Designing for Zazzle Merchandise Leads to My New Squarespace-based Website

This is what the home page of my brand new website, printedmuserie.com, looks like. The interior pages are very, very different from this home page. Check it out!

This is what the home page of my brand new website, printedmuserie.com, looks like. The interior pages are very, very different from this home page. Check it out!

Just as the title says, I now design items sold through the Zazzle Print on Demand (POD) platform. I've also launched a new website using the Squarespace platform. Naturally I have some things to tell you about all this. But if you can't wait to see the new site in all its glory without reading my no-doubt-riveting-but-surely-longer-than-yours-would-have-been back story... I give you: printedmuserie.com! (Imagine a wee tiny brass band with friendly undertones accompanying this long-time-coming announcement.) You can also click the screenshot over there, and be directed to the home page.

I'm super-excited to finally reveal what's taken every minute of my spare time this year. Enough, in fact, that it had to get its very own online home. Because there are so many pertinent details related to how it evolved, why it became a stand-alone project, and also answers to the questions I've been asked by those familiar to the work, I'm writing this post and will break down the high points using a numbered list. But first some photos of a few of my more popular designs. Which is to say things that have sold at least once, and often several different times. (They don't link but they appear near the top of my products lists in either the Printed Muserie or Paper Muserie Zazzle stores.

Now: A List of Highlights on Why I Built a Whole New Website:

  1. After the 2016 holiday shopping season, I decided to expand my then-still-new POD endeavors and open a shop through Zazzle. No other creative endeavor I've encountered allows me to use a greater number of my skills and interests in a single place: digital art, photography, writing, web marketing, Zentangle, love of patterns, texture and color combinations... the list just kept growing, beyond these. And so I needed a digital space to work in that would let me experiment with my discovery of how expansive and open-ended this could be for someone wired and inclined like me.
  2. Because? That company lets me not only add my digital artwork, patterns and photos to their hundreds of product options, but I can also design business cards, cool invitations, (think wedding suites of cards and accessories,) and US postage stamps, plus personalized household items and accessories with monograms and template spaces for your name. This new customization avenue blew the top off what I'd previously done with POD. And whereas I was already excited by getting to decide what I wanted to design on any given day, expanding my efforts to designing invitations and business cards for strangers - something I've helped friends and family members do, for fun, for years - has increased my enjoyment exponentially. And don't even get me started about my delight at designing postage stamps. OH the fun!
  3. I got a little obsessed and read everything I could find on how to "do it right". I then took an online class, and have now created more than one Zazzle store. (That may or may not have been necessary, but there's no going back now! Here are the direct links again: Printed Muserie and Paper Muserie stores on Zazzle. Also, there's a page on the new site that attempts to explain the differences between the two.) All told, there are now several thousand products available for purchase through Zazzle alone, with my designs on them. Yes. You read that right. That number grows every day.
  4. Since I was not only learning about Zazzle but about the Print on Demand industry in general, I had a lot to learn about getting these designs seen by people who will buy them. As a result, I've sold many more items in these new stores than I did elsewhere last year.
  5. The primary evidence of my improvement? Zazzle has processed more than 80 orders with my designs on them. With no external promotion on my part, whatsoever. Those orders have been from people all over the world, for everything from leggings to business cards, mugs to postage stamps. Through my other POD partnerships I get an occasional email that I've sold something, and this is great. But I now expect such emails from Zazzle! So all the extra time I spent learning the ins and outs of their offerings will clearly serve me well as I continue to learn and increase the numbers of designs I offer.
  6. For those curious about how this works, financially, I'll share this: Designer royalties are generally only in the 5-15% range. 25% at the highest but that high one is actually (at this point) only through Art of Where. Most of my Zazzle royalties are set at 10-15%.
  7. Which means my efforts on this front do not have me rolling in cash. You have to sell a lot of POD merchandise to make it worth the work.
  8. Having said that? Turns out many designers HAVE made it well-worth their time to do this. Being able to design Whatever I'm In The Mood To Try Creatively On Any Given Day, then post it in a public marketplace where someone (usually a stranger) will one day buy it is thrilling. That future possible other customers can buy it again just compounds the pleasure.
  9. Now. The marketplace I've entered is enormous. When I say that there are millions of designs available on hundreds of different products you can buy from Zazzle alone, I am not exaggerating. Fortunately for me, I'm not afraid of marketing to an Internet audience. That does NOT mean all my products rank high in the marketplace. Nor does it mean I'm suggesting it's easy or requires only a little work. I'm pretty sure I've never worked harder than I have "in my spare time" this year. What it does mean is that whereas I've read story after story of "Zazzlers" who didn't make their very first sales for 6 months, and who often didn't see another for several more months, I've been more fortunate than that. If theirs had been my experience, I might have given up by now. Instead, I sold my first product within 5 weeks of opening my store, and have sold steadily (rarely going longer than a week without a sale,) since then.
  10. But averaging a few dollars a day on something that takes this much time and energy is not my idea of long-term success. Sure, it's a start, but now it's time to really get this thing off the ground. "If you build it they will come" is not true in the land of the World Wide Web. Way too many things are going on in this cyber arena to make that possible. The only way to increase the likelihood that all these images will be seen is to promote them online, through blogging and social media. So I had to build a dedicated website. Where I will write and publish frequent blog posts about my designs, the pitfalls and celebrations, the lessons-in-general, and so many other things, too. I'd already bought the domain printedmuserie.com to help bring interested people to the right place on this site. It was a natural progression, then, that I would move these endeavors to a standalone location dedicated to what I'm doing with Print on Demand.

Although I may sometimes write about these topics here in this blog, most of that content will appear over there so my subscribers and long-time readers won't be inundated with all the minutia that is certain to make at least a few of your eyes glaze over.

Besides all that? Thank you! Thank you if you read all this, and thank you for taking a look at the new site. Sharing that it exists is a huge step in getting that effort off the ground. And I appreciate you for being a part of it, even in this most basic of ways.

Cheers!