Print on Demand: Zazzle

June 3, 2014 at 5:53 am Leave a comment

I’ve had a few artists in the Artist Alley community ask me about the print on demand companies that I use for Kimchi Kawaii so thought it could be helpful to write up some blog posts comparing the pro’s and con’s of the ones I’m familiar with. Usually, my explanations are a bit TL;DR for a Facebook comment or reply. I’m going to break this into a multipart series.

Am getting back to my print on demand series here now that FanimeCon is finished and the Kickstarter is launched. Sorry for the delay here. Anyway, if you missed it, I started off the series with a summary of what print on demand is and then focused on Cafe Press which was my first print on demand store front.

After Cafe Press made some changes that weren’t very beneficial to the sellers, I started to look for other options for Kimchi Kawaii and that’s when I found Zazzle. Zazzle launched their public site in 2005 and like Cafe Press, offers a wide range of products that sellers can put their imagery on. Some items available are clothing, electronics accessories, and household items (mugs, lamps, decor).

Zazzle shops are free to set up. You set your markup price (suggested 15-20%) onto the item’s base price and that is the percentage that you get when the item sells. Payments can either come by paper check or deposited directly into your Paypal account. Both options have a minimum threshold before they will cut you a check, but the Paypal option has a lower amount at $50 vs. the paper check which requires a minimum of $100. Personally, I’ve found that it’s easier to have it go into Paypal as there isn’t a check I have to deposit and most of my supply orders for the crafting part of my business (the stuff I sell in person at conventions and the like) take Paypal anyway.

I immediately noticed their design tools which I liked so much more than Cafe Press’s. Zazzle’s seem more user friendly. Once you

Adding a background within the Zazzle site.

Adding a background within the Zazzle site.

have uploaded your images to the image folder, you can then start placing them on products. One of the things I really like is the ability to not only scale up and down, but also the fact that you can move the image around within the design space. Say you have an image that you want to put somewhere else other than dead middle. Zazzle lets you do that, Cafe Press doesn’t.

I also love how easy it is to add a background color within Zazzle’s site. For example, I want to add my Bad Apple design to a magnet and also a plastic dish with a black background. In Cafe Press, I would have to upload two variations of the same design with backgrounds to fit the rectangle of the magnet and the circle of the dish. In Zazzle, I simply upload Bad Apple once and then when in the product creation screen, pick ‘edit’ and ‘background’. I then get a color swatch window where I can select my color and Zazzle fills it in to fit the item. So easy!

Scaling up and down and seeing the safety zone (the area where key elements of your design should stay within to prevent unwanted clipping) are also easier in Zazzle’s site.

A downside to Zazzle is the way you add items to your shop. They have something called ‘quick create’ where there are a bunch of their more popular items ready for you to check off for selection. You can easily add one design to many products this way and also add the title, description, keywords and other information through here as well. However, some of the templates seem to have a glitch at the time of writing this that improperly crop my images. When I scale down, I find that I’m still missing some parts of the design that by default, went beyond the safety zone. It only happens to a few, buttons is one of the ones that comes to mind, but it’s still a bit annoying as it means that I have to go in and add these on a one by one basis.

They also do not have all products available in the quick create templates. I don’t add my designs to every single product they offer as some things just don’t work with my images either by shape or just the type of audience I generally get. However, there are a number of products I do like that have to be added on a one by one basis as well. This can be a bit of a clunky and tedious process. Supposedly, there are ways to create a template set or something, but I must be really missing something as even after reading the forums, I still can not figure out how to make it work. And I’m not the only one. I can only hope that more products are added to the quick create.

Zazzle did start later than Cafe Press and for a while, I could tell in my sales totals between the two shops who was more well known and thus had a wider customer base. Zazzle is definitely growing though and by now, pretty well established. I’ve also done some work on my own to shift traffic over to my Zazzle shop as I like their tools more. I also like how there isn’t this two tiered level of profit where the one that has the higher traffic is where I get the lower commission rate and have no say over it. People can still find my items through a search of the marketplace like Cafe Press, but I’m not locked into a 10% (or less) commission if that’s how they get to my product. I set mine at 15% and that’s what it stays at no matter if they find me through search or if they go directly to my shop link to get their items.

Another thing I really like about Zazzle is that they try to use US based companies where they can. One of their manufacturers is Rickshaw Bagworks. They are a San Francisco based company who produce their product here in the States. I’m all about keeping jobs and manufacturing ‘local’! They provide laptop and iPad cases along with messenger and laptop bags. I have the Macbook Pro case and two messenger bags and I love the quality on them.

So that sums it up on my Zazzle review. Out of all the print on demand sites I use, I find that they are the most user friendly and I’m getting steady sales through them as well. Next up will be Redbubble!

Summary : Zazzle

Pros:

  • Design tools are so much easier to use
  • Ability to add background color in-site without the need to upload separate variations of the same file to fit different product templates.
  • Uses USA based companies on some products.
  • Does not differentiate between commissions made through the marketplace or directly through your shop. You still control markup.
  • Offers direct deposit into a Paypal account or traditional mailed check.

Cons:

  • Product adding still a little clunky as not all items are available in the quick create.
  • Some templates in quick create are glitchy meaning you have to add these products one by one through the regular create menu.
  • Slightly less known than the older Cafe Press, but this seems to be less of an issue these days.

 

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