Social media has sprung into the public consciousness like a bat out of a hell, and with it, has brought sweeping changes in the way people operate online. Social shopping, online marketplaces that revolve around innovative communities, and merchandise created on demand, is one of the greatest developments spawned by the social media revolution.
(Images via threadless, 2, 3)
One of the biggest breakout success stories in social shopping is the tee shirt community Threadless. Founded in Chicago, the company has evolved around the community creating the shirts, and voting for their favorites. Only when a certain design has hit a tipping point, is it actually printed.
(Images via storenvy, cherry sauce)
Storenvy has created an innovative approach that provides small sellers with free online stores and easy ways for site visitors to share their favorite items with their social group. Storenvy is a great way for shoppers to browse, and a fantastic way to publicize and sell one’s wares.
Cafepress doesn’t have as classy an image as the Threadless and Etsy’s of the world, but it certainly serves a purpose. Cafepress is notable for allowing you to slap an image or design across every conceivable surface, from tee shirts and calendars to coffee cups and mouse pads.
(Images via society6, alvarotapia)
Society6 occupies a niche for on demand publishing of high quality artwork at affordable prices. It’s as close as most artists are able to get to cutting out the middle-man between them and their customers. Society6 is able to bring a slew of creativity to the marketplace that would otherwise be a struggle to sell in mainstream galleries.
Lulu allows authors to publish their own books and ebooks at a low cost that allows any writer to get their novel out there. By allowing books to be published as they’re purchased, the power is in the hands of the author rather than gigantic publishing companies.
(Images via kickstarter, wileywiggins)
Kickstarter is one of the most innovative sites to harness the community, as it allows homespun entrepreneurs to seek funding from a bunch of small investors rather than hunting down investors who only have millions to give. The entrepreneur is able to give their elevator speech in a short video, and in exchange for slapping some money on the table, they lay out prizes to help compensate you for helping their cause.
(Images via deviantart, maskqueraide)
DeviantART leans heavily toward the community side of the spectrum, with almost all of the site’s emphasis being on sharing and commenting on other’s art. The artwork is easy to browse and ranges from crude doodles to fine photography.
Etsy is the undeniable King of shops for small crafters. Allowing everyone to create their own virtual shop with all of the security and amenities of their own store has fostered a creative explosion. When scale no longer bars a crafter from selling their wares, quality tends to go up. Etsy has a devoted community, and innovative search functionality, including a “search by color” page.