Zazzle Chat Response
Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2019 7:17:25 AM
Hi James,

I find your number of 70 products very optimistic. I don't say it is impossible, just not really realistic for the majority of designer to make a sale any time soon with so few products.

Yes, I did make a sale fairly early in my Zazzle career with a snap shot of garden gnomes when I had very few products. But even then I had more than 70 and the garden gnome was a fluke. It was a "star seller" for a while but I think you raise unrealistic expectations. On average it takes several hundreds in general and six months for new designs to find a seller.

So far fellow designer who have been in the business for several years confirmed this rule of thumb.

It doesn't mean I didn't have sales only hours after publication. It is simply the exception of the rule.

- - -


And as for putting quotes into the title plus color, style etc. That is simply not possible with the number of characters given. Occasionally you have to be rather creative with the wording in the title to get the essentials across and if you get too cryptic the title appeals to search engines only but not to a human being. When you want to attract customers via external search engines it is the title and teaser that pulls people in. The search engine is indexing but the human is still reading and an emotional being that in the end makes the decision to click or not to click.

Appealing to search engines may work with the description but the title is what people actually read before buying, while the description is read only by a part of buyers. I don't think you can ignore the human in the title, so the title should be catchy and contain essential keywords. Something not easily done given the number of characters.

Some of your suggestions would be great for multiple choice questionnaires, because they are helpful, but most of the times we have to sacrifice key-phrases due to the length of the title and you shouldn't stuff everything in a title anyways.

A good product description should come with a title, a teaser, an in depth description and keywords. If the designer base would adhere to best practice this could be realized. But in my experience there are always the spammers who misuse options ...

I still would love to have teaser two liner underneath the title and I would really appreciate having things like style i.e. vintage, modern, cartoon, etc and colors separate via multiple choice so that the limited number of keywords is available for stuff that doesn't make sense in a multiple choice questionnaire.

And again you sacrifice keywords most of the times. If you add style, color theme, field and actual elements in the design.

- - -


I stay generic when it comes to product type in the description, but you can't ignore the product in the description all together, a placeholder like {product name} which a zazzle algorithm can replace would make much more sense to me. This also helps with stuff like onsies, which is the colloquial for baby bodysuits but is also a trademark violation on business site. As for the description I have two more peeves. One is the lack of paragraphs the other is auto translation for parts which are purposefully put there in a foreign language and shouldn't be translated like famous foreign quotes.

My two cents to the current chat.

- - -


Thank you for the work you put in and it was a good reminder for me not to forget a certain systematic like you point out here : (trait)(color)(style)(content)(design type) and content I would split into (field) and (elements) in a proper prioritized order.

This is something I have to get better at more consistent. Thank you again.

-👌-
Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2019 8:26:38 AM
Thanks for the Important reminders
Chat was very helpful.
Appreciate your extra efforts!
Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2019 10:18:49 AM
It was a good chat and the one of the most helpful I have seen yet.

I do agree with the points made above by my colleague Vivendulies and since she said it so well I will not repeat it but just echo it.

I love the new feature of auto transferring our designs to other product models and styles and hope to see that become more widespread throughout the site. thank you for that!

Also not really chat related but I still want to mention how helpful it is when you add the keyword and search term suggestions to the new product releases! More of that kind of help is really appreciated!

Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2019 12:59:03 PM
I thought it was a great chat. It had lots of helpful tips, and really succeeded in summarising how to make the best use of metadata on Zazzle.

Any further information you can share about what does and doesn't work to grow sales on Zazzle would be well appreciated.

Thank you Monica and James.

Roses Roses
Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2019 2:01:52 PM
Hello Vivendulies.

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and feedback. I'd like to comment on a few of your points as I think it will be helpful to you, and the community.

Regarding 70 products *on average* before getting your first sale. There are many things that can affect this number and it varies wildly depending on the designer. Mostly I shared this statistic so that people understood that it can take time and effort before you start to 'find your niche'. Some designers sell products very quickly because they might know exactly who they are designing for. For some designers it might take hundreds or even thousands of designs if they don't have quality metadata or are not designing with a specific customer in mind. The key point is, if you want to be a designer on Zazzle; don’t give up too soon! It's a big marketplace so keep trying until you find your niche. Experiment and learn about metadata.

Regarding the title feedback, it sounds like you found what works for you which is awesome. As you probably already know, finding a titling strategy is one of the more difficult parts when honing your metadata strategy, so glad to hear you found a strategy that works. My advice was intended for a less experienced designer who may not understand the importance of descriptive titles, that may include part of the quote in the design. In general, having longer, yet relevant titles is better because you increase the likelihood of matching a potential customer's search term. You would not believe how many designers skimp on the title and just mostly describe the base product. I have seen many, many designers who are obviously trying hard to sell beautiful products but their titles are things like "Flower Hanes white t-shirt" with minimal words describing the design. They are the audience that my advice was intended for.

James
Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2019 3:30:56 PM
James C wrote:
You would not believe how many designers skimp on the title and just mostly describe the base product. I have seen many, many designers who are obviously trying hard to sell beautiful products but their titles are things like "Flower Hanes white t-shirt" with minimal words describing the design. They are the audience that my advice was intended for.

James

And then there are more seasoned designers such as I am, making precisely that error for probably most of my first year, and then over time, I corrected titles...but not all of them due to sheer laziness. The chat and then your reinforcement of the issue here has reminded me to go back in time to see what I never bothered with. Thank you for the nudge.
Posted: Friday, February 01, 2019 6:05:34 AM
So Linda, what you said in a nutshell, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink." lol

James was not saying his advice was going to be heeded by every single "designer" on Zazzle. He was just giving folks the best practices on how to work smarter with the tools they give us.
Posted: Friday, February 01, 2019 8:17:46 AM
In 2012 I made 5 sales a day in bad months with approx 2 to 3000 designs of which 15% sold fairly regular and 40% hadn't sold yet on a major player in Europe. I made a stress free living. Since then my design count has doubled but the number of designs on said marketplace is 10 times or more and the market as a whole is far far more saturated and despite still having designs which sell on a regular basis I sell a fifths of what I sold in my best years.

So 70 products on a marketplace of many with a product count in the billions is a drop in an ocean. The rule of thumb for marketplaces like zazzle is 500 for your first sales that don't come from friends and family. And when giving the number, of what you need to make sales, 500 is the bar minimum and usually meant as a start to test the marketplace, whether it is worth the effort to continue there or not.

In order to keep up I would have to at least double my design count on my steady income print on demand service but that one introduced a strategy to survive the harsher market that shook my trust and loyalty to the core. So I concentrate my efforts on zazzle and I'm still building an inventory that results in a steady income that pays rent and food.

I come from SEO experience as a top ten German blogger in the first decade of the millennium. Although blogs where in a unique situation back then and much has changed in SEO since then, the principles are still the same. As such I stand by my opinion deriving from my experience that 70 is not a good number to put out for beginners in the print on demand business.

Again I don't say you can't succeed with 70. It is just not very likely.
Posted: Friday, February 01, 2019 9:16:20 AM
I watched the chat and appreciate the advice given. I'll agree that, unless a designer stumbles across a brand new popular trend, 70 products for a first sale is unlikely. The thing I've had issues with over the past couple of years is that with new products I have greatly improved my metadata and designs but they hardly get seen and rarely purchased but some of my old, lesser designs do still sell. I am not a trend follower and maybe I haven't figured out my niche yet, but I feel like some of my designs are pretty good. I just completed a major delete in an attempt to raise my zRank. Since zRank was implemented my sales have tanked. After my maintenance work my zRank fell again from 5 to 4. In the video we are advised to add new designs frequently but if I keep adding new stuff that never gets viewed or sold then I'll end up having to keep everything viewed and re-freshed myself. The more there is, the more work that will be. I really like the Zazzle platform, especially with the new design tool, but if I don't start making money again then I will have to move on to something else. For now I am going to try following the advice to add new designs frequently but how I'll get anyone to find and purchase them, I do not know.
Posted: Friday, February 01, 2019 9:47:36 AM
Zazzle says 70 designs, vs the 1,000 designs often touted by designers.

I don't think we should get hung up on a particular quantity of products. Success doesn't necessarily come from getting to 70 or 1000 products. Putting a number like that out there just invites comparisons to our individual experiences, when it's really a "your mileage may vary" situation. There are so many other factors that combine to result in a first sale, that the number of products in one's store at the time it happens is something of a red herring.

Indeed, the real point to be made is that putting up 'x' number of products for sale isn't what creates success. It's continual improvement, learning from past mistakes or failures, and applying the lessons they teach - and somewhat perversely, continual improvement may not be possible without continuing to create more products, which can lead to that false impression that you need 'x' number of products. What gets lost is that the value of 'x' is specific to the individual designer because of all the other things that factor into the equation.
Posted: Friday, February 01, 2019 9:51:48 AM
I agree with Anderson above that the Zrank is very confusing in that it seems like adding new products regularly without balancing it out with sales would be a hinderance to us, rather than a benefit. I think, as a whole, it would be a lot less stress-inducing to be given a clear answer about zrank. I also agree that the more products we have in our stores, the harder it is to keep up with unhiding and going through hidden products. Between the unhiding, changing keywords, trying to figure out optimal commission percentage and constantly trying to figure out the perfect balance of how many products to have to get a better Zrank.... on top of the actual designing and uploading etc., it is a lot of time and effort for sometimes little profit. I would love to keep growing my stores here at Zazzle, but it’s hard when I feel like I have to juggle so much without knowing why or how I’m supposed to be juggling it.
Posted: Friday, February 01, 2019 11:01:36 AM
Fuzzy Felosarix wrote:
Zazzle says 70 designs, vs the 1,000 designs often touted by designers.



Nope. I listened twice, because I was baffled by the low number and he refers to products not designs. I might have meant designs, which is still a drop in the ocean.

And although I agree with most recommendations and find the classification of a description especially helpful.

(trait)(color)(style)(content)(design type)

This is the gold nugget in the chat with which seasoned designer can improve their description.

But even with best practice of these description traits you'll have a heard time to get anywhere anytime soon with numbers that are too low for a giant marketplace like this one on average.

As for niches, there are very few where you can make a killing. Disney doesn't go for the niche but plunders classics even though they have a billion dollar apparatus to push what ever they want, but they exploit Grimms and Andersons fairy tales and other safe bets and trademark the public domain into oblivion.

So no, numbers are relevant on this playing field.
Posted: Friday, February 01, 2019 3:22:33 PM
vivendulies wrote:
Fuzzy Felosarix wrote:
Zazzle says 70 designs, vs the 1,000 designs often touted by designers.



Nope. I listened twice, because I was baffled by the low number and he refers to products not designs. I might have meant designs, which is still a drop in the ocean.

This is why I try to avoid the word 'designs' here when I have my brain in gear (which I obviously don't today.) I've seen it used here to mean 1) the art that goes on a product, and 2) The end result - a product that has been designed. I meant the latter - designed products. But I can see why you would think otherwise.

vivendulies wrote:
And although I agree with most recommendations and find the classification of a description especially helpful.

(trait)(color)(style)(content)(design type)

This is the gold nugget in the chat with which seasoned designer can improve their description.

But even with best practice of these description traits you'll have a heard time to get anywhere anytime soon with numbers that are too low for a giant marketplace like this one on average.

[quote=vivendulies]As for niches, there are very few where you can make a killing. Disney doesn't go for the niche but plunders classics even though they have a billion dollar apparatus to push what ever they want, but they exploit Grimms and Andersons fairy tales and other safe bets and trademark the public domain into oblivion.

So no, numbers are relevant on this playing field.

I beg to differ, somewhat. All I'm saying is that there's a lot more to it than pure numbers, and I think focusing on "How many products do I need to create?" is the wrong question. The correct answer isn't 70 or 1,000 - It's how many you have already made when you get your first sale. It's how many more you have made when you achieve sustainable sales. In other words, it's meaningless to put a number on it at all.

Do I know the secret to that kind of success? No. Not at all. But I can say that focusing just on quantity is the wrong approach. Success comes from creating a quantity of quality products that people will buy, and finding the people that will buy them. Consider:

James said in the chat that successful designers know who the customer is that they're designing for.

That's nice. It sounds like it makes sense, and should be the key to what I said above - making a quantity of quality products that people will buy.

But what about artists? I consider there to be a difference between artists and designers, though it's not a hard and fast line between them. Artists create because we must - whether or not someone will pay for what we create. If Zazzle didn't exist, I would still be creating art. I did so long before I had any thought of trying to sell it. But do I know who the audience is for my work? Do I even know if one exists? I guess there must be, since I've sold enough to become a Pro seller, but aspiring to higher levels of pro status is well out of my reach. <- That's not pessimism, it's realism.

I am an artist (and barely so), not a designer. I do not start out thinking, I'm going to create design 'x' for person 'y' on product 'z'. I don't possess that sort of vision. I have to create the art, put it on products without publishing them, have a second or third or fourth look at them, and choose to publish those I think have potential, deleting those I suspect will be 'dead on arrival'. It's not efficient, but it's how I work.

Then there's the whole promotional aspect of selling our work. I'm even worse at that.

So it's all well and good to tell us what a successful designer does - and maybe those people really can start selling with about 70 designed products. For the rest of us, the truth is probably a greater number of products + some sheer dumb luck.

Numbers aren't what sells our product offerings. Art that appeals to someone on a product they want is what sells. It's possible, at least in theory, to have one designed product and sell it. Not probable, but possible. It would be the rare designer indeed who perfectly captures their vision, puts it on a product, and gets it before the people who will buy it on the very first try. Most designers improve with practice / continual learning about selling their art. How much practice + how many products have to be made + how long it will take before one arrives at that first sale, is not a useful thing to attempt predicting, because of the difference in personalities, talent, skill, vision, work ethic, pace of learning, one's network/connections, etc. etc. etc.

And this is why I think stating a number of products needed to begin selling is totally pointless. It's somewhere between 1 and some unknowable number, but probably closer to the latter.
Posted: Friday, February 01, 2019 5:01:35 PM
Fuzzy Felosarix wrote:

vivendulies wrote:
And although I agree with most recommendations and find the classification of a description especially helpful.

(trait)(color)(style)(content)(design type)

This is the gold nugget in the chat with which seasoned designer can improve their description.

But even with best practice of these description traits you'll have a heard time to get anywhere anytime soon with numbers that are too low for a giant marketplace like this one on average.

[quote=vivendulies]As for niches, there are very few where you can make a killing. Disney doesn't go for the niche but plunders classics even though they have a billion dollar apparatus to push what ever they want, but they exploit Grimms and Andersons fairy tales and other safe bets and trademark the public domain into oblivion.

So no, numbers are relevant on this playing field.

I beg to differ, somewhat. All I'm saying is that there's a lot more to it than pure numbers, and I think focusing on "How many products do I need to create?" is the wrong question. The correct answer isn't 70 or 1,000 - It's how many you have already made when you get your first sale. It's how many more you have made when you achieve sustainable sales. In other words, it's meaningless to put a number on it at all.


I didn't say that numbers is everything, but they are relevant and you can have too few. In my opinion 70 is too few and not a good number to put out there. I'm not alone in this. Whenever seasoned print on demand designer answer this question these days, they go with 500 and higher.

An thats why I wrote the first paragraph in the opening post and reacted again to James response. And that there are some who get lucky with 70 I hope I made clear with the emphasis that on average you start to see sales with 500 and more.

Fuzzy Felosarix wrote:

James said in the chat that successful designers know who the customer is that they're designing for


Yes, it sounds nice but there are still thousands of designer who know the customers and aim for that very same customer too. And knowing the customer and aiming for them with best practice doesn't negate the fact that keywords overlap with different customer types and your designs still drown in sheer numbers.

A fact that zazzle battled in the case of wedding by introducing a wedding department and guide designer into the different departments with auto suggestions. The battle is ongoing and most likely will never be over.

Numbers matter. Numbers are not everything and niche help, sure. But niche are not everything either, see Disneys strategy to go where the masses already are instead of creating new things or exploring niches. That is why Disney is making the big bucks.

- - -

Artist vs designer

I don't know a single designer who doesn't view him- or herself an artist. Design is a branch of art.

Business vs artist

Nobody says artist have to starve but building a brand as artist I seriously doubt zazzle is the best place for doing that. You can build a brand and then venture into zazzle, the other way round is not exactly good practice since your brand vanishes behind the zazzle brand and you have to combat that. Disney and Marvel have a strong brand and no matter where they make an appearance you immediately recognize them, whereas us little no names get addressed as zazzle, very few distinguish between vivendulies the design brand and zazzle the producer on demand.
Posted: Friday, February 01, 2019 8:33:55 PM
vivendulies wrote:
Artist vs designer

I don't know a single designer who doesn't view him- or herself an artist.

I barely consider myself an artist, even though I've been doing quasi-artistic things for decades with no training. I'm maybe even less of an artist now than I used to be when I could still somewhat draw. These days I'm more of a 'digital art hobbyist' than an actual artist.

vivendulies wrote:
Design is a branch of art.

What does or doesn't qualify as art has been a subject of never-ending debate that pre-dates my existence, and I expect it will continue long after I'm gone.

I should perhaps clarify though that I'm not saying artists are superior to designers. That's not how I see things. I'm saying there's a different mindset, a different approach needed when designing products versus just creating art. We design things to sell, right? But artists don't always try to sell their works. Sometimes creating the work is an end in itself.

Everyone who designs products on Zazzle is a designer, by simple definition. But does that make every designer an artist? One could argue that good design is an art, in and of itself, but I think of designing products on Zazzle as a separate skill set from creating the art used in the design process. In point of fact, there are designers here who don't create any of the art they use in designing products.

I come back to James' statement that successful designers know who the customer is that they're designing for. Maybe the perfect marriage of art and design is when the process is seamless; when you're creating the art with a specific product in mind for a specific customer.

I'm not there yet. Not even close. I don't know that I'll ever get there, quite honestly.

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2019 3:31:01 AM
Compare Van Gogh's strange and essentially crude brushwork to Grandma Moses' crude brushwork. Is one an artist and one not? What is or isn't art is opinion, not fact.

What each of us does here is a form of art, and whether we or anyone else calls us artists is inconsequential.
Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2019 1:26:49 PM
My original point seems to have been lost in all this. It wasn't about what is or isn't art. It wasn't about who is or isn't an artist.

It was about a difference in approach, sparked by something that was said in the chat.

Going to bow out now, and let y'all get back to discussing the chat.
Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2019 1:44:43 PM
Fuzzy Felosarix wrote:
My original point seems to have been lost in all this. It wasn't about what is or isn't art. It wasn't about who is or isn't an artist.

It was about a difference in approach, sparked by something that was said in the chat.

Going to bow out now, and let y'all get back to discussing the chat.


I got your original point and you are absolutely right.

Artist types (who can also be designers) normally create for themselves more than for someone else and so do not have a specific customer in mind during the creating process and may not have even thought of selling the art before. Many times they are surprised that someone would even want to buy their art.

Designer types (who can also be artists) look at trends and tend to think of the end sale and specific customer group before the creating process and are creating specifically to sell.

I am looking to strike a balance between the two in my own creating processes being as how I was an artist before I ever thought of trying to become a designer.
Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2019 2:17:40 PM
I think product type comes into play here too. Art for art's sake doesn't require you to think all that much about the customer- doing so might even be a liability (it might cramp your creativity). You merely need to find products which function as a canvas (including the entire art department of actual canvas).

But some products- invitations and business cards for sure- require you to think long and hard about your intended customer. What business is the business card customer in and how does that influence what you put on the card? What is the purpose of the party that the invitations are for. Who is hosting? Who are the guests?

I think it gets a little easier when you are designing for a niche to which you belong (in fact designing for a niche to which you don't belong may be a losing proposition). I am a microbiologist so my microbiology designs have sold pretty well. I know quite well who my customers are. They are my co-workers, even if in a state or country I've never been to. So I know what will appeal.


Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2019 4:03:35 PM
Shelli Fitzpatrick wrote:
Fuzzy Felosarix wrote:
My original point seems to have been lost in all this. It wasn't about what is or isn't art. It wasn't about who is or isn't an artist.

It was about a difference in approach, sparked by something that was said in the chat.

Going to bow out now, and let y'all get back to discussing the chat.


I got your original point and you are absolutely right.

Artist types (who can also be designers) normally create for themselves more than for someone else and so do not have a specific customer in mind during the creating process and may not have even thought of selling the art before. Many times they are surprised that someone would even want to buy their art.

Designer types (who can also be artists) look at trends and tend to think of the end sale and specific customer group before the creating process and are creating specifically to sell.

I am looking to strike a balance between the two in my own creating processes being as how I was an artist before I ever thought of trying to become a designer.

Love - nailed it!
Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2019 9:21:19 PM
Fuzzy Felosarix wrote:
Shelli Fitzpatrick wrote:
Fuzzy Felosarix wrote:
My original point seems to have been lost in all this. It wasn't about what is or isn't art. It wasn't about who is or isn't an artist.

It was about a difference in approach, sparked by something that was said in the chat.

Going to bow out now, and let y'all get back to discussing the chat.


I got your original point and you are absolutely right.

Artist types (who can also be designers) normally create for themselves more than for someone else and so do not have a specific customer in mind during the creating process and may not have even thought of selling the art before. Many times they are surprised that someone would even want to buy their art.

Designer types (who can also be artists) look at trends and tend to think of the end sale and specific customer group before the creating process and are creating specifically to sell.

I am looking to strike a balance between the two in my own creating processes being as how I was an artist before I ever thought of trying to become a designer.

Love - nailed it!


One thing I do understand is the artist mindset...Happy
Posted: Sunday, February 03, 2019 3:14:35 AM
.

I don't think it is a valid point in the discussion of what is or isn't the appropriate number of design or products to recommend to aspiring young zazzlers, whether they view themselves artist, designer or stumbling dabbler.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯


.

Posted: Sunday, February 03, 2019 2:46:59 PM
vivendulies wrote:
.

I don't think it is a valid point in the discussion of what is or isn't the appropriate number of design or products to recommend to aspiring young zazzlers, whether they view themselves artist, designer or stumbling dabbler.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯


.



I agree
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