The following is a repost of an article I originally wrote on my personal blog a few years ago about some research I did on selling art on Zazzle. I had a lot of positive feedback from it, so I thought I would share it here on my art website as well, in case some my fellow artists might find it useful. I am curious to know your thoughts.
I have been doing a bit of research about which products sell the best on Zazzle, so here are a few thoughts.
One key aspect of a successful Zazzle product is context. This is a topic that I discuss quite a bit with my consulting clients and is an increasing focus for most digital marketing strategies, both now and into the future. (Big data, the internet of things… it all relies on context)
Context is defined as:
“The parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning”
In other words, context, as it applies to a Zazzle product, is the primary activating reason or reasons for why a product exists and why it sells.
Usually, people buy things because it serves a need. Yes, sometimes it really is just impulse (which I might discuss in a future post) but typically, the reason is some level of need for the item.
This is also a big roadblock that many digital artists get hung up on when getting started. Understandably, we artists put a lot of love into our art and want to share it with the world. We create a Zazzle store, upload our beautiful art onto a bazillion products hoping that we will sell tons, then get discouraged when we sell nothing.
The problem is not that our art isn’t amazing. Zazzle is filled with tons of amazing art, but the reason that a lot of it doesn’t sell, is because it lacks context.
The Ah HA! Moment
A big AH HA! moment was when I read a blog post over on the travel blog PassingThru.com (great blog btw!) where they list their top selling products.
Product number one is this postcard of an old trailer.
Certainly a photo of a trailer would not be something that most people would race to pull out their credit cards for, but when you add the text “We have a new address” over the image, it instantly adds a whole new level of context to the product.
Suddenly, the postcard solves a problem. It provides a reason why someone might want or need to buy it and why someone who receives it might think it is funny.
Remember, Zazzle is a huge marketplace of generic items. The only differentiating aspect is the paint job. (Your art)
Adding context to your products creates a solution to a problem. It ads value where there previously wasn’t any. It takes a commodity and makes it a luxury item.
With that being said, one of the most important aspects of Zazzle is customization. If you look at their list of best selling items, these are primarily customizable items, such as wedding invitations, greeting cards, business cards, and other types of paper products.
Yes, people buy these things because they have cool art on them, but more importantly, people want to add their own personalized information to them.
Using Market Samurai (my favorite SEO research software) I did a couple searches for both Zazzle & personalized gifts. As you can see, some of the top keywords that came up were a variety of invitations. This seems to be a good indication that there is a general affinity for these keywords in relation to Zazzle.
On both the Google Trends Tool, and Market Samurai, the keyword “Personalized” seems to show up as a much stronger search term then “Customized”. I assume the phrase “Personalized Gifts” is a more contextual phrase because it gives a purpose for why someone might want to purchase them.
As a side note, I stumbled across a great blog called Five Green Lizards where the site owner, Kim, discusses quite a bit about how some of her top selling products are wedding invitations. Just another confirmation that seems to affirm that this is a hot selling topic.
Time of year is definitely a key factor that effects sales. There are peak seasons for selling personalized items, which tend to be December (Christmas) and Early Summer (May to July) which I assume correspond to peak wedding season or wedding planning season. We all know Christmas is the peak sales month, but May is the more interesting factor here.
If you look at the results from Google Trends you can see the seasonal peaks which are compared to both zazzle and personalized gifts.
I made a couple interesting discoveries while cross referencing some of the top selling categories as well. (I am not sure if these are due to economic factors or cultural factors or what…)
1. Over time, there is an apparent decline in searches for invitations, weddings & business cards and a rise in the searches for phone cases. Phone cases are also on Zazzle’s list of hot selling items.
2. There is a very slight increase in searches for “baby shower invitations” in relation to a decline in “wedding invitations” however “wedding” seems to be a much higher searched keyword. “Wedding” vs “baby” seems to indicate this trend as well. Admittedly, this is also based quite a bit on current events, such as celebrity babies and royal weddings, so the reality of how this effects sales is unclear.
3. “Baby related gifts” seem to be trending higher then “Wedding gifts.” as well as “gifts for him” and “gifts for men” seem to be on the rise as well.
Another VERY interesting trend I discovered was the rise in searches for certain items based on different countries & languages, in this case, primarily Spanish.
The keywords: “invitaciones” and “baby shower invitaciones” show very interesting possibilities.
Two important ways to optimize for this is to both, keyword your Zazzle items for different languages, as well as to create items that are targeted for certain languages or cultures.
Sales success on Zazzle relies on a strategic approach which is based on the taking advantage of the key strengths of what Zazzle offers. This being: the personalization factor.
Keyword research is also very important and I would recommend learning how to do the research as well as how to optimize your products and traffic sources for what you discover. It’s a big game of detective, but if done properly, it will definitely be to your financial advantage.
So, to answer your question, what sells on Zazzle?
I would say that, in addition to all kinds of random stuff, it’s a safe bet that it is a lot about context, personalization, baby shower and wedding invitations. I would also pay attention to growing trends which are both phone cases and optimizing for other languages, especially Spanish.
If your art can compliment these genres, you will definitely have a pretty decent chance at success.
I’ll continue to share my discoveries. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts, so please share them in the comments.