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Trying To Make Money with Zazzle.

Updated on August 11, 2013
Blue sunflowers in my Zazzle store
Blue sunflowers in my Zazzle store | Source

Starting with Zazzle

After a few months of earning beer money online from writing, I have 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 lenses, and suddenly I thought, why not? After all the idea of not putting all your eggs in one basket is very sound.

So far I've been concentrating on writing on a few different venues, hoping the will not all be slapped by Panda 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.

These are some 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 I've just had my first sale! I made $5.11 from selling a grapefruit-turned-to-green-flower iPhone 5 case and am 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 store sees.

Do you sell on Zazzle?

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I started off with pictures of my geckos and frogs
I started off with pictures of my geckos and frogs
My poor frog Zoidberg with Photoshop body paint
My poor frog Zoidberg with Photoshop body paint

Where To Get Ideas for Zazzle Images?

I started off with the images of my frog Zoidberg, and my geckos of which I am extremely proud. However, it did occur to me that this niche is perhaps a little bit too narrow.

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.

Different colors easily created with the "hue" slider in Photoshop
Different colors easily created with the "hue" slider in Photoshop
Source
My Zazzle 'best of the day' award and the candy jar that got it.
My Zazzle 'best of the day' award and the candy jar that got it. | Source

First Success

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.

The iPhone 5 design that sold
The iPhone 5 design that sold
A design that I think is much nicer, that didn't sell
A design that I think is much nicer, that didn't sell

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.

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 lenses 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 lenses.

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.

Do you think Zazzle products are too expensive

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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.

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    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 17 months ago from West By God

      I am new to Zazzle, less than a year and have sold a couple of products. I love it there, even if I don't make any money. I have plans though and will work on them daily. My Zazzle store is Lady_G_Boutique.

      I didn't know tht you Zazzled too and did go and followed you on Google+ just a few minutes ago.

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 2 years ago from London

      Thanks very much Nadine! and fro the Zazzle comment too. I have had several payouts over the years, but it is definitely slow and not really worth putting the time in to be honest.

      I think success there is less about good designs and more about marketing skill and creating designs for occasions etc. To be honest I think their prices are too high.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      I had just finished an article titled: Most Popular Graphic Designs when I saw your post appearing on the R side of my screen. Nice article! I visited your shop and loved your designs. I left a comment. They are all bright, clear and fun. I've now been with Zazzle for a full year but have not yet reached my first payment.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 3 years ago

      I have been on Zazzle for some time, and it does, like other things, start slowly. Things I believe will sell do nothing, and things I do not think have a chance sell repeatedly. Patience is the necessary part here. I get over $100 in some months, and just about $30 in others. With the new $50 payout I miss a few months at being paid, but then can really make up for it. They charge more for international sales.

      One thing I miss is the volume bonuses. I sell very few of others products, and the bonuses do not pertain to one's own designs. I can make about $600 to $800 a year. But that is on several thousand designs.

      Promote your products. Pinterest is great for that.

    • profile image

      Jon1945 3 years ago

      I could use more money right now.

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 3 years ago

      Great post. I haven't tried Zazzle yet.

    • Spirit Awahili profile image

      Spirit Awahili 4 years ago from St. Louis

      Thanks for asnwering... Maybe you would know about Cafepress. I am having problems with getting a photo to upload. I have followed all the requirements. I have placed tickets to them, nothing back. I was able to upload 4 pics and then when I go to upload it just won't. I even tried all 3 of my browsers thinking that may have something to do with it.... IE, chrome, and FF. Any problems like this for you??? Thanks I appreciate it.

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 4 years ago from London

      Hi Spirit, first of all I guess I should really do another update, since my shop is now about 18 months old (and I've made a bit over $200 in that time).

      It really is quite difficult to answer your questions. I'm not really sure how many hours I put into it, it is pretty haphazard. I've started doing a lot of fractal images, and I play a lot with the fractal programs, but it really is more like a hobby than work. I put my image on lots of products, all the electronics cases, mugs, sometimes laptop or iPad sleeves etc. I use the multi-tool with the non-attire setting which makes about 40 products, then I add about 20 other products individually.

      Lets say I spend several hours a week on this. But really it varies.

      I haven't paid for any marketing, and I haven't done much of my own until recently. I don't tweet, but I've recently started a Facebook page, a google+ page and a tumblr blog. As far as I can tell none of these have had much of an impact, yet.

      Hopefully I'll make a lot of sales in December. The thing about phonecases etc. they make good gifts. I think I would make much better money if I tried to make wedding invitations, mother's day cards, baby shower invitations etc. Also I don't think fractals are that popular, I should probably focus more on cute kittens or something.

      I actually make more sales on CafePress, where my fractals are more popular, probably because there is less competition. But I get much less in fees in CP than at Zazzle, the cases are cheaper and I only get 10%.

      Hope all this helps.

    • Spirit Awahili profile image

      Spirit Awahili 4 years ago from St. Louis

      Quote from AA Lite... "Making Money with Zazzle 6 Month Update

      quote...

      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." end quote

      Hello everyone... I am and I think there are many other people who are curious about this as well, to have some more "real world stats" on making money on these type of sites.

      I am on Fiverr, Errandrunnerz, Youtube, Zazzle, and Cafepress.

      Everyone wants to know what to expect, as least to some degree, what can be earned when they join these sites. We all already know the most typical answers like.... it depends on how much you put into it... how much you market yourself and your site/products... etc. etc.

      Anyone who reads this and actually has data, would you please list a detailed account of what you've made? For me, I have no problem saying how much I have earned. No one can use this info against me. I know that some people get ticked off about being asked. Why I don't know, fear, or just being an A**?? The specific detail is what people really need. If you are offended and don't want to list the exact amount, fine no problem... just tell us all approximates so that people have a better understanding of what can be accomplished.

      For example... from above...after about 6 months... 4000 products... one image can be printed on multiple products, and earned a bit over $100. Vague info. Would you put more detail in this example... like how many hours it took for you during that 6 months?... did you market your store on other sites? Did you pay for marketing or did you post hundreds or thousands of tweets? Did you focus on a niche or not, are your photos on many different types of items? ie... t-shirts- i-phone cases- children attire???

      For me, if I had a little bit more info... lets say about Zazzle... I could make an intelligent decision to bust my rear and make it work and to see if it is actually worth my time. I have no problem spending over 30 hours straight on the comp to get things done. I have started all of these sites that I mentioned above with my products and info the last 2 weeks. It's been a lot of fun. But, I am very curious if it is really worth it in the short run and long run. And I already know that in the human world it takes time to build your brand, customer base... etc. Thanks.. : )

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 4 years ago from London

      Thanks Stacie, nice to meet you too. I'm also making occasional sales, but expect I'm going to enjoy December.

    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 4 years ago

      It's nice to meet another zazzler! I make sporadic sales, but it depends on the season I guess. I agree that some items are expensive so marking down my commission has helped me a little.

      Your Hub is very informative for newbies.Good luck with future sales.

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 4 years ago from London

      Thanks Dreamhowl, and I think you might like it. My sales are pretty slow right now, between $10-20 a month, but come Christmas I am expecting good things. If you start your store now, you should be ready to benefit from the holidays.

      It is nice to have an income stream that is not affected by panda and penguin :)

    • Dreamhowl profile image

      Jessica Marello 4 years ago from United States

      This sounds like something worth trying. Maybe I'll set up an account later on and brainstorm what to put up. Thanks for sharing this - I never knew until now.

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 4 years ago from London

      Thanks Dorsi. I have to say Zazzle is making me a few dollars each month but nothing really amazing. However, I am always hopeful that things will improve and keep adding stuff to my store.

      I have to say that last December was pretty good, I guess everybody was buying Christmas presents. Hopefully it will be better this year.

    • Dorsi profile image

      Dorsi Diaz 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

      Thanks aa for the great hub. You have an awesome writers voice and I enjoyed reading about your Zazzle exploits. I have been on Zazzle for several years, have only made a few bucks but maybe I will put a little more time and energy into it after being inspired by you!

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 4 years ago from London

      Hi GardenHarbor and thanks for reading. I've read your Squidoo lens and it does have a lot of good advice, thanks for sharing that. Off to my Zazzle store now to add text to postcards :)

    • profile image

      GardenHarbor 4 years ago

      I have been on zazzle for 4 years and am a HUGE fan! I have started to make consistent money and am very hopeful that I will continue to make more and more. I have a site that lists some amazing tips for how you can increase the money you're making on zazzle if you want to check it out: https://toughnickel.com/self-employment/10-ways-to... . Good luck!

    • profile image

      Rusty Doodle 4 years ago

      Thank you for your kind words and taking the time to check out my store!

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 4 years ago from London

      @ Rusty Doodle. I've checked out your doodle store, it's really nice that you have a niche. My stuff is all over the place. You know I suspect I would do better if I did things like wedding invitations or baby shower cards, after all people always need that kind of thing. But I can't really get my head around the format.

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 4 years ago from London

      Thanks for reading Jordan! I am having a lot of fun at the site, even though I haven't made much money in the last couple of months. But December was really nice :)

    • Jordanwalker39 profile image

      Jordanwalker39 4 years ago from NC

      Great hub gonna have to check out dazzle

    • profile image

      Rusty Doodle 4 years ago

      Hi there! It's nice to read about a fellow zazzler who start out about the same time! You are doing great on zazzle! So far, I made only about $15 and have only 900 products. Still trying to make things work at my store at www.zazzle.com/rustydoodle

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 4 years ago from London

      Thanks justateacher, Zazzle is pretty good if you like to play around with images and photos, which I can see from your Gimp hub, you do. I made quite a bit of money from it before Christmas, in January it went totally dead, but I'm hoping things will get better again.

      Apparently it goes crazy before valentine's day, I keep thinking of putting up some cards, but can't really find the motivation.

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 4 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Zazzle looks pretty interesting! I'll have to check it out. Glad you are making money at it!

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 4 years ago from London

      Hi limitiezz, I think it was well over a month before I made my first sale on Zazzle. I find sales there are very unpredictable, some months I do well, other months I don't have any sales.

      Had a look at your store, if I were you I would make some posters as well as canvas prints. Sure the canvas prints are very expensive, so you earn more if one sells, but I suspect people buy a lot more of the cheaper items than they do the expensive ones.

      The other thing is to have good tags on your items. But really there are hundreds of thousands of patterns on any 1 item on Zazzle, so it is quite hard for anybody to even see something you\ve made.let alone buy it.

    • profile image

      limitlezz 4 years ago

      2 weeks in zazzle, no sales so far http://www.zazzle.com/limitlezz

    • Ebonny profile image

      Ebonny 5 years ago from UK

      I so appreciate your detailed response aa lite. I note what you say and will bear it in mind when posting items in the future. Thanks again, and hope your success grows and grows.

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 5 years ago from London

      Thanks Ebonny, I have sold a few more items now, and earned a couple of referrals, so I am rather pleased.

      As to your question, I have never tried it, but on their item description, they have a link to information about "what html is allowed here". and in that link it says: (a)anchor(/a) href=" "

      target=" "

      Will REMOVE: href=javascript, href="javascript"

      Will ADD: rel="nofollow"

      I am not sure, but it seems to me that you are allowed to make a link to another site in the item description, and in the description of your store, but Zazzle will make that link nofollow.

      I guess you have to try it and see, the worst that will happen is that the link will be removed.

      (On the other hand, I had problems posting this comment because HubPages doesn't allow html in comments! LOL)

    • Ebonny profile image

      Ebonny 5 years ago from UK

      Congratulations on your sales - your Zazzle designs are unique and eye-catching so I imagine you should do very well. And thanks for sharing your experiences thus far.

      I have a question you may be able to help with (couldn’t find anything in the forums there). Do you know whether or not Zazzle allow you to include a link to another website in the description (i.e. when you type up a description for an item you are posting for sale.)?

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 5 years ago from London

      Hi Angela and thanks for visiting the hub. There are some kids' t-shirts with geckos here:http://www.zazzle.com/my/products/public?cg=196659...

      Basically if you click on any t-shirt to go to its product page, in the right bottom corner there is a link to "see this on 51 options" which allows you to see the picture on other t-shirts including children's and toddlers'. You can add tex to the products to customize them further.

      I also have gecko pictures on kids t-shirts and soft toys on the other print on demand place CafePress. I'm not sure geckos work so well on stuffed bunnies but you can check it out:http://members.cafepress.com/products/index.aspx?s...

    • Angela_1973 profile image

      Angela_1973 5 years ago

      Do you have any geckos products for children on Zazzle? can you post the link for that?

    • Angela_1973 profile image

      Angela_1973 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for telling us about Zazzle, never heard about this before. I will visit it for sure.

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 5 years ago from London

      Thanks Gamerelated. I think the biggest problem with Zazzle is that their products are really expensive! It amazes me that they get sales, but I guess they know what they are doing.

      I would encourage you to try Zazzle, I never thought of myself as artistic either, yet I've sold 3 iPhone cases now for a grand sum of $18. The really nice thing with that site is that when you make a sale, you get dollars rather than cents.

      You could try thinking up of witty t shirts, I suspect they would sell quite well, if you made them related to a "hot issue".

    • Gamerelated profile image

      Gamerelated 5 years ago from California

      Don't try to optimize your Zazzle store to get the most popular hit. Zazzle will release its own Pandas to come slap you. Just kidding. I thought about selling stuff on Zazzle too, but I've never been the artistic type. I do need to find a revenue stream that doesn't involve writing though. I am starting to feel burnt out on writing even though I really just started writing.

      Congratulations on your first Zazzle sale. I hope all goes well. I think your grapefruit pictures are pretty cool.

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 5 years ago from London

      Thanks Jason, I try to keep my sense of humour as I gently slide to my fate of stacking Tesco shelves for benefits.

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 5 years ago from London

      I will check it out now! Apparently you need thousands of products to make consistent sales, etc. etc. but I've sold 2 iPhone 5 cases so far (I would concentrate on iPhone 5 cases, right now they're v. popular). However it is incredibly fun to do, when you get the sale its amazingly uplifting, and every time you make a sale you earn a few dollars, which is nice.

      Also you can make 15% from their associate program, on your stuff as well as others, so if somebody buys something from you through an affiliate link you can make double what you normally would.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      Hi, I am sooo excited about my new Zazzle Store. My store name is Oakwoodarts . Thanks again for telling us all about this opportunity.

    • SuffolkJason profile image

      SuffolkJason 5 years ago from Ipswich, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom

      Very interesting and amusing hub. I love your concept of frugal living through your "supermarket art"

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thanks! I can find you and thanks for the tip about the affiliate programs on Zazzle.

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 5 years ago from London

      Hi Liza, there are a couple of links, in the hub, one is in the caption of the very first image, then there is a link at the end of the paragraph about "how to set up Zazzle store called 'my zazzle store". The URL is www.zazzle.com/phyllomedusa

      I know I haven't done a great job publicising it in this hub, but I'm rather paranoid about HP's not linking out policy. I hate getting the "your hub is overly promotional" damn messages. Incidentally Squidoo allows plenty of external links, and using your own affiliate programs to Zazzle and all posters etc. and somehow still gets the Zazzle love.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      How do I find your store on Zazzle? Perhaps include the name of your store or a link in the hub or have I missed it....

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 5 years ago from London

      Thanks bdeguilio and Lizam. I've just had my second sale (another iPhone case) so I guess the site can work. What is nice is that when somebody buys something you immediately earn a few dollars, rather than the cents writing has eked out for me so far.

      If you open stores, let me know their names and we can "stick together". The thing I still haven't worked out is how products gain 'popularity'. whether it is entirely sales-based or whether other Zazzlers liking them matters. It's important because when people search for something, the results are ordered by popular, and buyers probably don't go into the far back search pages.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thanks for telling us about Zazzle - new to me. I will visit your store. I have been looking for a good place to sell online and as you say some of the US sites are a little off putting. Nicely done. Shared on facebook.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Well, I learned something new today. I had never heard of Zazzle until reading this article. I must say it sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out. I love the artwork.....