Featured Designer Interview with Cindy Monro

February 28, 2014 by
Today we’re chatting with Stuccoloco artist Cindy Monro about her love of the American Southwest, and how she got started with her second career as an artist.
Zazzle: Tell us a little about yourself! Where are you from/where do you live?
Cindy: I grew up in Wyoming and majored in Business Management in school. With that, I eventually got the opportunity to have my own business, and I owned and operated a Mexican restaurant. I’ve always loved everything Southwest and Mexican, and I always wanted to live in Arizona. So, after 20 years at my restaurant I finally moved down to Tuscon, Arizona and I just love it here. It’s a magical place.
Zazzle: What kind of background do you have in art or design?
Cindy: Not a bit! I don’t have a formal art background, but I’m a very visual person. I’ve always collected images that I thought were especially beautiful and colorful. I actually have folders of inspirational images I’ve cut out of magazines. Art had always been an interest of mine, but I had never contemplated pursuing it as a career.
When I first moved here, I realized that I just couldn’t find what I was looking for to decorate my new home. So, I started doing some simple paintings and batik, and got hooked on it! I’ve also been trying to improve my drawing skills over the years, and I learned enough to start selling some of my art online and sharing it with friends and family. That really encouraged me to keep going – I never thought others would want to see it!
Zazzle: What is the inspiration behind your designs?
Cindy: Recently, I invested in a good camera and it has really opened up a whole new world for me. We, as well as some of our other friends, adopted dogs and I started taking pictures of all of them and making fun designs with the photos for my friends and relatives.
I’ve also been doing landscape photography, and worked with those photographs to teach myself so that I now have a pretty good working knowledge of Photoshop.
From there, I started combining the different elements and I’ve been having more fun than I could imagine! Both the environment and animals really inspire me, so I like trying to put them together and seeing what happens. It’s fun to be surprised by my own efforts.
Zazzle: How would you describe your artistic style?
Cindy: If I had to describe my art, I’d have to call it “southwest animal collage”. My main goal in making my designs is simply to amuse myself! I ask myself what I would like to send to a friend, or what I would like to receive myself. What you find funny or amusing is very personal, of course, but if someone else out there also thinks it’s cute, then that’s great! I just like to have fun with it, and I love doing it.
Zazzle: How did you get started on Zazzle?
Cindy: I found Zazzle around the time that I had been doing a lot of paintings of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I had heard of places where you could make art into cards, so I created a couple cards on Zazzle just as options to think about for my own holiday cards. Then one day, I got an email saying I had actually sold 100 copies of one of my own cards! It was such a nice surprise, and I was so thrilled that I immediately went on to do more with it.
I really love the store layouts for Zazzle stores, so you can bring people there to show off what you’ve been doing. You can be proud to be associated with a professional company.
Zazzle: What are your favorite Zazzle products to design?
Cindy: I really love the postcards of course, but I think the coolest products are the electronic cases. They’re awesome products. I’ve bought one for myself, and bought them as gifts for others. The printing on them is beautiful – they look even better in person.
Zazzle: Are there any particular designs in your store that seem to be especially popular?
Cindy: I’ve done a lot of paintings of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and I find that those designs are pretty good sellers. My favorite painting that I’ve done, of a “tree of life” Christmas tree, tends to sell well for the holidays. It was actually a painting I did as a commission, and I was able to get a good enough photo of it to turn it into these prints. I’m so glad to have a good camera now so that I can incorporate images like this of my real-life artworks on my Zazzle products.
I’ve found my owl and eagle designs are also rather popular, and I get requests from my family members for my Native American themed calendars.
Zazzle: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start out with their own Zazzle store?
Cindy: I would say create for yourself. What would you buy? Also, focus on quality. If it doesn’t look quite right, don’t post it! If your design doesn’t fit well or doesn’t resize properly, don’t use it on that product. Really try to make your products look the best they can, and create products that make sense for your store. Just keep doing it! You’ll be surprised, the longer you stick with it. If you’re truly loving it and having fun with it, you’ll be rewarded.

St. Patrick’s Day – Get Ready for the Parade

February 27, 2014 by

Though St. Patrick’s Day has become known as a holiday of libations, the Saint Day named for Patrick was sober business when it began. It was a day of holy obligations and quiet prayer, the exact opposite of rollicking parades and pub crawls that we use to celebrate all things Irish now.

Few people remember that blue was Saint Patrick’s original favorite color, but green and shamrocks came in and took over about 500 years ago. The legend says that Patrick used the three-leaf shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish. Today, we see the four-leaf clover more often because people wish to get as much Irish luck as they can.

As you prepare to watch or join in a St. Patrick’s Day parade this year, take a look at some of the essential gear you will need.

If you feel a little funny by just coming right out and saying “Kiss Me, I’m Irish!” then this laid back t-shirt will do the trick for you. It’s a pretty safe bet that your admirers will always be after this “Lucky Charm.”

http://www.zazzle.com/vintage_st_patricks_day_lucky_charm_t_shirt-235079485267704580

Demonstrate your appreciation for the true St. Patrick’s Day spirit with this emerald spirit container from Liquid Courage. This is the perfect gift for the leprechaun in your life who searches for something more than Irish beer. At each toast, the flask displays the motto “Erin Go Bragh,” or “Éirinn go Brách” in Gaelic, which stands for “Ireland forever.”

http://www.zazzle.com/st_patricks_day_greeting_flask-256961191389365438

Everyone celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in their own way. This fun hat is perfect for joining in the festivities without making a scene. After all, leprechauns come in all sizes and shapes. There’s no reason you can’t turn this holiday into anything you want it to be.

http://www.zazzle.com/leprechaun_worlds_tallest_hat-148391728029150302

There’s no law against being lucky in love and cards at the same time. Kiss the Blarney Stone and lay your bets with this set of poker chips custom made for St. Patrick’s Day games. The four-leaf clover replacing the “O” in “Love” sends the message that your friends will be lucky in love. As for the lucky at cards part, you can keep that for yourself.

http://www.zazzle.com/st_patricks_day_love_with_shamrock_poker_chips_set-256497462946799655

And, of course, don’t forget a friendly pinch for whoever’s not sporting green!

The Dogs of Zazzle: Barney

February 26, 2014 by

Welcome back to our third installment of our special behind the scenes look at Zazzle – from the vantage point of our four-legged employees! In case you missed them, make sure you also meet our pooch pals Snoopy and Lucien.

Hi there! I’m Barney – yep, just like Barney Stinson from my favorite show, How I Met Your Mother. I’m a special mix of Cocker Spaniel, Labrador and Dachshund. At only 16 months old, I’m the newest Zazzler around!

barney01

On my days here at Zazzle, I help my mom help her fellow Zazzlers! We get to do fun stuff like recruiting new Zazzlers, and all things HR. Mom says that means “Human Resources”, but since I’m not a human, I think it would be better to call it Hug Resources! You can see I’m dedicated to the job by my favorite Zazzle shirt.

barney02

Being pretty new to the world, I’m still working on being brave around new experiences. Scary things like walks, little kids, or anything moving on wheels still make me pretty nervous – but I’m working on it! A little bit of peanut butter – my favorite food – always makes me feel better.

If I’m not catching up on my beauty sleep, you can usually find me getting some exercise by chasing my tennis ball or admiring my own reflection to see just how well that beauty sleep worked. Good thing I check up on my appearance pretty frequently – the great Zazzle tie my friend Snoopy let me borrow turned out to be just a little too big:

barney04

I might be a little shy at first, but since my mom and I met, I’m happy to make friends and share hugs with most anyone once I get to sniff- I mean get to know. See? I’m already getting over my fear of bicycles! (With the help of my treat-filled Zazzle dog bowl)

barney05

Hope you enjoyed meeting me!

Photography by: Nancy Ahn

Battle of the Swag: Stanford vs. Cal

February 25, 2014 by

Remember the classic episode of Seinfeld (one of many) called “The Opposite,” where George and Elaine’s fortunes take turns going up and down, while Jerry remains “Even Steven”?

As always in Seinfeld, art is imitating life – and football. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down, and sometimes you’re just the same.

Take Stanford and Cal: depending on whether you’re a Cardinal or a Bears fan, this season was awesome or awful. Their records are almost exactly opposite:

Cal: 1-11 (0-9 Pac-12)

Stanford 11-2 (7-2 Pac-12)

At this year’s Big Game, Stanford beat Cal 63-13, but then lost to Michigan State 24-20 in the Rose Bowl.
So how do you side? (If we had to, by the way, we might have to go with the Cardinal. Our three co-founders – CEO Robert Beaver and his sons, Bobby and Jeff – are proud Stanford alumni!)

Whatever your team, this swag will make your loyalty clear in three key Stanford-Cal rivalries.

Battle of the Nerds: Given the colleges we’re talking about, you’ll probably need killer fan gear that also protects your iPad. For Stanford, the Black Block “S” with Tree iPad Sleeve is perfect for coffee meetings in the Valley:

 

 

http://www.zazzle.com/black_block_s_with_tree_reversed_ipad_sleeve-205426268526234224

 

Bears, you’ll want to sport (tee-hee) the Gold Paw iPad Sleeve to keep your tablet safe:

 

http://www.zazzle.com/gold_paw_ipad_sleeve-205004085044058720

 

Battle of the Seal: In the same nerdy vein, we have just the right notebooks for you. (Remember those? Before we all had laptops and smartphones?)

 

If you cheer “Go Stanford!”, take a Stanford University Seal Spiral Notebook for the road:

http://www.zazzle.com/stanford_university_seal_white_background_notebook-130744755278235499

 

If you shout “Go Bears!”, you’ll want to stick the UC Berkeley School Seal Notebook in your  bag:

 

http://www.zazzle.com/uc_berkeley_school_seal_gold_and_blue_notebook-130402994326566026

Battle of the Dogs: Obviously, your dog also needs to take sides. That means the Party With Trees Doggie Tee for a Stanford pampered pooch:

 

http://www.zazzle.com/party_with_trees_doggie_tee-155961184888547846

 

Bears, go for the UC Berkeley Mascot Logo Doggie T-shirt for your game day companion:

 

http://www.zazzle.com/uc_berkeley_mascot_logo_doggie_t_shirt-155753835865782161

 

Here’s to the next Big Game, in style.

Pinterest Tips

February 24, 2014 by

Pinterest is one of the biggest social networks and one of the best places to promote your products. More and more people are using Pinterest to share ideas and trends on everything from weddings to recipes. With more than 70 million users, it’s important to make your pins stand out.

Here are some tips!

Tips on Boards

  • Create holiday boards. Create holiday themed boards that promote holiday gifts (for him, for her, for pets, etc.), holiday parties, holiday clothes, and anything else holiday related.

val_day_board

  • Create uniquely themed boards. Think of original ways to categorize your pins, like grouping them by colors, interests, styles – the possibilities are endless. Make your boards more appealing by giving them creative names.  For example, many people can have a “Good Food” board, but using a name like “Mmmm…Tasty!” might spark more interest. Or, instead of having an  “Everything Purple” board, you can call it “Purple Sensation” board, for example.

tasty_purple_unique_names

  • Create group boards.  Group boards, which are boards that allow other people to contribute pins to your board,  are a great way to collaborate with your followers and create collections of similar themed products with other designers. Learn how to create a group board here.

group_board_val_day

  • Create inspirational and motivational boards. Show your followers  a bit of your personality by creating a board with pins that inspire and motivate you to make your art and/or your products.

inspiration

Tips on Pins

  • Describe your pins. Tell your followers about your product, your store, and what  inspired you to create that certain item. Don’t forget to use keywords in your descriptions. When trying to decide on which keyword to use, think of what you would type into the search bar if you were looking for that particular product.
  • Link to your blog, store or product.  At the end of your description, it’s always good to link to your blog or store so people know where to find more of your content.

Description_keywords_store

  • Repin popular pins. Popular pins get more visibility because they already have a high count of repins, comments and likes. You can find popular pins by choosing the “popular” category in the search section on the top left-hand side of your home page.  Then, look for any pins that stand out to you or  that  relate to your store. Maybe there is a recipe you’d like to add to your “Mmmm… Tasty!” board, or a DIY project you’d like to add to your “Rustic Home Decor” board.

popular1Repin

Tips on Engagement

  • Repin, like and comment.  Engage with your followers and other pinners  by repinning, liking and commenting on their pins and boards. Interacting with pins a great way to get to know your fellow pinners and grow your influence and followers even more.

comment_repin

  • Ask questions.  Ask questions in your descriptions and comments. It’s a great way to spark conversation and keep your audience involved. For example, if you posted an inspiration pin, maybe you can ask what inspires others about it. Or, if you post a picture of two products side by side, you can ask which one would they like better.

inspires_question

  • Be consistent. A key part of keeping people coming back is to be consistent with your pins. If you don’t have time to pin everyday, then you can always use a  pin scheduler like GoPixel or Pinwoo.

As always, don’t pin too much. Remember, it’s about quality, not quantity.

We hope you enjoyed this post. Many thanks to Svetlana, owner of the SvetlanaSF Zazzle store and the ArtonZazzle  Pinterest page, for letting us use her store as an example.

Happy promoting everyone.

Thank you.
Elizabeth P.

Be an orchid thief with bold new statements at home

February 21, 2014 by

We’ve already discovered that Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2014 is Radiant Orchid. Did you know that orchids are everywhere – deserts, rainforests, tropical mountains? They like the sub-Arctic, the southern hemisphere and, happily for us, most any windowsill.

 

Not only that: they’ve given us this stunning color. A striking purply-pink, orchid is as versatile and adaptable as the flowers that gave it its name. There’s something about the hue that’s always elegant and pleasant – a stately, decisive statement. You can’t go wrong with orchid, or orchids.

 

Start with your table at home. The Lavender and Purple Placemats, two stunning variants on the orchid shade, add life, color and pop to whatever surface you give them. They’re simple, vibrant and super long-lasting, just like orchid flowers:

http://www.zazzle.com/lavender_and_purple_placemat-193132111508086311

 

Add to that the Orchid Purple Heart Monogram Printed Napkins, and you’ll have another table essential that’s full of pizzazz – and tailored to you:

http://www.zazzle.com/large_orchid_purple_heart_monogram_napkin-185041475764829197

Personalize your stationery, too, putting your initial front and center in the Trellis Monogram Note Cards. Whenever you have something to write, your reader will get a card that’s personal, stylish and bold:

http://www.zazzle.com/trellis_monogram_note_cards-137887652129127722

 

The only problem is when to stop adding orchid to your home. We could easily become orchid thieves!

Game Night at your house: make it a playful family tradition

February 20, 2014 by

If you think back on your childhood, you probably measured it in height marks on the wall, or in photos or report cards. But what about in games?

Think about it: from Candyland and puzzles to Operation and Chutes & Ladders, to Connect Four, Guess Who, checkers, then Cranium and chess, it’s a lifetime in different games. And it can continue with your family.

When we were kids, nights in at our house meant impromptu dance parties on the coffee table, marathon viewings of 24 (once we got to high school), and dozens of rounds of Mafia and Cheat with our friends.

If we’d had some of these game-night treats to choose from, who knows what else we might have gotten up to …

Something about monograms – that they’re made just for you – makes these Art Deco Personalized Poker Chips that much more thrilling than normal. You could use them for poker, of course, but how about Blackjack and Gin (which I somehow learned as a kid)?

http://www.zazzle.com/art_deco_monogram_initials_personalized_poker_chip-256276436605522133

Another way to make the night more special: playing card decks that are custom-made for your family. Choose your own photo, text or design with the Family Photo Red Ribbon Card Deck, which makes any game you use them for an adorable, memorable time together:

http://www.zazzle.com/family_photo_elegant_red_ribbon_bicycle_card_deck-256715735416593502

For the kids, the Dinosaur Jungle Scene Jigsaw Puzzle is super cute and also customizable with photos, words or designs. Part of the game can be choosing what to put on your puzzle, and imagine how exciting it’ll be to piece together your very own memory or creation:

http://www.zazzle.com/cute_dinosaur_jungle_scene_jigsaw_puzzle-116214275432667615

So much to choose from, the hardest thing will be limiting Game Night to once a week! Mind you, do you have to?

The Dogs of Zazzle: Lucien

February 19, 2014 by

Welcome to the second installment of our special behind the scenes series, hosted by the furry friends of Zazzle.

Hi! I’m Lucien, and I do some pretty important work when I’m here at Zazzle. My mom helps Zazzle develop amazing partnerships with some of the world’s most exciting brands. That’s quite a lot of responsibility, so it’s a good thing I can jump in to supervise.

lucien01

I’m a 4 1/2 year old Chinese Crested Powderpuff, which means I have the lustrous locks to keep me out of the “world’s ugliest dog” category. From my breed, you might think I’d speak Chinese, but I actually understand English and Spanish instead.

lucien02

As you can see, I am quite the “stud muffin” (it even says so on my very own Zazzle shirt), so I turn plenty of heads when I make office appearances. Sadly, I didn’t always have so many devoted fans. Years ago, my mom’s partner actually rescued me from a house inspection where I was found being used as bait in dog fights. Luckily, I’ve been the star attraction of my loving home ever since – I even have my very own dog throne to perch on from which I rule!

lucien04

Other than a hearty nap, my favorite pastime is enjoying some delicious dog chow, especially when it comes in my very own Zazzle dog bowl. I’m always ready to show off my stellar dance moves in order to get a treat! If my dancing doesn’t get the job done, I’m also a talker who will definitely let you know when I’m in need of some extra attention.

lucien03

Well, I have some very important napping to do. I hope you enjoyed meeting me and seeing me model some of my favorite Zazzle products!

Photography by: Nancy Ahn

Battle of the memes: Honey Badger vs. Grumpy Cat

February 18, 2014 by

You may already love and follow the new videos, photos and blog posts about Honey Badger (alias Randall) and Grumpy Cat (a.k.a. Tardar Sauce). Or maybe you haven’t had the pleasure?

Let us introduce you. “The Crazy Nasty Honey Badger” is a viral YouTube video (with 65 million views) that dubs over National Geographic footage of the honey badger with sassy commentary by Randall. Badger-mania ensued: he’s published the book Honey Badger Don’t Care, Red Mango created a “Honey Badger” flavor, and it got a mention on Glee!

Meanwhile, back in Arizona, cat-owner Tabatha Bundesen (doesn’t her name even sound like a great cat name?) made a meme out of her two-year-old “Grumpy Cat.” The feline rose to fame with viral photos on Reddit, with captions like “No.” and “The problem with some people is that they are still alive.”

“The world’s grumpiest cat” is now more famous than the vast majority of humans. She’s been in the Wall Street Journal and on Good Morning America, and won BuzzFeed’s Meme of the Year Award last year. For added fun, her website now includes a Daily Grump.

So what do you do with all that? Pick your side!

First, let’s get personal: the mug. Will you take your tea feral, poured in ceramic with a black-and-white fanged omnivore, or slug your coffee bitter and black, with a snowshoe cat declaring “I had fun once – it was awful”?

http://www.zazzle.com/honey_badger_doesnt_care_mug-168652012198655713

http://www.zazzle.com/grumpy_cat_mug-168143602929956185

And on your fridge, what’s it gonna be? The cousin of weasels staring at your face on a background of teal, stating “Honey Badger Don’t Care,” or a feline staring in the distance with a frown, awaiting your grumpy caption of choice?

http://www.zazzle.com/cool_honey_badger_graphic_honey_badger_dont_care_magnet-147238746570614855

http://www.zazzle.com/grumpy_cat_add_your_own_text_refrigerator_magnet-147927748242283868

Even the baby’s getting involved. Yeah that’s right: it’s a battle of the onesie. Is your newborn the World’s Most Fearless Honey Badger, or a lover of the grumpy feline?

http://www.zazzle.com/fearless_baby_honey_badger_shirt-235045385921819902

http://www.zazzle.com/grumpy_cat_infant_creeper-235682140812572073

Honey Badger may not care, but we definitely do. Who wins?

5 Quick Tips on Affiliate Marketing

February 17, 2014 by

Affiliate marketing is a great way to get more sales and increase your income. The more you promote your store and products, the more likely someone will purchase your products. Below are a few tips on how to improve your affiliate marketing efforts.

1) Do some outreach

Reach out to small and medium sized bloggers, Facebook pages, and websites that are relevant to the products you promote. For example, if you promote wedding invitations, look for wedding blogs; if you promote cat themed products, look for animal lover blogs. Build relationships with these content creators by offering to write a guest blog post or see if they would like to exchange social media posts.

i_heart_naptime_1

2) Use and keep up with social media

If you’re not already there, get on Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and any other social media accounts that you think are relevant to your store. Keep your eye out for new and trendy social media websites like Wanelo and Polyvore.

Twitter_1

3) Be timely with your products

Check current events, trends, and hot topics. What are this year’s pantone colors of the year? What paper and card types are people using for their wedding invitations? What big world events are happening right now? How can you connect your products to these events?

Clothes_USA_2014

4) Be creative and responsive

Write engaging blog and/or social media posts that relate to your products. Ask your audience questions, run polls, and respond to their comments. Create hashtag campaigns on sites like Twitter and Wanelo or create group boards on Pinterest.

blog_1

5) Check for current promotions

Visit the Zazzle coupon page at http://www.zazzle.com/coupons to see what promotions are currently running. Create and promote the products that are currently on sale. Don’t forget to check out http://www.zazzle.com/banners for our full banner inventory including,  seasonal, holiday, and home page link banners.

save_the_date_728x90

And as always,  DO NOT  spam your audience. Affiliate marketing is not just about getting as many links out there, but about creating quality content, using relevant keywords, and organic links. If you start over-posting your links on Facebook, Twitter, etc. you are likely to get blocked.

Good luck and stay positive!

Elizabeth P.


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