Meet Ben – a Zazzle Associate and the owner of the website Ribbet that lets you edit your images and/or create collages and then purchase them on Zazzle products. In this post, we’ll talk about Ben’s background and his experience with being a Zazzle Associate, including tips for Associates just starting out.
Tell us about you!
I was born in Sydney, Australia and aside from two years living in Los Angeles, I’ve been here my entire life (and love it here). I’m married with a 17 month old son, and when I’m not spending time with my family, my hobbies include gardening, chess, Wing Chun, swimming, running and mathematics.
What is your background in?
My background is in computer programming. I studied computer science at UTS in Sydney in the year 2000, and then later studied graphic design at UCLA Extension in Westwood in 2010. Today I consider myself an entrepreneur with an intrinsic focus on design and the technical side of things. I like to get my hands dirty and while I now outsource a great deal of the design and technical work I’m involved with, my greatest joy comes from immersing myself in the craft of both design and programming.
How did you get started with Zazzle? How did you hear about us?
After working as a full-time programmer for about 10 years, one of my first ventures out on my own was to create an online photo lab and photo editing site at www.fotofriend.com. The original idea of the site was to let you use your photos from Facebook to create physical merchandise. One option I toyed with at the time, which I didn’t end up implementing, was an integration with Zazzle (which I stumbled upon through my research). The only reason I didn’t was because at that time I wanted a completely white-labeled solution. In a later venture, I did end up integrating with Zazzle through my photo editor Ribbet at www.ribbet.com. From my experience with Fotofriend I realised that having to manage the customer support yourself is a major pain, and the benefit of white-labeling is diminished when you have to handle all the issues associated with running a photo processing business yourself.
How do you promote Zazzle products (own website, social media, ect.) and what tools do you use (linking, API, RSS feed, etc.)? How do you choose what products to promote? Which areas do you find the most success in?
Today Zazzle is an intrinsic part of Ribbet at www.ribbet.com/lab. After you finish editing your photo or creating your collage through the Ribbet editor (at www.ribbet.com) you’re presented with a selection of Zazzle merchandise, and when clicking any of these products you’re immediately presented with your photo previewed on these products. You can then browse around the Zazzle section on Ribbet to preview your photo on any Zazzle merchandise. The tools used here are linking, the API and the RSS feeds.
What new Associate Program features would you like to see on Zazzle?
A couple of ideas: I’d love to be able to have an API call which accepts an external image URL and a product ID, and returns a preview of that product with the external image on it. Another idea is that it would be brilliant to be able to white-label your Associate site, so that by all appearances the products are coming from your company, but the fulfillment and support would be handled by Zazzle.
What advice would you give to a new Associate starting to promote Zazzle products?
For anyone considering partnering with any photo fulfillment service, I couldn’t recommend Zazzle highly enough. Firstly, they have the widest range of products I have encountered in my years of being in the industry. Secondly, they handle everything from payment processing to post-sale support (which is huge). Lastly, they care about their Associates and take the business seriously from that perspective, which is important because you are relying on them to service your clients. For an Associate starting out, I’d suggest finding your unique approach, be it through making your designs original, by concentrating on just a single product and really promoting that in an innovative way, or by making things easier for users through your integration.