My June July August Online Earnings Report 2013

Here is my online earnings report from the months of June, July, and August, which represent earnings I was paid for commissions earned during the months April-May-June.  It took me so long to release these because I was actually debating whether or not to continue to publish my earnings online.  As my income grows, I’m getting more cautious about releasing this type of personal information.  But I know that my readers use this as encouragement and goal setting for their own work at home journeys.  So I decided to post these months, although I’m not sure if I will continue posting them or not.

I was more comfortable posting these numbers when I was only making $1-$2K a month.  But now that my earnings have increased dramatically, it makes me a little nervous to post all of this.  But then I think of Pat Flynn over at Smart Passive Income, who posted gross earning of more than $116K for the month of July 2013…you read that right, more than $100,000 in one month.  He was my first inspiration for what has evolved into my work at home business.  I don’t read his blog as religiouslly as I used to, but I still listen to almost all of his podcasts, where he interviews other successful entrepreneurs.  I always find good points of action in his content.

Anyway, back to the point of his post, my online earnings.  Please note that links in this post may be affiliate links which earn me revenue if you buy something from one of the websites (at no additional cost to you).  If you use my affiliate links, thanks in advance for helping to support our family of five!

Let’s get to it:

2013 Earnings Payment Received
(month earned)
June
(Apr ’12)
July
(May ’12)
August
(June ’13)
Zazzle (includes old Volume Bonus Structure) $3404 $4673 $7534
Squidoo $420 $153 $212
Local Small Biz Marketing $996 $593 $616
Mr Rebates $253 $347 $308
Amazon $337 $175 $172
Google Affiliate
Network & Adsense
$0 $0 $105
Viglink $213 $259 $498
Jaaxy affiliate $136 $100 $92
Commission Junction $59 $0 $0
Ebates (pays quarterly) $0 $0 $50
Misc $0 $61 $1
TOTAL $5818 $6361 $9588

As you can see, my earnings over the summer increased significantly overall, even though my Squidoo earnings and anything tied in with them, like my Amazon income, decreased significantly.  This overall increase was due to my Zazzle earnings multiplying.  Overall, I’m really happy with how my Zazzle income has been increasing.

However, all of these earnings are for the months prior to a policy change at Zazzle that significantly reduced people’s volume bonus.  In the past (including these months), Zazzlers would earn volume bonus on any sale, unless it was referred by a 3rd party, in which case the 3rd party would earn the volume bonus for referring the sale.  But effective July 1st, volume bonus is now only paid out when you refer the sale, which happens when the sale originates from someone clicking on one of your links with the ?rf code attached.  You no longer earn volume bonus on plain old marketplace sales or general sales from your store.  You only earn a bonus if you actively REFERRED that sale.

Volume Bonus made up about $2770 of my earning paid in August (from the month of June).  With the new policy change, overnight I lost a significant portion of my monthly earnings.  So I started my own website promoting some of my wedding invitations, because when you refer a sale, you also earn 15% referral fee, plus volume bonus.  And that 15% referral fee in essence doubles my commissions on a sale.

If I sell an item from Zazzle and no one referred that sale, and my royalty on that item is set to 14%, for example, then I only earn my 14% commission.  But if I have that product promoted out on my own website, and someone clicks on my link, which has my ?rf number attached, and buys it, I get my 14% royalty plus I get 15% referral fee plus I may quality for volume bonus.  (Please note that there is a small transaction fee taken off the royalty when it is a referred sale, even if the referrer is YOU).  So in essence I earn twice as much if I refer my own sales.  And I think that was Zazzle’s goal, with the policy change; to encourage Zazzlers to actively market their own products, so they bring in more traffic to the site.  And if you do bring in sales, you get the 15% referral fee.  And this referral fee is for anything a customer buys on the Zazzle site, not just your own products.  So you could promote only Disney stuff, or only Marvel gear, or my stuff, and you can still earn the 15% referral fee.  You don’t even have to create products on Zazzle to make money.

What Sells on Zazzle?

I continue to use my Jaaxy Keyword Research Tool (has FREE trial) to help me find product types and searches that will sell well on Zazzle.  I plan to write an entire post on this topic, but I will summarize it here also.  Basically, I think in terms of market share.   How many customers/shoppers are buying in this market?  Is Zazzle in this market?   Can I get a piece of this market by designing good designs and pricing them competitively?  Once I know I can get in the market, then I make more designs in that same market, increasing my market share.

  • How Many Customers are in this market?:  My keyword research tool tells me whether or not shoppers are looking for something, say “Zebra Birthday Invitations”.  At the time of this posting, Jaaxy said that there are 440 searches per month for zebra birthday invitations.  So there is a market for these items.
  • Is Zazzle in this market?  YES.  A quick search on Google (with your search history cleared, or in incognito mode) tells me that Zazzle is ranked #1 for “Zebra Birthday Invitations”.  So anyone who googles “zebra birthday invitations”, will likely click on the #1 listing.  So customers are going to Zazzle for this.
  • Can I get into this market?  Since Zazzle is already ranking for this search term, I just want to get onto that 1st page of search results in Zazzle’s marketplace.  Can I do this for this given item?  There are currently 6,937 invitations in the search results, and growing every day.   That means I would have to make 69 invitiations just to have a 1% share of Zazzle’s market, and that doesn’t mean any of them would get to the front page, where I really want a share of the market.  For me, there’s just too many current products already and I probably would not start designing in this niche.  However, I would research the number of searches and results in Zazzle for smaller niches, maybe for “zebra pattern invitations”.

Remember to make sure Zazzle is listed high in the Google search results for your search term, then see if there is a manageable number of products already listed in Zazzle.  If it looks like a good ratio (less than 1,000 products in Zazzle is ideal), then go for it.  Make a bunch in that niche until you have a share of the market.  If there is 1000 products in Zazzle, and you make 50 more, you would have a 5% share of the market.

Then you can make a goal of trying to get a 5% share of Page 1 search results.  How?  Good designs, competitive prices, views, and sales.  You can control everything but the sales, which will come if you do the others.  Make good designs to start with.  Then set your prices competitively.  I like to look at the prices of the products that are listed on page 1 in the Zazzle search results and try to stay competitive.  Then you can help get views on your brand new product by sharing on social media like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and by putting them on your own blogs or websites.  No one will buy your products if they don’t know that they exist.  You have to market yourself.  Once you get a sale, your product will jump up in the marketplace rankings over other products that haven’t sold yet.  The closer to page 1 you get for your search term, the more sales you will get from people who are searching the marketplace for those items.

In a nutshell, that’s one way to figure out how to design products that will sell on Zazzle.  First, there has to be people looking for that product.  Jaaxy tells me this.  Then it’s a matter of whether or not I think I can get into that market.  I hope that helps!

If you like reading my monthly income reports and you wish for me to continue them, please leave me a comment below!  I’d love to hear from you and hear about why you like reading these!  I’m trying to determine what direction to take this website and would love to hear from you what YOU would like for me to write about!


I LOVE ZAZZLE!

37 comments on “My June July August Online Earnings Report 2013

  1. Yes, please continue posting these. It is awesome that you share. As a beginning zazzler I need all of the inspiration I can get, and this income post allows me to see what to strive for and what is possible for one person to accomplish! Thank you! 😀

  2. I always look forward to your posts. They’re fascinating. I’ve had a couple of sales on zazzle but have had to focus on other things for a while.

    While I love reading about your earnings, I can see not wanting to post about them. I’m sure you could find other things to post about. I would still love to read a post on exactly how you design invitations.

    Even if you decide not to post exact numbers, I hope you’ll keep writing about what you’re doing and how you do it. :)

    • Thanks Eliza. I’ll add a invitation tutorial to my to-do list. I’ve also thought about just releasing my income reports to my email subscribers, who are my most active readers anyway. I may do that for future reports.

      Feel free to leave a link to your other online pursuits (Etsy shops, etc) so we can all help support you!

  3. The income report IS inspirational but just saying you increased by 15% or whatever might work too. What I’m loving are the tips and tricks, like the keyword/market share one above, that stuff is fascinating. I love the idea of finding a market and then creating for it, since I am an experienced graphic designer. I have a few Zazzle stores and 2 Etsy shops, but I’m loving Zazzle more right now. What I wish Zazzle had that Etsy has is the Teams, active groups of like-minded sellers to share tips and promotions, maybe you could explore creating more of that here? Thanks.

    • The Zazzle forums are a great place to learn tips and tricks too. :) I like your Etsy shop. Do you sell the same designs in your Etsy shop as you do on Zazzle? And have you ever done any graphic design work that’s for sale for commercial use, and OK to use on POD sites like Zazzle. There are a lot of sellers on Etsy who have commercial use graphics, but everyone’s terms of use are so different, and some say OK for commercial use for basically anything EXCEPT Zazzle, or other PODs. I’m always looking for Zazzle friendly graphic designs that I can incorporate into other items like birthday invites.

      • I do have quite a few of my original print designs on both Etsy and Zazzle. I make less money for each on Zazzle, but it’s nice to not have to do printing and shipping. My current commercial graphic design work is mostly book design, so it’s completely separate. But over the many years I have accumulated tons of graphic sources, tons of “clip art” books. I’ve just had to become a master of judging what is public domain, what can be modified, etc. Sometimes it’s a bit dicey but I realized you have to just educate yourself as best you can and do what’s right as best you can. A lot of people pull stuff from public domain and then try to claim it as their own and set terms on its use by others, so it helps to recognize what has been around forever or is simply not copyright-able. And I’ve seen people on Etsy re-selling stuff that is definitely not copyright-free. It’s a quagmire, for sure. Kim, feel free to e-mail me directly about this if you want to discuss more.

  4. I love reading your blog and I would love to start a zazzle store! I have promoted zazzle products as an affiliate but have never been able to figure out how to actually do my own store. I have no idea how to make images etc so really am stuck at ground zero.
    I would love if you could make an ebook or a guide on all the steps a newbie would need to do to set up a successful zazzle store.
    I’ve read a little on the zazzle forum and found random bits here and there but nothing that’s comprehensive. Unless you know of something that exists like that already and could point me in the right direction… I think you could easily set up a loyal audience who want to learn how to have success like you have! I’d even be willing to pay for an ebook or something like the guides that Erica Stone (on and about Squidoo) is well known for doing.
    Someone like yourself who’s making an actual full time living from zazzle would have the credibility and the experience to actually do this well.
    I’d be more than happy to be your guinea pig and loyal student!

    • Hi Lauren,
      I have thought about writing an ebook and I probably will sometime in the future, but not sure when. When I started I didn’t know how to make my own designs either, so I started by using my own photography I had taken simply with my iPhone, public domain pictures found at sites like Pixabay.com, and also commercial use graphics from MyGrafico, especially ones with the commercial use licence already included.

      Since then, I started simply watching tutorials on YouTube for how to use GIMP and now have started learning Illustrator. I’ll let my readers know of course, if and when I write an ebook for beginners!

  5. I think at this point earnings reports are not necessary. All I can say is your children are going to have a good Christmas :) It’s good to see someone succeed online in these vicious waters and it’s almost as if Squidoo going down was a good thing for a lot of people it gave them the motivation to start their own blogs and niche sites. You will still be one of the first people who inspired me and still does in my online journey and have given me countless ‘consultations’ for free and have gotten me far. Have a good second half of the year, no doubt you will.

    • Squidoo certainly was a great learning experience for me. It was actually through a Squidoo lens that showed me that Zazzle products existed and that you could put products onto your pages and earn commissions if someone bought something, all the while, having a great looking image for your readers. I also really started learning about SEO and keyword research while trying to earn income on Squidoo.

  6. I love reading your income reports and am amazed at what you have been able to accomplish. Are you really fast at your work or do you work 18 hour days?

    I was under the impression that Zazzle set the prices. How are you able to set them yourself?

  7. Awesome numbers, you are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing. I just finished listening to an interesting podcast between Pat Flynn and James Schramko which discussed Pat’s move from pure affiliate to creating content and monetizing his audience. Diversification of income streams is vital in this game :)

  8. Your blog is very inspiring, thank you for writing it. I opened my Zazzle store in July, so still a newbie. But I’ve almost got 500 products in it. I can only dream of doing as well as you… your achievements are amazing… I’m very impressed! I haven’t sold anything yet, but I have faith I will :-) I would also love to read how you design invitations… I think I need to make some for my shop. Keep up the good work. Your blog is needed and an inspiration to read!

  9. Hi Kim.
    I’m very grateful for your initiative to sharing your experience.You are a very especial people! God bless you and your family!
    I already read all your posts! They are very useful!
    I would like to create a profitable store and your knowledge has helped me a lot to belive it is possible.
    Please forgive me about some mistakes in the writing. I need to practice a little more.
    Could you please take a look at my designs and give some tips?
    http://www.zazzle.com/natureinspired/cases
    Thank you!
    Carlos Eduardo.

  10. I know I’m late to the party, but I appreciate your disclosure in regards to earnings. I have moved and now rely on trips to the library for internet access, but I still receive email alerts for new posts.

    I think it is pretty incredible what you’ve been able to build with Zazzle in the last year. For me, I’ve had to pick up ‘real work’ but I do make several sales a month — and I have been completely shocked at some of the sellers. My favorites sit on the sidelines and random artsy (lame to me) pieces end up on jewelry boxes and…powis cases. That’s a fun royalty to have added to the total since the cost starts out so high. Even when they pick up a discount for 20% off, I earn over $8.

    If you do decide to stop disclosing amounts, maybe you can set a goal amount for each month and then state if you’ve hit it or not? And if you do write an ebook, Kindle is pretty cool and they’ve got videos available in the kdp help section to explain the best formatting using Word 2010 (I’m sure it is similar with 2013). I’ve also done a lot of reading about smashwords (another way to distribute) and the formatting and upload process is pretty straightforward, with ISBNs included. KDP does not offer ISBNs and they’re pretty expensive to purchase individually. To be honest, I hadn’t read about smashwords when I uploaded to KDP and just skipped the whole ISBN thing.

    Good luck!

  11. Hi, did you hear about ebay’s change to their affiliate program? They changed the 7 day cookie to a 24 hour cookie! Affiliates are reporting 60-90% drop in revenue and are dropping EPN completely. Have you noticed a change with viglinks?

    • I have noticed a pretty significant decrease in my Viglink revenue reports starting on Oct 1 (which is when this new policy when into effect). Based on what I’ve earned the first 13 days in Oct, my Viglink revenue will be down about 60%. I didn’t know what was going on! Thanks for the heads up. Now I need to brainstorm what to do about it!

  12. I was going to ask you do you use any specific page tool to make your zazzle posts..
    I have been using squidtools but wondering of there was anything better?

  13. Hi! I’m still new to Zazzle, I made some sales in the past and now I’ve come back to continue with it.
    i’ve seen that Zazzle cut off the bonus of the referrals, are you still making significant money even without it? (last 2 months I mean)
    and I would also like to know how many designs you have uploaded to your store.
    I’m an illustrator, so it would be awesome to start online :)

    • Hi Lorena,
      To answer some of your questions….YES, I’m still making a significant income from Zazzle even after the volume bonus changes. As of Dec 2013, I have about 225,000 products for sale on Zazzle, most of which have never sold or even seen the light of day in the Zazzle marketplace. How many designs does that translate into, I’m not sure, but probably around 2,000 different designs. Most of my designs are on about 100 different products each, with the exception of invitation designs.

      My royalty percentage varies anywhere from 10% – 25%. The 5% fee they subtract for being over 14.9% royalty is 5% of your earning amount. So if your royalty commission was $1.00, they would take out 5 cents. If you are too high on your royalty Zazzle will not include you in special promotions, like Groupon promotions, print advertising, and special marketing promotions, like when they hand-pick items to recommend to buyers. However, if they really like your product, Zazzle has been known to email sellers and ask them to lower their royalty on that product so it can be included in their promotion.

      Another thing to consider is whether 3rd party affiliates will pick up your product to promote if your royalty is too high. While affiliates would make more money if the product was priced higher, they know that shoppers convert better into buyers if the item is priced lower. And because they spend money to advertise and bring people to Zazzle, they want their advertising dollars to convert into sales at the highest rate possible. So they will market lower priced products over high priced products.

      That being said, it really sucks to earns only a few pennies on a sale, when you could have earned a few dollars. So it’s a constant question among all us sellers as to what to set our royalties at. You need to price your items at something you are comfortable with. But you can always change them too! :)

  14. i was about to forget something else!
    what porcentage of revenue do you set on zazzle? because I read online that if you put more than 15%, zazzle cuts 5% off and they don’t promote you on the main page.
    would love to hear your opinion about it

  15. I’ve just discovered your website, read two posts and already bookmarked to come back for more! Please continue with the affiliate tips, marketing strategies etc. Your posts are clear and informative. I don’t have to weed through mile long paragraphs of useless piles of info to get to the treasures :)

  16. Very inspiring figures! I love to hear about successful Zazzlers and hopefully I can be half as successful as you one day! I am a fan for Pat Flynn too and the passive income model. Wish you would get invited to be on his podcast one day!

    Importantly, I love your thoughts on finding what sells for Zazzle. I do make use of keywords and stuff, but I never thought of looking at whether Zazzle ranks well for particular keywords in Google search engines. Great point!

  17. My God… You really earn a lot from zazzle. I didn’t know that zazzle can be that profitable. But… out of curiosity, how many designs and products do you have in zazzle today anyway?

    • I have more than 230,000 products for sale on Zazzle spread out across 21 different stores. Many of those were made with Quick Create (my own templates), in which one design was posted to 100 different products, so there are probably less than 3000 different designs.

  18. Fivegreenlizards, thanks for putting some actual information out that I can “sink my teeth into.” I am a creative director, designer, illustrator and copywriter – and have some great ideas that should do well on Zazzle. Do you cross-post on CafePress too? Your research and discoveries on what works best is beyond valuable. Your replies to people, with actual answers, are what bring me back again! Thanks, and I would hope that posting on here will bring answers and suggestions that will help me recover from my own “economic slump” of the last few years….divorce sucks. -bill

    • Hi Bill…thanks for leaving a comment (my apologies for the very late reply). I’m glad you have found some useful information here on my website that you can put into action. That’s the very reason I started the website in the first place, to give others some ideas that they can then go and implement in whatever way works best for them. Currently I don’t post on CafePress, because quite frankly I think their interface stinks. Every time I have attempted to post products, I get so frustrated that I give up. I like Zazzle ten million times better, so I just stick with them. And since Zazzle has been added SO MANY new product types lately, there are a lot of things I haven’t even gotten to on Zazzle yet. Sorry to hear about your “economic slump”…I think we all go through periods in our lives like that. Keep your head up and keep seeking out solutions and you’ll recover! :)

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