Pros and Cons of Using Zazzle: How to Make It Work for You

Pros and Cons of Using Zazzle

Curious what the pros and cons of using Zazzle are? First of all, what’s Zazzle?  And why are we talking about it?

Zazzle is one of the longest established and largest print-on-demand marketplaces in the world. What that means is that you can take any of your art, photos or designs and upload them onto a huge range of products and post them for sale. Zazzle will then take care of printing your design onto the product and shipping it to the customer.

This can be a fun and easy way to create your own products to promote on your website. You can build up a nice passive income over time doing this.

Sound too good to be true? Well, there are a few drawbacks, which I’ll explain below, but if you follow my tips, it’s worth a go. I’ve been with Zazzle for about nine years so I have some experience with the pros and cons of using Zazzle that I’d love to share with you.

Let’s start with the “Pros.”

Pros of Using Zazzle

  • Good quality products
  • Products can be customized by the buyer
  • Wide range of items from cards, posters, canvases, stationery, clothing, electronics, personalized gifts, office products, wedding items, crafts and more
  • Zazzle does everything for you — manufacturing, shipping, customer service
  • Excellent marketing
  • You can be an affiliate too
  • Environmentally friendly — products only made on demand.

In summary, all you have to do is the fun part — which is the creativity. OK, you do have to do some uploading and keyword selection, but once that’s done your design is for sale forever on the Zazzle marketplace.

Their products get good reviews for quality and there are so many to choose from that there’s bound to be something suitable for your niche.

My niche is sympathy and memorial cards and gifts. Zazzle has been perfect for that. Customers love products that they can customize with their own photos of people or pets.

A "Thank You for Your Sympathy" card which customers can personalize
A “Thank You for Your Sympathy” card, which customers can personalize

A Cool Pro of Using Zazzle: Their Collections Feature

You can also put together collections of items to promote on your own websites or social media. Below is an example of some of my pet loss collections. Some of the photos are mine on products I set up myself, and others are products from other people, for which I get affiliate commissions.

Examples of pet loss Zazzle collections.
Examples of pet loss Zazzle collections. The cool thing is that you can mix your own products with other people’s products (for which you get affiliate commissions).

I have friends in the travel niche who sell items on Zazzle related to the destination they’re writing about.

A Zazzle collection based on Melbourne, Australia
A Zazzle collection based on Melbourne, Australia

I also know someone who has a website about raising chickens.. She has created some wonderfully quirky chicken designs to sell on mugs or Christmas ornaments. She even does a range of chicken postage stamps for Christmas!

Another Pro of Using Zazzle: They Market Your Products

Zazzle is very good at marketing. One of my products appeared on their Facebook advertising once, which was rather exciting. You’ll often see them at the top of Google for many product searches.

But, as I mention in the cons, there is a lot of competition on Zazzle for every product type, so it pays to do your own marketing too, as my chicken lady friend does on her own website, like this:

Zazzle product marketing example
“Chicken lady” product marketing example on her own site

Two Ways to Earn on Zazzle

The great thing about sending your own traffic to Zazzle is that you get paid a referral fee too.

Let me explain the two types of payments you can earn.

1. Royalties

This payment is for sales of items with your own design on them. You can set your own royalty above the minimum price for the item set by Zazzle. Every time one of your designs sells you receive a royalty. You can put the same design on multiple items so one design can earn you plenty of royalties over the years.

2. Referrals

Zazzle pays a 15% referral fee if the traffic comes from your own blog or website. Quite often a referral pays more than the royalty so it’s worth doing.

Finally, the thing I like best is that you don’t need to have a storefront, and there are no upfront costs. You don’t need to keep stock or deal with manufacturing, customers or shipping.

Zazzle does all that for you so you can do what you do best — designing.

Promote Other People’s Products on Zazzle as an Affiliate

Not creative? No worries! Become an affiliate and promote other people’s designs on Zazzle.

As I mentioned above, Zazzle pays a 15% referral fee. That’s also true if you promote someone else’s products. So you don’t have to have your own designs to make a passive income from Zazzle. You can promote other people’s work.

Being a Zazzle affiliate can be a great addition to a diversified monetization strategy for a content-based website. It gives your readers a lot of choice of products, and allows you to offer something relevant and personal to your site.

Cons of Using Zazzle

  • Zazzle is getting pretty saturated, so there’s lots of competition.
  • It’s a lot of work to set up and slow getting started.
  • Filling out the sales details on each product is time-consuming and tedious. But hey, you only have to do it once!
  • Even though you can set your own royalty, in reality the fierce competition means you need to compete on price and not set your royalty rate too high.

Like anything else, you get out of Zazzle what you put into it. No one said that making money online was easy. But if you work away at it little by little, you can gradually build up a large portfolio of products on Zazzle, which will keep on earning for you year in and year out.

Full disclosure, as I’ve been with Zazzle so long, I haven’t tried any of the other print on demand companies. You may well find that they don’t have the disadvantages I’ve mentioned above.

It might be worth doing some research to see whether another company suits you better. Cafepress has been around a long time, and there are a couple of newer ones, Redbubble and Teepublic, that are getting very good press.

So, with the pros and cons of using Zazzle, is it worth it? I think, if you put in a bit of effort over time, and follow the tips I share below, you may be surprised what you can achieve. Most of what I’m saying would be valid for any print on demand site, not just Zazzle.

My Hands-On Tips for Using Zazzle

  • Sell the same design on multiple products. Just copy and paste the title and description of your design across to save time. You don’t need to describe the item itself as Zazzle does that for you.
  • If you create several items at once it’s possible to bulk edit from your store’s product page. Once it’s done your product is there forever. It’s worth it for something that can then make a passive income for you for years and years.
  • Grab the opportunity of designing on the newest products as soon as Zazzle brings them out to beat the competition.
  • Put your designs on items that people are likely to buy in multiples. I was surprised when I sold multiples of a sympathy card, but realized that stores such as newsagents and gift shops may well be getting their stock from Zazzle. My most successful cards were the thank you cards for coming to a funeral as people buy large quantities of these.
  • Consider products that may be used for group activities, such as t-shirts for sports teams, or promotional materials for conferences. Make sure it’s obvious in your description that these can be customized.
  • Keep the products you choose relevant to your niche so you can market them to your audience.
  • Do your own marketing. Don’t leave it all to Zazzle. Create your own website to display your designs. Post them to Facebook and Pinterest. Zazzle gives you better rankings too if you share your products widely. It’s easy to do from the store and collections pages.
  • Be competitive with your royalties. It’s all very well being able to set your royalty at any rate you like from 5% to 99%, but if your product ends up being way more expensive than everyone else’s, customers will likely just choose another design. After all, the base product is the same. Unless your design is way better than your competitors on the same item, people won’t be prepared to pay a premium for it.
  • Choose higher price items to put your designs on. You’re not going to make a fortune on postcards and greetings cards, but add a few calendars, framed wall art, silver lockets, hoodies, watches, mugs, jigsaws etc. and it all starts to add up.
  • Finally, a warning. Do not use other people’s designs, art or photos. You could end up with copyright issues. Even stock photos usually have restrictions about commercial use, so be very careful when using anything you didn’t design yourself.

Why not join the Solo Build It! community, flex your creative muscles and become a Zazzle maker too? In my view, the pros of using Zazzle definitely outweigh the cons.

Pros and Cons of Using Zazzle: How to Make It Work for YouPros and Cons of Using Zazzle: How to Make It Work for YouPros and Cons of Using Zazzle: How to Make It Work for You
Lesley Postle
Lesley Postle is a Sitesell Pro specializing in eBook formatting and publishing. Her journey with Solo Build It! started in 2009 with her first site which was based around her passion for the Art Deco style of the 1920s and 1930s. Later, in 2012, working with her mother, a health professional with over 45 years experience, was born. This site helps those coping with any form of grief and loss and has become one of the foremost sites about grief on the internet. "Our grief website has made my mother so proud and given her a purpose in her retirement. The fact that my sites will also pay for my retirement is an added bonus." is how Lesley now speaks of her online journey.