Friday, 13 November 2009

The future for POD's ?

Zazzle has been my best selling POD site for a couple of years now.. as far as I know I haven't referred one buyer there.. for starters they get a lot.. lot more visitors than any of the dedicated Fine Art POD sites.. because they sell a wide range of personalised products... in addition to everything a Fine Art POD offers.

They don't charge to open a shop.. and so actively attracting buyers is the ONLY way they make a profit.. and it shows ! I get the impression there is a lot going on behind the scenes at Zazzle.. to drive in buyers.

To this end they have an affiliate program that resells products via non art specialist sites.. for example "Christian sites" These sites earn income when someone buys your product via their site.. and so the targeting is very specific to buyers with a particular interest. But Zazzle also attracts art buyers.. I regularly sell prints there. So they have developed niche market buying.. as a way of bringing in buyers for whom price is not the most important thing. Zazzlers themselves can also earn by reselling other peoples products.. if they have an audience. Lets say I recommend someone else's "unique" Christmas cards on my website.. I can earn from any sales I generate.

A Fine Art POD site is largely a "one trick pony" just selling "Fine Art".. sites like Zazzle sell all sorts.. from "T shirts with famous sayings" to products made by the visitors themselves. I get the feeling with many FA POD sites they are more interested in making income from artists.. rather than working to attract buyers. For me Fine Art POD sites have not really moved forward.. I think they really should be acting like global galleries..representing artists as an online version of the real world gallery.

I also believe Zazzle is a company benefiting from the fall in the dollar.. as all their products are much less expensive to foreign buyers than they were two years ago. Its been noticeable to me how one comparable non US based site's sales have tailed off.. while Zazzle's have grown and grown.

I believe you rise up the searches as you make sales at Zazzle.. I ordered some of my own Christmas cards from them a couple of years ago.. and it may be co-incidence but sales kicked started shortly after. I would describe my income there as "useful additional income" I maybe spend a two or three hours week uploading and creating products.

Unlike one or two sites out there.. I get the feeling their sales reporting is much more accurate.. for instance you see folks debit debit/credit cards not being accepted and then they come back and use another. That never happens on any other site I'm listed with. So my level of trust in Zazzle is much higher than other sites.

I do have serious reservations about the reporting of some FA POD sites out there. At Zazzle I get reasonable numbers of visitors.. but the ratio between visitors and buyers is much lower.. at one FA POD I have one image with 3500 visitors in the last 9 months but not one sale.. (that really does strike me as "sus".. why would so many people look at the image but then not one follow that interest up and buy ?) At Zazzle I have no product with more than a thousand hits in 3 years but the sales keep coming. I find that a very interesting and curious comparison !

The forum at Zazzle has almost no small talk.. everyone post seems focused on business and making money, I think that says something in itself. There are certainly folks making decent income at Zazzle. Some folks have literally tens of thousands of products at Zazzle... they produce simple designs and plaster them over loads of products like mugs.. skateboards,, shoes.. so Zazzle is as much about designers as it is about artists.*

If you follow my link and buy, I get paid via that "star" at the end of the URL as someone who refers you to Zazzle (I think) for a period of a month.. so even at this basic level Zazzle is encouraging buyers and sellers. I know plenty of artists who happily point links at Zazzle simply because there is always the possibility of a sale

If you think about it the Fine Art market is quite specialist and restricted.. and visitor interest is limited.. "design" on the other hand is a huge industry with almost everyone on the planet wanting designed goods. Zazzle is a design and art site. Folks interested in design are just as likely to be interested in Fine Art.. so the audience is right.

There is much less commenting and rating by fellow artists at Zazzle in my experience.. for me that indicates that most folks don't want to be distracted by this.

I see FA Pod's as being squeezed.. by ever more competition.. in this scenario the biggest sites offering the biggest range of products will survive.

The future for FA POD's in my opinion is to specialise and to replicate the real world gallery model. They should be competing with real world galleries.. I might be persuaded to look at a site specialising in say "urban art" or "American landscape photography" or whatever but on a general POD art site its often really hard work to find what you are looking for ?

I think FA POD's will have to specialise or die ! I've been quite uneasy for awhile about the emphasis certain sites put on Fine Art when they actually sell unsigned reproductions.. the serious art buyer is not going to be taken in for long.

I think this site is an example of the way Fine Art POD's will have to go to.. selling LE prints etc. I believe its a real world gallery but it seems clear they are replicating their specialisms and skills online and restricting the number of their artists based on quality. It's online gallery representation !

My Zazzle Shop- Cards, Mugs T Shirts etc metropolis prints urban art drawings

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