How Women are Monetising Creativity: Using e-commerce platforms can turn a side-hustle into a business

Hanne Dinkel
- Leadership - Mar 08, 2019

Female creators are making money from design by using existing e-commerce platforms rather than building their own technology. They are already amongst the highest commission earners at Spreadshirt and were seven of the top twenty earners in 2018, up from just one in 2013.

So does this mean their creativity can start out as a side-hustle and scale into a profitable business?

Using established digital marketplaces allows creators to start their side hustle with just one design. Successful designs are picked up and used, which generates income for the creator. The next step, to a scaling business, involves a bit more time and effort. Creating designs and bringing them together into a thriving online shop means marketing to your tribe and responding to their feedback. 

We’ve seen this trend develop at Spreadshirt over the last five years as women become top earners. Since 2018 the commission women earn at Spreadshirt has risen 157%, whereas growth at shops owned by men has only risen 19% in that time. Indeed last year, two women were in the top five commission earners, in a year when Spreadshirt produced its first commission millionaire.

Lasting designs that connect are the ones that create sustainable businesses from a hobby. It’s not enough to focus on already-viral memes or throw-away fashion. Designers who earn high commission often do so by finding ideas that speak to their followers. Ideas like the foodie designs created by Chef Shirts or the striking image that chimes with International Women’s Day at Mademoiselle Kiki. This sort of wearable content enables women to establish their cultural credentials, bridge online and real-life trends and generate revenue at the same time.

Using e-commerce platforms like this is about investing talent and time rather than having significant financial backing. Print-on-demand makes it easy to try it out. It turns a design into customisable content at little financial investment from the designer. Customisation is so important to consumers that even Nike is offering it for its shoes these days, with its Nike By You range. Using established e-commerce platforms means smaller brands can also tap into this trend. Savvy creators can see that this approach gives them more time to design and less on the boring stuff like taxes, logistics, returns and payments.

So is using e-commerce platforms a place for your side hustle or to grow your creative business? Both. Some designers will turn their side gigs into thriving businesses, 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. For many women this is a way to develop their business through revenue rather than traditional funding routes.

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.

Hanne Dinkel is the Chief Delivery Officer of Spreadshirt

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