Uninspired Earnings Mean Spending Less Time Being Creative

Uninspired Earnings Mean Spending Less Time Being Creative

Because of my uninspired earnings I now spend less time working online in my Zazzle stores. A few years ago I spent eight to ten hours a day, seven days a week, working to add products said stores. I worked full time and then some. Back in 2009 and 2010 and even in my beginning days from 2007 on, I saw a correlation to time spent and royalties achieved. The more I worked, the more sales I had.

This is no longer true. No, that is not completely correct. Some days when I spend loads of time on Twitter, FaceBook, blogging about products, and being social to hopefully bring customers, I do see an uptick in sales. However this does not happen nearly enough to be a regular thing. I’m not much of a stats watcher and I never really know for sure where a sale comes from. In fact when I get sales from really old products, that I never promote anywhere, I am stumped. And that happens quite a bit more than I would expect. It’s one reason I don’t delete ALL my old stuff.

Simply put, these days it does not matter how many hours a day I put in with Zazzle. My paycheck stays the same, or decreases. Working hard no longer equates to more sales and more pay. The exception to that may be the Christmas season.
Zazzle store rank and completionI have 196 collections at Zazzle. My top 4 store completions are at 100%. My store ranks are quite high – at least on the four main stores I work in often. I am at Platinum Zazzle seller level (by the way, levels mean virtually nothing as far as I can tell). I am quite sure I rank on the list of Zazzle’s top sellers – though maybe not near the top. Sales I get are due to my own efforts. Zazzle does nothing to promote me – my products never show up in their ads or promotions. When products of mine sell – due to my advertising them – they will show up on landing pages within the site. That is because they have sold, not because Zazzle has chosen to put them there because I am anything special to them.

My earnings would seem quite high to many Zazzlers and I don’t share my numbers where that is concerned. I do see Zazzlers freely admitting the amounts they make in Zazzle online forums or groups, and the amounts I see are quite small. What they make in a month I often make in a day. I have not had a “no sales” day in many years, although I did have a “minus sales” day recently when returns (pink numbers) outdid royalties.

So why am I complaining? I’m not really, but sales are relative. I used to make three times what I make now. This money helps me pay my bills. But the point is that it doesn’t seem to matter how hard I try these days. Income does not increase. There are ups and downs with online working, especially if you are trying to make a living from it.

Zazzle has hooked me though because I love the creative part of it. I am just smarter these days about how I use my creativity. With so many (good) products just sitting there and not selling my efforts are better used elsewhere. I blog more, write posts like this more, and promote more than create. I’m also looking for other income avenues because Zazzle is fizzling out for me. When working hard gets you nowhere, it’s time to look at the future and make changes. I have income from blogging, Wizzley, and Amazon also.

These types of posts are meant to help other Zazzlers who may also be working hard and seemingly getting nowhere. In my opinion Zazzle is a great place to show off artistic talents and be creative. My Zazzle success story happened years ago, and Zazzle is a different place now. We must change our expectations accordingly.

How Do You Spend Your Time With Zazzle?

How Do You Spend Your Time With Zazzle?

Whether you work all day long trying to earn decent royalty pay-outs at a print-on-demand store, or only an hour or two, wise use of time is important.  I find that it is all too easy to get pulled away from what should be my focus.

I’ll make a new product then go to add it to my FaceBook store.  While I’m there, I notice someone has left a comment.  I go to thank them and check on another store, where a customer has asked a question.  Then I am suddenly checking out my personal FB page, and before I know it an hour has passed and I’m deep into reading about what my friends have been up to!

I’m Still Working on a Plan to Be Organized

I keep a planner, and each day I will make a short list of what I want to accomplish with Zazzle.  Then I put a little box next to the plans hoping to get it checked off by the end of my work time.  Often I do not check off all those boxes.  Sometimes it’s because of a design issue or problem with the site.  But often it is because I got distracted by something non-work related.  Or maybe it is work-related, but I got off course.

Because I write fairly regularly on four blogs, update my Twitter account as much as possible, pin to Pinterest, and add products to three FaceBook stores, I certainly realize that I cannot do it all in one day.  And this is not counting taking care of my Zazzle stores, where I have  three main stores that I regularly add to.  This means I need time for designing as well.

Some Zazzle stores are run by couples or even families, but I do it alone.  Everything I do online I do myself and it is overwhelming when I stop and think about it.  For that reason I have been taking a good look at how and where I can cut down.

Forums and Groups Can Be Good, But Limit Your Time There

I rarely visit the Zazzle forum these days.  The forum is no longer the cozy friendly place it was years ago.  Newbies have their questions answered by designers who must spend their entire day in the forum for just that reason.  So I can’t be of help there.  I’ve been ignored or spoken to rudely too many times to make it worth visiting.

This is a good reason to be part of a Zazzle group someplace away from Zazzle.  But I think designers often spend too much time in groups complaining about Zazzle, or showing off their products.  A Zazzle group is not where you will find buyers, but I don’t think many Zazzlers understand that.  A good group will have people who will help each other out with design questions or Zazzle navigation.  It doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time talking about Zazzle – don’t forget that you need to work too.

Are You A Stats Freak?

It is just not in me to check on my numbers and stats and ranks and page authority and whatever. I know it’s a good idea to know what is working for me and what is not. I just don’t know how to fix it if it’s broken, so I don’t bother. Zazzle’s stats, such as views, sales, and everything else never seems to work right either, so why bother looking? I don’t care what my store rank is because I am already doing everything I can to sell. A low number would not make me work harder, but I believe it is Zazzle’s intention to get us to do just that. Why else would they give us all a number?

I’m just saying don’t go nuts checking on stats and viewing landing pages wondering why your stuff doesn’t ever show up first. It’s one thing I absolutely have no problem avoiding. I sign into Zazzle and I focus on my own things. It’s probably the one place online where I am least distracted!

Don’t Go Store Building Crazy

I recently left a remark on FB when someone asked the age old Zazzle question: One Store, or Two or More?  My reply was that I wish I had stuck to one store and one name and simply updated that store every day.  I’ve believed for a long time now that updating a Zazzle store helps bring sales.  One store makes that easy.  I have too many stores, but it’s far too late for me to consolidate.  I don’t have one name to use for all of it either.  I didn’t know enough back when I began, so I made big mistakes.

What I have done is stopped using some of my 10 stores and use only 4.  One is a holiday store, so that one gets a break for about six months, while I focus on the other three.  I’ve moved good designs from the stores I don’t work on to the main stores, and deleted the old products. I’ve also changed the way I think about my Zazzle stores and I work less on organizing them for customers and do it more for myself.

How focused are you when it comes to working online?

(Clock photo courtesy of Pixabay.)

Designing in a New Year While Remembering Sales of Christmas Past

Designing in a New Year While Remembering Sales of Christmas Past

As the old year (2017) was coming to an end, I saw my Zazzle sales drop off drastically. This was not unexpected. After spending 10 years designing and selling products at Zazzle, I know what to expect in January.

For me, sales for the Christmas season begin to pick up in October, but it’s not unusual to sell holiday items in September and even in August.  For this reason, I begin updating my Holiday Store at Zazzle long before then.

Each year when I begin a new journal – yes, I am old school and like to write down my earnings each day alongside my design plans, blogging ideas, and personal needs – I skip ahead in my new yearly planner to the month of July and write down what worked / sold for me the previous year. I do this while it is fresh in my mind.
oval photo Christmas ornament
For instance, I learned that customers like the new cube ornaments. I sold quite a few of those. They also prefer oval-shaped ornaments. Card sales were not all that great, and the cheaper, glossy photo cards sold best. There is not a lot of money in any of those items, but if I sell enough of them, the royalty amount climbs.

Certain tree skirts sold well, as did a few corporate cards. This does not mean they will sell the same next year. Affiliates could have picked up those items, and that is why they sold. Next holiday season the same items may not be chosen.

Certain products may sell over others, and certain designs may sell above others.  I make note of this.   I’ve made a lot of ornaments, but many of them never sell. A few select ones seem to be popular each year, so I promote those and pretty much ignore the rest.  I don’t design with the idea that, “more is better”.  It really isn’t. (more…)

Why I Don’t Worry About Zazzle’s Store Ranking System

Why I Don’t Worry About Zazzle’s Store Ranking System

zazzle store rankEver since Zazzle started ranking our stores, I’ve seen a lot of discussion in the forum about how to get the store rank up.   Our stores get a number from 1 to 10 according to how well they perform.  Supposedly this number comes from a culmination of various things, such as sales, products, media uploads, and the color of our eyes (just kidding on that last one).

Personally, I don’t worry about the ranking system and seldom check to see what my stores’ ranks are. I feel this way because I am doing the best I can to create and sell products. This system of numbering us will not change that.  Sure I like seeing a higher number but talking about it won’t change it. The answer to raising it is not a simple one. Or maybe it is.  Zazzle wants us to make sales.  It helps us sure, but it helps them more.

Zazzle is already so large that the chances of a customer coming to the site, finding your product, and liking it better than any of the other similar products on the landing page are small!  This is one reason I no longer spend a lot of time on how my stores look.  The list on the left side of each landing page names the stores that carry that type of design, and stores with a higher store rank will be listed here first. I think that is the only advantage to having a high number. And I have to wonder how many customers will even look to the side, and then what are the chances they will pick your store page to view?

It’s possible, but there are a lot of “if’s” in that scenario.

Selling Products Raises Rank, Plain and Simple

My highest ranking stores are the ones that have the most sales… plain and simple. You are rewarded in all kinds of ways when you simply sell products. However, those of us who sell online know that selling is not simple. It takes a lot of work and much effort to try and beat the competition.

All the promoting means nothing if the items / products do not appeal to the potential customer. We have to do some guessing, but if quality and uniqueness is there, we have a good chance of eventually finding buyers. It can take some time for that to happen, so patience is needed. Create some great items and move on and create more.

Once something sells, and keeps selling, the product will move up in the searches, on Google and within Zazzle. If an affiliate picks up your product and advertises it on their wonderful and busy site, you may see some astounding sales. I had a wedding invitation that sold like mad for about a year and I knew it was because someone was promoting it.

Do A Lot of Your Own Promoting

As designers we can’t count on affiliates. The competition to sell is fierce, and the Zazzle site consists of many very excellent designers. The best designs, and best-selling designs, will be chosen by affiliates as they are looking to make money.  I am guessing as to how affiliates choose the designs they promote, but by now they may realize who the top selling Zazzlers are.  Zazzle’s landing pages can tell us a lot about whose designs they favor.

So we are back to sales counting for a lot.  That means getting the customer to your product or store front.  That means spreading yourself out over the vast sea of social media and sites like Pinterest so you can be found.  More on that to come.

My Sandpiper Wedding store now ranks at a 9 and it is where most of my sales are coming from these days. I work on it the most with BlueHyd coming in second (it currently ranks at 8), except at holiday time when my Holiday Store ranks high – it is currently a 9 because sales were good over the last few months. I expect the rank will go down as I do less and less there over the coming months.

So you are thinking, “No wonder she doesn’t worry about rank, hers is plenty high”. Honestly I would be working in exactly the same manner if my numbers were 3’s and 4’s.

My last word to Zazzlers who dwell on numbers such as Zazzle’s ranking system is to go about your business and worry less – a lot less – about a number.

How to Use Zazzle’s Collections Successfully

How to Use Zazzle’s Collections Successfully

One of the best tools Zazzle has given us designers recently is the Collections. I am not sure you would call it a “tool”, as it’s more of a folder or page, but it is something that has greatly helped me to organize and share my products.

What is a Collection at Zazzle?

Collections are simply another page where we can show off products that link together in some way. Either the collection is full of like designs – such as a Blue Hydrangea Wedding set – or it can be full of Halloween Invitations. Get the idea? The best way to make a collection is to gather the best products (they don’t have to be your own, collections can contain any products found on Zazzle) and create a collection where they can easily be found.

This works very well for wedding designers. Our Zazzle stores can be difficult to organize. Often designers are at a loss for the best way to combine products that go together. With the use of collections, multiple products – even those from another store – can be added to that one collection page.

For example, the set below contains “thank-you” cards from a few of my Zazzle stores.  The cards have beach themes, floral and other designs,  but they all have the same wedding thank-you theme.  I have created this collection for anyone looking for wedding thank-you notes.

Probably most Zazzlers have begun to fill up their allotted 200 pages for collections already. If you need to know more about filling them, view the Zazzle blog post about collections.

Once Created, Update and Share Collections Regularly

For those who already have filled up a bunch of Collection pages, but wonder “now what?”,  I have the answer!

First of all, don’t add to a collection and let it sit there.  I believe that, like all things we do online, it must be updated and kept fresh.  I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect.  Go through your most popular (best selling) collections and see what else you can add.  I also remove anything that I don’t feel is my best.

To promote the collection on your website, as I have done above, copy the HTML field – using the “share” button on the collection page – and insert it on your website post.

Easier still is to click that same SHARE button and post the collection to Pinterest, FaceBook, Twitter, Tumblr and Google Plus.  Or mail it to friends.  The “link” button takes you to a page with the HTML code and more options for sharing.

I don’t have a Tumblr account, but I have all the rest.  If you don’t have accounts at any of these places, I suggest you join.  Pinterest is super easy, as is Twitter.  A FaceBook store is easy to set up, and I believe it’s a good place to promote.  G+ is also easy, but I’m not sure how much it helps.  We can no longer add single products to G+ from Zazzle, but we can add collections to G+.

Options when using the share button on the collection page.

Collections should be used to share outside of Zazzle. For this reason, I suggest that you NEVER delete a collection!

If the collection is no longer relevant, or you don’t care to promote those products for whatever reason, change the collection to something else. Delete the products, add new ones, change the banner and tags… but keep the collection.

An affiliate may have promoted that collection – you never know. Or you may have the collection linked somewhere… but have forgotten where. By changing the collection, the link won’t break. It’s true that anyone who may follow the link will see some different products, but at least the link will lead somewhere.

Keep collections updated by organizing, adding and deleting products.  Click the ORGANIZE button to move products within a collection.  Each new addition will show up first, so I usually have to go move it.  The EDIT button is where the description and tags will go.  Use tags that specifically describe the collection.

Make sure each collection has a banner that shows precisely what customers should expect to find within that collection. My banners have images of the products. Zazzle has suggested that we put no text in the banners.

This is my Starfish and Ornament Christmas banner… there is no doubt as to what you will find in this collection!

collection banner

Every time you create a collection you should have some idea about how you will promote it. I ask myself, “Will it work on one of my websites?”, or “Will it fit into a Pinterest board?” or “Can I add this to one of my FaceBook stores?” There are many ways to promote single products, and now collections. Take advantage of the opportunity to get your designs seen. That is how they sell.