How to get started on Zazzle with NO Design Skills

How to get started on Zazzle with NO Design Skills


I received a question from a reader basically wanting to know How to get started on Zazzle with NO Design Skills.

Question/Comment from a reader:

“I have always been super excited at how successful you are with Zazzle but I have never been able to get my head around how to make Zazzle really work. I have tried to promote it with little success … I have no clue how I’d be more successful as a seller/designer on there as I have no graphic skills etc.”

From her question/comment, I’ve love to talk about how to get started on Zazzle when you THINK you have no design skills.  This hits home for me, because believe it or not, when I started on Zazzle I thought the exact same thing.  I’m NOT an artist, and in fact, decades ago I really struggled in my high school art class, and it was really frustrating to see how easily some people can just sketch a stunning picture. I’m NOT a trained graphic designer.  I’m NOT a photographer.   But that didn’t stop me from becoming a seller on Zazzle.

The first thing you must do when attempting a new skill or a new business idea is to change your mindset and overcome your fear.

“… re-think things in a different way. First up, you have to give yourself permission to fail, permission to be less than perfect sometimes. Failing at something, making mistakes, opens up a great opportunity to learn something new.” {this was posted on a chat discussion centered around why someone was so lazy and couldn’t get motivated}

Give yourself permission to post your first design, even if its bad.  Tell yourself that it may NEVER sell.  And that if it never sells, that’s OK.  Tell yourself that you are posting your first 10 designs in order to learn the process of how to post things to Zazzle.  Tell yourself that you are just trying this zazzle thing out.  That’s fine.  But just GET STARTED.   I wish I would have started earlier.  The only way you will learn to become better at designing is by designing.  Your skills will improve as you get more experience.  When I first started out, I used a variety of tactics and apps to help me along, and you can too.

DO WHAT I DID when I first started on Zazzle:

  • Make tshirts with funny quotes on them, simply by adding text to a shirt, like I did here.
  • Use cute pictures of your kids to make “create your own photo gift” template items where the customer can change the picture to their own, like I did with a photo of my daughter HERE and HERE (another cute picture of my daughter).  An added bonus is that I get to smile and get warm fuzzies every time they sell because I get to see how cute they were at a younger age.
  • Or take cute or funny pictures of your dog and do the same, like I did with my dog Zoey.
  • Take a photo of something interesting around your house, or while on a vacation, and use a editing app on your phone to make it look awesome.  Like I did with this photo using the Camera+ app on my iPhone.
  • Use the Perculator app to take a picture of your kid’s bicycle and turn it into a cool design like this (it’s in my friends store and she says it sells all the time).
  • Use the cool photo editing app called Popsicolor to make cool designs from your everyday life, like this “Cafe Aroma” design that I made while eating outside at a cafe.
  • Make some products based upon a hobby you enjoy.  The more odd the hobby, the better. Odd hobbies are hard to find novelty gifts for.  I mean, what do you give a person for Christmas who loves to dress up in 1800s period clothing and shoot wax bullets at a metal target against other gunslingers competing for the fastest time, like my Dad does? Unique Sells!
  • Use public domain pictures from Pixabay, like I did here and here.
  • Use PicMonkey to make an abstract water ripple design by choosing a background color, and adding some textures with their tools.  You never know, maybe a bunch of people in Germany might really like this design and starting buying a lot of the postcards.  True Story….and I have no idea why.
  • Take a picture of something unique to your area of the country.  For example, where I live, I get to look at these everyday, but the rest of the country doesn’t.  I took the photo on my iPhone, then used PicMonkey to “posterize” it.  What is unique to your area?
  • Use household items to make something creative, like I did here.

The sky is the limit.  Get Creative.

That’s 13 examples of designs I made with no real skills, using apps to help me.  Anyone can do the same thing.

With all that being said, using the examples above is the process of creating something first, then trying to find customers second.  You don’t really know if your design or photography subject matter is something that customers will want to buy.  In order to help customers find your product, you’ll want to write your titles, descriptions, and tags in such a way that will attract the most customers.

For example, if I have a postcard of a beautiful mountain lake in Oregon, I would not just title it Oregon Lake Postcard, and leave it at that.  I would make sure to have the specific name of the lake or the tourist attraction in the description and tags and also words like “travel postcards”, “Oregon vacation postcards”, “nature photography”, “outdoor photography”, “road trip”, “lake scene”, “mountain lake”,  and might even write in the description something along the lines of “Great Places to See in Oregon” or “things to do in Oregon”.

If your Zazzle store is focused on travel photography from places you have visited, why not start a blog where you talk about the cool things you did and saw while in that area, and then post Zazzle products at the end of the blog post.  You will start getting visitors of people searching for “things to do in xyz place” and those are perfect buyers of your travel photography items.

The point is that you need to think of all the possibilities of what someone might be googling, in which your product would be a good match for what they are searching for.  You might even want to use the thesaurus to find synonyms for words you are using.  Personally, if I create a design out of the blue, I will think of the most logical description of it that I can, then I will put that phrase into my keyword research tool and see what it spits out.  It will tell me how many people search for that particular phrase a month, and will give me other suggestions for phrases.  It will also tell me how much competition there is online for that keyword phrase.  Using a keyword research tool will give me good ideas for tags and descriptions based on actual web searches.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your product does not just show up on Zazzle.  There are thousands of Zazzle affiliate websites that automatically (and manually) post products and curate content featuring Zazzle products.  So your product has the opportunity to show up on 3rd party websites and have customers see and purchase the product, without necessarily finding it in the Zazzle marketplace.  For example, a website that specializes in baby shower invitations, may automatically pull products from an RSS feed and post them to their website.  They get a referral commission when someone buys a Zazzle product that originated from the link on their website.

Maybe they have a page that is specifically for “neutral colored baby shower invitations for twins”.  If you designed an invite that meets this criteria, your invite may automatically be shown on their website, helping you with sales (in essence they are doing marketing for you).  But your invitation won’t show up unless you have the words “neutral”, “twins”,  or whatever the keywords this page is looking for.  Even if your invite is yellow, unless you specifically say in your description, title, or tags, the word “neutral”, it will not show up when someone searches for a “neutral baby shower invitation”.  So it’s really important to add quality descriptive tags to your products and write a good description of your product that accurately describes its colors, the design, and what type of customer might want to buy it.  I like to say “this would make a great gift for [a dog lover]” or something like that.

Identify the Market First, then Create Products for the Market

Another way to design Zazzle products, is to start with the end in mind.  Start with the SALE first, by finding a market with active buyers.  Instead of creating something first, and trying to find a customer second, a better way to design products is to identify a buying market first and then make a product to fulfill that need.  In other words, design products that you know customers want to buy.  Find the buying market first, and then create a product within that market.

I do this by using my keyword research tool to get ideas of what types of designs to make in the first place.  I may start with something generic, like “baby invitations”, which may lead me to a whole list of keywords phrases, including seeing good metrics for the phrase “Ladybug Baby Shower Invitations”.  Next I would use an incognito browser, or clear my cookies and search history, then search on Google for that same phrase.  (I clear my cookies and search history so that Google is not skewed by my search history of visiting Zazzle often).  Does Zazzle show up in the first few listings for that phrase?  If so, then I know that the people who are searching for this on Google, will very likely click one of the first few listings on Google, and land on Zazzle.  Since I’ve identified the market and determined that people are searching for these items, and finding them on Zazzle, now I go and create my product and post it for sale.

Next I market it a little bit by sharing it on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Wanelo, Polyvore, etc, so it can get some views.  After that I just hope that my design has a bit more marketing and is priced competitively with the other great designs on the first page of Zazzle.  One you get some sales, its easier for a design to rank higher in the marketplace. If my invite gets on the first page of the Zazzle search results for a keyword that gets traffic, then more sales are to come.  This is just one way to find out what customers want, and then create items to fill that need.  By the way, I did make a baby shower invitation using these tactics, and its made me $322.69 in 12 months of being in the marketplace.  Not bad for one product! 🙂

You can also browse around and see what type of Zazzle products sell the best.

Once you have products up for sale, don’t expect immediate results.  You are building a business.  So consistently post new items.  Think of your store like a big Walmart.  When you are starting out, you will only have a couple of items on the shelf.  But as the weeks go by, you will design and create more and more products, slowly filling up the shelves.  Before you know it you will have an entire store, like Walmart, busting at the seams with products for sale.  But if you only post a few products for sale and then stop, chances are that when a customer stops by your store, they probably won’t find something to buy, because you have such a limited inventory – you only have a few items on the shelves, and those items might not be their style or taste.  As you get more and more items, and the more variety of items for sale, then the greater the likelihood that the buyer will find something they like in your store, and its easier to make a sale.

If you have a full time job, schedule one evening a week, or a few hours on the weekend, as Zazzle time.  Use this time to get some new items posted.  As soon as you start selling some of your designs, you will be enthusiastic about making more.  But if you never make the designs in the first place and post them for sale, they will never have the opportunity to make you any income.  Posting a product for sale is like planting a seed.  It will not grow and produce fruit for awhile, but if it’s never planted in the first place, there will be nothing to harvest in the future.

Even if you THINK you have no design skills, anyone can get started on Zazzle.  Just pick some of the suggestions from this blog post and get started.  Then share your Zazzle products on Pinterest, Facebook, etc and rinse and repeat.  The more products you have up for sale, the more opportunities you have to make a sale.

When I first started I used different apps to get me started.  Then I started seeing trends in my sales.  If a design or style of design started selling well, then I would make more of that type of design.  Because whether it’s because my design was good, or because there was a need in the marketplace, for some reason, those designs were selling.  I started following the breadcrumbs, looking at stats, and basically replicating themes or designs that sold well, or made more profit.  I eventually settled into a small niche that does well for me.   Your niche will most likely be something completely different.  You likely have different skills than I do, have different interests, take photos of different things, and will find your own profitable niche.  Just start will lots of variety, and when certain designs sell multiple times, make more of that style of art!  And keep doing whatever works for you! 🙂

What do you think of my silly designs?  Did you get any inspiration from my examples?  Tell me about it in the comments below!

If you are looking for a How to Zazzle book, here is one that I recommend:
How to Make Money with Zazzle

Yes, I’ve bought this book Make Money Online Using Zazzle by Tracy Foote and I’ve read it. I can honestly say that it is very helpful for someone who wants to learn how to make money on Zazzle. It covers a lot of details, with screenshot examples, of how to set up your store and how to market your products. This is a paperback book, NOT an ebook. It’s an actual book, which is great for sitting on your desk and referencing when you are stuck on something in Zazzle.

Read more posts about Zazzle:

Make Money with the new Zazzle Collections Feature

How to Get Started on Zazzle with NO Design Skills

How to Make Your Own Templates for Zazzle Quick Create

How to Make Cool Zazzle Designs from Household Products

The easiest way to make money on Zazzle

My First Zazzle Referral Sale on my New Website

Make Money Online With Zazzle – The Basics



10 comments on “How to get started on Zazzle with NO Design Skills

  1. Hey that was so interesting to read, especially by a newbie like me. I have just started on zazzle a few months back and i am at the moment just focussing on Wedding Market. I really need your advice on lot of things – i dont want to spend money in buying pics for posting on zazzle, but i really want to know from where can i get these ‘couple pictures’ to post for ‘save the date’ and also how can i make these rustic and vintage wedding invites. Please can you help me out….

    • The really good couple pics are probably from professional photographers, so the designers are most likely paying for those photos, along with a commercial use license. I haven’t really seen any good ones that are easily available to designers. You could make some connections with wedding photographers in your area and ask if they do anything like that. I’ve never bought any, so I’m not sure exactly. Sorry, I’m not much help with that.

  2. I’ve also played around with The Gimp software (free, similar to Photoshop), but between that and InkScape (also free) — it can be a bit overwhelming. Are you still using images from My Grafico?

    Your growing design skills *are* showing though. I really like the graphics you’re putting up for the blog posts and noticed a new one in the sidebar (MrRebates).

    • Hi Serra,
      I ended up buying Illustrator, and still haven’t “learned” it yet. I really struggle with the software too, and actually prefer to do photography based designs for that very reason. I don’t really have the skills to make what I really want to make. Thanks for the kudos on my growing design skills, however slowly they are improving. 🙂 The thumbnail for the blog post was designed in PicMonkey, which has proved really useful for quick little projects like that.

  3. Pingback: Tips for Making Templates on Zazzle | Five Green Lizards

  4. Amazing article Klaird, one of the best on the site! I have so many iphone photos and camera photos that I need to get uploaded and edited onto Zazzle and get them working for me instead of sitting on a hard drive, thank you 🙂

  5. Pingback: Make Money on with Zazzle | Five Green Lizards

  6. Pingback: How to Make Your Own Templates for Zazzle Quick Create | Five Green Lizards

  7. Pingback: How to Make Cool Zazzle Designs from Household Items | Five Green Lizards

  8. Pingback: First Zazzle Referral Sale on my New Website | Five Green Lizards

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