Archive for the ‘Nerdy Stuff’ Category

Quick Guide to SEO

October 11, 2013

Now that we’ve covered the basics of keyword research, let’s review how to use keywords to improve SEO.

Zazzle SEO

It’s important for customers to be able to find your products when searching on Zazzle.  By using relevant terms, you can improve your chances of showing up higher in the Zazzle search results.

1. Title

Use 3-5 descriptive keywords that are relevant to your product in your title.

The title is one of the most prominent  factors that search engines consider for page rank, so you want to be sure to use relevant and coherent keywords.

Good example: Tiger Lily Felt Wedding Invitations

Bad example: Flower Invitations

2. Description

Use  long tail keywords in your description. The more details the better – you can even add a promotional sentence or a sentence about when someone might use this item. Use a unique description for each product, even if the product is similar. You should have at least two sentences, but the longer description the better.

Good example:  Four fire-red tiger lilies on a square felt invitation with a gradient yellow to white background including room on top to personalize names and date. Lilies cover 1/3 of the square invite from the bottom up. Perfect for a nature wedding  or if you love tiger lilies.

Bad example: Tiger lily wedding invitations.


3. Tags

Tags are highly important for both general SEO and Zazzle site search.  You have 10 power tags that help you with the Zazzle site search, so you should think them through.  You can add more than ten, but just make sure they are relevant. The best way to come up with your tags (in addition to looking at keywords) is to think about what you would type in search if you were looking for the same product. If you were looking for wedding invitations, you probably have an idea of what you want, so you wouldn’t look for just “wedding+invitations” because it’s too general. You are more likely to search something more specific like “tiger+lily+wedding+invitations” or “flower+wedding+invitations” or “personalized+flower+wedding+invitations”.


Just remember, avoid irrelevant tags because it will be confusing for customers who are searching for the most relevant products.

Website SEO

If you are working to improve your ranking on search engines such as Bing, Google, and Yahoo, here are some suggestions.  These tips will help designers who have their own website outside of Zazzle.

1.Title & Meta Description

This is the same as the title and description for your Zazzle product. The key points are to keep it relevant, clear, and original. It’s also good to keep your title under 70 characters and your description around 155 characters.

<title>Tiger Lily Felt Wedding Invitations </title>
<meta name=”description” content=”
Four fire-red tiger lilies on a square felt invitation card with a gradient yellow to white background including room on top to personalize names and date”>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”tiger lily wedding invitations, flower wedding invitations, personalized wedding invitations, personalized flower wedding invitations″>

2. Domains

Use a domain name that relates to your store and only use one domain. If you are selling wedding invitations, but create a name like Cool Goodies, it might lower your search engine ranking than if you use “Elizabeth’s Wedding Invitations.” Also, it’s good to have only one domain name because if you have and,  for example, the search engines will find the same content on these two separate sites, and because the content is duplicate, the site ranking will fall.  For your online store, it’s best to keep it clear and simple.

3. Keywords in your URLs

Use your keywords in your product URLs, in order to make it easier for search engines to find your products.

So instead of:

Change the URL to:

4. Sitemap

A sitemap is a list of all your website pages that engine crawlers can access (e.g. home page, contact page, about page, etc.) Submit your most recent sitemap to Google, BingYahoo and any other search engines you find necessary. This allows the search engines to find the relevant pages on your website faster.

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:




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



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 


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.


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:

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”.


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


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


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.


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



% 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



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?


The Bat is Back!

October 18, 2011

Batman lovers, the wait is officially over! Today marks the release of the highly-anticipated video game, Batman: Arkham City! So begins the countless hours fighting the slums of Arkham, trying to defeat some of Batman’s most sinister and twisted enemies. The Penguin, The Riddler, The Joker, and Two-Face don’t have a chance! Now that you have this action packed game (that will most likely consume your life), don’t forget to rep’ the Bat by sporting gear from Batman: Arkham City with Zazzle!

All About Sorting and Browsing

September 2, 2009

Well, it’s been quite a day here at Zazzle! Last night’s release is out and there’s a buzz going around…we can feel it…it’s pretty buzzy ’round these parts. I think the most common questions we’re getting are related to our new Store Category Sorting and Browsing feature. Yes, it’s a mouthful…but that’s ’cause it’s a pretty meaty piece of…well…meat :-)

In a nutshell, Store Category Sorting and Browsing is a powerful feature that makes Zazzle stores easier to navigate for customers, and easier to merchandise and promote for store owners.

  • Store Owners can set the display order of all categories and products within their store.
  • Store Owners can upload icon images to represent any category in their store, or use a default image generated by Zazzle.
  • Stores can be set to display a scrollable list of categories, or a fully expanded list of categories.
  • Customers can sort products in a store Alphabetically, Reverse Alphabetical, by Newest, or by Popularity.

If you don’t read anything else in this post, read these help topics!

We just pushed out a couple of detailed help topics on this feature, with fancy screenshots and everything!

Below is a sample of what a scrollable Store Category list could look like in your Store.

Sample scrollable Store Category list

Store Customization Showcase!

June 12, 2009

Wow, you Zazzlers out there really blew us away with your amazing talent and creativity! Ever since we released the Advanced Store Customization Beta, our incredible Zazzle Community hit the pavement and worked tirelessly to build their own brands, create innovative user experiences, and perhaps most importantly, help each other out in our forums.

Below is a showcase of some our favorites so far…

Ars CelticaSaundejmLisa Marie ArtThe Hobby ShopPhete FirstSugar vs SpiceThe BootiqueBarton-Le-Clay DesignDIY GemsLoony BoutiqueVisual NewbieShopaholic Chick

Keep up the amazing work…we honestly can’t wait to see what you guys do next!

For more tips, tricks, and advice on this feature, be sure to visit the Advanced Store Customization beta forum. Many folks have already written detailed and very informative tutorials to help you get started.

Announcing Advanced Store Customization!

May 7, 2009

You’re up on the stage, in front of millions, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, a song that’s been done to death. How do you stand out? How do you make it NOT sound like Karaoke? Easy. Change the tempo, add different inflections, improvise a vocal run…basically, you make it your own, dawg! (ahhhh, he said it!)

The same idea applies to your Zazzle store. Some store owners add pizzazz with header graphics, some add HTML in their description. But most stores have the same basic layout…until now!



Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Zazzle has now opened up the ability to customize your own storefront however you see fit. Edit CSS and HTML directly, add your own pages, display what you want, where you want it.

Download Full Documentation (Recommended)

This blog post will get you started, but for more complete documentation, please download the Advanced Store Customization Guide (1.9Mb, PDF) .

You must be this tall to ride

Be forewarned…this is currently in open BETA, which basically means we are testing this feature and cannot provide official support. To use this feature successfully, it is highly recommended that you have a working knowledge of CSS and HTML, and some familiarity with XML. Keep in mind that by messing around with the direct code behind your store, you could very easily break it and render your store unusable, forcing you to revert to defaults and start over.

So, what can it do?

Well, you can pretty much do almost anything you want with this. I won’t go into detail on how to write CSS or HTML, but let me show you some examples of the power it provides you:

  • Retropolis Travel Bureau – Amazing use of CSS
  • Clone Wars – This is the official Clone Wars store on Zazzle. It was built using the same techniques that the Advanced Store Customization allows. Check out the header section and the background image. Nifty.
  • Star Wars – Same as above…but looks so cool we had to show it!
  • Hikingviking – Excellent use of a background image to make the site pop. Also check out the blog and store “tabs” at the top. The blog links out to this store owner’s blog, which happens to look just like his storefront!
  • Life Embellished – Nice use of an office theme with a paper background and manila folder content area.
  • Nuclear Tees – Great example of a complete change in navigation and store home page

Neat! I want that!

Since this is still in beta, the first thing you’ll have to do is enable the feature. Here’s how.

First, go to

  1. Select “Create a custom look”
  2. Enable the Advanced Store Customization checkbox
  3. Save your settings


After saving your changes, you will see this warning:


Hit OK to enable Advanced Store Customization. Once enabled, a new tab labeled “Beta! Advanced” appears. Click on it to see and edit your Layout and Style code.


In the trenches

Advanced Store Customization opens up the guts of your storefront and allows you to change the code that builds it. It handles this by splitting up your store’s code into three editable parts: Layout (HTML), Style (CSS), and Content Definition (XML).

  1. Layout – This is the HTML markup of all the pages in your store, mixed in with a bit of Zazzle goodness.
  2. Style – This is the CSS of your store. It defines the colors, fonts, backgrounds, and general look of your store.
  3. Content Definition – This is the XML markup that lists pages, modules, and other content areas of your store.

Let’s try one of the easiest store customizations…adding a background image to your storefront. It’s pretty easy.


In the Style text box (found under My Zazzle–>Store–>Appearance–>Advanced tab), look for the #mainShell section of code and add the URL to an image in the background declaration:

#mainShell {
background:#bbccdd url(“”) top center no-repeat;

Then hit Validate and Save Changes (or select the Preview button to test first). That’s it! Now your store will have a background image! This is one of the easiest changes you can make, but can quickly add some personality to your store. Here are a couple of examples of stores with nothing more than a background image:

  1. Pantera’s Official Merch Store – One large background image
  2. Mim’s Official Merch Store – Repeating pattern background
  3. My own store – Subtle repeating background
  4. Harryterry – Fading stars background

That’s about all I can cover in this blog post, but for more complete documentation, please download the Advanced Store Customization Guide (1.9Mb, PDF) . Like I stated earlier, this feature is in open beta, so there will be no official support for it (don’t call customer support for this!), but we have setup a new discussion forum so anyone experimenting with Advanced Store Customization can discuss their experiences, get help, and help others who are trying it out.

With the ability to completely change the look and feel of your store, we’re hoping to see some really creative designs and layouts! Dig in, folks…time to truly make it your own!

Twittering new Zazzle products – automatically!

April 29, 2009

It’s easy to automatically add your new Zazzle products to a Twitter feed. I’ve done this over at Here’s how:

1. Get an account on TwitterFeed, a service that reads RSS feeds and will lob them over to your twitter account. There are probably lots of services like this, but TwitterFeed has been gaining popularity in my circles, and it does the trick pretty well.

1(b). Note that to sign up for TwitterFeed, you will need an OpenId identity. You have one already if you have a Gmail or Yahoo account, or sign up with one of the other OpenId providers; TwitterFeed gives you a list. (Personally, I like ClaimId because I went to Carolina, too.)

2. Once you’re in TwitterFeed, go to “My Feeds” and click “Create a new feed”, and hook up your Zazzle feed to your Twitter account:


3. You need your feed url. Zazzle has lots of information about feeds here. The url I’m using looks like this:

Dissecting this url, we know that:

/hikingviking means I'm pulling products from my "hikingviking" gallery on Zazzle.

ft=gb means I'm pulling the "Google Base" formatted RSS feed, which gives me better access to the raw data about my product. The "title" and "description" fields are the actual title and description I have entered on Zazzle, and not html markup that allows images and links to show up in RSS reader applications.

at=238898476793705621 is how I make sure I will earn referral fees if you click through and buy stuff. Feel free to use my associate ID in your TwitterFeed! Or, you probably want to substitute your own. :)

The default sort type on feeds is "most recent", so I am sure that I am picking up the products I have most recently published on Zazzle. TwitterFeed is smart enough to know what's new every time it checks, so it won't post duplicate products to your Twitter account.

4. The other options on the TwitterFeed page are up to you. You will have to trust TwitterFeed with your login information to your Twitter account, obviously. Then, I chose to include "title & description", to shorten my link using TinyURL, and to prefix my post with "New @zazzle -". That's it! TwitterFeed runs every hour and will pick up anything new you have published to Zazzle.

Zero to 100 in 30 seconds!

December 18, 2008

qpc_smallI drive a hybrid and pride myself on getting amazing mileage (52MPG lifetime, baby!). To accomplish this, I drive…well…slow. I go under the speed limit and stay in the right lane. Works for me…I’m a laid back guy who takes life slowly and casually.

But there is one place where I welcome a little high speed action. And that’s in creating products on Zazzle! Introducing Quick Product Create!

Yes, now it’s easy to create up to 100 products instantly. Quick Product Create (or QPC) is a simple three step wizard that allows you to create multiple products using selections of related products (all products, dark apparel, paper products, etc.) from the Zazzle Default Products menu, or from one of your own Product Lines that contain matching product templates.

Design for success

The first thing you need is a design you plan to put on many products. Typically, this is in the form of an image (a JPG, GIF, PNG, etc.) Since this one design will be blasted on several products, you should design it with that in mind. Here are some hints:

  • Create the image at the highest resolution you can. Since this image will be placed on several products at differing sizes, it’s best to make sure it’s of sufficient size and quality so it will print properly on most products. Visit our image guidelines page for more information on image resolution.
  • Think about colors. If your design only works on a dark background, you will have to make sure the products you put it on are dark. One trick I’ve seen many contributors do is to outline a design in either black or white. In other words, a design that only works on a white or light background can work on all backgrounds if a white or light outline is added around it.
  • Think about shape. A long rectangular design can look great on many products (full wrap mugs, ties, t-shirts), but may not work well on others (buttons, magnets, stamps). If your design is not suitable for some merchandise, be sure to remove those items from the set of products you publish.

Ok, so I have my design. I’m going to use this “Get outta my grill” image I made a while back.


The original is a high resolution PNG file, so it should work fine for most products.

Place it!

Ok, got my image. Now I need to start the Quick Product Create process by going to When you start, you see this dialog pop up:


Click the dropdown arrow in Step 1 to see what options you have:


As you can see, there are some default Zazzle Product Lines you can choose from. These currently include:

  • All Products
  • All Non-apparel
  • Apparel only
  • Dark Apparel Only
  • Light Apparel Only
  • Paper Products

If you have previously created a Product Line in your gallery that contains template products, it will show up here as well under My Product Lines. This way you can pre-define a custom set of products that you create often. Rob has written a great post about how to create your own Product Lines for Quick Product Create. Advanced users, read all about it here!

I’ll choose All Products since it contains a nice mix of t-shirts, cards, stamps, mugs, and other products.


Once you select a Product Line, you will see that you can change the default image in Step 2. Click the link that says “Change”, and you will see all your Zazzle images, or you can upload a new one. Here, I’ve selected my “Get outta my grill” image.


In Step 3 you will notice that you have the option to change the default fit/fill mode to one of three options:

  1. Use template defaults (uses whatever the product template was designed with. Could be either fit or fill.)
  2. Fit (makes sure your entire image is visible in the product’s design area – no cropping)
  3. Fill (fills the entire product’s design area. Cropping may occur)

For most cases, using the default should be fine.

Ok…click Create Products…


Now I have a grid of 33 products with my design!


Sweet! Now all I have to do is check to make sure all products look their best. If something needs to be tweaked, there are ways to do that on a per-product basis. For example, the first sticker in the grid looks a bit tight. Looks like my design is getting a little cut off. Luckily, we have controls you can use right above each product:


  • Edit options – This opens a dialog with product options (sizes, styles, product views)
  • Customize - This brings up a mini design tool in a dialog where I can move things around, add images or text, change sizes, etc.
  • Delete - Removes the product from the set of products you are creating with Quick Product Create.

Since the image on the sticker is a bit too big and is getting cut off, I need to shrink it. To do so, I click the “customize” link above my sticker product and shrink the image with the “resize” tool in the mini design tool.

Details, details, details

Now all my products look good and I’m ready to continue, so I click Next. I’m presented with a screen that is very similar to our Post For Sale page. You need to fill out all the information for these products, including title, description, tags, royalty percentage, etc. Required fields have a red asterisk next to them.


Most of these options are pretty self explanatory. However, there is a dropdown labeled “Quick Create Product Options”. Let me explain the options.


Most of the time, you are simply going to select the default option “Products to sell” because that’s what you are doing…creating products to sell.

However, if you want to make products to sell that are templates (so buyers can easily change text or images), you would select the second option, “Templates for sale”. This ensures that all fields marked as a template will remain a template when posted for sale. For more on how to create templates, see my previous post, More than just embroidery…

The third option, “Templates for reuse for quick create” is an advanced option for people who want to create a new set of products to use the next time they use Quick Product Create. This new Product Line would show up in the Step 1 dropdown under My Product Lines. As I mentioned before, Rob’s post explains how to do this.


Click Post It and you’re done! All products are now queued up for creation. This takes anywhere from a few minutes to 24 hours. If you have postage or shoes in your Product Line, expect those products to appear in the Product Line closer to the 24 hour limit since those products need to be approved before they get posted.

Helpful hints

  • You can have up to 100 products posted at once. If you want more products, repeat the process after you create your first grid of products by clicking on the Create More button at the top of the first page, or at the end of the process you can click the Do It Again button.
  • There are checkboxes next to each product created in the grid. Use these to select multiple products that you want to remove from the grid. At the top of the grid, click “Delete selected” to remove them. Use these to select individual products that you want to remove from your Product Line.  To select multiple products, it’s often faster to use the “Select all” link at the top of the page and de-select those products you’d like to keep.
  • Always be sure to check your design on all the products in your grid before moving to the next step. You don’t want to post a product where the image is cut off or not positioned properly.
  • Quick Product Create puts all products you create in one Product Line. Select an existing Product Line when posting for sale, or create an entirely new Product Line based on the design. For example, with the image I used above, I could create a Product Line called “Get outta my grill!” and post all these products there. Many successful contributors organize their galleries by design.

That’s all I have for now…happy creating!


November 26, 2008

I actually had a hard time thinking about what new feature to write about. I was going to talk about the already wildly popular Quick Product Create, but Patrick beat me to it on our regular blog. And who knows, maybe I’ll delve deeper into that on a later post.

So what I bring you today is an improvement to our embroidery offering…DST uploads and a colorizing user interface!



Ok, back up. What is a DST and what’s this colorizing thingy? Let me explain…

Embroidery requires images called “stitch files” that contain information about when to change thread colors and how to physically stitch a design. Our embroidery machines take these files and know how to sew it onto a product.

Up until now, we’ve used stitch files that contain all that information as well as what color threads to use. To convert a JPG or bitmap image to one of these stitch files, you need a professional conversion done (commonly known as “digitization”).

DST files are stitch files, but they are lacking one key piece of information we need: color data. Without knowing what color thread to use during a thread change, it’s rather difficult to make it look right. The good thing about DST files, however, is that they are a very common embroidery format with a large supporting community of embroidery experts all over that there Interweb :-)

Red and yellow and pink and green…

We knew we wanted to support this common format, but we had to build a way for users to tell us what colors to use for each thread change in the file. Enter the colorizing UI (insert dramatic music here)!

When a user uploads a DST file, Zazzle chooses default colors for each thread change in the file…just so it contains something. The results are usually less than optimal. But by going to My Zazzle –> My Images and clicking on the image, there is a link to re-color the file:

Image details dialog

Clicking that link brings up the colorizing UI:

Colorizing UI

The colorizing dialog shows the original stitch file image with the default colors on the left, and a set of color swatches on the right. Each color swatch represents a thread change in the stitch file. It is not uncommon for a stitch file to have multiple thread changes using the same color as a previous thread change. In other words, it is possible to assign duplicate colors to different swatches.

Clicking on a swatch brings up a palette of possible colors. These colors represent the thread spools our machines have access to.


Keep in mind that each image can only have a total of 10 colors including black and white.

So at this point, all you have to do is click each swatch and choose the appropriate color. The image updates in real time. Here’s how this file looks after some tweaks…


Much better! When finished, just click “Create copy with these colors” to create a copy of this stitch file. Every time you modify the colors of a stitch file, a new file gets created in My Images. This way you can have multiple colorized versions of the same design!

This process is not limited to newly uploaded DST files. If you’ve already had some of your existing designs converted for embroidery, you can also re-color those as well without having to pay for a second conversion!


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