As an amateur artist in 1999, I began selling art trading cards on ebay, and eventually acrylic paintings. I developed a following (both locally and online) and always on the look out for other art venues, I stumbled upon Zazzle in early 2009. It is free to open a shop (nothing I reccommend in my articles requires money or advanced computer skills) so the price was right and they let you design your own storefront. But I had no idea what Zazzle was all about. I began by uploading scans of my doodles, drawings and paintings and proceeded to put them on greeting cards, mugs and t-shirts. I did this randomly with no particular plan in mind and promptly forgot about them. A few months later I recieved an email from Zazzle saying Sold! I had sold 100 copies of one of my greeting cards. That was all the encouragement I needed and I have never looked back. Our household now has a second income and I have something satisfying and expressive to work on every day. I have encouraged many others to open shops at Zazzle, and am a true fan of this excellent platform. The quality of production, customer service, and availability of resources has never let me down. I am proud to be associated with Zazzle, but I wish I had known how to go about things when I was starting out. My Stuccoloco shop is successful but messy. I had no idea how to network and I had few true computer skills. My learning curve was steep, however, and I have learned so much over the past two years. I, as a volunteer, have opened a shop, Tubac Presidio Park, to raise funds for the preservation of the park using the information that I pass along today, and you can click the links just below this paragraph relating to various tips so you can see what I am talking about and how they can be applied effectively.
Tubac Presidio Park on Facebook (I added last week and should have started it in January along with the Zazzle shop and blog)
I use my Stuccoloco Twitter account to twitterfeed all my shops, pages and blogs.
The name Stuccoloco has proven to be a bit of a stumbling block (it is a joke based on the fact that I like to plaster random objects and carve and paint them-stucco plus loco or crazy) because no one knows how to pronounce it (stuck-oh-loh-coh), how to spell it or what it means and I wish I had known what to consider before naming my shop.
Top Ten Things I wish I had Known Before Opening my Shop
1. What will I sell?
If you are setting up shop on Zazzle, you are probably an artist, photographer, or graphic designer with images you wish to share with others. Consider your point of view and choose those images that best express who you are, and design products that best showcase your aesthetic sense. This is important because your first 100 products will represent you in the marketplace for the next year or so. After sales kick in, you will be represented by whichever products are most popular. This is determined by sales, views and star ratings.
2. Who will my customers be?
You probably have an idea about who will want to purchase your products. Focus on age group, male/female, hip/mainstream, mass appeal or niche, political viewpoint, religion, humor, occupations, and any thing that relates to your subject matter. This is important because it will help determine the design/colors/feel of your shop. Pastels, flowers and a fun flirty opening paragraph will appeal to a younger female customer base, while a bold design in dark colors will appeal more to males.
3. Do I want to specialize?
Look at some of the shops currently on Zazzle. Some sell only wedding invitations and related products. Some are a random mix. Some shops are mega-stores selling everything under the sun. Some sell only t-shirts or business cards. This is important because you want your designs to be showcased in a way that makes them most appealing rather than have them competing against each other for a customer’s attention.
4. How should I organize my shop?
Some Zazzle shops organize by designs (each design is its own category) and some by product (each product type is its own category). Everyone argues about which is best. Imagine you are shopping online. Which would make it easiesr for you to find one of the products you offer? Go with your instinct and personal experience to determine what makes sense for your products. See post Using Zazzle Categories Creatively
5. What will I call my shop?
This is very important so select a name you are willing to live with for years to come. Networking, links, search rankings and any other promotion you do will be compromised if you switch later. Pick a name that will stand on its own and that is in keeping with what you are selling and to whom you are selling.
Yes. Designing a logo will help you decide on the header design for your shop and will help set the tone for your shop. Design it to fit inside a square, which is the shape of the space allowed for this when uploaded. I would also recommend using this as your profile picture on Zazzle, unless you have a photo of yourself you wish to use. Incorporating the two, if possible, is ideal. Incorporate your logo into a custom header for your shop as well. The size of a custom header for Zazzle is 2360×400 pixels and you can include samples of your work or a catchy phrase when designing it.
7. How will my shop be found?
You will be competing with over 40 billion products in the Zazzle marketplace, so relying on being found in a Zazzle search alone is not enough. My best success has come from setting up a corresponding blog (using your logo, header design, and color scheme) and Facebook page (use your logo as your profile picture). Your current Twitter account is fine or set one up if you do not currently subscribe so that you can set up a twitterfeed directly from your Zazzle shop. More info on promotion, networking, search engines and blogs in a later post. Note: barraging twitter with all your products may seem off-putting but it is mainly for the benefit of search engines rather than for your twitter followers so consider this before using your personal twitter account for this purpose. Same goes for Facebook. Rather than using a feed, I opted to start a separate page and do the posting myself.)
8. How much time will I have to invest?
This, of course, is up to you and will be determined by your ambition, by the free time at your disposal (work and family demands), and by whether or not you enjoy the process. Any successful Zazzler will tell you that creating products and marketing them to the public developed into an obsession soon after their first sale. I spend well over 40 hours a week on Zazzle or performing Zazzle related tasks (I am retired from the restaurant business). Eventually, the money you make will reflect the time you put in. It takes from one to three years to develop a following. Many artists and designers have a following already and this speeds up the whole process since they can now be referred to Zazzle. A large network of loyal friends and family also helps when starting out!
9. How much money can I make?
This is a difficult question to answer because so many factors must be considered. If you are already an established artist, photographer or graphic designer the sky’s the limit and you will be rewarded according to the time you spend on product design and networking fairly quickly. If, like me, you pursued art or photography as a hobby, it will be less rewarding and perhaps discouraging at first. With persistence, you could make at least $1000 your first year, building up to a second income by year three. The speed at which you increase sales will be determined by the time invested, the quality of your designs, the networking you do, and how successfully you have gauged your audience. At the end of each Christmas season, take stock of your accomplishments and adjust your Zazzle related tasks accordingly (you may need more products, you may need to blog and network more often, you may need to specialize or expand you product line).
10. How many products do I need to offer on Zazzle to be successful?
Your first goal is to have 100 varied products with strong designs or artwork featured on them. If you offer 100 mugs with ‘Happy Birthday’ in a different color on each you will not be off to a good start. Design a variety of products using at least 10 of your best designs, photos, and artwork to begin with. Make sure a potential customer is not bored by what they see when visiting your shop for the first time, and since many of your products will be viewed in the marketplace, outside of the context of your shop, make sure each design is interesting enough for them to follow the store link provided by Zazzle and take the time to visit your actual shop. Try to have 1500 products for sale by the end of year one. You will be fairly well established at that point, with a good foundation upon which to build. Keep your shop active by adding products whenever you have time and, of course, keep promoting!
I will be expanding on the general information provided here in future posts so I invite you to subscribe. I will also be sharing tips from other Zazzlers, wesites and the Zazzle proseller forum to which the new Zazzle shopkeeper does not have access.
Thank you for visiting. I hope you have found this information helpful. My best wishes for your future success!