Seller Guide for Artists: How To Be Successful on Zazzle

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Zazzle is a type of online store known as a print-on-demand store.  What this means is that artists and photographers can upload their images to Zazzle, and sell products with their designs.  Print-on-demand stores typically sell prints, home decor products, and other gifts.  These stores allow designers to sell products with their images without having to worry about maintaining inventory, handling orders, and shipping, while still being able to make money off of their designs.

This article will discuss Zazzle and give information about the store for sellers.  You can be successful selling products on Zazzle.


Introduction

First, a little bit about me.  I am a traditional artist who specializes in colorful animal artworks that are created with acrylic paints, pastels, and colored pencils.  I have had my Zazzle store since 2008. I am a ProDesigner, and have been very active on Zazzle and the Zazzle community online.  The company Zazzle was founded in 2005, and is based in California.  They are unique in that they offer fully customizable products for sale, where customers can add their own text and photographs to already available products.

Patience is Key!

It is very possible to make money selling on print-on-demand stores like Zazzle.  But one thing to keep in mind is that it takes a lot of patience, time, and dedication to make your store profitable.  It takes a while to generate sales.  It can take months to get your first sale.  Unless you have a very popular and well-established brand, it can take a few years for your store to get traction and really start generating sales regularly. Having a POD store is certainly not a get rich quick scheme.

It is also important to keep in mind you are making a royalty on sales.  This means you get a percentage of each sale.  The average product sale price is around $40, so your expected take home royalty of that is about $4 or so per sale.  While it is theoretically possible to earn a living wage off of royalty sales alone, for most this does not happen.  For most people, the sales will generate a passive supplemental income.  If you are making $100 or more a month in royalties, you are doing pretty good!


Find Your Niche

Decide what it is you want to sell as an artist.  Some people do great graphic design and can create beautiful abstract designs which look great on home decor products.  Others like to focus on designing a specific product, like wedding invitations.  Others, like me, create their art first, then decide which products to sell on later.  Find your niche and stick to it.  Create your own style and brand and be consistent.  I don’t recommend following trends, as these usually fade out leaving you with a store full of products that will not sell in a few months or years.

In order to be successful, you must have a large and diverse portfolio.  The more designs you have, the better. The key to being successful is sticking with it.  Keep making new designs or artworks, continue to upload those designs to products, and add new products frequently.  Statistically speaking, the more designs you have, the more sales you can potentially make.  Don’t be afraid to remove old outdated designs that are not selling well or do not reflect your current level of skill or style.


Setting Up Your Store

Setting up a store is easy and free.  Chose a store name wisely, as it will become part of your URL and cannot be changed later.  You can set up multiple stores under the same account, which comes in handy if you have different design types that you want to keep separate. For example, I have one Zazzle store for my artwork, and a separate one for my photography.

Make sure you completely fill out all the areas in your profile, including your name, tagline, about, links to your social media sites and website, cover image and profile image. A profile that is completely filled out will be more professional and stand out more than one that is missing information or a profile picture.  Having a nice filled out bio is a great way to connect with your customers.  In your My Account section, be sure to add your PayPal account so you can collect your royalties.  And don’t forget to set up your Associate ID.  This allows you to earn a referral on products purchased with your ID.  More on that later.

Store Settings

In your Settings section for each store you create is a list of options to the left.  The first, Store Information, is your name, tagline, about, store banner, website URL, store tags, email contact, city, state and country.  Make sure these are all filled out, as well as a store icon.  You have the option here to make your store private, which I do not recommend, because then no one will see it or its products.  The Media Section contains images you upload which will show up in the Media section of your Home page, and in your About section.  This section must be completed for your store to be active.  Social Networks allows you to add links to your social media accounts.  The Notifications section allows you to turn on or off your notifications.

In the Advanced settings page, you can really customize your storefront.  Decide which sections you want to add to your storefront, if you want to show comments, and enabling advanced features.  I recommend at least adding the “Categories” section to your Visible Sections. Design migration allows your design to be added to new products immediately.  I do not recommend using this, as once a product is published it cannot be modified.  Design Transfer allows customers to transfer a design to a different product.  I do not recommend you use this if you want full control over which products you sell your designs on.  Watermarking is not recommended, since it will show up when the product is shared on social media, especially Pinterest.  Here you can set up a Google Analytics tracking, which I highly recommend.  Marketing and Promotions is your opt-in or opt-out for allowing Zazzle to sell on Amazon and other third party sellers.

Store Categories

You must also set up Categories for all of your designs.  I have one category for each design, so they are all grouped together.  This is the primary way to organize the products in your store, as the categories show up on your main store page.  If you have lots of designs, you can set up subcategories as well.  You can see all the categories I have on my main storefront.  If you click on Wild Felines, Colorful Cats or Colorful Dogs, you can see they have subsections, with one design each.


Adding Products To Your Store

As of the time of writing, Zazzle offers over 1400 products. If you take into account each product also has many varieties, such as shape, size, and color, then their total product catalog is in the millions.  Their categories include clothing, home decor, kitchen decor, bathroom decor, bedding, bags, office and school supplies, stationery, cell phone and iPad cases and covers, wall art, toys and games, craft supplies, and accessories. They have by far the most products of any POD.

How To Choose Your Products

Picking the products to put your images on can be overwhelming, especially since there are over a thousand products to choose from.  Designing products on Zazzle can be very time consuming.  Unlike other print on demand stores such as RedBubble, you must design each product one at a time.  If you are just starting out, I recommend choosing a few products to start.  Stick with the popular products, which can be seen on their Create Your Own section.  Art prints, t-shirts, keychains, buttons, magnets, stickers, postcards, tote bags, cell phone cases, throw pillows, mugs, and greeting cards are all very popular on Zazzle.  Start out with a few products, and expand your store inventory over time.

It is important that you keep in mind that products have different shapes, and your art can be modified to fit any shape product on the website itself. Experiment with products.  If a design just does not look good on a product, don’t sell it.  It is important to have a variety of products, you never know what will sell! Zazzle adds new products regularly, so I recommend adding your artwork or design to new products as they come out.

Fine art, such as paintings and drawings, are best suited to products that are rectangular in shape, such as art prints, postcards, greeting cards, blankets, cases, puzzles and similar products.  However, they can be fit to any product.  Abstract designs look good on anything, and can be repeated as a pattern to cover the entire product area.  They look best on home furnishings such as blankets, pillows, shower curtains, and other similar products.  Cartoon style designs or logos look best on clothing and bags.  Of course these are recommendations and it is up to you in the end.

Soon you will discover that one or more of your designs is more popular than the others.  They sell more frequently, and on more products, than some other designs.  If you find this, then try to focus on adding more products for that particular design,  It is important not to neglect your other designs, however.


Uploading Your Artwork on Products

The user interface is very intuitive and easy to use. You select which product you want, upload the image, and use the online software to fit the image to the product. Zazzle accepts the following image types: JPG, PNG, PDF, AI, TIFF, and GIF.  There does not seem to be an upper limit on the file size at this time. You can resize and rotate the image, add text, select background color, even have more than one image on a single product. The display on the screen showing your product boundaries is very large and clearly marked in bold black and red lines. You can select an option to allow your customer to customize your product, which is recommended.  You can see an example of the Design Editor below.  Click the image for a larger view.

Zazzle Design Editor

Zazzle Design Editor

With this tool, you can add multiple images, and edit them on screen.

It is best to have the image cover the entire area of the product.  This looks best, even if it results in some cropping of your design.  This can be accomplished by using the Fill feature in the product design editor, then moving the design so it looks best.  Example below for a tote bag.

Make sure your design covers the entire area of the product. Otherwise, white “gaps” are left on the product, and this does not look good.

Please keep in mind that, unlike other POD stores, once you publish a product you cannot edit the image.  You can only edit the Title, description, tags, store category, and royalty.  If the product does not look good, or later you have a better scan of your design, you must delete and reupload the product. This is not recommended, as the majority of your sales will be coming from the marketplace (Zazzle search).  Once a product has sold once, it will be displayed prominently in the search.  If you delete a product, you will lose your marketplace ranking.

In the Products section of your store, you can get a lot of product statistics information.  Products that have not been viewed or sold within 15 months will be automatically hidden by Zazzle, and you must make them public again or delete them.


Adding A Title, Description and Keywords

When posting your product for sale, you will be prompted to add a title, description, keywords, and selecting your category and price markup. Adding a good title, description and keywords is the most important thing you can do to have your design seen.  The title and keywords are indexed by Zazzle search, and the description is indexed by Google search. This is called SEO, which means “Search Engine Optimization”.  SEO is the method of making sure you use the right words on your website so it can be indexed and found.  Having a good title, description and keywords will allow your product to be seen on the site and on Google search.  Without these, your product might as well be invisible.

Title

The title is limited to 50 characters, and this must include your product name as well.  Be descriptive.  The title is searchable, and key words here are important.  Don’t just call it Image 1, or Abstract Design.  Be specific.  If it is a painting of a rainbow colored Siamese cat, then call the product “Colorful Rainbow Siamese Cat Tote Bag”.

Description

The description is not searchable on Zazzle, but it is indexed by search engines such as Google.  Having a couple of sentences describing the design in detail, along with your name, can really get your design ahead in the search results.  Tell a story about the design, your inspiration, how it was created, use descriptive words about the design itself.

Keywords

You only get 10 keywords on Zazzle, so you need to make them count.  You can use individual words, such as “Siamese”, and you can use phrases, such as “pet portrait”.  Use all 10 of your keywords, and make sure to think about the main subject of the design.  For my Siamese cat, I used the following keywords: Siamese, cat, cats, feline, pets, colorful, rainbow, psychedelic, vibrant, kitty.  This included the subject (cat, Siamese), description (colorful, psychedelic, rainbow), and related terms (cats, pets, kitty).


Setting Your Royalty Rates

You can select your own royalty percentage. However, if it is over 14.9%, there is a small fee. Even though you can technically set the royalty as high as you want, you need to remain competitive with the other sellers, so most set their rate to 10-14%.  You do have the ability to change the royalty rate once per month, which becomes active on the 20th day of every month. It is important to set your rate high enough to make money, but low enough to remain competitive.  The exception is art-related products, such as art prints and canvas prints.  You can set those royalty rates as high as you like.

If your sale comes from the marketplace (Zazzle search) or from your own referral, you keep all of your markup.  However, if you get what is called a Third-Party Sale, your percentage drops slightly.  The reason for this is third party sellers get a referral fee, and that fee is carved out of your markup.  It is very small, and the benefits of having third-party referrals far outweighs the small fee that they incur.  On any given month, about half to 2/3 of my sales are from third party sellers.  You can recoup this money by being an affiliate.  You can read more about the referral/affiliate program below.


Earn Extra Money: Affiliate/Referral Program

There is an affiliate program which can net you an additional 15% of each sale.  The nice thing is it is Zazzle’s own in-house referral system, using a referral-id attached to the URL.   You must use your referral id when sharing your products, and you get the 15% as long as the person who clicks on your link stays on Zazzle and buys something, even if it is not your product.  There are volume bonuses which are calculated each month as well, which can account for additional income.  This is a great way to earn passive income from Zazzle products, even those that are not your own.  I recommend setting up a Pinterest board for Zazzle products, and pin there regularly.  Some people even add them to blog articles on their own websites.


Organize Your Products Into Collections

Zazzle has a cool feature called Collections which allows you to group together similar designs or products in your store in a collection to show off and share.  This curating feature is great for keeping your store organized. You can see examples of my collections here.  I have a collection for each one of my designs, as well as a collection for each product type.  These collections not only show up on your Collections page, but also on the product pages.  This allows people who see your product to see other products with a similar design, or perhaps more products of the same type with different designs.  This can help you get more sales.


Sharing Your Products in your Social Media

This is one of the most important things you can do to promote your products.  Set up social media accounts, such as a Facebook artist page, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, and make posts about your products regularly.  Be sure to use the Share function on the product page and be logged in so your Associate ID is in the link you share.  If you have a Pinterest account, make a board for each product type (example: Kitchen Decor) and sections for each individual product (example: stone coasters).  Pin everything, and pin often. Join groups and pin there,  Post on Twitter everyday, multiple times per day. Join Facebook groups specific for Zazzle or other online stores and post there.  Make blog articles for your products.

Engaging with the community is one way to get yourself out there. There is a forum on Zazzle where you can add your products to messages in Show Me boards to show off your products. It is also a great idea to join in the discussions about various things, and offer help to your fellow Zazzlers.  Much of your traffic will come from the search results, but if you are active on social media, you can drive more traffic to your products over time.  It is important to know that your designs will not show up very high in Zazzle’s search until they are sold.  Getting that first sale is the hardest, but once you get it, more will come in.


Keep Track of Your Sales

Keep track of your sales on a regular basis.  You need to do this to measure how successful you are, and to keep records for tax purposes.  I have an Excel spreadsheet where I copy and paste the sales into each month.  I have one sheet for each year, and divide each sheet into months, and add up the total sales for each month.  Then I can see how I am doing compared to last year. This is a great way to keep track and for setting goals for yourself.

Zazzle has a great seller interface and backend which is chock full of great information to keep you on track. The My Account section has links for your profile information, collections, order history, account settings, payment methods, and other settings.  You can find promotional tools and tutorials here as well.  The Associate center has information on the referral program, as well as other tools.  The Earnings section has all your sales and referral income history.  Earn enough income, and you can become a ProDesigner, which comes with some perks such as an exclusive message board on the forum, and early access to certain features.


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