What: Sell your art through print-on-demand and/or design, manufacture and sell your clothing, phone cases, coffee mugs or tote bags that will be further customized on Zazzle.

Commissions & Fees: Not applicable for the print-on-demand service for artists; 30% on the designers/manufacturers, who the site refers to as “makers.”

Husl$core: $$$

Review: Let’s divide the review in two parts. First, for artists, who are looking at print-on-demand: Zazzle isn’t our favorite print-on-demand service for a couple of reasons. First, a lot of buyers complain about the quality of the goods they’ve purchased on the site. And that lack of quality-control not only affects your reputation as an artist, it affects your sales. Buyers get a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if Zazzle (or one of it’s “makers”) messes up the printing, your sale turns to dust.

Secondly, reading through the site’s terms and conditions gave us pause. Though the site says that you set your own royalty rate and your goods are priced at Zazzle’s cost + your royalty, when you dig into the fine print to find out that the “standard” royalty is 5% — 75 cents on a $15 purchase. You can set your royalty rate higher, if you want. But if your royalty rate is more than 10% (2 times the standard), Zazzle can levy another fee against your royalties, according to the terms and conditions. Additionally, because it appears that Zazzle uses their own independent contractor “makers” to design the products that artists can customize on their site, the availability and quality of some items may not be consistent. Where this may not affect those making paper products, like invitations and note cards, this can be a real shortcoming for artists who want to offer custom designs on tote bags or t-shirts.

For designers: You pay 30% of your revenues to the site and you have to pay a “shipping services fee.” If the product is returned, you have to pay to replace the product and ship it again. There are copious complaints from customers about the shipping, which may be the fault of “makers” shipping late, or could be the fault of the shipping agreement at Zazzle. It’s impossible to say. But that creates a lot of risk for designers and manufacturers using this site for sales.  

While the opportunity here appears to be decent, we think Society6 and RedBubble offer a better deal. 

What their sellers say:

Kristen Juckiewicz, owner of Redwood & Vine, which is a top-seller on Zazzle, agreed to describe her experience with the site and respond to questions about Zazzle’s print quality and terms.

“I’ve found Zazzle’s print quality to be excellent. Since the site relies on user-generated content from designers as well as photos or text that a customer might add, there are bound to be occasional snafus with printing. Sometimes those are due to customers uploading low resolution photos and graphics and ignoring the warning that they may print poorly, or not heeding the bleed areas on a particular product, resulting in text or images being cut off. And sometimes there’s a problem with the designer’s template, like text that’s too light. When that happens, or when the print job just isn’t satisfactory, they’re really good about making it right with a reprint or refund.

I set my royalties between 10-15%. I find those prices to be in line with fellow Zazzle designers and with competitor sites. Above 15%, Zazzle applies a small transaction fee or carveout. They encourage a 10-15% royalty to keep prices in a range that customers would be willing to pay, but designers are free to set whatever royalty they prefer.
There’s really no guideline as to what a Zazzle artist can expect to earn. There are designers who’ve been with the site for 10 years and earn only hobby revenue, and there are those who’ve achieved a full time income in far less time. It depends on a number of factors: the quality of your designs, the quantity you create, the quality of your descriptions and tags for SEO, whether your templates are user-friendly for the customer, and most importantly, creating products that satisfy a need for customers. Over time, as your work gains traction in the Zazzle marketplace and in search engine results, you can generally expect earnings to rise. But to stay fresh, it’s important to keep producing work that’s in line with current trends.
I earned about $150,000 in 2017 with plenty more growth expected in 2018!
My Zazzle store, Redwood & Vine, started as a side hustle in 2015 when I was on maternity leave from my former job in the management consulting industry. By early 2016, it had grown to the point that I was ready to take the leap, resign from my firm and pursue it full time.
I chose Zazzle for a couple of reasons: brand recognition and breadth of products. I had heard of Zazzle’s custom postage a few years ago when planning my wedding, but wasn’t aware of most of their other offerings until I began researching print on demand sites in 2015. I experimented with many different products on Zazzle before settling into a happy niche with weddings, holidays and special events. I love that on Zazzle, customers can find not only invitations, but postage, labels, menus, thank you cards, favors, photo gifts and hundreds more items. That breadth has allowed me to extend my design range to everything a customer needs for that special milestone or event.
I love Etsy and really admire many of the talented makers who sell there. Zazzle was the better fit for me though, since they handle printing, shipping, and customer service. I’ve been able to build my Zazzle business into a strong source of passive income that continues to earn for me even when I’m not actively working on it. I do sell some digital printables on Etsy, but I stick to items that can be purchased and downloaded as-is by the customer without a direct touchpoint with me. With a young son and a busy schedule of hosting, entertaining and travel, I don’t wan’t to be too tied down with daily obligations to customers that I can’t easily break away from.
Redbubble is a side project that I hope to grow in 2018. Their die-cut stickers are very unique, and appeal to a different market than my usual customer base on Zazzle. It took some experimenting for me to figure out how to be successful on Redbubble, and now that I’ve somewhat cracked that code I’m ready to really pursue it this year and develop it into a steady income stream.”

Other reviews

From SiteJabber

“Zazzle is a website where users can design and sell a variety of customized products, the design lab they offer is very simple to use due to the self-explanatory steps involved and installed guides making it very user-friendly. Also, users can set up their own store and promote their own brand. However, despite these positive attributes, users who wish to sell certain clothing items such as customized underwear along with other miscellaneous products, are very limited in what types of items they want to specialize in. For example, my best selling items were customized shoes that made some sales. After making a few sales with these items, they ran out of stock and Ive been waiting several months for them to restock. Also, anyone who wishes to design and sell other items such as customized underwear will be disappointed, as it has been over a year since these items have been available despite them still being an option on the website. Because of their lack of available items, I have to say this website does not provide a stable foundation for artists who have special or specific niches. The lack of consistency in their stock options makes using this website a hassle to the point the user-friendly design platform simply does not make up for it.”

From the Better Business Bureau

“First, Zazzle falsely charged me membership fee when it was supposed to be a free 30 day trial period. I never used or benefited from the membership in any way, and it was cancelled upon my request. Yet, the company has not refunded me the amount that was falsely charged. After 4 different attempts to contact, the company promised to refund me the amount. I still have not received the refund after 2 weeks. This company conducts unfair business practices, and I want to expose them for misleading customers.”

Cindy Hopkins Monro, an artist, wrote: All About Zazzle, which is worth reading. On what you can expect to earn:  “If, like me, you pursued art or photography as a hobby, it will be less rewarding and perhaps discouraging at first.  With persistence, you could make at least $1000 your first year, building up to a second income by year three.  The speed at which you increase sales will be determined by the time invested, the quality of your designs, the networking you do, and how successfully you have gauged your audience.  At the end of each Christmas season, take stock of your accomplishments and adjust your Zazzle related tasks accordingly (you may need more products, you may need to blog and network more often, you may need to specialize or expand you product line).”

And Plus Your Business, which is a big fan of Zazzle says “Create as large a virtual inventory as possible – each sale will give you a relatively low amount of money (remember the 29 cents?). You have to sell in volume to make a substantial income.”

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