Exploring Zazzle and its Money-Making Potential

Zazzle is the online retailer that enables members to add visual designs to any individual items from the huge range of Zazzle's onsite products and earn a royalty from any sales made bearing their designs.

While, I've known of it for years and occasionally had a look around, I had never actually joined. So now I've joined in order to embark upon a more thorough investigation of its money-making potential for members (not the potential for the company; they seem to be doing fine).

Zazzle - Earn Commissions on your designs
Zazzle - Earn Commissions on your designs | Source

What is Zazzle?

Zazzle is an online retailer selling a variety of products with visual designs added by members of the site worldwide. The company, according to their ABOUT page, started "from humble beginnings" in 2005 and is based in Redwood City, San Jose, California. Their international headquarters are in Ireland (no doubt for tax purposes - just like Google have done).

What Do Zazzle Sell?

Zazzle have a large inventory of stock categorised in different departments: accessories, art & posters, cards and clothing, crafts supplies, electronics, home & pets, office products and miscellaneous.

If a member wants to sell one of their own designs on any Zazzle product, they can add it by pasting it onto a picture of their chosen product, and it will be offered for sale on the site. At this point, the finished product doesn't exist yet except as a picture on the site. If a customer offers to buy it, Zazzle then produce and post it. The agreed, previously chosen royalty is then paid to the member according to Zazzle's 'following month' payout procedure.

Mousepad Design I made for my store Ran Kai
Mousepad Design I made for my store Ran Kai | Source

What Are Visual Designs?

They're simply images such as photos, artwork, humorous text messages or graphics that members create or that they have the usage rights to. For example, you can submit a photo that you took and have it placed on the front of a T-shirt, or a phrase such as "World's best Dad" on a coffee mug. You can also use Public Domain photos, i.e., old photos for which the copyright has expired. Obviously, using anyone else's photos or designs that you don't have the rights to is illegal and a violation of Zazzle's Terms and Conditions.

In the mouse pad design above, making it was simply a case of taking one of my designs I'd made earlier, pasting it onto their picture of a blank mouse pad and making a few size adjustments to ensure it fits right. It's as simple as that. The abstract design I used could just as easily have been a photo, a drawing or even just some text.

How Much Do Zazzle Pay?

Zazzle pay you a percentage of the sale, which can be decided beforehand. The final price to the customer takes that percentage into account. The default is 5%, but Zazzle recommend choosing around 7% at most. Any more than that can make the item uncompetitive and less attractive to buyers. However, a royalty as high as 99% is possible. That increases the price enormously, so it would have to be a very special design to persuade any customer to pay a lot more than they have to.

For example, if an item costs $10 before your royalty is added, but you want 99%, that leaves 1% for Zazzle. But Zazzle, always get the net cost of $10, so that means their $10 is worth 1% of the total price that the customer pays, and your 99% will be:

  • 99 X $10 = $990

That comes to $1000 that the customer would have to pay for a $10 item. It's extremely unlikely they'll buy it unless they really must have your design and no other will do - and money is no object. Strangely enough, though, quite a few people do price their items like that. I'm not sure why. You can see them on the site., e.g., a $20 T-shirt priced at $2,000.

Obviously, there won't be a rush of customers for those, and that's why Zazzle recommend 7%. Also a small charge is applied to commissions over 20%.

Three Currency Options
Three Currency Options | Source

Getting Paid

There are several international Zazzle sites in addition to the original site, and the payment procedures are slightly different depending on which one you've signed up through. For the US site, you can receive payment by Paypal when you've earned $50 or the equivalent in your own country's currency if applicable (e.g., UK minimum payment is £30). You can also be paid by check, but in US dollars only, and the minimum is $100.

As Zazzle is a US company, everyone needs to fill in a tax form in order to be paid. Different forms are available on the site depending on whether you're a US resident or not.

Setting up a Zazzle Store

Any member can set up one or more Zazzle stores, free. Basically a store is just an area of the site where you showcase all the products that you have added visual designs to. Having more than one store enables you to separate product lines by different niches. You have complete control of your stores and can manage them as you like. You can add as many products as you like, delete any you no longer want to sell - or even delete a whole store.

Volume Bonuses

Monthly Sales
Level 1
$0.00 - $99.99
Level 2
$100 - $999
Level 3
$1,000 - $4,999
Level 4
$5,000 - $99,999
Level 5
$100,000 and above

More Earnings Opportunities

If you have a website, you can place a Zazzle banner on it as a Zazzle Associate to promote their site. If anyone clicks through to Zazzle and buys anything, you will earn 15% commission on the sale. Your Associates ID number is in the ASSOCIATES section in your ACCOUNT.

There's also a volume bonus paid depending how much you've earned in the previous month.

Making Sales: Advice from the Experts

The first thing that new members find off-putting (and the reason I never joined before) is the huge amount of competition. While they have a large range of products, it's tiny compared to the number of designs available on each product. They number in the millions! So if you submit a design and add it to a coffee mug, for example, what are the chances that someone will choose yours among the four million currently available, or even see yours? One in four million? Not quite, as the customer can filter the results in search of a certain type of mug or design, but it's still a huge number. So that's obviously not how to do it.

Having just joined the site, I'm not in any position to advise how to make sales. The only people who can do that are those experts who make sales regularly. Obviously they don't just stick a design on a product and hope for the best. So how do they do it? The easy way to find out is by spending time on the Zazzle Forum. Regulars there offer advice on how they make it work for them, which I've condensed into the following:

Promote your Products

Promote your products (i.e. Zazzle's products bearing your designs) anywhere and everywhere (short of spamming). Social media is good, obviously, and so are your own sites if you have any. There are also article sites, such as Writedge, that allow their members to place ads for their zazzle products on articles they've written.

Tag and Describe Products Well

You need to describe your design well and fully and add good tags or keywords (single word or phrases) so that anyone using a search engine (including Zazzle's onsite search engine) will have more chance of coming across your products in response to their search query.

Make Your Designs Customisable

A customer may like your design on an item, such as a mug, but also want someone's name on it, or a phrase that's relevant to them or someone else personally in some way. So, unless it's something like a fine-art print that you don't want to be altered in any way, you can leave an area of your design blank that the customer can add any text they like to before buying the item. Keep in mind, too, that customers can also make their own design from scratch and buy the product themselves from Zazzle. So if your product was simply a blank coffee mug with "Hello" written on it in plain text, any customer could do that for themselves by choosing a blank mug and adding any text they want using the Zazzle text editor - and cut you and your commission out of the deal completely.

Follow Trends and Design Accordingly

Keeping up with, and tailoring your designs to, current trends and happy, newsworthy events (e.g., a royal birth) can increase your sales. Also, you can anticipate seasonal or annual events such as Xmas, New Year, Easter, Holi, Fathers' Day and Mothers' Day as a lot of Zazzle products are purchased as gifts.

Have a Large Stock

The more products you've added designs to, the greater the chances of making sales. Some of your products will never sell, and that might even be true for most of them. Others will sell, however, and those that sell will help you produce new designs that are more attractive to buyers in future because you can then tailor your design efforts to be more in line with what people actually want. Remember that, unlike a real store, you can have as many products for sale as you like without paying anything. The only investment is your time.

Zazzle's Money-Making Potential

From my research based on the experience of lots of users, I've concluded that, yes, you can make money on Zazzle. You can actually make a reasonable amount of money if you do it right. That said, the majority of members make next to nothing because they don't do it the way the successful sellers do it. They put up a few products and wait for sales... and wait ... and wait... and give up. Giving up is their best option, as that waiting and hoping strategy is just a waste of time.

So if you want to make money on Zazzle follow the successful regulars' advice above. Be committed and run your shop like a real shop - diligently and professionally.

If you're an experienced Zazzler (if that's the right word), and want to share your experience of the site - good or bad, then feel free to add a comment. It will be appreciated.

© 2015 chasmac

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Comments 6 comments

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 16 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Great review on this website, Chasmac. Sounds interesting and useful, too. Voted up!

chasmac profile image

chasmac 16 months ago from UK Author

Thanks Kristen - No earnings yet and I don't expect any for a long time to come. I'm still enjoying it though and understanding more as I build up my stores and fill them with Zazzle products.

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 16 months ago from Northeast Ohio

My pleasure Chasmac. Keep at it though.

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 13 months ago from Home Sweet Home

wonderful review, i prefer lazada and zalora

chasmac profile image

chasmac 13 months ago from UK Author

Thanks peachpurple - I'll check out those two sites.

Hanzamfafa profile image

Hanzamfafa 7 months ago from London

Great review. I can't believe that there is a lot of income opportunities online. Just started on my online adventure trying to find some source of extra income while having fun. And, I am enjoying what I am discovering as I go on.

Thanks for sharing the info Chasmac. Although, I noticed that this Hub was originally posted almost a year now. I believe it's still useful. I will explore Zazzle shortly.

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