to their followers. This key trend for the last year or so has seen big players like Nike offer the Nike By You range, where customers can make small changes to their shoes. Smaller brands can offer a choice of colour, size and style. Yet another way of getting feedback on your buyers’ preferences.
There’s probably one other key lesson from the success of the designers on the Spreadshirt site; time & talent. Savvy designers are investing their time and talent in design and marketing, not in business admin and raising funds. Clever creators can see that this approach gives them more time to design and less on the boring stuff like logistics, returns and supplier payments. Perhaps for women, traditionally ignored by traditional financiers, this is a way to develop their business through revenue rather than investment.
So is this the holy grail? Monetising design and turning your side gig into a scaling, profitable business? The designers at Spreadshirt certainly think so and the female designers are proving it in their commission rates. Since 2018 the commission women earn at Spreadshirt has risen 157%, whereas growth at shops owned by men has only risen 19%.
Some designers will turn their side gigs into thriving businesses using others’ marketplaces, but at a pace they can manage. The low cost-of-entry means that designers can try it out with little financial risk. The ability to scale can grow whilst bring revenue into the business.
Women seem to be leading the trend to turn the side hustle into a scaling business. At Spreadshirt they’re definitely turning creativity into profitability.
By Hanne Dinkel
Chief Customer Delivery Officer
Hanne is on the Board at Spreadshirt. Over 50% of senior management are women and the company is committed to supporting and promoting women.
Two of Spreadshirt designers are Chef Shirts and Mademoiselle Kiki. Images are here; middle top and bottom right.
Their shops are here: