So What Is Zazzle?
Zazzle is a website that does POD. POD is short for Print On Demand and is a company that takes photos, art or text and prints it onto one of their products like t-shirts or mugs.
To give you an idea of this you may have seen similar shops doing this. You take your photos of your children into the shop (on your camera or SD memory card) and they take the photos and print them onto a mug for you whilst you wait in-store. Here in the U.K. Boots provides this service.
Zazzle is a website only POD business in America and as its completely online they are able to offer a huge range of products. Most products are customizable so the customer can make the item truly personal and unique. The difference with Zazzle compared to say a shop like Boots doing the same thing is that they have a massive market place with products created by independent artists. So if a customer doesn't have a photo or anything to customize they can choose through a huge selection of pre-designed items. Even if they do have a photo they can add it to a pre-designed item such as a card. Print On Demand also means that no item is actually made until a customer makes an order. The computer software is so sophisticated it can show how an item will look once it has been printed, even though in real life the products are all blank. Once they have the order they print the product according to the design and then its shipped to the customer. In this way the customer can personalize the item without worrying about whether the design has already been printed.
What is Involved in Being On Zazzle?
Now as I said, Zazzle encourages artists to join them and open stores to fill with artwork on products. Its free to join and is an excellent way of selling your artwork and making a bit of extra cash. It sounds good and lots of people join everyday. But before you get carried away thinking this is a get rich scheme. Its not. You can indeed make a descent amount of money but you will need to put in the time and effort to make it pay off. Zazzle has its own in-house forums and I often see new people leave posts commenting on how they never make any money, never sell anything and worry that Zazzle is nothing but a scam. Of course, it's not a scam. I have come across a few real scams in my time and Zazzle isn't one of them. In actual fact they are the complete opposite as they do really work, you do really get paid and they are very open about everything. I have never come across another company that is so open and encouraging. Their philosophy is that if the sellers sells something then of course they benefit too as its Zazzle's products that are being sold and the royalty fee goes to the seller. A win-win situation. They even have an affiliate scheme with an extra 15% commission given every time an item is refereed and sold. So if you refer your own products and sell something you have your normal royalty (say you set it at 20%) and then the extra 15% referral fee on top because you were your own affiliate that time. That's a tasty 35% fee you got for selling your artwork. Now if you sold 100 items that can soon add up to a healthy amount of money. (Yes, you really can sell as much as that with one item in one order. I often sell 100 postcards at a time.)
I can see you are already getting pretty excited about Zazzle, right? I mean, how could you not be interested in that?
But what I tend to find among the new sellers on Zazzle is that they join up because its free and it sounds very easy to do. In theory it is. however, in practice it's not necessarily the case. The reason for this is usually because either the artist doesn't actually do very good artwork, at least the kind of thing customers want to buy on a t-shirt or a mug. Perhaps they do some descent or even really incredible artwork that would be sell-able but they only produced 5 pieces. When they really could do with something like 20 to start off with. The biggest problem is that a lot of people joining Zazzle just don't have the computer skills needed to actually get the artwork onto the products and make them attractive to the potential customer. To start with you will need to get your artwork from real life to the computer. You will need to find a way to have it scanned or photographed so that the digital copy is clear. Then you will most likely need to run the image through a program like Photoshop so that is can be edited to look its absolute best and make the image size as big as the software will allow. (Mine's set for 4000 x 4000 dpi as that's as big as my program will do). This is so when you download it onto Zazzle the image not only looks good but it is also big enough to go on the majority of products that Zazzle offers with minimum editing.
Of course you will also need to be able to figure out how to use the tools on zazzle to create the products. Sometimes you come across a new seller who will say that they thought that if they downloaded all their artwork to Zazzle the customers would be able to choose a design and then choose which product to put it on. And then they don't get any sales.
This is because the seller needs to put their artwork on to the products themselves. Yes, that's right. The seller has to choose from 250+ products to put the art onto. This is where the work comes in. Luckily Zazzle offers 2 ways to create products. You can create one product at a time, say a card, and it will be published onto Zazzle straight away (although it does take roughly 24 hours to get to the marketplace and your own store.) Or you can use the Quick Create Tool to make a big batch of products all with the same design on them. This is of course, is a god send when it comes to wanting to put your artwork onto as many items as you can. After all, you have no idea if a customer would prefer to buy your painting of cute tabby kittens on a t-shirt, mug, key chain or even a tea-towel. Offering a wide range of products give the customer a good choice to pick from.
The other problem similar to this is that the seller/artist thinks that all their sales are going to come from the store directly and so they may spend some time directing a few people to the store or a product, say, via email links. In a way that is fine. But in real life, most of your sales are going to come directly from Zazzle's marketplace, or 3rd party referral from affiliates you may know nothing about. But it's mostly the marketplace that customers go to in order to find and buy your items. Whether you like it or not. Therefore, making your products visible on the marketplace is very important to your sales. This is of course a great thing because Zazzle's marketplace attracts huge amounts of visitors and customers 24 hours a day from all over the world. But some people seem to think they can sell more by just showing their products on the store and making them invisible to the marketplace. They are the ones to fail first. Even if you had enough money to afford Google advertising it may still not be enough to drive customers to your store. As Zazzle's marketplace is both free and far more effective you may as well use it.
So provided your computer skills are reasonably good you will probably been fine at working out how to make products. But you will also need fairly good English speaking skills as you will need to title, describe and keyword your products for the potential customers to find. Unfortunately Zazzle probably has thousands and thousands of other sellers on there all selling lots of artwork on products. For something popular like kittens, for example, you will find approximately 75, 565 products (at the time of writing this.) If you were to create a mug with a nice picture of a kitten on it, your mug will show up under NEW items. However, it will only show up for about 24 hours if you're lucky and then it will be buried under all the other new products being created at the same time as you or later on. So your mug may show up on page 1 after it has been published. Then in possibly less than 24 hours later your item will gradually move down to page 5 and then page 10 and then further away still. Customers browsing might get to page 3 if you're lucky but most will loose interest or find someone else's design and buy that. Keywords are what make it much easier for the savvy customer to find your item. They are the customer who uses the SEARCH and type in exactly what they are looking for. If they type in, for example, cute ginger kittens and your artwork is of 2 cute ginger kittens, you need to put Cute Ginger Kittens as a keyword. Then the customer will find your products. But if your English is so poor you can't spell and end up putting Kute Giner Kiten, your products will NOT be found. Or worse still, you didn't even bother putting a nice long title, description or bothered with the keywords. A title like Kittens, with a description of 2 kittens and then keywords like cat, kittens and cute, will NOT get the customers to you. You may also find (I'm sorry but I do need to say this) the less educated will not bother reading all the beginner's guides, instructions and Forum posts about Zazzle to learn how things are done.
And believe me, there is plenty to discover both on Zazzle itself and away from Zazzle to help you learn how to do it all and get really good quickly to get all the sales coming in. There is nothing more annoying or frustrating than someone who asks for help on the Forum but then doesn't even bother reading the beginner's guides I provided for them. They just complain that they are an artist and they can't do anything like improve their products or they think they are not a very good artist and that's why they have had no sales. I look at their stores and more often than not their artwork is great. They were just too lazy to bother learning how to improve the products they are creating. You don't need to have perfect University grade English but you do need a bit of common sense in order to at least check spelling and maybe Google some information. I didn't know anything about fractals until I started on Zazzle and wanted to put some fractal designs on some products. Trying to title and describe a piece of artwork I don't know much about isn't always that easy. So I goggled fractals and then I was able to effectively describe the artwork. The great thing about Zazzle is that its all there. They are open to help their sellers as much as possible and other sellers are very friendly and helpful. You are allowed to look at other people's work and see how they do it and maybe be a little inspired. You are allowed to look at other seller's stores and see how they made them attractive. Also you can Like their stores and leave a nice little comment. Often they will return the favor and Like your store and leave you a comment too. Now, I will have to mention that although it is open for you to have a good look around at everything on Zazzle, I have to point out that copy-write is a very big thing on Zazzle. Don't copy or steal other people's artwork. (I know you won't, but I still have to say it.)
One last thing.
If you are reading this and you think you have what it takes to set yourself up on Zazzle but you aren't an artist or maybe you just don't have the time to create artwork to sell, the good news is you can still do it. You can use Public Domain images, artwork and clip art. So long as it has no copy write and is approved for commercial use you can use the images for Zazzle. You will still need to re-size them so they are big enough to use but you don't need to be the next Van Gogh to sell products on Zazzle! There are plenty of public domain website full of wonderful images waiting for you to use them.
Should I Sign Up To Zazzle?
If you are an artist (or even if your not), you have reasonable computer skills and you have the common sense to read and learn then Yes you should join.
Its fairly easy to learn
Zazzle takes care of the orders, customers and creation of products so you only create art and put them onto Zazzle.
Other sellers are friendly and helpful.
You can stay at home in the bad weather and work at home.
If you are making new products all the time you will always have products being published and having a day off is easy. In fact you can make Zazzle fit around your lifestyle which is great if you have children. As Zazzle takes care of everything for you and it is in effect a virtual business so you can go on holiday and still be making money!
Zazzle has a huge range of products for your artwork to be put onto and this will attract more customers.
Zazzle is worldwide and this means lots more customers who can buy any time, night or day all year long.
You have control over what products you want to put the artwork onto and sell.
You have some control over the look of your store provided free by Zazzle.
You can decide what your store will be about. If you want a store that only has teddy bear artwork for sale then you can.
You can have as many stores as you want, all with different themes. For example, I have a main gift store selling loads of Mixed Designs, a Christian store, a Pattern store, a Mermaid store, a Halloween/Gothic Horror store and a Christmas store. (All still free!)
They even have a store builder tool and instructions so you can create a separate proper website with your products and sell that way.
Zazzle has an app for iPhones.
Their own in-house Forum is full of useful information and help.
There are loads of guides written especially for Zazzlers by Zazzlers to help you learn how to make great products and make the most of Zazzle to succeeded.
Being an affiliate and promoting your own products is fairly easy as they are fully integrated with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also promote on Google Plus and make a blog too!
You can be your own affiliate and get an extra 15% on top of your normal royalties.
You can refer other sellers products and when they sell you will get 15% affiliate fees.
Other people will be keen to affiliate your products for you.
Zazzle has levels of Pro-Sellers (now called Pro-Designers) so the more you sell the better things keep getting.
Bonuses are given for lots of sales and lots of referrals.
It's better than going door to door delivery catalogs in the rain to people who throw them away!
If you really can't make a store yourself and you have some money spare you can actually hire someone to make you a store.
You need artwork to sell.
You need a basic level of computer skills.
You will need some common sense. ( You may laugh, but you'd be surprised by the amount of people who don't have any.)
You will need a lot of patience.
You may get upset and frustrated because at first it might take a long time before you get your first sale and then regular sales.
The bulk product editing tool called Quick Create that allows you to make a lot of products all at once can be temperamental and not work properly or at all. It can also be a bit tricky to use at times.
You will have to work at it to actually create enough products with enough different designs to make it worth while.
You will need a fairly new computer, laptop or iPad with reasonably fast broadband connection. Using an old computer with very slow broadband will result in frustration and may end in head banging!
You will not get rich over night!
I hope that I have provided enough information about Zazzle for you to have some idea about what's involved before signing up. I hope I didn't put you off but helped you to feel a little more prepared with what's involved. It can require a fair bit of work and patience. You won't get rich over night and infact your first sale may not come for a long time. (Usually near to Christmas) Don't give up, keep trying and learning and before long you will have some sales to encourage you. You may end up doing it full time and making a good living at it!
I wish you lots of luck, success and I hope to see you over there soon!