Archive for September, 2013

Zazzle Featured Designer Interview with Nidhi Chanani

September 25, 2013

Nidhi Chanani, from the Zazzle store nidhiart, talks about her background, inspiration, and gives a few tips for designers that are just starting out.

Zazzle: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Nidhi: I was born in Kolkata, India and moved to California when I was four months old.

Nidhi_move_to_SanFran

I consider myself a California girl, but I kept my Indian culture thanks to my big and loving family.

After high school, I went to U.C. Santa Cruz to study literature which gave me a great understanding of storytelling. I was always attracted to art, and would’ve liked to minor in it, but that option wasn’t available at that time.

Nidhi_storytelling

Zazzle: When did you begin to create art?

Nidhi: After graduating college, I worked in a few non profits but could never quite find what I was looking for. One time, after getting laid off, I decided to follow my dream and pursue an education in art. I went to art school for one and a half years, but decided that what I really want, is to do art every day.  So I started to create daily illustrations and sending them out to my friends and family, and the list of recipients just kept growing and growing. Today, I have over 700 illustrations.

snuggle_stamps-ra949f624ab65486493b5e5b15a75f665_xjs8n_8byvr_210hot_air_balloon_animals_invite-r45e697804cbf4d53b780c570e0ee7053_8dnm8_8byvr_210first_snow_stamps-r5613fecdca594b8ebb0d969912f748c5_xjs8n_8byvr_210

Zazzle: How did you hear about Zazzle?

Nidhi: A friend told me about Zazzle as a way to make extra money. I knew in order to succeed, I would need to learn how to design, so I taught myself Photoshop.

Zazzle: What inspires you?

Nidhi: The inspiration for my art comes from life, love and storytelling. The love for my husband, my family, the beautiful city of San Francisco and amazing scenery in Hawaii are all things that inspire me.

cable_car_postage_stamps-rde650cf9dc62441e824a11842fa0d3de_xjs8n_8byvr_210 stay_iphone_case_iphone_5_cases-r71afa76c5a41446da42a3b179a4de052_80c4n_8byvr_210ukulele_song_iphone_4_case-r4bb54f93f8d147ad8db43ae64d5eef70_a460e_8byvr_210

Zazzle: Where is your favorite place to work?

Nidhi: I love to work at home with my cats running around and sometimes outside at the Ferry Building.

Nidhi_working_at_home

Zazzle: What are some of your favorite designs and products from your stores on Zazzle?

Nidhi: Some of my favorite designs are the Hawaii series with scenery and kayaking. I like phone cases as a product because I love the idea of having art with you all the time. When someone purchases one of my phone cases, I always feel honored.

secrets_of_the_sea_iphone_4_case_mate_case-r057d72beac1744ce8bcee0fcb2a169a5_a460e_8byvr_210rolling_in_the_deep_iphone_4_covers-re5f9cdff2780452b8b3cafbe1589a93f_a460e_8byvr_210road_to_hana_by_nidhi_chanani_iphone_5_case-re51a69b380134a989c0858a5aa1b688f_80cs8_8byvr_210

Zazzle: Do you have any advice for designers just starting out on Zazzle?

Nidhi: Focus on quality over quantity; take the time to teach yourself Photoshop.  Also, be patient, no sales happen overnight, and upload as many designs as possible.

Zazzle: What is your favorite social media promotion and tool and where have you been most successful?

Nidhi: Facebook is definitely one of  the most successful tools because it’s easy to share and comment. There is engagement and open communication for people who enjoy my work. Tumblr is also good, but you can’t directly engage with people.

Thank you Nidhi  Chanani for taking the time to share your story and your insights with us. We really appreciate it.

Find more of Nidhi’s stores here:

http://www.zazzle.com/nidhiart

http://www.zazzle.com/lilones

http://www.zazzle.com/smallhandsdesigns

5 Keyword Tips to Boost Traffic

September 23, 2013

1.)  Brainstorm initial keyword ideas

Imagine you are selling wedding invitations, so you would start with keywords that relate to your product.

General keywords:
wedding invitations
wedding
special occasion invitations

2.) Use Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner can give you ideas on other keywords you can use. It also tells you which keywords people search for the most and which keywords are in high demand.

How to use Google Keyword Planner:
Step 1: Complete at least one of the sections in the image below and click next. The more you complete the more targeted your results will be.

wedding_invitations

Step 2: After you click next, you will see results for  Ad Group Ideas and Keyword Ideas, you can use both to refine your keywords. Generally you want keywords that have high monthly searches and low competition. Make sure to only use keywords that relate to your content.

For example, in the image  below “Design Wedding” looks like an interesting ad group because although it doesn’t have as many searches as some of the other ad groups, it only has medium competition and it’s the third ad group by relevance.  It would be worthwhile to click into that ad group and explore those keywords.

Keywords2

After you click on the “Design Wedding” ad group, the tool will populate another group of keywords as shown in the image below. Here, you should also look for the highest searches and lowest competition keywords that come up. The best keyword, in this example, would be “wedding invitation designs”. Of course you can choose more than one keyword,  just make sure it’s relevant to your product. If I have wedding invitations with designs, then I would use this word, but if I just sell plain invitations, I would not choose not to use “wedding invitation designs” keyword.

KeywordDesignWedding

Step 3: Take a look at the Keyword Ideas as well for suggestions. Looks like “wedding invitation” (the original keyword that we thought of) is a good keyword to use because it has many searches and medium competition compared to the other keywords.

Keyword3

3.) Competitor Research

Search for your keywords on different search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to see which websites come up. Check for big brands to see if they’re in the top recommended sites. If they are, it might be tough to compete with them using the particular keyword you searched for.  Also check for advertisements on the top or right-hand side, they usually mean that it’s a highly profitable keyword.  Last but not least, make sure this keyword pulls up products and services that are similar to your product or service so you know you are targeting the correct audience.

keyword4

4.) Use long-tail words

Use longer keywords like “black and white vintage wedding invitations” or “squares and circles wedding invitations” or “wedding invitations in 24 hours”. Even though these terms are less searched on any given day, they tend to have a higher conversion rate. Just remember, do not use keywords that do not match your product or service.

5.) Use keyword phrases in your topics and content

If you publish content on your site, come up with creative ways to relate your product to popular topics.  For example, is someone famous getting married? Write about the invitations they used and the differences and similarities in design between their invitations and yours. Use the keywords that relate to these famous  folks as well as your own keywords.

Now you know how to find the keywords that are right for you. Next time we’ll talk about Search Engine Optimization, which includes information on where to place your keywords in your Zazzle store,  as well as on your website.

Talk Like a Pirate Day

September 19, 2013


Ahoy there!

Ye be wanting some special booty, do ye? Something to shiver ye timbers. Well, buckos, we’ve much swag to offer ye landlubbers. Arr.

Me hearties say that ye rascals be liking “prints” in ye shelters, like this loot:

arrr_pirate_print-r564b88b4186e4783a168a132b3b804f0_v69p_8byvr_400Blimey! Ye wenches be needing long clothes on land, and there be no duds here. See this cloth with dear Jolly Roger billowing in the breeze:

waving_flag_10_jack_rackham_tee_shirt-rc1c4377832e94acc9629d9eabca63404_8nhmi_400

 

 

Worry not, ye lads – we’ll not leave ye marooned:


john_rackham_calico_jack_pirate_flag_jolly_roger_tshirt-r2470a8f97c234a31a2ae8dd23a5696f2_va6pa_400

 

As ye villains know, we buccaneers be chasing the high seas for 2,000 years. Aye. And this treasure map be the Real McCoy from our golden years:

authentic_1690_pirate_map_print-rb8bc2fd77d234fe3926ff1664ba089db_asnx_8byvr_400Rest assured, we not be hornswaggling scallywags. This swag be the greatest of the seven seas. If ye don’t agree, ye can walk the plank.

How to Track your Referrals

September 16, 2013

Tracking and analyzing your referrals can help you improve sales by allowing you to focus on the promotional campaigns that are working best for your store. Let’s start by taking a look at where you can find all the necessary information.

Linkover & Referral Report Summary 

Tracking

CSV & Tracking Codes 

Downloading your CSV file is really useful for analyzing your numbers. First, you’ll need Excel on your computer. If you have Microsoft Office on your computer, then it should be  already installed. Once you download the CSV (it will be in the Downloads folder titled referralHistory.csv), double click on the file  and it will open in Excel. If you don’t have Excel on your computer, an alternative would be to use the Spreadsheet application on Google Drive. Here you would have to copy and paste all the data from you CSV into your Google Drive Spreadsheet. Below is what your CSV file should look like when you open it up.

Referralh3

We can see here that the Tracking Code column is empty. Tracking codes help you identify what websites your referrals are coming from. This is where you’ll be able to tell which social media sites, websites, and blogs are working best for you.  Below is how you create a tracking code for your store link.

Store Link & Tracking Code 

Go to:

http://www.zazzle.com/my/associate/storelink

Enter the store name and any tracking code like myfacebook, myblog, mywebsite, etc. (I would use your actual page names here, so if your Facebook page is Great Invitations, I would use “great_invitations”) and then click “build link”.

StoreLink

After you click “Build Link” the link with the tracking code with be created.

StoreLink2

As you can see the addition to the code is “&tc=myfacebook”.  As long as you always enter a tracking code, it will show up in your CSV file.

Sort & Filter Functions in Excel

Sort & filter functions can help you analyze your data and answer many questions. The sort function can help you arrange your data in various ways like lowest to highest amount, alphabetical order, by color, by font, or by icons.

Here is an example of how to sort your “Referral Amount” column from highest to lowest.

Highlight all the columns in your spreadsheet, and then go to:

Home -> Sort & Filter -> Custom Sort ->  Column sort by = Referral Amount-> Sort on =Values -> Order = Z-A ->OK

referral_amount

This will rearrange your referral amounts from highest to lowest (since you chose Z-A). This is useful if you’d like to see where the highest referrals are coming from. In this example, they’re coming from tracking code myfacebook, myblog, and myspace.

Sort2

The filter function is a quick and easy way to view and work with a subset of data. It can help you see all the referrals that came from a certain tracking code.

Here is an example how to see all your referrals that came from “myfacebook”.

Highlight  all the columns in your spreadsheet, and then go to:

Home ->Sort & Filter ->Filter

Now you will see arrows appear on top of each column. Click on the arrow in the tracking code column and then click “select all” then click “myfacebook” and click “Ok”. Then, you should only see “myfacebook” in the tracking code column. One way this  is useful is if you want to see how many referrals came from “myfacebook” for example.

Filter1   Filter2

More on sort & filter functions here.

Growth Functions

It’s always good to know how your business is performing. Below are two important equations that can help you figure out just that.

MoM Growth: growth rate of current month compared to the previous month.

MoM Equation: (Month2-Month1)/Month1

Example:

MoM

% Change June to July

Step 1: ($370.20 – $429.87)/$429.87 = -0.139
Step 2:-0.139 x 100 = -13.9%
Conclusion: Business declined by 13.9% since last month.

% Change July to August

Step 1: ($599.87 – $370.20)/ $370.20 = 0.62
Step 2: 0.62 x 100 = 62%
conclusion: Business grew by 62% since last month.

YoY growth: growth rate of current year compared to the previous year (you can calculate year over year growth for quarter, month, week, or even day. In this example we’ll use months.)

YoY equation: (Year2-Year1)/Year1

Example:

Filter2

Change from July 2012 to July 2013.
Step 1: ($370.20 – $150.87)/$150.87 =1.453
Step2: 1.453 x 100 = 145.3%
Conclusion: Business grew by 145.3% for July 2013 compared to July 2012.

Questions to Ask

Remember to ask yourself these questions when you are analyzing your earnings and campaigns so you can better understand your business and improve conversion and growth.

1. Did your sales grow or fall since the last month?
2. Did your sales grow at the same rate as they did last month?
3. Did your sales grow or fall since last year?
4. Did your sales grow at the same rate as the previous year?
5. What did you do differently this month or year to cause this change?
6. What are your main traffic sources?
7. Did you traffic sources change from last month or year? Why?

 

Miss America

September 12, 2013

“Miss America represents the highest ideals. She is a real combination of beauty, grace, and intelligence, artistic and refined. She is a type which the American Girl might well emulate.”

These words were spoken over 75 years ago by the Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce President Frederick Hickman. Over the years the women who have held the title of Miss America have used their celebrity status to educate and make a difference in people’s lives through charitable and community endeavors. We are honored and excited to launch the Miss America Zazzle Store!

To commemorate the very first Miss America, we feature this vintage Zazzle custom postage. Give your mailings a touch of Miss America nostalgia:

Miss America 1921 Margaret Gorman with flag Postage Stamps
Miss America 1921 Margaret Gorman with flag Postage Stamps by missamerica

Know a little princess with big dreams? Encourage her aspirations and let her express herself with this self-proclaiming tee:

Little Miss America Tees
Little Miss America Tees by missamerica

Whether it’s for a Miss America in the making, or for a Miss America supporter, this messenger bag holds the all the essentials with style:

Miss America doodle pattern Messenger Bags
Miss America doodle pattern Messenger Bags by missamerica

Browse our impressive collection of Miss America gifts today!

Zazzle Will Host ‘Make It Yours’ at Maker Faire New York September 21st and 22nd

September 11, 2013

Maker Faire is a family-oriented event, a science fair and a celebration of local manufacturing. As a Goldsmith Sponsor, Zazzle will be hosting ‘Make It Yours’ – an event where everyone can get creative – for adults and children and all ages in between. We’ll have postcards with robot designs that you can color in and decorate. We’ll also have photo buttons that you can create by taking a picture of yourself. With your imagination and all sorts of creative supplies – markers, crayons – you can make these products uniquely your own. Zazzle will have merchandise on display to show all of our amazing products from skateboards to iPad cases, including products made by New York makers such as Case-Able in Brooklyn, New York.

Retro Robots (Cream) iPad Caseable Case
Retro Robots (Cream) iPad Caseable Case by funkypatterns

Zazzle is a marketplace where people can buy and make anything customized from iPhone cases to shirts. Zazzle has a manufacturing facility in San Jose, California. We are making products ourselves, so of course Maker Faire is the place to be. Zazzle is front and center in the maker movement by helping to change and evolve manufacturing in the U.S. Each product we sell is made-to-order, when ordered, typically within 24 hours – everything from shirts and sweatshirts, art and posters, to mugs and pillows. Zazzle is creating a radical new approach to manufacturing that allows for “made-to-order” merchandise, supporting our local New York makers.

Check out what we did at Maker Faire Bay Area:  http://blog.zazzle.com/2013/05/03/zazzle-will-host-art-meet-science-at-maker-faire-bay-area-may-18-19/

Fun & Fright

September 10, 2013

Witches and goblins and fairies…oh my! Hard to believe that Halloween is right around the corner. For Halloween gifts ranging from scary to cute, Zazzle is your one-stop shop.

Planning to throw a Halloween party? Get the ball rolling with some unique invites:

Black Crow Luxury Gold Party Invitation
Black Crow Luxury Gold Party Invitation by HalloweenTees

Don’t use just any old bag for trick-or-treating. Get creative! If you’ve got a little Halloween super hero, this might just be the perfect bag:

Super Hero Treat Bag
Super Hero Treat Bag by DizzyDebbie

Among the scary creatures of the night are, of course, ZOMBIES. No better a time than Halloween to sport a zombie shirt:

Vintage "Midnight Zombie Jamboree" T-Shirt
Vintage “Midnight Zombie Jamboree” T-Shirt by Zapple824

And while candy is always a treat, why not change it up this year? Hand out some spiffy stickers instead. Or include it with the candy, if you are feeling particularly generous:

Halloween Love Stickers
Halloween Love Stickers by jamiecreates1

The variety of Halloween gifts we have is, well, downright scary. But in a good way. Check us out today!

Managing your Social Media Accounts: HootSuite

September 9, 2013

1.) Set-up Account

Register with your email, and then start syncing with your social media networks.  With the free account, you can add up to 5 unique social profiles.

AddSocialNetworks

HootSuite is integrated with many of the main social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. For those social media sites that HootSuite is not directly integrated with, like Tumblr for example, there is an option to download these networks as HootSuite apps. So, in order to add Tumblr to your HootSuite profiles, you must first download it from the app section as shown below.

ViewallAppsHootSuite

AppDirectoryHootsuite

2.) Organize & Monitor

Decide which streams from each profile you are most interested in. Do you want to see your News Feed and Wall Posts on Facebook, but maybe your Mentions and Retweets from your Twitter profile? The decision is yours to make.

StreamFacebook

StreamTwitter

3.) Manage

Scheduling is one of the greatest advantages of HootSuite. You can write a single message and schedule it to be posted on all of your social networks. This helps with planning ahead for when you know you will be busy because it keeps your communities active. You can choose the times when you want your posts to go out  or use the AutoSchedule option which is supposed to share your message at optimal times. I suggest trying both and seeing which option gives you more visibility.

MultipleSocialNetworks

If you have a team and choose to use the Pro option of HootSuite, you can assign messages to your team members to make sure that every message gets answered.

Task

Another great attribute is you can monitor your account followers and klout score for Twitter, Google+ and a few other networks by click on the “Contacts” tab in the sidebar.

twitterfollow

4.) Analyze

Overview reports of your social accounts are available on the free version of  HootSuite, but they have very little information. If you are planning to use HootSuite as your main hub for your social networks, it might be worthwhile to purchase the pro option so you can see all your analytics in one place.  Some social media networks like Facebook, for example,  offer their own analytical tools for free after your page reaches 30 likes. Twitter, however, doesn’t offer any tools at all, so if you use Twitter a lot, this might be a good option.  You can also create custom reports with HootSuite Pro, which will allow you to dig deeper and really understand your numbers and which campaigns are working for your business.

TwitterRetweetReport

FacebookReport

Here Comes the Wedding Day

September 3, 2013

Here comes the bride, all dressed in white…

Zazzle is the best kept secret for creative wedding ideas. We’ve got everything from save the date cards to wedding favors. Check out our creative ideas and get ready for the big day!

Before you tie the knot, you’ve got to have a bridal shower. We’ve got all kinds of games like bridal word searches and word scrambles:

Bridal Wedding Shower Word Scramble Game Customized Letterhead
Bridal Wedding Shower Word Scramble Game Customized Letterhead by henishouseofpaper

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply a fan of wine, you’ll love our wine bottle labels. Give the wine you’ll be serving at your wedding your personal touch with customizable labels that showcase the momentous occasion:

Pink Daisy Zebra Print Wedding Wine Bottle Labels
Pink Daisy Zebra Print Wedding Wine Bottle Labels by wasootch

And let’s not forget about the food. Tell your guests what you are serving with some elegant menu cards:

Wedding Menu Teal Black Damask Full Color Rack Card
Wedding Menu Teal Black Damask Full Color Rack Card by DreamingMindCards

And while it is of course your day, you don’t want to forget your guests. Show them a token of your appreciation with unique wedding favors:

Elegant Vintage Rose, Magenta Custom Wedding Favor Candy Tin
Elegant Vintage Rose, Magenta Custom Wedding Favor Candy Tin by CustomInvites

Make your special day unforgettable with creative ideas from Zazzle.

Social Media Tips & Tricks Part 4: Twitter

September 2, 2013

1) Create a Twitter Account

Effort: Easy
Payoff: Long-Term

  • Fill out your name, bio, website, location, avatar and header picture. Use dimensions that Twitter suggests.
  • Stick to your theme by using the designs from your Zazzle store as your background image.
  • Use keywords in your bio and make sure that it reflects you and your brand.

Twitter1

2) Follow People, Join Directories, Use Management Tools

Effort: Easy
Payoff: Long-Term

  • Follow people that have the same interest as you. If you are a watercolor artist, search for #watercolor and follow folks that pop up. (It helps to follow celebrities or people with many followers.)

TwitterSeachWatercolor

  • Join Twitter directories like Twellow, which is a  great place to find people to follow because you can search by categories like art, home decor, social media, etc.
  • Useful following tools like Tweet Adder, Tweeter Karma, and Friend or Follow to follow people back and unfollow people that don’t follow you back.
  • Don’t over follow! Twitter has following limits and if you follow too many people, your account can get suspended. Read more on Twitter limits here.

3) Post, Engage, & Discover

Effort: Easy
Payoff: Long-Term

  • Post 4-5 times per day and post different media. (It helps if your account is connected with other social media accounts like Facebook or Tumblr, so you can post on both accounts at once.)

TwitterPhotoVideo

  • Use hashtags in your tweets, but not too many. Two per tweet is enough, and try to have the hashtag word be part of the sentence.
  • Look at what’s trending and participate in the trends. It’s a great way to gain visibility and display a bit of your personality on your account.

TwitterTrend Hashtag

  • Interact with followers by favoriting, responding, tweeting at and retweeting other people’s tweets.

TwitterPosts

  • Use the Discover tool to search for new content and new people to follow.

4) Examples

  • Here are a few great examples of Zazzle Designer Twitter Accounts.

https://twitter.com/nidhiart

https://twitter.com/g8tee

https://twitter.com/sporkfuldesigns


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