Getting your online store suspended isn’t an easy ordeal to go through.
Trust me, I’ve been through it 3 times. Months, possibly years of hard work wiped out overnight.
But if you’ve been banned from Redbubble, not all hope is lost.
While it’s not as bad as Etsy, Redbubble has had some historical suspension mishaps you should be aware of.
In this article, I will be discussing reasons for Redbubble account suspensions, looking at case studies of users who have been reinstated, suggesting tips to protect your account and giving you 4 things you can do to get unsuspended.
Disclaimer: I don’t work at Redbubble, nor do I know anything about how their internal system works. Many of my conclusions are based on speculation from reading online forums as well as the Redbubble seller help center, along with my experience building my own multi-vendor eCommerce store (where I have the power to suspend and unsuspend users at will *insert evil laugh*). There is no 100% guarantee you’ll get your account back if you follow these steps, but it’s worth a try as it’s worked for some people before.
How Do I Know If I Am Suspended?
You should receive an email if you get suspended. You can check by visiting the web address:
If an error page pops up, you’ve been suspended.
Redbubble’s Official Suspension Policy
This is Redbubble’s official statement and FAQs on suspension, I recommend you read through it thoroughly.
Below I’ve summarised their reasons for suspending accounts which include but are not limited to:
- “Fraudulent activity” connected to the account. More on this later.
- Images uploaded did not belong to the user e.g. art theft.
- Receiving too many warnings from Redbubble e.g. for IP infringement or inappropriate content.
- It’s unclear exactly how many warnings will tip you over the edge, but the fewer the better. Make sure you trademark check all your tags and titles before uploading.
- Tag spamming. Don’t do it.
- Deceptive listings claiming to sell products Redbubble doesn’t offer.
- Account created by the same user after an associated account was disabled – doesn’t have to be you, could be e.g. a friend who accessed their account from your IP address then got suspended later.
- Account was opened/operated by someone under 16.
- Violating the user agreement or community guidelines.
You’ll still be paid any outstanding balances.
Keep in mind, they’re not obliged to tell you why you got suspended or even respond to your appeal (very helpful).
If you haven’t heard from them in 2 weeks the chances of a response are low, but keep checking to see if you can log into your account.
There have been cases of users who didn’t get any contact from Redbubble but found they could log in again.
Artists won’t be able to login or access their products while suspended.
Make sure you keep your designs and store details saved on your computer for this reason.
If you were suspended for spam, fraud or violating policies you are unlikely get your account back. Take this as a lesson before your next business venture.
If you don’t think this applies to you, read on.
Other Possible Reasons for Suspension (Not Mentioned On The Site)
Redbubble states: “Accounts will not be suspended for reasons not defined by our published policies and users are not more or less likely to be suspended because of their location“.
Hopefully they have taken measures to ensure this is an accurate statement.
However, historically this has not been the case.
If any of the following circumstances apply to your suspension, which could be erroneously classed as “fraudulent activity”, make sure to take the necessary steps to contact Redbubble.
Registering From a Non-English Speaking Country
There are multiple accounts of users registering from non-English speaking countries (mostly Asian countries) being suspended.
Check out Passive Owl’s article on this subject, in which he recognizes that suspended users in his Facebook group mainly lived in such countries.
Their system may be able to detect VPNs, which may also trigger suspension.
See the video for more accounts from users on Reddit.
Random Erroneous Algorithmic Changes
In February, Redbubble confirmed on Twitter that a site error resulted in several users being “inadvertently suspended”.
While the crisis was seemingly averted, it caused mass panic. See Ryan’s video on this issue.
Some speculated that this could have been a larger cover up for a ‘purge’ of spammers.
Hopefully they’ve learned to not do whatever they did that time. Nevertheless, keep in mind that this could happen again.
Most of the banning on Redbubble is automated, as it’s impossible to police every account with so many new designs being uploaded every day.
Sidpublishing got his suspended account back, and had this advice about not triggering the spam filter.
- Don’t upload too many designs in the first few days.
- Don’t add more than ten tags per design during the first few days (I think a week is reasonable). Later on you can go back to add more, without tag spamming obviously.
- Don’t log into your Redbubble account from different locations.
- Don’t log in using a VPN.
- Don’t let your anyone else access your account or upload for you as they are working from a different location which will look suspicious to the filters.
- Don’t use copyrighted/trademarked words in your tags, titles and descriptions.
- Use royalty free vector images and images you can’t find on the web elsewhere.
- Don’t use identical metadata (title, tags, description) on too many designs in your store.
Jelena commented about using identical tags on several Redbubble designs:
From this, I would suggest not creating more than 5 copies of one design (using same title, tags, description) and shuffle the tags as Mohmmed suggested.
It is also interesting to note that Jessica’s second account was suspended but her first account remained safe.
I would suggest that if this is the case (one account is suspended but the others aren’t), don’t log into the safe account from the same IP address and device.
Read the full thread here.
This may also be a good reason to create multiple and niche accounts, although remember to not upload more than 60 works across all of them.
Make sure also to not send too many links in your BubbleMails. There have been cases of scammers lurking in the Bubblemails so don’t send too many at once either.
Redbubble has a ton of spammers on its platform and it’s difficult to catch them as soon as they upload.
There is speculation that every few months they do a “purge” where they go around deleting every account that violates their policies in sight.
While there isn’t much explicit evidence to support this conspiracy theory, one observation is that historically users often start complaining about the bans at the same time in waves.
It’s also possible the aforementioned “inadvertent suspension” incident was a cover-up for a larger purge.
Keep an eye on the @redbubble twitter and follow some artists who are active in the community, so you can keep well informed about higher-up news that may affect your income.
If you notice suspicious activity, hold on for a few days before uploading and logging in/out.
Account Being Reported or Trolled By Other Users
As aforementioned, these bans happen at scale using automated processes.
Thus if an account has been reported repeatedly by other users, it may be automatically suspended without review.
If you know you’ve violated policies, then it’s on you. But if it’s abused with malicious intent, this could still result in suspension.
This is an issue I’ve heard has been prevalent on Etsy.
The suspensions on Etsy are so out of order that they’ve apparently even suspended users for reporting other people!
Moral of the story, mind your own business?
Can’t see this being beneficial for the community though.
Nevertheless, this is one of the reasons I don’t share or link any of my online stores, and instead just show evidence of my earnings from the back end.
I suggest you take the same precautions if posting about your income online, so you can help others without putting your businesses at risk.
Prospective customers don’t do this type of thing. The only people reporting sellers who aren’t doing anything wrong are other sellers who think it gives them an edge.
Why Did Another Seller Not Get Suspended For XYZ While I Did?
A question I commonly see is, how are all these policy violators (tag spammers, infringers etc) still allowed on the platform… while I got banned for doing nothing wrong?
I’ve come up with some reasons for why this might be the case:
- They haven’t been caught yet, in which case purge time may be around the corner.
- They signed up at a different time when the algorithm was different, for example they may have changed it to stop suspending users from non-English speaking countries now.
- You used flagged tags or triggered their spam filter (while the other seller didn’t).
- They got suspended but then reinstated. Websites can be cautious about suspending users twice (but this obviously isn’t a free pass to violate policies if you get reinstated).
I have found multiple accounts of users who claimed to have gotten their accounts back on forums and YouTube comments.
So not all hope is lost. You are not suspended forever – each user can be manually reinstated, all you have to do is convince someone to press the button:
Hopefully this encourages you try at least once to reach out using the steps below.
4 Steps To Recover Your Account
- Submit an appeal with your photo and description on the website.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the same photo and message attached.
- Tweet @redbubble and @redbubblehelp on twitter with your account name and the fact that you would like it back. Remember to be polite.
- Drop a private message to @redbubblehelp on twitter with the same contents as your request.
In combination, these 4 steps should get you noticed at least.
There’s a lot of do’s and don’ts when it comes to this topic, and many new users find themselves treading on eggshells when trying to protect their accounts against spam filters etc.
However, keeping spammers off the platform and avoiding potential lawsuits is an important part of running a multi-vendor POD business such as Redbubble Inc.
Errors can occur, and so much is out of your control.
The safest option is always to have your own store with your own domain and customer base.
Before you can get there, use external marketplaces as a stepping stone rather than relying on them as your sole income source. Aim to diversify across many POD platforms, which will help you earn more too.
I would suggest reaching a certain number of uploads or certain income threshold on each external marketplace you sell on before transitioning to your own store.