I’m back!

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post for this blog. A really long time, maybe a year? And I also switched hosting services and lost my prior entries. I’m basically starting from scratch again.

Why has it been so long? Well, ever since I dove into the world of eCommerce there was much to learn. Consider these basic steps:

  1. Find a webhost
  2. Start developing a website
  3. Create product listings for said website
  4. Figure out how to bring customers (aka traffic) to your site
  5. Figure out how you are going to fulfill orders that come through

Sounds simple right? Like anyone can do it? Wrong. Let’s look at number 1 – finding a webhost. I went through all the usual suspects – Go Daddy, Host Gator, Blue Host.  For one reason or another they didn’t work out. GoDaddy is limited in terms of what you can do with an online store. They want you to use their services. So while I had chosen OpenCart to run my eStore, I could not install it on Go Daddy.

Then while I tried Host Gator and BlueHost, I didn’t care for their customer support. If I had a question I had to wait a long time to ask and get an answer. And as someone starting out, I had lots of questions.

Then came A Small Orange. They were affordable and had awesome customer service! So I signed on with them. I was a happy customer until they were sold to another company. Then came the long wait times and slow support. And downtimes too, not good if you want your customers to find your site. I was back to Square One.

So now I’ve switched hosts and support is generally good. I’m crossing my fingers that they will not be sold anytime soon.

But you see what I’m getting at? It took some trial and error to find the right host. And that’s just the first step in the journey of a thousand steps.

I have so much to share on this blog. And I hope it will help many of you. Some of you know me as a Zazzle designer. If you are one too, you know that things aren’t going so well in Zazzle land.  Many have seen earnings decline over the years, Print on Demand (POD) just isn’t what it used to be.

There is still a way to make a living on Zazzle and other PODs. You just need a different approach. In the old days you could just create a design, put it on as many products as possible, then hope that someone will buy it. Those days are long gone.

Now to thrive on a POD, you also have to learn how to market your work and reach customers.  Zazzle has billions of designs, yes billions, and it’s hard to been seen anymore.

So what’s a Zazzler to do?

What has kept me afloat is focusing on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and basic promoting on social media such as Pinterest. Also researching a design idea to see if customers would want to buy it.

SEO is key if you want to be seen among the billions of designs floating on the internet. The good news is that a good percentage of designers won’t pay attention to it, so this will give you an advantage.

Where to learn about SEO? I Googled the term and read through article after article. There is one site that I do like and follow: Search Engine Land

But if you need basics just google “SEO basics” or “SEO getting started”. There’s a lot of information out there. And it will help you.

How you ask?

Well let’s look at an example. Here is the product page for one of my Zazzle cards:

product-page-01

When I created this card, I had the basic design concept down.  Then I tried to think about it from the customer point of view. If I was shopping for this card, what search terms would I use to find it?  I came up with “tribal” “Aztec” “southwest” and “geometric”.

These terms will show up on Google and Bing. Then will also show up on social media when you share these product pages.  And it helps customers find you when they are searching with these sites.

Ok, so I know this is probably basic stuff for many of you.

Then before Zazzle made changes, the product description was picked up by search engines. You could write a lovely description with key words to help your product appear in the right places and be seen by the right customers.

But now that has been disabled, so what’s left?

Product tags.

If you are learning about SEO, read up on what a long tail keyword is. Long tail keywords are a type of phrase that has several words. Long tail keywords are used when the searcher is looking for something specific. Like in my example above, a customer may go onto Google and type in “tribal thank you cards” in the search bar.

So when you are posting your product for sale on Zazzle, put some time into coming up with long tail keywords.  We know that Zazzle doesn’t allow certain terms so we just have to go along with the rules. In my example above, while I can’t use the word “note card” in the tags, I could use “tribal thank you” “southwest thank you” or “mint green pink thank you”.

Congratulations if you made it this far in my blog post! I know it’s a long one.  Since we’re into the holidays, my next post will cover how to reach customers. And yes you can still come up with designs, it’s never too late!

Comment below and let me know your thoughts.