Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life as a Zazzle Associate

Taking Advantage of New Opportunities to Promote Visages

It was all I needed; another something else to do to complement all the other things I do for Visages and the household.

I received an email from Squidoo  (if you're not familiar, it's another place to blog which I do. Links are at the end of this entry.) telling me I am one of 100 asked to do a special quest. I've ignored the other two quests Squidoo gave me; no time, you see. But I couldn't ignore this quest.

I was invited to submit my best lens for the competition or to write a new one for submission. Not being happy with any of the four lens I have up I opted to write a new one. This decision was made in the middle of the night: 2:30 a.m. - thank you very much - when I got up after deciding I was not going to sleep until I had at least a little something on my dashboard ready to edit at another time.

The piece has to do with promotion and marketing because I've seen quite a few entries in the Zazzle forum; newbies wondering how to sell product. It's difficult if you have no background in marketing and promotion unless you know what to search for and do quite a lot of reading. The lens also gave me a chance to illustrate my point in regards to the first step of promotion to introduce Visages and a brand new product I'm putting out - soon.

The problem with getting up at 2:30 in the morning is that by 10:30 a.m., I've put in eight hours of work all ready, I'm tired and want to do little else. But... but... there's so much more to do! I've got three pieces of new art (for my new line) that needs to go on a goo-gah of items, I have to read new entries in the forum and I belong to a ferret forum that I haven't read in two days. Dang, and the guinea pig cage needs cleaned, I have to scrub the tub and shower, the spare bedroom needs vacuumed, and... AND I want to look into another POD site... AND I want to open a new Zazzle store... AND I've dishes to do...

(insert the sound of heavy exhale of breath) But... people are buying Visages' items, by golly! Note: To any affiliate who may have had a hand in selling Visages gifts: Thank you!!

Below: Squidoo lens I've written. Please click thumbs up, and feel free to submit your links and comments.

Vintage, Victorian or Old Illustrations, Cards, Photos, Images

Pet & Animal Art Inspirations, and Creations 

History (Short) of the T-shirt, Today's Popular T-Shirts, T-shirts for Women, Kids, Men & Babies 

Popular Mugs, Cups, Thermal Mugs for Coffee and Tea Drinkers



Monday, November 28, 2011

Life as a Zazzle Associate

Conflict Resolved. Onward!

The conflict has ended and all is back to normal here on this bright and sunny day in northeast Kansas.

There wasn't a lot of conversation going on between the spouse and myself though yesterday. We avoided each other. I have no doubt he believes himself to be right as much as I believe me to be. Fine, you know? I don't have a problem with him thinking he's right because I KNOW I am.

He has gone to the store so I can physically and noisily emit a raspberry feeling much better having done so. This is not in any way a reflection of my true feelings for him. I love him...

Today is work-on-DebsVisagesAtZazzle web site day. Or it would be if I'd quit making myself angry because of the mistakes I make like clicking the back button before saving revisions screwing up the whole dang page I had worked on for 45 minutes. The frustration of it all is enough for me to want to - as my mother has said - throw my apron over my head and run screaming out the door.

Working with Google sites should be easy but it is not. Period. Why? Well, for one thing, what you see on the screen is not what you might see after saving your changes. Supposedly, it seamlessly allows you to build web pages without having to bother with HTML or XML. However, you might spend an hour trying to get the images and text to bend to your will then fail only to find after saving it that it looks just fine. As an aside, I can not afford to rent domain space and yes, I know there are very affordable ones out there. He (the other half of the household) is out of a job drawing unemployment; I'm working to get a business going. End of story.


It is because of this (working with glitches in Google sites) that I am now having to read the HTML to try and work through manipulating the images and text. Have you ever read HTML? It looks like a chaotic mess but yet... yet in its magic it can produce a harmonic page of images and words graphically pleasing to anyone who might stumble across the page.

And so I plead: Oh great Zazzle spirit... please relieve me of my pain and anguish. Grant me sales enough to not have to suffer woes and frustrations of building stinkin'... pain-in-the-butt... hard-to-work-with Google site pages!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Life as a Zazzle Associate

The Conflict

It was bound to happen. I expected a conflict between the other half of this household and myself because I had begun sensing that he regards what I do (drawing, painting, and photographing images to apply to gift items that need marketing) as more of a pastime or hobby rather than a full time job. Also, he has seen no income produced from my efforts.

I can certainly understand why he'd think that since I sit here 12 hours and more a day happily creating and promoting. After all, working a full time job isn't suppose to be fun, right? So, if I'm having fun there's no way I'll contribute income. Further heightening my sense of his disapproval was his suggestion a few days ago that I update my resume to post online in preparation for the anticipated move to Spokane, WA next Spring.

"We need to get money rolling in so you should at least work a part-time job," he informed me.

Huh? Does this mean you don't think Visages will bring income? I think to myself. It's beginning to but it'll slow if I can't put the time and effort into it.

But that's an entirely different story. Back to what I was saying.

What he doesn't know and has never witnessed is a room full of artists and art directors happily sitting at their computers laying out magazine pages while they laugh and joke amongst themselves or shoot rubber bands at each other for eight hours. Working for a company should be fun and not a chore we abhor.

So the conflict ensued last night when he informed me dinner was ready just as I was trying to finish up my latest blog entry for Life as a Zazzle Associate.

"I'll be there in a minute," I said. "I'm in the middle of finishing this blog entry." My voice probably sounded a little frantic since I know he doesn't like it when I put off supper after he's put in the effort to cook.

"Fine. Eat cold spaghetti," he said with a note of irritation in his voice.

I shook my head after acknowledging him and continued typing.

As he walked past me, I heard him mutter under his breath some things I won't pass on to you. Suffice it to say his mutterings were enough to upset me. After finishing the final touches and making final corrections, I got up, grabbed my plate and headed to the living room where he sat forking food into his mouth while watching football.

"Hon, nobody else is going to market Visages or write my blogs for me. There is only me to do it," I said to him with plenty of conviction in my voice. He made no reply but continued forking food and gazing at the college football game which by the way I'm sick to death of constantly being on the television.

After sitting down to face my meal, I discovered I had no stomach for it so picked up my plate, walked into the kitchen and covered it with plastic wrap, shoved it into the refrigerator then marched into the bedroom to lie on the bed and read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I couldn't absorb much and found myself re-reading sentences because I kept going over the episode in my mind. At 9 pm, I gave up, closed the book, covered myself with a throw blanket and slept fully clothed on top of the quilt that covers our bed.

This morning I decided I'm going to have fun with Visages despite conflict and what he thinks, dang it!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Life as a Zazzler: Compulsively Working Toward Success

If There Was Only a Success Fairy

We went out of town to visit my folks for Thanksgiving on Wednesday afternoon and didn't get home until Friday afternoon. The entire time we were there I was thinking Visages at Zazzle. It was difficult to enjoy the visit and the meal while there.

"I wonder if I sold anything?" I wondered while scooping a forkful of mashed potatoes and gravy.

"I need to add the huge stock of pictures I've uploaded to all the different models of phone cases available," I remembered as I gnawed a turkey leg.

"Hmmmm... I wonder what I should write about in my blog when I get back?" I questioned as I batted my brother's fork away from my plate.

I didn't have a drawing pad, no camera, notebook for notes; I brought nothing with me thinking I would take the time to enjoy myself (also allowing my swollen feet to return to normal) and the holiday as though I were taking time off work, and like I used to do when I was corporately employed five years ago.

Hey! I KNOW it sounds like some sort of compulsive disorder. But the sad truth is there aren't a whole of companies hiring right now. They're especially not hiring middle aged women with many years of experience behind them. Nope, it ain't happenin' most especially in this city of 80,000!

So... I'm creating and selling gifts. I figure since I successfully started a house cleaning business a few years back, sold my services to enough households that I had plenty of income rolling in I can certainly market myself and Visages successfully.

And there's only one person who's going to do it for me and that's ME! (Hmmmm... I wonder what sort of humorous compulsive disorder poster or card I can create?)

Anyway, there presently is not a lot of room in my brain for much of anything else but donating plasma twice a week, marketing Visages and creating gifts. I'm darn lucky I remembered my kids birthdays two weeks ago.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Life as a Zazzle Associate

Physical Price Paid, Driving Traffic and Learning Curve
4th entry... Scroll down to see previous posts and please leave comments of your own experiences along with store links.

"Look at how swollen my feet are!" I said to my better half last night as I wiggled my toes in front of his face. "I must be sitting for too long at the computer and not getting up to move around enough."

"Ya think?" he replied.

I received no sympathy nor an offer to take over his recliner in order to raise my feet to decrease the swelling. I was forced to tell him that I needed the only real comfortable chair in the house. This physical reaction to me sitting at the computer for 12 to 16 hours a day is new and certainly unexpected as I drive myself to spend necessary time finding ways to drive traffic to Visages (among other things). But be warned, fellow Zazzlers, if you're not paying a physical price for all the hours you spend sitting, extend your luck by getting up every 30 minutes or so to walk around, do some household chores or rake some leaves in the yard. While you're at it, use your other hand to flex your mouse hand back to stretch fingers and wrist. Apparently this helps ward off carpal tunnel.

At the price of swollen appendages, I have discovered a few ways to drive traffic to my store, blogs, and store web page through reading the Zazzle forum. I highly recommend this to all newbies.
One suggestion I read in the forum that has driven traffic to Visages is a web site called Really Smart Deals. The best way I can explain it is this: It's a place where people go to surf web stores, auction sites and blogs. I don't know that I've sold anything to any of the surfers from there but I do know - according to Google Analytics - Visages gets visitors who've clicked my banner ads or website links. I'm as dumb as a door nail when it comes to understanding how this works, I only know that a percentage of Visages visitors come from there.

Of course, participating in the forum drives traffic too. I try to read every category but mostly I participate in Promoting and Generating Traffic and Show & Tell. I add links, images and shout my store name in any post that remotely relates to my store inventory.

There's so much to learn much of which I still don't understand like how the Zbar works, using HTML for links in descriptions, web sites, and store customization, using templates and API to my advantage. The learning curve is still perpendicular to my world.

Too bad I had to learn the hard way to get up every so often. Actually, getting up to increase blood flow is a good reason to go brush my hair

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Life as a Zazzler Associate

Feelings of Envy and Inadequacy
3rd entry of the series. Older posts available when you scroll down...

I've nearly had melt-downs a few times over the past few months and it's my own stinkin' fault. I have made the mistake (though not really a mistake) several times of browsing other Zazzle stores to see what other artists are up to, what they're creating and the mediums they use. It never fails. I shed my skin of self confidence when I see all of the talent creating the most beautiful and imaginitive gifts.

"My art sucks," I wail one day at my better half who's watching Anthony Bordain and the dog who is awakened from a deep sleep on the sofa by my lament. "Everyone on Zazzle makes way better art than me!" Neither the better half or dog respond and both go back to what they were doing before they were interrupted. Disappointed I'm not given kudos for all the beautiful items <typed with sarcasm> I've made, I turn back to my computer monitor, viciously click the mouse on the red X in the upper right hand corner of my screen and consider drinking a fifth of whiskey and lopping off my ear.

Oh, I eventually come out of the self-pitying state (helped one day when I received a Today's Best Award for my painting, Pears on Tree) but I'm left with a few scars from punishing myself for my seeming lack of talent. I'm also left wondering, "How do these (Zazzle) people think of these things?" I mean not only the art they design and produce but putting blank product to other uses. Someone thought of using designed stickers for personalizing Christmas stockings. I didn't! Others are designing bookmarks but not me. Binders as photo albums, baby albums and recipe binders? What the...? And what's with the magnet with text that says "Clean Dishes" on one end and "Dirty Dishes" on the other to stick to a dishwasher? My thinking is too literal. A binder is a binder for papers one has punched. A sticker is a sticker with a photo or illustration on its face, business cards and photo cards are meant to be used as business cards and photo cards and a magnet is meant for the refrigerator.

By the way, what's a rack card? Anyone?

I wonder - too - why am I not categorizing certain cards as "occasions"/"birthday cards" instead of "other"? Do I think people are going to do a search for "other card"? Actually, I think people will do a search for "butterfly card" to use as a birthday card. Bad thinking on my part but everyday is a live and learn day while I work toward being a seasoned Zazzler.

I'll continue window shopping other Zazzle stores for inspiration and ideas because you all are imaginative, talented, creative, think-outside-the-box people. With our combined efforts (yours and mine) and the inspiration I glean from you all, I'll become successful.

Recently received letter from a reader and fellow Zazzler:

How true.... I think each and every word of it describes what we all went through... Oh by the way I have to brush my hair...

I was trying to get to the bottom of it... What is the nature of that compulsion??? Is it dream of acceptance??? Is it a form of communication???

I even tried to shut down my computer for a couple of days and think.
The signs of disorder are obvious - you can not continue with normal life as it was before - when you could read a book and not think "That would make an excellent t-shirt (or postcard)". When you go to a store you look at postcards like a maniac - muttering to yourself - do I see an idea here?, and you do stare at women's t-shirts not realizing that could be offensive

When I try to explain it to my husband I know I lie to myself: you know, there is hope... I can make it.

My regular tiny sales prove it... (but when you add it up I could have earned the same amount in real world for 1 working day (and here in the cyberspace that day lasted for half a year - yes you also eat less and you do not bother about clothing). It (sales) hasn't
even paid for internet...

So the only way to lie to myself is to say that the more designs I make the better my skills become and if I make a few bucks on the way it is a bonus...
Here you go: I work on self improvement!

Good luck!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Life as a Zazzler Associate

The Beginning con't
2nd entry... First post below

The feverish compulsion to design, upload, apply to product, describe, tag, classify and finally post for sale in my new online gift shop continued for weeks. I developed a rhythm waking at 3 or 4 a.m. to read and research anything I could find in the Zazzle blog, past news letters and Zazzle University until 8 a.m. when I would have to stop to do my other normal routine which - by the way - was totally an inconvenience. Terms like plexo, lens, Zbar and API suddenly became part of my vocabulary, and my feeling pretty stupid asking - for instance - what a plexo is in the forums became a constant companion.

From 10 a.m. on most days to 8 or 9 p.m. I resumed uploading and apply images to everything available completely disregarding Zazzle's recommendation to not stick a design on all sizes, colors and shapes of available product. I was manic and glassy-eyed with determination to get a ton of items into Visages. After all, hadn't I read somewhere in one of the forum posts I would increase my chances of selling if I had loads of gifts available?

I eagerly watched the store inventory climb: 100, 200, 500, 1,000 gifts each and everyone proudly displaying my creations of pencil drawings, photography, paintings, and digital designs I had stored on CDs. Never mind I developed carpal tunnel in my wrist and tendonitis in my arm or that my arthritic lower back throbbed with pain from sitting for hours without so much as getting up to relieve myself.

"No! Never mind that because I must create!" I reasoned unaware I had taken on the appearance of Dr. Frankenstein as he willed his monster-creation to life.

I lived on coffee; wouldn't wash my face nor brush my teeth until 11 a.m. or noon, and didn't take the time to brush my long hair that hangs to the top of my butt until it became so knotted that it was next to impossible to get the scrunchy out of it. Normal daily life was definitely getting into the way. It is here that I must compliment my mate. He was extremely patient with me especially when I would pace behind him and heave enormous sighs while he took a few minutes to check his email and update his Facebook page. He's a dear and good man.

He's sleeping now (2:30 a.m.) after having gotten up to get a drink of water and stating the obvious: "You're up at 1 o'clock in the morning!"

"Yeah, well... my back hurts, I couldn't sleep and I have to blog," I replied while stuffing a coffee filter into its plastic holder.

I think I'd better check to see if ol' Newt Gingrich has said anything new and worthy of displaying on a t shirt. According to Zazzle, Gingrich t shirts are hot right now.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Life as a Zazzle Seller/Associate

It ain't easy being a Zazzle designer and seller, let me tell you...

The Beginning

I can't tell you how I found Zazzle because I don't remember. If you're not familiar with Zazzle you should check it out. Of course I'm directing you to my store, Visages, but for the short description: it's a Print on Demand (POD) online gift store with literally billions of items to shop created by thousands of artists from all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of these gift items you can personalize with names, dates, events, just about anything you want.

If you can't find the gift, you can upload your own art, kids art or pictures to create you own personalized, custom and uniquely special gift.

So... as I said, I found Zazzle and being an artist I thought, "Finally! A place where I can sell my creations. Saints be praised...". And so began the mad activity of creating, uploading, describing and properly tagging cups/mugs, t shirts, key chains, aprons, tote bags, coasters, and goo-gah more of stuff.

I sweated, I fretted, I typed and pasted until I was cross-eyed and weary. Then one day, it occurred to me: "Who's going to see all my great stuff besides my family and friends?"

Off to the Zazzle forum I dashed. I began clicking and reading, more clicking, more reading struggling to find information as to how to get my store, Visages, and me known. Then it happened. Within the same month I created Visages, I made my first sale.

<blink, blink> "Wait... am I reading the email right? I made a sale?! I MADE A SALE!!. Hon, " I screamed throughout the house. "I made a sale!" The Zazzle gods love me, I decided.

But... this was only the beginning. There is more to tell but not today. Today I have to continue designing more Christmas gifts and begin thinking about Valentines Day.

I found this video of a young lady who designed her own shoes, ordered and received them and now gives her review.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New for Nevember!

Just released... New designs from Visages!

Creating personalized products couldn't be easier than clicking and typing. And if you're looking for something very special and unique, jump on over to Visages.

I was going to say there is no better place to find special gifts but that would be a lie. Why? Because there are TONS of web sites out there that offer unusual and unique gifts. My store is only one of thousands...

If you need assistance uploading your own photos or designs to create something even more special, please contact me. I'll assist at no charge because I want to help you!

That all said, please take a look at the newest creations I've designed. Or, view the video I've uploaded to YouTube.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Popular art and products at Visages

I'm working on my catalog and in doing so discovered how to make a catalog video with Pinnacle and a presentation program.

Here's a short video featuring most popular products plus t shirts, mugs, and hats...

Friday, November 4, 2011

New for Christmas 2011 at Visages

Nine new items to personalize are up and ready for the artists and designers at Zazzle. Visages has certainly jumped on the bandwagon and is working to get all art and designs applied to the plates, coasters, gel mouse pads, puzzles, etc.

The new items come on the heels of the tile trivets, lacquered wood gift boxes and premium gift boxes Zazzle put out a month or so back which creates a bit of a panic mode for store owners to get the new products designed, titled, described and tagged with key words before the majority.

But it's all in good fun. Zazzle store/shop owners are a good crowd; helpful and friendly. Still, I don't know about anybody else but I'm developing tendonitis in my forearm from all the clicking and typing I'm doing of late. It's paying off though. After a long 14 hour day of designing, I was very surprised to receive a notice from Zazzle that I was awarded (one of 46) Today's Best Award.

Me? Really? Awwwww... gee whizz... <rubbing toe in the dirt>. It is an honor considering there are gazillions of artists and shopkeepers from all over the world drawing, painting, designing, creating computer graphics and uploading. Did you know there are over 17 billion - yes, billion - gift items for sale at Zazzle?

Below are a few of my newest products. After I'm done linking them on this blog, I'm taking a rest. I'm tired...

As of November 5, 2011, I have created a presentation file you can view... Just follow the link.

Collectible Plates Perfect for celebrating a special occasion or creating a one-of-a-kind dining set, our non-toxic and dishwasher-safe plates show off your photos, designs, and text in vibrant full-color printing. Adorn your home with a custom plate today!

Personalized Notebooks Organize your day with a custom notebook! Made with your images and text on the front cover, this notebook is a great way to show off your personal style and keep track of all important notes and appointments all at once.
Coasters Decorate your home with custom coasters! Made with high-gloss plastic and a non-skid cork backing, these coasters display your photos and designs with vivid and sharp colors. Perfect for hot and cold drinks, custom coasters are a great complement to any table or surface.

Notepad Jotting notes is more fun with your own custom notepad! Printed in sharp and full color, these notepads look great with any color image, text, or design. Featuring 40 easy tear-away pages of FSC certified paper, custom notebooks are perfect for the home or office.

Easel For a professional display without a frame get a custom display plaque! Printed with a dye-sublimation process, your image colors are put directly on the hardboard panel for a stunningly crisp image. Protected with a UV resistant gloss, your plaque will be protected from scratches and fading for years to come.
Gel Mousepad Decorate your office or home with a custom contoured oval mousepad! Featuring an ergonomic gel-pad wrist support and non-skid black plastic base, this mousepad will look great with your images, text, or designs.

Panda Bear 
Laptop Sleeve Protect your laptop with a custom laptop sleeve. Made with 100% neoprene, these lightweight and water resistant sleeves look great with your photos, text, or designs. Great for travel or just day-to-day use, custom laptop sleeves come in three sizes to fit your device and your style.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pears Hanging from Tree Painting Plates from

 Today's Best Award received from Zazzle!
I painted these pears with acrylic on paper.
The painting was uploaded and applied to a plate, a new product Zazzle is offering.

They've also picked up puzzles, gel mouse pads, flexible magnets plus several other items.
Pears Hanging from Tree Painting Plates from

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Owl Art Merchandise Coasters from Visages

SOLD! A great BIG thanks to the individual from the U.K. who purchased Owl Art Coasters...

Come back soon!

Owl Art Coasters
Original art was created with acrylic on paper, a rubber stamp and oil pencils. If you're looking to give a wedding gift, or a unique birthday gift, hop on over to Visages at Zazzle and if you can't find what you're looking for there, you have over 17 billion products to peruse.