My Zazzle Success Story

by dustytoes

I've been selling products at the site for five years now and my earnings have continued to increase to the point that I bought a home last year.

Most people don't lose everything in life and have to start over, but that is what happened to me in 2007. I was living a normal life one day, and was in a dark pit the next. I'm not going to get into that except to tell you how I climbed out of that pit by starting my own business in associaltion with the print-on-demand company, Zazzle.

Because of the this unfortunate turn of events in my life, I was put on a surprising path that led me to a job that I love doing. I now earn a paycheck that is larger than any I had ever previously earned. I work from home, using my God-given artistic abilities, and I am my own boss. This is absolutely miraculous considering that when I began, I knew next to nothing about the internet, except that I could send e-mail to my friends!

I'm guessing that many people who read this page are already far more knowledgeable already, which puts you ahead of where I started. No matter what you know, or don't know, if you want something bad enough you can learn how to make it happen.

I Knew Nothing When I Opened My First Zazzle Online Store

I was excited to begin something for free with the hope of creating a supplemental income.

My name is Pam, but at Zazzle I began working as pamdicar.  I had no idea what I was doing, when in the summer of 2007, I heard about this online site where I could use my photos and artwork to make money.  I love to draw,  and I take bunches of photos and it didn't cost a penny to start.  I thought, why not?

All I knew was that I needed an income and any amount would have been helpful at that point in my life, so I opened my first Zazzle store and named it Narrow Road Designs.   I made many mistakes that I wasn't even aware of at the time, and quite honestly I spent almost two years learning "computer stuff" that everyone else seemed to already know. 

I discovered that some people had a bunch of stores, so I opened my second store for Christian items, and then a store for my shell photos, and a shoe store when Zazzle introduced their first Keds shoes.  And on it went, until I had seven stores and each one had a different name and I was too busy to run them all!

But I had products out there and the money began trickling in.  It was awesome!

(All photos on this page are my own unless otherwise stated.)

Many of my first Zazzle creations contained my own photography.

I can't remember what sold first, but I was thrilled.

I Was Desperate For Any Income

Working from home seemed like an unattainable dream.

Zazzle is a site full of people trying to sell their art and photography and graphic designs for a variety of reasons.

I doubt that there are many who began doing it as a full time job.  It usually takes quite a while to make enough money to live on, so most designers do it in their spare time, or as a hobby with a "lets see what happens" attitude.

Some people just want to earn some "extra" money for a trip, vacation or home improvements or a new television.

I needed the earnings to live on and rebuild my life.

I was all alone except for my nine year old, living in a new area without family or friends around to help out.  When my son wasn't in school, he had to be somewhere, and the only place was with me.  That limited my choices for jobs.

I worked as a substitute teacher for a while, but I hated it.  Working at home would have been the perfect solution, but it seemed like an unattainable dream.  The only experience I had on a computer was checking my e-mail. 

I could not fathom how anyone could make money sitting in front of a computer, but I had to give it a try.  I was out of options.


A Segment on Morning Television Gave Me the Push

I started out knowing absolutely nothing, but desperation kept me going.

I was watching Good Morning America one morning and a segment came on about working from home.  The woman mentioned adding photography and artwork to products and making a small commission from selling them online.  The only two sites I wrote down to check out were CafePress and Zazzle.

To be honest, I looked at CafePress first but I couldn't figure it out.  So I hopped over to Zazzle and with my teenage daughter beside me, we found some pictures and uploaded them to the site.  I was amazed that I could figure it out and eventually I had some products up for sale.  I don't remember which product sold first, but my first paycheck was small - $43.42, and that was for three months of sales!  I was stunned to be able to actually make money online and it gave me hope and the encouragement to keep at it.


Finding Images to Use for Zazzle

I have always loved taking pictures.  When I began working at Zazzle, I used all of my own photography.  I didn't even know how to use stock photos, or something from the public domain.  I knew nothing about any of that.  

Every time I baked a pie, or made cookies, or knit a scarf, I'd get out the camera and take some shots in hopes that they would be good enough to use in some way on products in my Zazzle store.  The latticed pie crust on the business cards is a picture of a pie I baked.  The chocolate chip cookies are also mine.  Before I'd eat supper, I'd take photos of the food, wondering if I would be able to use it in my store. 

I learned from other online people, who were willing to share advice, how to size the images for use.  Eventually I downloaded a free graphics program to play with so I would do more with my images.   Once I understood that I could use certain images made by others, I began to include those.  I have never liked using the image only, without tweaking it in some way.

Free Images Sources

Be careful when using images to sell, not all free images can be used that way.
An exhaustive list of the best online resources for copyright free cliparts and photos for commercial online and offline usage.
Kozzi Review - Are Kozzi images free to use or are there restrictions? Read on to learn all that there is to know about this new image resource! They do videos and clip-art also...
High-quality images, no royalties or attributions required, totally free for personal and commercial use. No sign-up necessary!

Zazzle is a Wonderful Site for Artists

Those who paint and draw can use Zazzle to gain exposure to their artwork.  I do a little drawing myself, and recently opened a new store "Clara's Desk" where I upload my own drawings.

It doesn't matter that I am far from being a fabulous artist.  If I draw something that someone else needs, they will buy it.  Maybe the color is exactly what they were looking for.  Maybe they think my artwork is cute.  Whatever the reason, I have been making sales.  More than anything else I sell, the sale of any of my art touches my heart.  

If you are an artist, don't let thoughts of "I'm not good enough" stop you from tying to sell at Zazzle, and elsewhere.  Any POD site provides a great opportunity to become seen.

If They Could Do It, I Could Do It

Patience and perseverance paid off with an increase in

I figured that if I could make $40 selling products I could make $400.  I needed more products, because I had read in the Zazzle forum that more products bring more sales.  I visited the forum, which was scarey because I didn't understand what a forum was.  But it was where I found out what others were doing to succeed, and it was where I asked really clueless questions that were (thankfully) answered by very kind and helpful people. 

I read that it was possible to make thousands of dollars a month, and I couldn't for the life of me imagine how.  But that gave me hope, because I thought that if it was possible for some, then it was possible for me.  (And yes, I am now at that point and have been for many years.)  So I kept working and reading and learning.  I realized that my photos could only take me so far.  I needed to learn how to make graphic designs, and when I downloaded a free Paint program, I began a new and wonderful phase in creating.

I've written a page here at Wizzley about how to isolate an image (remove the background) using the Paint program.  To read it, please click the link below.

My Zazzle Paychecks Kept Increasing

It took three years before I was earning what I would call "good money"

My first paycheck at Zazzle was $43.42 and it was issued in December 2007.

In 2008 my pay for the year was measly, but I spent most of 2008 learning the basics.   I've never taken any type of computer or design class, so I had a lot to learn.  I studied how to make links and how to navigate a blog.  I learned to isolate images and then layer them to make a unique design.  Everything was new to me.  I had to earn money, but I had to know what I was doing to get there.

The year 2009 was better, earnings wise, and by May 2010, I became a Silver ProSeller (qualifying is different now, but at the time it meant earning at least $1,000 a month.)

Guess what?  It's now many years after I uploaded my first picture to the Zazzle site.   I am still working from home and making a pretty good living by sitting at my computer!  No one is more surprised than I am.

Financial Stability and a Home of My Own

This has been my prayer for nearly four years.

When my life fell apart in 2007, no one was going to come to my rescue.  I had no home and barely enough money to pay rent and buy food.  I did not have parents to live with while I got back on my feet and I had two kids to provide for.  Talk about a mid-life crisis!

I prayed, and still pray, for financial stability.  And what I wanted more than anything was a home.  I found that I never really appreciated the fact that I had my own home for so many years.  It's tough to go from being a home-owner to being a renter.  For me it has been like being in prison.   I wanted to know that I could take care of myself financially and I wanted the freedom to live in a home that belonged to me, instead of paying the way for someone else to live well on my earnings.

Once my Zazzle paycheck allowed me to save money, I began to seriously consider buying a house.

At Last, I Was a Home Owner!

I am so grateful to have a home of my own once again.

house home
After four years of paying rent, and wondering if I'd ever see the day I would be approved to buy a house, I finally signed the papers on my home.  It's difficult to convey how thankful I was, and still am, for that miracle in my life!

I live in the northeastern United States and the cost of living is high.  Even with the housing crisis in full swing, I knew it would be hard to find a decent home that I could afford.  Sure enough, there were affordable houses out there, but they all needed a lot of work and the house I purchased was no exception. 

I moved in and began replacing the broken garage doors, putting on new siding, adding gutters, and fixing the roof and leaking basement.  I've been in my home for a number of years now and it's still a work in progress, but I am thankful for it every day.

I worked 10 hour days learning how to build my Zazzle business while I was renting in various places.  A home of my own was what I focused on.  My son and I needed a stable place to live.  Now I have that home, and I'm still plugging away at my keyboard in this ever-changing online earning landscape.

Help and Ideas for Growing Your Zazzle Business

Zazzle has been a wonderful business opportunity for me, and I want to share some ideas for running a successful store at their site.
Make products easy for the customer to personalize by adding template text to them.
Pixabay is an online site that offers high quality photos and clipart images that can be used as you please - even to sell in your Zazzle store.
Updated: 26 days ago, dustytoes
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


CruiseReady 10 days ago

What a ride you have had! It's so nice to read a success story, and yours really is especially nice because of the Zazzle connection. I truly enjoy Zazzle, and it sounds like you do, too. That's important if you are going to pour so much of yourself into something.

dali rami 13 days ago

Really Really You Are Great , I Wrote Your Story from first letter to te last letter , Your story encourage me to start building my future , I Want To Contact you how can I , And Thank You Very Very Much Mum

dustytoes on 04/16/2015

That's a nice start. Best of luck!

lizzy on 04/15/2015

So inspired!! My first 20 products are up :)*

dustytoes on 12/31/2014

Sorry for the late reply, but thank you Ruth, Cheryl, and Linda for the nice comments. @Linda, if you enjoy Zazzle, then keep at it. Sales for me have always been up and down, sometimes drastically so. God does answer, and he's been taking good care of me. ;)

Little Linda Pinda on 12/03/2014

I prayed and asked God to clearly show me if I should stay working on Zazzle and within days my business suddenly started doing better. I felt that was my answer. Now it is doing even better. It is wonderful to see your success and it included God. He shows us the way to go.

CherylFay on 10/03/2014

Amazing story! I Iove it. I've wanting to get a store started for awhile now. I guess I better get my butt in gear and do it. I always have a hard knowing what to name things like for a store or article as well. I have plenty of photo's since I take a Zillion on them all the time of everything.

RuthCox on 10/03/2014

Your personal story shows that in times of desperation we have it within ourselves to overcome adversity. We need but do what it takes to climb the mountain before us. Yours is truly a Zazzle success story, but even more it is a personal success story. And it's good you share it with the world so that others, like myself, can be motivated to make our own dreams come true through our own efforts and 'stick-to-it-iveness'.

dustytoes on 04/29/2014

@Marie, sales are also down for me compared to last year. The best forms of promoting products for me seems to be my website, which is time-consuming, and Pinterest, which is easy. But blogging, writing (Wizzley), Twitter and FB all help too. I've recently done a little at Polyvore, so don't know how that will turn out. I think it's different for each person.

Marie Churchman on 04/29/2014

Re-reading this article now and then helps keep me going when sales are down and gives me a push. I wonder if you can tell me what you consider your best form of advertisement in 2014?

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