Carla, from the Zazzle store reflections06, talks about her favorite products, and what drew her to Zazzle. Check out the interview below and don’t forget to check out her store reflections06!
Zazzle: First off, tell us a little bit about yourself
Carla: My name is Carla Rolfe, and originally I’m from Bremerton, Washington. I married and moved to Southern Ontario, Canada about 14 years ago. As for my art, I suppose I’m like most artists since I’ve always created in one way or another. As a little girl I’d create little cartoon animals with great big eyes on my book covers at school, the phone book, my bedroom wall and anything else I could find to draw on. Oh the phone book was also covered with my abstract, interlocking diamond shapes as well. :-) Many of those little cartoon animals are now in my shop at Zazzle, and customers love them as much as my friends did in grade school.
Zazzle: What’s your inspiration for your designs?
Carla: Inspiration for my designs comes from just about everywhere. From a mood, a funny or wonderfully sentimental thing someone said, or the feeling of a special event. If I’m doing a custom design and I know the person I try to capture part of them in the design, their favorite colors, a font style they like, a certain personality trait and that sort of thing.
Zazzle: What is your favorite Zazzle product to create?
Carla: I think if I had to pick a favorite Zazzle product to create, it would have to be custom invitations for the great big, monumental, milestone events in life. When people are celebrating such events it’s a blessing and an honor to have my products selected to be the “come celebrate with us” image that people see when they open that envelope. In a small way it’s like being a part of their celebration and that warms my heart.
Zazzle: Who is your favorite Zazzle seller (besides yourself, of course)?
Carla: I don’t know that I could say I have a “favorite” Zazzler because the Zazzle artist community has so many amazingly talented members. There is one that comes to mind right away though and her shop is http://www.zazzle.com/specialeetees. When I see her work I’m always impressed with the way she captures depth and light and shading in her fantasy/mystical pieces. It’s a genre I don’t work in at all but if you could imagine living in a fantasy world filled with mystical creatures, they would be hers!
Zazzle: How do you promote your store?
Carla: I take advantage of the social networking tools out there to really just automate everything as much as possible. I had a friend recently email me and ask “were you REALLY up at 4 am creating new products in your Zazzle shop?!” :-) No, I was not really up at 4am, although it has happened, I confess. However, all new products are now set up on a feed at twitterfeed and then synced to post at my Facebook page as well. Another really good way to promote is to make sure you tweet every amazing sale Zazzle is running so that your circle of friends knows when their favorite design or product is on sale. Everyone loves a good deal so I try to notify my little corner of the world when there’s a great sale on, and Zazzle has no shortage of really great sales! Beyond that, I also have a store blog where I can post longer articles of new items, sales, etc. To top it off, I have a bumpersticker on both the family van and our car, and I hand out business cards all the time.
Zazzle: What has been your favorite design you’ve created, and why?
Carla: It’s really hard to pick a “favorite” out of my designs but this Baby’s First Christmas photo frame ornament was one that I was so delighted with when the product was finished. Using a few different design elements I tried to capture festive, sentimental and simple and it worked beautifully. I have over 900 ornaments in my shop and that was my best seller last Christmas. It’s a pretty special feeling knowing this ornament decorated so many Christmas trees last year, and hopefully will this Christmas time as well!
Zazzle: What was the very first thing you made on Zazzle?
Carla: The very first thing I created on Zazzle was a t-shirt, way back when Zazzle was just a baby :-) I’ve been with Zazzle for many years and in many ways we’ve both grown together. I’ve learned a lot over the years and Zazzle has introduced so many amazing products that it’s just a phenomenal place to have a shop. I’ve long since discontinued most of my “very first” products as my talent as a designer has improved drastically over the years.
Zazzle: What got you interested in selling your art on Zazzle?
Carla: What originally caught my attention at Zazzle years ago, was a mention on a discussion forum for another print on demand company. I clicked the link, looked around and thought how much I liked the layout and the functionality of the site. I was still using dial up internet at the time and Zazzle worked for me much better than the other print on demand site so I signed up, started creating and the rest is history. I ditched dial up years ago and Zazzle has only improved by leaps and bounds since then. I’ve tried many other PODs, still have shops at some of them, but my Zazzle shops are my most favorites. It’s home, and gets all my newest designs.
Zazzle: What tips can you give someone who is just starting out on Zazzle?
Carla: Keep your shop clean, easy to navigate and free of flashy/splashy things, design something new every day, offer it on as many products as it will fit nicely on, and keep it fresh. What I mean by keeping it fresh is to not rely on something that sold well a year ago, to keep selling well now. The buyer’s moods change, interests change, trends change so as artists we have to keep a finger on what folks want today, not always what they wanted a year ago. Some designs are timeless and will sell on products no matter fickle trends, but it’s never a good idea to rely on those. Rather, take a browse through the Zazzle marketplace and notice top selling items and pay particular attention to color schemes, genres, and that sort of thing. Looking at top selling design elements like that gives you as an artist a good feel for what buyers are looking for now. Is it grungy or classy, notice a lot of oranges and turquoise or honeysuckle pink? Things like that help point you in the right direction for what potential customers might like to see in YOUR shop as well. Above all that, don’t get too discouraged when sales patterns fluctuate. It happens, and one day (or one week) may not be so great and then the tide turns and things look up again. Just keep doing what you love best, keep promoting and in time you’ll begin to see great things.