It wasn’t too long ago that Sarah Richford considered designing as a hobby. However, after discovering that people would actually pay money to have her designs included on apparel and accessories, she decided to start her own de facto business!
That brought her to Spreadshirt, where she’s been selling her designs under her moniker, “TechraNova” Sarah’s offerings generally focus on cute illustrations of animals, but she’s recently expanded her range to include any designs that fall under the self-proclaimed “happy” category. Predictably, these designs have quickly proven to be a hit, and Sarah now considers herself a full-time shirt designer.
Considering the quick ascension of Sarah (or, as you may know here, TechraNova) through the Spreadshirt ranks, she was a natural choice for our January Designer of the Month. We asked Sarah about her designing and Spreadshirt experiences and expertise, and she also provided some useful insight that will help out those who are just getting started with Spreadshirt.
Hometown/country/current location: Nottingham UK
Current job/source of income: Shirt designer
When did you join Spreadshop? 2017
How did you get started with designing? Did it initially start as a hobby? How did this passion ended up turning into a money-making opportunity?
I think I really started concentrating on designing in 2015 or so…it has been a few years. I’ve always been an artist, but I realized that there was a way I could turn this hobby into a living, and that was an exciting prospect. I naturally gravitated towards cute designs.
I ended up researching other POD (print on demand) websites where I could sell my artwork. After reading comments and opinions from others, I liked the sound of Spreadshirt!
How do you decide which designs you’re going to sell? How much time do you spend uploading and maintaining your designs?
I’ve got a lot of ideas on the backburner. Sometimes I get a sudden spark of inspiration, or my partner mentions a cool pun and I’ll make sure to run with that idea. I rarely scrap shirt designs, and I finish most of the projects that I start. It honestly takes me longer to upload designs to websites than it takes to draw them these days. I’m happy websites like Spreadshirt are implementing more and more seamless ways to upload designs. Spreadshirt recently added a template feature that I know will make the process so much faster.
Do you find that any types of designs or products tend to sell best?
T-Shirts sell the best, and I think it’s because that’s what I generally design for. Other products are just an added extra bonus, like mugs and other accessories. Happy, positive designs tend to sell the best for me.
You do a nice job of marketing your designs on social media. Do you subscribe to any specific marketing strategy (i.e. promotions)?
I used to feel weird about advertising my art on social media, and I try not to be too pushy about it. I want to make sure there’s some art in between. The websites I sell on (like Spreadshirt) occasionally have promotions, and I tend to promote around those times. I’m definitely on the lower side of followers on social media, even when you combine my various pages…but this doesn’t bother me much. I think it’s more about the engagement than the numbers; I really like to interact with other artists. Posting on a consistent schedule helps with visibility, but it’s harder than it looks since social media is a massive time sink!!
Have you played around with paid advertising?
I’ve only tried Facebook advertising, and it does not work. Engagement is low, and the turnover generally means you’re spending more money than you could possibly gain. However, I do rely on the audience of the websites I sell on, and I use SEO tactics… this improves the chances that my designs can easily be found!
Do you have any helpful tips for those who are new to Spreadshirt?
Try to design for a niche that you’re into or find something you really enjoy and expand from there. Also, make sure to apply your design to every product that’s appropriate! A customer might want that design on any type of product!