In 2006 I heard about a company called Zazzle. It was a website where you could upload images and sell products with those images. I visited their site and it looked like fun, so I signed up. Back then they just had a few products such as t-shirts and cards. I didn’t have any design experience, however I was a hobby photographer. I uploaded photos from my Italy honeymoon and created postcards for sale.

One of my first postcards on Zazzle

One of my first postcards on Zazzle

Once the sales came in I was so excited! I think I made $25 the first year, it was the minimum amount for a payout. As I uploaded more photos along came more sales. Every now and then a $25 check would show up in the mail. I considered it my fun money.

Fast forward four years to 2010. Up until then I never took Zazzle seriously. I never even told anyone about it. My little secret. But that year was also my son’s 4th birthday. He was really into trains and wanted a train-theme party. When I looked online for invitations, I saw a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine and babyish styles. But nothing that would work for an older boy. Most everything was for toddlers.

So I decided to try my hand at designing an invitation. That led to signing up for a course in Adobe Illustrator. Looking back that was a lot of work just to create an invitation for my son! But it was the start of something bigger.

My first invitation design - a train ticket for my son's 4th birthday

My first invitation design – a train ticket for my son’s 4th birthday

I became an invitation designer.  I took other design courses and became a surface pattern designer.  I used those newfound skills to create products on Zazzle and my fun money became real income.

I never knew I could make money selling online. And when my autistic son was born, it became even more important. I needed a job that could allow me to work from home and had flexible hours. I had been working in the corporate world for many years, but no one was going to let me work part-time and from home. The type of work I did required 40-60 hour weeks.

I decided to take Zazzle seriously. I went through a trial and error period of uploading designs. Of course I had many failures, but I also came up with some best-sellers. I took more courses to learn as much as I could and I studied designs and trends.

And yes, I am here to tell you – it is possible to make money online!

How much have I made? Here is a bar chart:

sales-by-year-01-01

Not bad for part-time work right?

I am here to tell you – if I can do it, so can you. Really.  This is not a get-rich-quick scheme, you can see it in the numbers above. But if you put in the time and effort you will see results. (Did I just come off sounding like a weight loss commercial?)

Now you might be expecting me to sell you a course in how to get started. I don’t have that. But I am willing to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained in the past ten years. Many people along the way have helped me and I’m happy to pay it forward.

But wait, there’s more!

I haven’t mentioned 2016 sales. Why is that?

Well in the middle of 2015 I made the decision to blaze my own trail. If you’ve been at Zazzle long enough,  you’ve seen changes to the volume bonus plan, referral program, Amazon counterfeiting, ZRank. Just to name a few.

I decided to take the plunge and start my own independent store. That meant taking time away from Zazzle and pouring my effort into this new experiment.

So I’m trying to keep 2016 sales at the same amount as 2015. We’ll see what happens. But most of my effort has been with learning as much as I can about eCommerce. It’s a whole different beast. And that’s what I’ll be writing about on this blog. How to get started, how to become independent when you’ve been dependent on POD. And what I’ve learned about eCommerce has helped me with Zazzle.

I see others in the Zazzle forums lamenting about the drop in income. I feel for you, I’ve never made as much as some of the Elites so I can see how devastating it can be when you have a sudden drop in income. But you can do something about that! The retail landscape is always changing and we have to change along with it (yet another blog post).

When the current formula is no longer working, we have to be willing to let go and try something else.

And that’s what this blog is for. When you are ready to take the plunge and try something new, I’m your gal. Stay up to date with my posts by signing up for my newsletter. You can also like my Facebook page  to stay up-to-date on my blog posts.

Cindy

Why yes, that IS a Zazzle tank top!

Why yes, that IS a Zazzle tank top!