Wednesday, June 23, 2010

No, Zazzle is Not a Scam

It doesn't come up very often, but when it does, I am always left scratching my head a little bit. Someone will come into the forums either asking if Zazzle is a scam, or insisting that it is. Just today, a gentleman (I use the term loosely) was looking for a "financial backer" to help him sue Zazzle and Google. Mind you, the Zazzle forums aren't really the best place to find support for something like that, seeing as how they're populated by avid Zazzle shopkeepers, many of which make their living there. All the same, we checked out his complaints, and what did we find? This "gentleman" believed Zazzle and Google were stealing his images and selling them without his permission, because 1.) when customers clicked his links in google they were taken to a simple list of products on Zazzle instead of his storefront and 2.) when he visited one of the international domains like the Canadian or Australian versions of Zazzle, his products were different prices.

OK, number 2 is obvious, or at least it should be. Different countries have different currencies and different exchange rates, so yeah, the same product is going to show up as a different price in another nation's currency. As for number 1...well... This fella should have made a trip to the New To Zazzle forum and asked for help on this one, rather than embarrassing himself to such a degree. The fool has his shop set to "Private", so, yeah, customers aren't going to see his storefront! Instead, they're taken to a list of his products in the Zazzle marketplace. He can still make sales (Though, I can't imagine anyone shelling out over $1,000 for a pair of his shoes like he wants), but customers won't see his storefront.

If anyone has doubts about Zazzle or thinks it might be a scam, let me set the records straight. I've been on Zazzle since 2005. I've watched them go through many changes in that time, and they just keep getting better. They are by far the most versatile, easy to use, trustworthy, and profitable POD (Print on Demand service) I have ever used, and their customer service has been above and beyond expectations every time I've had an issue with an order.

It's because of Zazzle that I am able to make a living doing what I love. It's because of Zazzle that I've been able to leave the abusive employment situations I was in and focus on taking care of my health and my home. Zazzle lets me decide what my work is worth, and when I make sales, that's exactly what I get. Zazzle takes care of its designers and shopkeepers, and they treat their customers right.

There are plenty of real scams out in the world today (I know, I get about a dozen of them a day in my inbox), but Zazzle is not one of them. If you're an artist, photographer, or designer looking to get your work out into the world, there's really no better way to go than a site that asks nothing of you but your time and talent.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

An Unintentional Inspiration

Back in November, I informed my fellows on the Zazzle forums that I was finally able to quit my day job and become a full time "Zazzler". I received many wonderful responses, including a shoutout from the Zazzle staff themselves in the Zazzle blog. After a while, folks stopped posting on the thread and it slipped into the oblivion of inactivity, as all threads do in time.

Then one day a short while ago, I checked the forums and found that someone had dug up my old "I am now a full-time Zazzler!" thread and responded to it, commenting that they wished for my success as well. I thought, "isn't that odd that someone would resurrect such a long-dead thread?" thinking for sure it would quickly slip back into the abyss of hundreds of pages of inactive threads.

But that's not what happened. More and more people responded to the thread, commenting on how inspiring it was to know that you CAN make a living on Zazzle, telling me that I'd motivated them, inspired them to give their shops a renewed effort. Before I knew what was happening, Zazzle stickied the thread at the top of the forum, ensuring that it would never again slip away into nothingness...

It may seem like I'm being overly poetic about this whole thing, but there is something you have to understand about the world I come from. I live in a part of the country where people don't buy art. If it weren't for a site like Zazzle, I never would have been able to make a living doing what I love. With the internet, it's now possible for just about anyone, with just about any hobbies or passions to make a living doing what makes them happiest, and for years, I've been encouraging the people around me to explore those possibilities. I've encouraged coworkers at Wal-Mart to sell their crafts through etsy, I've coaxed friends into taking up blogging to discuss their passions, and I've been toiling with my dad to make his dream of a profitable produce stand a reality. Why? Because I believe that people shouldn't have to feel like they're stuck doing something they hate just so they can pay the bills. I believe that within every coherent human being there is the ability to step off the beaten path and forge your own way. Whatever it is you love, whether it's art, writing, gardening, cooking, or whatever else, if you have the imagination, you have a way to do great things with your passion.

So when I log onto the Zazzle forums and I see people telling me that I'm an inspiration, it makes me rather warm and fuzzy inside. I'm still rather baffled that of all the successful Zazzle designers and shopkeepers out there, I'm the one inspiring people. I'm hardly the most organized person. I don't have the greatest designs out there, and I'm certainly not as successful as many Zazzlers I could name, but maybe that's part of it? If a 20-something from the sticks that barely graduated high school can be a successful shopkeeper and designer, then surely, anyone can be, right? That's what I believe, anyway.

So for those of you out there that still have doubts, know this--if you have the desire and if you have the imagination, there is nothing stopping you from making a living doing what YOU love. I'm rootin' for you!