Trying to Make Money With Zazzle: My Experience
Starting With Zazzle
After a few months of earning beer money online from writing, I expanded my attempts to Zazzle, the print-on-demand company.
I don't know why I hadn't started there earlier. I think my mind was completely focused on writing articles and SEO. Also, I have never seen myself as an artistic type. However, I had been using Zazzle images to illustrate my writing, mostly on Squidoo articles, and suddenly I thought, why not? After all, the idea of not putting all your eggs in one basket is very sound.
I had been concentrating on writing on a few different venues, hoping they would not all be slapped by Google's Panda update at the same time. Surely trying to sell graphics and photos, because that is really what one does on Zazzle, is an even better form of diversification.
I wrote up these thoughts after my first month on Zazzle—mainly because it will be very amusing, once I'm a grizzled veteran t-shirt seller making my living on the site, to read my naïve newbie thoughts here. Also, at the time of writing this, I'd just had my first sale! I made $5.11 from selling a grapefruit-turned-to-green-flower iPhone 5 case and was brimming with enthusiasm and expectations of great success.
Setting Up a Zazzle Store
Setting up a Zazzle store and making your first products is free and incredibly easy. Just sign up, make up a name for your store, and start posting away. You can either upload images from your computer to start with, then use them to create products, or just start creating stuff and upload the images on the go.
I did spend some time personalising my gallery with, to me, a calm and pleasant colour scheme. There is a lot of freedom in choosing how to display one's stuff; after uploading some designs, I chose some 'featured products' which is the first thing a visitor to my Zazzle sees.
Do You Sell on Zazzle?
Where to Get Ideas for Zazzle Images?
I had used Photoshop over the years for work, but I had never really explored all the capabilities of the software. Now was obviously the time to do it.
Luckily, there are many YouTube videos out there that explain how to achieve exciting effects. I used Photoshop to add some interesting colours to my poor frog. Then I had fun with the 'hue/saturation' sliders to produce bizarrely coloured objects. I'm developing a new line of 'supermarket art'. The process goes something like, buy groceries, photograph them, turn them into Zazzle products, consume the food.
This is what frugal living is all about—nothing goes to waste.
I was really enjoying my Zazzle store; it is great fun uploading new images and thinking up new designs. It's also good to have a way of trying to earn money online that doesn't involve writing. It is very refreshing to read the Zazzle forums, where panda is a cute black and white animal, not a weapon from the Evil Empire bent on ruining our livelihoods.
However, I was not really doing this just for fun, when would I sell something? Had I found another promising way of making money online that doesn't actually make any money? Had anybody noticed all the artistic produce I've uploaded prior to eating it?
Then I had my first success (sort of): I was given the Best of the Day award!
Ok this wasn't exactly the same as earning cash, but at least it was some kind of recognition of my work. According to the email "your candy jar has been hand-picked as an example of creativity at its finest. Out of thousands of products on Zazzle, yours was chosen for being one of the best!"
Perhaps I have lived for far too long in the UK, but I find a lot of the enthusiasm-on-steroids feedback from US revenue-sharing sites a bit off-putting. I'd much rather have cash then the "creativity at its finest" superlatives. Plus this particular design (made from extremely yummy pink grapefruit from Waitrose) is not even my favourite. I suspect these 'featured products' are not handpicked with that much care or artistic consideration. Still I can't deny that I was rather pleased that something I created received any recognition.
My First Zazzle Sale
Finally, one night, as I was checking my email at 3 am (don't ask), the long awaited message with "SOLD!" appeared from Zazzle. Some kind philanthropist had purchased an iPhone 5 case with my green grapefruit design. Again the grapefruits, really I do eat and Zazzle other fruit, I cannot understand why the grapefruits are getting all the attention.
Whether it is a one off wonder, or it heralds many more sales to come, remains to be seen. I might have got lucky with the iPhone 5 cases because I started adding them to my gallery as soon as Zazzle made the template available. Most of the designs got automatically transferred from iPhone 4 after a couple of days, but I think when my case was purchased there were not many others on the marketplace.
Challenges With the Site
That is of course the biggest challenge with Zazzle. With millions of products available, how do you get anybody to notice yours. There is plenty of the usual advice to write blogs, or Squidoo articles to advertise one's products. Zazzle does have an associate program that pays 15% whenever somebody buys something from your affiliate link. However, as we all know, that just raises the problem of how to drive traffic to your blog or Squidoo articles.
The other thing that I find quite alarming is that Zazzle products are really expensive. It seems strange to me that somebody would pay $45 for an iPhone case, when they can pick one up on Amazon for a tenner. Obviously the Amazon ones are nowhere as pretty, but are people really willing to pay so much money for a pretty picture? I guess they do, I am sure Zazzle as a business is pretty successful and they know how to price their products.
Making Money With Zazzle: 6-Month Update
After almost 6 months on Zazzle I am still uploading new images and having a lot of fun with it. I now have almost 4000 products, one image can be printed on multiple products, and earned a bit over $100. The earnings are very uneven, some months are excellent, while other months are completely quiet.
December, unsurprisingly, was my best month so far, I was getting notification of sales on an almost daily basis and even made a $5 bonus, but January was completely dead.
Like all online work, earning on Zazzle is to a large extent a numbers game. I've become a huge fan of the multitool which allows you to post an image on multiple products efficiently. Sometimes I worry that I will run out of ideas for images, but I've started started creating fractals, using various freeware programs, which provide a pretty unlimited source of art.
Do You Think Zazzle Products Are Too Expensive?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.