In between work on my picture book ideas and writing projects, I enjoy illustrating one-off designs which I post on Zazzle and other custom merch sites. However, I’ve been somewhat frustrated with Zazzle, since their ranking algorithms seem to bury my items in the search results in the US. I could be completely wrong here, but it’s a working theory, since most of my orders come from abroad. This makes me think I’m missing out on the majority of possible sales. The quality of my work itself couldn’t possibly be the reason for lagging sales in the US! You see where this is going, and it’s not just a river in Egypt.
Recently, a friend got me excited about Threadless, a site where illustrators submit their work of a particular theme into a contest, and the winning choice is crowd-sourced. There was a onesie design contest (or "infant creeper" as some places call them, making me wonder if the word onesie is trademarked - hi lawyers! *waves*) by a children’s clothes retailer, and feeling somewhat inspired, I entered two pieces into the competition.
No, this isn’t a feel-good story where I win and I’m carried on the shoulders of other illustrators through the gates of Illustrator City. I didn’t win. BUT…according to the FAQs on the Threadless website, I managed to earn a very high score on the Unicyclesaurus design, a 3.16, and I should pat myself on the shoulder for it. *pat, pat* Now where’s my book deal? HA! ;)
I posted a few pieces on Society6, such as the above Bare Hugs print, but so far no sales. Zazzle's still bringing in consistent sales, no matter how small the amount may be. So I guess I'm back to square one. *shrugs* I'll take it as a sign that I should get back to writing and illustrating picture books.