The Internet sure has come a long way in the last decade. A few years back, you’d need quite a large budget to build an online store so you could sell your products, but now there are all types of options to create and sell online with minimal investment.
This post is going to cover Zazzle, a fully-hosted shopping platform that you can use to launch your own online store. They don’t sell everything under the sun like Amazon does, but they make it really easy to create a store, which you have full control over.
Zazzle is a print-on-demand company which means it combines high quality artwork with rapid manufacturing to create and sell products to customers. What makes their model cool is that you, the store owner, are in charge of the design, and Zazzle handles everything else like payment processing, production, printing, shipping and customer service. Looks like they’re pretty successful at it too, since they’ve been in the business since 2005. You can read more about them in this Forbes article.
Zazzle does have many successful store owners that have a design or art background, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t, because stick figures, memes, and funny sayings have also been quite a big hit.
Building a Traditional Online Store
First, let’s take a look at what you’d have to do in order to create an online store of your own, without any outside help:
- Develop a product, or find a niche that has profit potential.
- Buy a domain name and hope it hasn’t been taken by someone else.
- Hire a designer or find/buy a WordPress design for your store.
- Purchase a shopping cart to integrate into the site (there are free ones but they have limitations if your sales start to explode.)
- Setup payment processing through PayPal or other payment processors (some of these require credit checks and have large processing fees.)
- Maintain the website, which includes building updates, fixing bugs, and trying to thwart spammers and hackers.
As you can see, there are several limitations to building a traditional online store, and the points above only go over a few of them.
Creating Your Own Store Through Zazzle
Okay, so I’ve rambled enough about the troubled mechanics of creating your own store from scratch. Now, let’s see what Zazzle offers:
- You have hundreds of products to choose from for your designs (clothing, home/office accessories, cards/invitations, etc.)
- You don’t need to buy an actual domain name (though this is recommended later for marketing and brand-building reasons.)
- You can customize and organize your store into categories to add a personal touch.
- You don’t need to integrate a shopping cart or pay for hosting, so there is no worry of exceeding your host bandwidth limitations.
- You can focus your time on creating and marketing the products versus production, shipping, customer service and site upkeep.
Zazzle Associate Program
The Zazzle Associate Program offers an opportunity to earn referrals along with the royalties you would get for selling your products. If you have your own blog or website, you can promote your store or any other page on Zazzle to earn referrals. The Associate Program offers 15% per sale along with a nice volume bonus (link to http://www.zazzle.com/sell/affiliates/volumebonus). All you have to do is add your associate ID (link to http://www.zazzle.com/my/associate/associate) to any Zazzle link you promote and you will automatically be included in the program.
For Your Brand
Zazzle is a great way to monetize/market a popular blog of any kind. For example, if you have a logo, witty catch-phrases, photos, etc., that you’re popular for, you can set up a Zazzle store full of t-shirts, coffee cups, postcards, posters, etc., with your content that your loyal followers can purchase. It goes hand in hand with building your brand, since when people have memorabilia that relates to you, they end up being an endless source of marketing.
Check out some of their more popular stores and the product range they offer:
Moody Lizard: http://www.zazzle.com/moodylizard
Balazs Solti Illustration: http://www.zazzle.com/bsolti
If you’re looking for a turn-key way to start a store, sign up for free on Zazzle.com and you can have an online store in just a few minutes!