Posts tagged ‘Zazzle’

Holiday Shipping Information – Storenvy Only

Get it in time! Check out the holiday shipping schedule.

Even though it’s still November, I wanted to get this posted nice and early to help with people’s planning for their holiday shopping.

  • The dates below apply ONLY to the Kimchi Kawaii Storenvy shop. My Redbubble and Zazzle shops will have their own cut off dates managed by those sites and they have an easier way to process faster shipping methods as well.
  • I will ship after these dates, but I can not guarantee that items will arrive in time for Christmas.
  • As the plushies have been very popular and difficult to keep in stock, I would advise ordering them sooner rather than later as they have often been on made to order basis.

Domestic Cut Off Date: December 15 – Standard Post

International Cut Off Date: December 1

I am only listing the standard post dates as some items as mentioned above are in made to order status. I’m currently working hard to stock the shop to the fullest I can, but I will also be holding some large sales Thanksgiving weekend so am unable to predict stock levels after December 1.

I have also run into issues with the campus post office that I can access during my lunch breaks (don’t have a car, still have to work full time). They keep running out of funding and from time to time are unable to ship packages. It’s been frustrating to say the least!

I could really use some of Santa’s helpers!

Thank you for understanding and thank you for supporting small businesses this holiday season!

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November 13, 2014 at 3:26 am Leave a comment

Print on Demand: Zazzle

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.

 

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

The Pi Trademark Zazzle Follow Up

Well, looks like Zazzle is re-instating our pi designs.

I wrote them a reply to the take down notice like everyone else did that night explaining my reasoning for being annoyed about getting a letter (which I detailed in my previous blog entry). Today, I got an email back from them saying that they had re-examined the whole thing and were putting back our pi designs over the course the next few hours. Apparently, a social media storm of angry users can get a lot done!

Anyway, I’m happy that they did listen to all the sellers and came to the realization that it was a totally ridiculous claim. I just hope they examine these notices a little closer next time.

And yeah, cause I base my whole business on puns, I couldn’t resist whipping up this sketch which I think needs to go into my Zazzle shop 🙂

humble pie punny sketch

A quick little pun sketch.

May 31, 2014 at 3:14 am 3 comments

How Not to Use a Trademark: Zazzle Says No Pi

Huh, two blog posts from me in a span of 30 hours – yeah, that’s totally rare. But I wanted to write about an experience I had tonight and some disappointment I have in Zazzle right now.

Originally, I was going to take a much needed night off after all the prep for FanimeCon that had happened in the weeks prior. I went in to check my business email to make sure there was nothing pressing and saw a message from Zazzle’s content review team telling me that one of my designs was infringing on a trademark. I am very careful about trademarks as I have a registered one myself and yeah, no one likes to put in hard work on something only to end up on the wrong end of a cease and desist.

The offending image was my ‘I Like Pi’ design, pictured here.

Kimchi Kawaii pi pun design.

Kimchi Kawaii pi pun design.

Apparently, Pi Productions Corp. notified Zazzle that they own the exclusive trademark on the symbol pi and demanded all apparel be taken down immediately. Zazzle complied and began to remove sellers’ designs off their site and sending out the email notifications. And that’s when their forums went crazy.

They supplied the trademark filing number in the email and a search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) shows that yes, this company does have a trademark on file for pi. BUT – ‘The mark consists of the pi mathematical symbol followed by a period’ (copied and pasted from the USPTO’s site).

Trademarks are pretty specific as they are identifiers of a brand. Usually, an application goes through a pretty lengthy process of approval to make sure it is not too similar to another mark out there, so I’m a bit baffled as to how this one got through because it just seems too common and vague to really stand out as a distinctive mark. Granted, trademark law is a rather murky, confusing ocean to swim in and I’m not an IP lawyer, but it still seems a bit…wrong.

And what’s really grand about the whole thing, this guy has no product that anyone can find. So right now, he just looks like he’s being a squatter, like those people who go in and buy up domain names and then offer to sell them to people who actually want to use the URL for a legit business other than just being greedy.

Which in my opinion makes him a bit of a jerk.

The pi symbol seen so often in math books is a Greek letter. As far as I know, you can’t trademark a letter. As many people have said in the forums, that would be like McDonald’s saying they own the letter ‘M’ and banning everyone from using it. McDonald’s does use the ‘M’ as a trademark, but it’s a specific style, those golden arches everyone loves or hates, not just the letter itself.

What is really disappointing is that Zazzle has started to universally pull all designs with the pi symbol in it. I don’t know about you, but most of us don’t couple the symbol with the period as indicated in the trademark file so Zazzle doesn’t really have any grounds to be doing this. So are they going to pull or ban Greek organizations like fraternities or sororities from making shirts on their site if they have pi in their letters?

Sure, the guy filed the infringement claim with Zazzle, but you would think that a big company like Zazzle would also have a team of IP experts who could really assess if this is a legit claim or not. If there aren’t any checkpoints in place or someone saying ‘Hold up, this sounds a bit iffy’, really, what’s to protect sellers from the next person who comes through and says they own exclusive rights to say, the number 10?

Zazzlers’ are pretty frustrated right now and I agree. Granted some of the designs were mostly text based, but I’m sure some, like mine have some design elements that required a lot more time in creation than just figuring out how to type π on your keyboard (that’s option+p for you Mac people, lol). So the design work is erased. The time spent loading it into the shop is also gone. The time promoting it has turned into nothing. And something that a lot of people are forgetting about – if your design is an older one, you’re losing all that link history that’s built up and could have been directing traffic to your site and hopefully sales.

A few months ago, I went through and started a clean up of my shop – deleting older designs that were done in my rather newbie Illustrator phase. Kimchi Kawaii has been around for over 5 years now, so there’s definitely been improvement. I wanted to remove clutter and make the shop more easy to get around for customers. I work a full time job meaning I do my business work in the evenings so that night, I only deleted a small handful. It’s a good thing I didn’t have a ton of time!

Sales with my Zazzle shop had been going pretty well and growing each year. Shortly after my initial declutter, they started to taper off and stagnate. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong until something in the back of my head said ‘link history, u ruined it’. I asked my web designer if that was something legit or just a myth and he kinda looked at me like I had killed a puppy. I think he really wanted to face palm, but is too polite to do so. But yes, he said, in a few clicks, I had erased some of my oldest link histories and yes, that was most likely the reason traffic (and sales) had slowed to a crawl. He made me promise to not get that itchy delete finger again.

All this to say, my pi design was one of my older ones that I actually liked and now Zazzle has taken the shirt option away and all it’s link history. As far as I can tell, they are not reinstating peoples’ designs, instead telling everyone they can file a counter claim which honestly, how many of us have the resources to do that? One of the few saving graces is that Pi Productions only filed for a trademark in the apparel category so they can’t really touch my other stuff like mugs, laptop cases, etc., but shirts are usually my best selling items so yeah, not a happy camper.

I really hope that Zazzle reviews their policies on infringement claims and doesn’t do this knee jerk removal of all things related. I know that they are protecting their butts from a trademark/copyright suit, but they are also running the risk of angering their users which generate the content that brings in the money for them. What if enough users decide that they are suffering enough financial loss to file a suit of their own? A little fact checking and careful examination could have saved everyone a lot of headache and resentment.

Bad form, Zazzle. Bad form.

P.S. – ironically, this all comes just after I had scheduled my review of Zazzle for my print on demand series which will post on Tuesday, June 3rd. I still like their design tools and all, but this has put a bit of a dent into my warm feelings towards them.

P.P.S. – I heard in the forums that this guy is also demanding a sweep of Cafe Press, the other big print on demand site. Ugh.

 

May 29, 2014 at 7:33 am 12 comments

Print on Demand: What is It?

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, starting off with a little explanation how print on demand works.

Roary, Kimchi Kawaii's tiger mascot with a magpie.

My original logo when I started.

A Little History
I started Kimchi Kawaii through Cafe Press over 5 years ago. I had heard about the company through a newspaper article via my mom. She’s great about saving stories for me that would be of interest. It seemed like a really good way to go about getting my art out there on products and to a global audience that I would have had a lot more difficulty reaching on my own. I work a full time graphic design job and I was familiar with the somewhat prohibitive costs of screen printing for an artist like me who was just starting out and didn’t have a huge operating budget.

At the time, Cafe Press had two levels of shops – there was a free basic one and a premium shop for something like $59 a month (can’t remember the exact cost off the top of my head and they’ve since changed their shop levels and fees). This meant that I could sell my stuff on shirts and many other products all from this one shop for one fee*. Sounded like a pretty sweat deal to get my feet wet!

So What is Print on Demand?
Basically, you create your artwork and upload it to the website offering the services. You select the items you want your piece to sell on. Cafe Press and similar companies like Zazzle have TONS of product to pick from and your design may not fit well on certain things. Items you can pick from range from clothing to housewares like pillows, kitchen utensils; electronics accessories (cases for all your mobile devices); to stationary items (stickers, post-its, greeting cards, etc.). Once you’ve put your product on the items you like, you put your items up in your shop. When a customer buys an item, Cafe Press will print, process the payment and ship the item. You don’t have to stock inventory or worry about finding production time.

Show Me the Money!
You get paid by setting up your mark-up on top of the base price set by the company. Here’s an example: say you want to sell Design A on a t-shirt. It’s base price is $12.99. You set your mark up for  15% (the general recommended percentage) which is about $1.95. The company posts the shirt with a price that reflects their base and your mark up, in this case $14.94. A customer, let’s call them John, finds your design on the site and buys it. The site keeps their base price and sends you your mark up of $1.95. Usually, they will hold all your profits until you reach a minimum amount like $25 and then cut you a monthly check or direct deposit into an account like Paypal.

Note that these companies often have a customer satisfaction guarantee, so your commission won’t clear for 30 days.

Now, at this point, you’re probably thinking ‘$1.95 isn’t much of a profit. I can’t even get a Starbucks with that’! This is true. However, I think of it this way to take the ‘sting’ out – I only had to create the design once. So maybe I put in about 2-3 hours of work on my art. I upload it once and set it on all the products I want once and then let it do it’s thing. Sure, I do market it on my own as well as take advantage of the site’s own search engine optimization (SEO), but my work is largely done. I sell one product and get my 15% tiny mark up. But then, fast forward a year or more to when I’ve sold that same design that I did all the work for ONCE multiple times over. Those 15%’s start to add up in the big picture. On some of my more popular designs, I’ve sold enough instances of them to be making a pretty decent profit off those initial 2-3 hours.

I will say this – it is NOT a get rich quick by any stretch of the imagination. Sales will trickle in very  slowly for the first year or so unless you are either A) extremely well connected to people with money and influence and/or B) the Gandalf of SEO and can wiz traffic to your shop. Let’s face it, most of us are not, lol! So it’s the slow and steady road for us.

Get Out There and Sell!
The other thing to keep in mind is the fact that you do have to do some leg work yourself. Sure sites like Cafe Press and Zazzle have people dedicated to developing their sites’ SEO cause obviously, they want your products to sell cause they also get a cut. However, if you want your shop to grow, you need to do some marketing work of your own. Spread the word through social media like Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Wanelo. Tell your friends. Buy your own products and become walking advertising. Do what you gotta do, but do it and don’t just sit on your laurels.

I see a lot of people saying ‘I set up my shop a month ago and I’ve not had ONE sale’ and then they get frustrated and chalk it up as a waste of time. Like I said, it’s going to take at least a year to get stuff going depending on how much effort you also throw in. When I started, there were months at a time where nothing happened and I didn’t even get a check. But I kept on marketing and adding new designs and by a year, started to get monthly checks. Not all of them were huge, but I was making sales!

So, hopefully this intro helped you understand a bit of what it is these sites like Cafe Press and Zazzle do and if it’s something you want to jump into. I definitely recommend print on demand as a way to get started. It’s low overhead (you’re not stuck buying a ton of inventory with money you don’t have yet) and allows you to sell your designs on a huge variety of products. Most of these sites have global reach that people starting out rarely have. For a while, I had a world map and would color in the countries where I made sales. I remember feeling really excited when I sold to a customer in the U.A.E. I never thought I would have product selling there!

 

In the following entries, I’ll start to review the pro’s and con’s of specific sites that I’ve used. First up will be Cafe Press 🙂

 

Side note: I only mention Cafe Press and Zazzle in this entry as those are the two large ones and the ones I’m most familiar with. There are a lot of other print on demand companies out there to chose from. Some offer more items than others. Take a look at them and figure out which works best for you to set up shop.

*Not all sites charge a fee to have a shop. Zazzle and Redbubble, the other sites I use are currently free.

April 4, 2014 at 6:38 am 4 comments

Thanksgiving Pie

Pumpkin pie is required to have a healthy serving of whipped cream.

Pumpkin pie is required to have a healthy serving of whipped cream.

Fall is probably my favorite season. I love the cooler temps and the color of the leaves. It’s a really nice break after the at times sweltering heat of summer. It also means Halloween is on it’s way which is one of my favorite holidays and Thanksgiving which means PUMPKIN PIE!!! A few years back, I bought a jack-o-lantern pumpkin intending to carve it. I never got around to it and felt bad just chucking it, so I decided to figure out how to make pie from scratch. Well, after researching on the internet and finding that those pumpkins aren’t that great for pie, I ended up having to throw it away after all. But I did go out and buy a pie pumpkin and discovered that it’s really not as hard as people say it is. And it tastes SO much better than the canned stuff and makes your place smell yummy when baking.

Anyway, I did this cute little slice of pumpkin pie and uploaded it into the Zazzle shop. It’s a redo of one of my first designs that I did for Kimchi Kawaii. As my skills improve with Illustrator, I find myself wanting to spruce up some of the old favorites. Enjoy!

October 21, 2013 at 7:58 pm Leave a comment

Five Year Old Kimchi: Part 1 – The Shops

I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since I started this whole venture. This will be the first in a multi part series about all the things I’ve experienced in those 5 years as a small business owner.

I’ve always wanted to make money with my artwork. Over 5 years ago, my mom saved me a newspaper clipping about this site called Cafe Press. It was a print on demand site where you could upload your original designs and put them up for sale on various items like shirts, mugs, buttons, etc. She thought it would be a really good outlet for my artwork and I agreed. However at that time, I was busy with other things in my life and so it got filed away as ‘something to do in the future’.

One of the items available through Cafe Press.

One of the items available through Cafe Press.

I had some things change and suddenly, I decided to tackle this and take a step out to see if I could make some money off this. I did a little research to find out what I needed to do to get started (and probably over researched and over prepared as I tend to do, but it put me ahead of the game in the long run) and set up shop. Cafe Press was the first public outing for Kimchi Kawaii – though at the time, I was called Soy Happy (more on that in another post). I also bought my dream computer iMac and Adobe Illustrator – which freaked out my credit card company who then froze the card and called my land line to make sure it was really me doing this fatty purchase. That in turn freaked ME out at the Apple store cause I thought someone had taken all my money, lol! Thanks to my friend and her cell phone (was cell phone less at the time), we got it all sorted out and I went home with my computer and got to work on all the bad puns and kawaii style art Kimchi has become known for.

About a year later, I heard about another print on demand called Zazzle and decided to open another shop there to reach as many people as I could. While at times it’s been a bit of a pain to maintain both shops, there are some things in each site that are not carried by the other. I really like the cocktail dishes through Cafe Press and love the messenger bags through Zazzle.

Fast forward to another year or so down the line when I started crafting items. Zazzle and CP have their items that are available to the shopkeepers, but if I wanted to create my own crafted items, I had find another site to sell those items through. I looked at some sites including Etsy, but honestly didn’t really like their fee structure so I went with Art Fire. I started selling my acrylic charms, jewelry, and Frosted Fleur de Lis (sweets and lolita related items) there. Basically, it was the same stuff that I was selling at anime cons, but this could reach beyond the one city I was in for a con. I had a some what good run there, but in the end, it just wasn’t working out for me, so I closed that shop down and moved to Storenvy this year. I’m still building things up in there, but I’m hoping with some marketing and the fact that Storenvy is getting more well known, I hope it can do well.

And finally, I started selling my original fabric designs through Spoonflower under the Frosted Fleur name. I love making original lolita dresses, but let’s face it, cute boarder prints are super hard to come by here in the states unless you want country kitsch. Which I didn’t. So, you want something lolita, you gotta draw it yourself 🙂 As I’m trying to pack a lot of detail into my designs, progress is slow there. I have a huge list of designs I want to do, but not enough time to do them in. I’m hoping to get some more done during Christmas break which is when I tend to do most of my art for the year.

Yep, I’m pretty much all over the place with my shops and always looking for more ideas/products to do under the Kimchi or Fleur name. Btw, if you want to keep up with everything going on, the best place to do so is on the Facebook pages listed below. I update there the most about all the various shops.

Kimchi Kawaii Facebook Page

Frosted Fleur de Lis Facebook Page

Ok, that’s all from me for this first post. Time to call it a night!

August 6, 2013 at 6:11 am Leave a comment

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