Tagging: The New 10 Tag Rule & Resistance is Futile

Redbubble’s recent announcement that members will now be limited to only 10 tags per artwork has not gone over well. Some have accepted and embraced it, while many more are angry, frustrated, and/or don’t understand.

Although I wish I could see the study behind the necessity of only 10 tags when many people claim they’d be happy with 15-20… things are changing and as it seems, members will either have to A) get on board or B) get out.

Other Sites Limit Tagging
I belong to another site called Imagekind where members can create free accounts to sell their work in cards and various prints and posters. They have many options both for product printing and for searching. BUT, free accounts are limited to 10 tags… Redbubble’s newly instated rule is not unusual.

But Won’t it Take Too Much Time?!
If you have a lot of artwork on here, the answer is… Yes. Deal with it.

You wan’t Bulk Editing back? So do I. Click here to go to Redbubble’s Feedback/Suggestions Forum. Vote up the Bulk Edit idea. Get Redbubble’s attention… if they even look at that damn site. (If they do, who knows when and why they don’t post updates)

The Silver Lining
If you do have a lot of artwork on Redbubble and you’re bellyaching about having to go through and re-tag them, here are some tips to get past your mental mindblock so you can start.

  1. A trip down memory lane… you get to revisit work you might not have looked at in a while.
  2. You can check to see if you haven’t entered a piece into a group relevent to it… surely you’ve joined groups since you’ve added some earlier works. You may have missed some.
  3. If your work has improved considerably, you may want to consider deleting some older work, those old works with little or no comments/views, the ones you’re not so proud of, etc.
  4. Deleting old/unloved work will clean up your portfolio, perhaps inspiring potential buyers to actually look through all or the majority of it. If you look through your portfolio and are afraid to go through 50+ pages of work, imagine how buyers feel!
  5. Deleting work you don’t think you can move or interest people in will limit the number of pieces you have to re-tag! Joy!
  6. Looking through your work might inspire you in your creation of new work!

See, look at that list of benefits! And I’m sure there’s more… just use your imagination!

Now, the Nitty Gritty
Many of you have expressed that you don’t know how to cut back on your tags… or that it’s flat out impossible. I’d say that’s rubbish. While I think 15-20 would be better because it woul appease the majority of the membership, 10 is manageable if you are HONEST with both yourself and others.

You need to be objective looking at your art. You also need to use a bit of common sense.

Ask yourself the following questions

  1. What is the subject of the piece?
  2. What is the focal point of the piece?
  3. What are the MAIN colors in the piece?
  4. Does the piece have a mood?
  5. If I were buying this, why would I be interested in it?
  6. Who will buy this? Is it targeted toward a specific audience? (i.e. adults, children, sport enthusiasts, foodies, a certain ethnicity/culture, etc)
  7. Does my target audience tend to purchase artwork? Am I charging too much? Not enough?
  8. If I were a buyer looking for art similar to this piece, what search terms would I use?
  9. If I wasn’t knoweldgable in the subject matter of this piece, what search terms would I use?

There is nothing wrong with classifying your potential buyers being as detailed as possible… you should figure out your demographic. Sometimes, it will be the same for all your work, but I think many artists on Redbubble have a diverse porfolio that may require some more legwork to determine target audience for each work.

Tagging Clean-Up Example

If I wanted to sell this piece and get as many hits from searches as possible, I might be tempted to add tags that might describe the piece, but not well.

Here’s how one might tag this work given an unlimited number of tags
Tags: horse, horses, pegasus, wings, wing, winged, winged horse, mythology, myth, Helios, Helius, sun god, gods, chariot, story, Aethon, mythological horse, equine, equus, equestrian, fire, flames, flaming, burning, heat, dark, orange, red, brown, sand, beach, shore, coast, water, sun, sunset, sunrise, light, lighting, mood, dark, palomino, fantasy, featured, clouds, cloud, ominous, digital art, photomanipulation, majestic, walk, Victoria DeMore, VictoriaDeMore

Exhausting, isn’t it?! Now… I know this is extreme… but I have seen people tag work like this. Of course if you’re used to doing things that way, you would be reluctant to change all your work to 10 tags.

Now. Go back to the list of questions in the section above.

  1. What is the subject of the piece? Aethon, a horse of mythology
  2. What is the focal point of the piece? the horse
  3. What are the MAIN colors in the piece? orange/brown
  4. Does the piece have a mood? kind of…dark
  5. If I were buying this, why would I be interested in it? If I liked horses, fantasy art, or was a kid who loves horses, the colors maybe
  6. Who will buy this? Is it targeted toward a specific audience? (i.e. adults, children, sport enthusiasts, foodies, a certain ethnicity/culture, etc) adults or children, those into fantasy art, horse lovers
  7. Does my target audience tend to purchase artwork? Am I charging too much? Not enough? Maybe, I don’t know enough about purchasing habits. Base on other similar fantasy artwork on Redbubble, I believe the price is fair
  8. If I were a buyer looking for art similar to this piece, what search terms would I use? horse, pegasus, fantasy
  9. If I wasn’t knoweldgable in the subject matter of this piece, what search terms would I use? horse

Notice how trends start appearing? Once you have a little worksheet put together, you can EASILY limit your tags. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Really, is someone looking for work like Aethon’s Rest going to search for sand and be interested in my piece? Chances are, they’ll be annoyed that their search term plays such a limited roll in my piece that they’ll just overlook it.

Our tags now become more targeted and descriptive of the piece
Tags: equine, fantasy, horse, mythology, orange, pegasus, winged, orange

We went from 53 tags down to 8! If we really wanted to, we could throw in the type of artwork or our artist name, or even if we categorize our own work with custom tags (i.e. VictoriaDeMore_equineart).

Benefits? Well honestly, A) doesn’t that look better? and B) actually better describe and lead those who are most likely to buy your work to YOUR art?

Another Note
I have seen some people post replies to RB’s announcement arguing that their pieces need descriptive tags.

Take a photograph of a car for example.

These member argue that they need to use the following for seperate tags:

  1. Make of the Car
  2. Model of the Car
  3. Year of the Car
  4. Color of the Car
  5. Body Type (i.e. 4 door, 2 door/coupe, convertible, etc etc)
  6. the word Car
  7. the word Automobile
  8. the word Auto
  9. Where the photo was taken
  10. Any slang terms for the Car
  11. Maybe words describing any detaling on the car
  12. Time of Day or Season or Month etc etc
  13. Name of Car Show if taken at a Car Show
  14. Words describing anything else in the photo
  15. The artist’s custom tags to categorize their images (i.e. VictoriaDeMore_cars)
  16. The artist’s name
  17. Media (in this case, photograhy)
  18. Plurals of words regardless of if they’re applicable

By using the questions I introduced in earlier sections… are all of these really needed? Do you really thing someone looking to buy your photo of a ‘69 Mustang is going to search the name of the car show you saw it at? If the photo is a close up shot of the car, do you think they’re going to want to buy your piece if they’re searching Los Angeles, CA? If there’s a dog standing next to the car, will they search dog and buy a picture that is really of a car?

Again… you need to be honest. Keep in mind I am not suggesting that you are dishonest with your potential customers by overzealous tagging, so don’t take it personally. I mean that you need to be as true to your image as possible. Remove your attachment and undying desire to share it with as many people (whether they are actually interested or not) as possible.

There is More to This That We Don’t Know Yet
From what I gather based on trolling the RB announcement, there are more changes in store. We aren’t privy to all of it for some reason. They don’t have to let us know… they don’t have to include us in any decision. It’s a free site, they provide us with a lot of services for free, only charging when we sell work. It’s actually a pretty good deal when you think about it.

I believe the whole way we search within Redbubble will be changing. Some glimpses into it include that searches will incorporate words in your artworks’ titles. I’m guessing this is to discourage people from having untitled pieces… but it also hurts those who like to have rather abstract titles to their pieces. I’m not all on board with that idea, but maybe there are other things we don’t know.

Main point: Until Redbubble actually says anything (and hopefully when they do, they’ll actually EXPLAIN it fully)… we don’t know what they have up their sleeves.

I hope this has helped you. If you are still frustrated and just HAVE to tell Redbubble how you feel, go right ahead. Just realize that things will go according to planned, whatever Redbubble’s unannounced plan is.

If you want to access the Feedback/Suggestion Forum, go here
To see Redbubble’s announcement regarding these newly introduced changes, click here
And, for Redbubble help on tagging, click here

Want Tagging Help?
If you’d like to, I’d be more than happy to look at your work and current tags to help you whittle them down. I only ask that you don’t get defensive. If I make a suggestion, realize it’s only that… a suggestion. Sometimes it helps to have an outside view on your work, but only some people can handle having some constructive criticism. I know I don’t handle it well, although I appreciate it when it’s put the right way… which in and of itself is an artform (the ability to provide constructive criticism with the right amount of tact, honesty, respect, understanding and humility). So, only ask me to help tag if you can take it the right way and I will try to put it the right way :-) Deal?

Journal Comments

  • JanT
  • JanT
  • Victoria DeMore
  • onefourseven
  • Victoria DeMore
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  • Victoria DeMore
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  • Victoria DeMore
  • Marjolein Katsma
  • Victoria DeMore
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  • plunder
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