How Zazzle can Help You Avoid Making Online Business Mistakes Like I Did

How Zazzle can Help You Avoid Making Online Business Mistakes Like I Did

I have 6 years under my belt as an online entrepreneur, and I have seen people keep on doing the same things that I did wrong when I was starting out. Let me explain…

My first fully-operational business website was a natural treatment e-commerce store run on Joomla! CMS. It was beautiful and if I ever wanted to start an e-store again, I’d do the same, at least.

As I was a big fan of drop shipping, I partnered with a large supplier. The supplier had been in business for years, and is still doing well today.

I’d done my homework in choosing the suppliers. I’d gone through hundreds of suppliers to narrow down the options and choose one.

I spent 14 hours a day working on the startup, building the site using Joomla!, from ground up. I tweaked a premium Joomla! template to make it my very own and fully-customized.

I did everything myself. I added product listings (plus descriptions), added useful content to attract a health-conscious audience, and so on.

Everything went well, and I was ready to open for business – finally. But what came next is pretty interesting…

My first sale came one month after the e-store opened for business. And I never made any more sales after that – ever. Just one sale from a full-fledged online business. Just one.

So, I basically spent 300 hours of my time and a couple hundred dollars to set up a fully operational and professional e-store to only get $20 in profits. Ouch.

Tri-fold wallet

What have I done wrong?

Here’s the heart-breaker: I forgot to start small. The thing is, I don’t have to create a big e-commerce site, especially as a newbie in the industry. I should start small and join a marketplace, such as Zazzle, and start selling using the tools provided.

They have an existing market and proven tools for members to use – great for starting up, making mistakes along the way, and growing. There is no risk involved.

I should have not been so set on establishing my own e-commerce store. Well, the store looks nice, but without any sales, what’s the benefit of looking nice?

So, I want to sell my designs via an online shop. What would you suggest I do?

If you are currently considering starting your own online business, and still deciding whether you are going to build your own e-shop or join a marketplace, let me make a suggestion – set up a store with Zazzle or a similar marketplace, and start making sales.


Let’s get started: Zazzle case study

As I’m fascinated with product designs, let’s use Zazzle as a case study.

Zazzle is one of the leading custom product marketplaces and communities.

As a buyer, you can choose from some of the best products with indie designs on the web. You can even create your own design and have your design turned into a nice end-product. How about your beloved pet photo on your iPhone case?

Pet photo frame

As a seller, you can sell your designs and have Zazzle help you turn your designs into beautiful end-products like t-shirts, wallets, mugs, iPad cases, and so on.

There are many benefits of running your shop on Zazzle:

  • You can create your store and sell your products for free
  • You can set your own royalty rate on every product
  • You can sell your designs on hundreds of retail-quality products ranging from iPhone cases to mugs
  • You can reach a broad audience that is already shops in the Zazzle marketplace
  • You can earn an extra 15% per sale when driving traffic to the Zazzle website even when you’re sending customers to your own products
  • Help is just around the corner

Custom tie

The best way to learn how to set up a store on Zazzle is just to try it – it’s easy.

Here are some of the benefits that come with having a store on Zazzle.

1. Setting up a store is a breeze

Unlike me, you don’t have to spend hundreds of hours of labor to get your e-shop up and running. All you need to do to create a store is to sign up, fill in some details, and voila! Your store is up and running, and ready to be filled with products that have your designs on them.

2. Order fulfillment is taken care of

Order fulfillment is a headache. Zazzle takes away that burden from you because Zazzle fulfills all orders on demand, so there is no inventory required. When someone makes a purchase of a product from your store, Zazzle makes the product, prints the design on it, and then ships it to the buyer. It’s easy and hassle free.

3. More income venues

You generate profits in the form of royalties. So, naturally, the more popular your items, the more money you make. However, you can also, get an additional 15% for referring traffic to Zazzle as a Zazzle Associate. You can refer people to your own products, or to any other products on Zazzle including their brand partners like Disney and Hallmark.

Schnoozle cow t-shirt

4. Boost your brand with your own domain name

Whenever you are ready for the next level, I suggest you set up your own e-store with your own domain name. This will create a better branding opportunity for your thriving store.

Fortunately, you don’t have to set-up the whole website on your own. Zazzle offers products like Store Builder and the Zazzle API which make it easy to integrate your own website with your existing Zazzle products.

5. Product marketing and promotion – on steroids

Marketing and promotion come naturally when you are trying to make your mark in the retail scene. Zazzle has many promotional tools which teach you how to link to Zazzle and how to track your links so you know where you’re promoting is working and where it isn’t.


I understand that starting up an online business is both fun and challenging. However, you can’t afford to lose time and money – both are scarce, especially when you don’t have enough startup capital.

Online marketplaces like Zazzle can be one of the solutions to your problems, allowing you to start a store with minimal investment and tap into the existing buyer/seller communities.

Perhaps the only drawback of launching a store on Zazzle is that some of the products are a bit expensive. However, there are plenty of lower cost items as well.

So, how about taking those fancy designs of yours to Zazzle and starting to create indie retail products that rock? Sounds good?

Indie rocks tees

Ivan Widjaya

Ivan Widjaya is the Owner/Editor of, as well as several other blogs. He is a business blogger, web publisher and content marketer for SMEs.