If you’ve ever visited the Art Market section of EmptyEasel.com then you already know that I keep track of several art-selling communities online (RedBubble, Yessy, Imagekind, Artist Rising, BoundlessGallery, and a few others) and that I constantly update this traffic graph to show how many visitors each one gets per month.
Well this month I noticed something out of the ordinary while updating those traffic numbers—in the past, Imagekind has ranked higher than any of the other art websites I’ve been tracking in terms of sheer visitors. . . but not this month.
For the first time in a long while, there’s a new leader. Just barely. RedBubble.com.
(That’s only a small portion of the full graph, by the way—visit EE’s monthly traffic chart to see how all the other art websites compare, too.)
Since I usually get my traffic data solely from Compete.com, I decided to check their numbers with two other sources, Alexa.com and Quantcast, just to make sure RedBubble actually HAD overtaken Imagekind.
Here’s the Alexa graph with Imagekind in blue and RedBubble in red:
And here’s Quantcast’s numbers showing RedBubble in blue and Imagekind in green:
As you can see, both other sites verified Compete’s numbers.
So what does this say about RedBubble and Imagekind? Obviously they’ve both grown to their current size VERY quickly (within a year, approximately) and for the time being they seem to be continuing in an upward pattern. (Incidentally, I just learned that RedBubble’s membership broke the 50,000 mark this month, too.)
In contrast, Imagekind may be plateauing slightly. . . we won’t know for a couple more months, but some of these graphs indicate a slowed growth rate.
I credit RedBubble’s extensive community features—its member-generated groups, blogs, and integrated forum—for the rapid growth that it’s experiencing, and will likely continue to experience.
Imagekind gives off more of a “store” vibe, which probably means fewer return visitors/new members compared to RedBubble.
Does that make RedBubble a better place to sell art, or a more LIKELY place to sell your art? No, not necessarily. For community sites, I tend to think of these monthly traffic numbers as health indicators of the website overall, not indicators of results.
I would say that if your art appeals to artists themselves, or if you want to put your images on t-shirts or greeting cards, RedBubble would be a better fit. And whichever site you’re on, you’ll get the best results (sales) by sending visitors directly to your artwork yourself, via your own art blog or other methods.
Ultimately, the fact that both companies stress community and have grown so quickly is simply another sign that community-based “commercial” websites (art or otherwise) are the wave of the future.
I expect to see more art websites integrating community features in the next year or so, but just from looking at these results so far, my hunch is that the websites which are developed and built from the ground up with “community” in mind will do the best.
Keep an eye on my monthly traffic graph if you want to stay up-to-date on the online art market—at least as far as traffic goes—and buckle up for an interesting year as Imagekind and RedBubble vie for that top spot in the chart.