Ever needed to focus your attention with a meditation Mandala? Well, I do. My last post was October 2015 and since then I’ve moved. In November to be exactly. That meant that since October not much focus was put on my online money making business. And that has to change.
Don’t get me wrong, I reached a very major goal, buying an appartment and and moving to the new address. And sales in November and December were very good. So I shouldn’t complain.
But this is a new year and a new goal has to be set. Sales this month are sluggish and half way this year I want to double my sales. That means more blog posts and more designs. And a better upkeep of the stores I own. For instance I added a new Japanese Mon and Kamon store to my Dutch Spreadshirt site. I called it Dejima.
If you do meditation, one way to focus your attention is by using a meditation Mandala. Don’t ask me how, but I like the designs of Mandala’s. I started with a simple and geometric one.
My Haida Formline designs keep selling well and I added a new one which was waiting to be finished for months. It is a theme of my own as is the design. A sea otter chasing a salmon. Prey and predator in a Yin and Yang symbol.
Islamic geometric design keep popping into my head. I do want to make more of them. They look pretty and they are so easy to apply on products. This is a Moroccan design from a picture of tiles.
Doubling my sales by July this year is ambitious together with my day job. If I manage then I know I’m on the right track. A good resolution for 2016.
Updating tags and description of old products can be boring, so I thought it time to add a Bishamon pattern and a Koinobori scale design. These are two traditional Japanese designs you find in different variations.
First the Bishamon design. Its peculiar trianle patterns is said to be derived of the Buddhist deity, Bishamon. For me it makes a very pleasing tile pattern. I will try different colors and see what works best. Mostly I reuse colors of other Japanese which I sold earlier.
If you ever visit Japan you will notice those windsocks in the shape of a fish, also named Koinobori. Most of its body is covered in fish scale shapes. I made some time ago a Koinobori scale design and I sold a couple of products. By chance I came upon another version of a Koinobori scale and I liked it a lot. Primarily because it was a type of Delft ware blue on a white background. Also the line work was better than the Koinobori scale design I made earlier. An example on an Apple iPhone 6 case.
A small remark about the Zazzle marketplace search update earlier this year. I updated a lot of tags and expanded the descriptions. It is still unclear if it had any effect. The designs which didn’t moved stil don’t show any sign of sales. On the whole, Februari was dismally slow, but March made up a lot. Have already had some sales for April, but it looks my sales are flat lining for now.
I’ve finally started making my own Haida Formline art, the first one is called the Haida Weeping Skull. Besides Haida art I made a series of new patterns. But first Haida Formline. Copying from the web and recreating copied designs isn’t very satisfying and therefor I decided to make my own Haida Formline designs. I watched the tutorials, from for instance Steve Brown, and penciled down some formline. I figured a frontal face would be an easy beginning and I wanted to do something with a skull since I believe not many used this subject. The process went remarkedly well and I’m quite pleased with the result. I present to you the Haida Weeping Skull:
My pattern shop is getting fuller by the week. Some old designs from the past are applied to a whole new bunch of products of Zazzle. And I found a lot of really good examples on the web which I want to use as patterns. The new patterns are pretty simple and I’ll try maybe ten or so in order to see if they make an impact. Patterns always are a bit of a gamble. These four are on sale in my shop right now:
One particular old design I want to mention is my houndtooth weaving pattern. I updated the design to the look and feel I see in fashion today. To my surprise after only two day on sale I already sold a product with, that’s my fastest sale to date. How a small change can make a big difference.
On my Pinterest page I started a little experiment. With a lot of hype Apple introduced their newest phone, the iPhone 6. What if I made a Pinterest board just dedicated to Apple iPhone 6 cases? Could it help me with any sales? I don’t really sell much cases, whether it is Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Nexus, Motorola Droid RAZR or Amazon Kindle. Maybe this Pinterest board can generate some traffic.
I started filling up my medieval line, among others with a design from the Bavarian coat of arms. For now I just simply collect examples of every kind of medieval stuff. As a european the first which comes to mind is medieval heraldic patterns. Those patterns can be quite generic, so the trick is to find the famous ones. My first try is the blue and white lozenges pattern from the Bavarian coat of arms. Apparently I succeeded well, I already sold a Case-Mate Barely There Samsung Galaxy S5 Case.
There are different styles and periods to choose from medieval times. For instance gothic or romanesque. I started with a couple of romanesque design from an example book. Some look very detailed with lots of organic ornaments and others look almost heraldic and geometric. Of the latter I’ve made this example, not sure if the gold crowns will sell but it looks nice.
Medieval designs tend to have a strong geometric feel with simple forms a limited colors. This example has just squares and crosses, but it makes a very lively and colorful result.
Obviously with romanesque we think of a more elaborate design, with lots organic forms, flowers and vines. As you can see in the image below, there is one problem. When details get smaller and smaller, the design starts to get a bit fuzzy in the Zazzle images in the Zazzle store. On the real physical it’s going to be just fine, but how do you know for sure just looking at the Zazzle pages.
Although the design above doesn’t show at its best, I’m rather pleased with it. In the full sized image the color combination looks great, a lucky hit. The details also look much better. I’ll make a couple of this kind detailed designs and see if they sell.
Recently I added medieval romanesque patterns as a new product line. Now, some posts ago I mentioned I didn’t want to focus on patterns since they don’t sell very well. Illustrations of, for instance, animals do so much better. But, patterns are made quickly and put on products easily.
Therefore I started a second shop solely for patterns, I didn’t want to clutter my main shop with tons of patterns and tile designs. Mentioning tiles, in the new shop I rely on the tile function of the Zazzle tool. This function allows me to just create one tile and apply in on the product template I created (over seventy products are in this template). In this way I’m able to create a ton of products with not too much effort. Hopefully this small effort will justify the lower sales.
An example is a medieval romanesque pattern. Not sure if this medieval thing will fly, though. In the future I hope to create at least up to twenty medieval romanesque and gothic patterns.
It doesn’t mean I won’t do any non-pattern illustrations. Japanese Mon still do very well and I added some time ago the famous Kiku Chrysanthemum design. This one is on my Cafepress shop.
I had my doubts about Cafepress, but lately I started to sell stuff. Which will motivate me to pay more attention to my shop. My European shops at Spreadshirt are as lively as a piece of rock. No sale what so ever. A bit more patience is needed there. Print on demand online shops do take time and constant effort to make them into a success.
First, I created some Japanese patterns, Japanese lozenges, Japanese fish scales and a hemp leaves pattern. By the way, Zazzle doesn’t like the word “hemp”, so on Zazzle I replaced that with “herb”. At the moment I have well over 1700 products. In the last two months I created three times as many products as all the years before! Those Zazzle templates really help. Kindle, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy cases, American Apparel t-shirts, everything gets a design in one go. But, let me show of the Japanese designs.
The Japanese lozenges design doesn’t look really Japanese, it looks almost European. I guess patterns and motifs have the tendency to evolve in the same direction or come up with the same solutions in different parts of the world.
Now that I’m writing this post, I’m wondering if I should post a lengthy article for every design I make. That would get boring very quickly. I could just show of a new design with just a caption an leave at that. For instance, just the Japanese lozenges as a photo like on Tumblr. That wouldn’t be very SEO though. It would make the site a bit more lifely.
Finally I got a Pinterest account and I set up my first board. Frankly I have no idea if it is of any use for making money online. One thing is certain, it has potential for collecting and organizing interesting ideas and images. If it will generate extra traffic to my site, I don’t know. But it is still very early day for that.
What next? I have to keep the momentum for at least four to five months to give this money making project a chance. Next on the list are a new affiliate page with a Mars theme and at least two new boards on Pinterest. After that I have to think about how to market this site.
A page is added with some great posters in a vintage retro space art theme. I try to find at least 50 good ones, because Zazzle is a numbers game. You probably heard that often. It is all about getting found. Either by having a lot of products designed by yourself. Or promoting a big bunch of very good designs made by others and making money as an affiliate.
When I started with Zazzle I was thinking in tens of products with a design. Later I realized this wasn’t enough, sales were and still are very sporadic. End of 2012 I set a goal of 400 products. That really didn’t help much. Now I’m convinced I have to think in the thousends. Which means heavy use of templates in Zazzle in order to get a 100 products published in one go.
Vintage retro space art
For the affiliate program I want to create a couple of page of designs I like. My guess is that I can get away with about 500 designs of other people on this website, maybe a thousend. Any more and people will overlook most of them anyhow. My second page has a vintage retro space art theme. I’ll try to increase the number up to a 100.
Barcelona tile pattern
last week I also finished a new Barcelona tile design. Again I think it succeeded pretty well. I was able to publish about 80 products in one go, so I still have to work on my templates. It is still far behind the numbers succesfull Zazzle sellers have published. They count in the tens of thousands. Of one person I knows she’s working full time on her Zazzle store. Every day one design, put on about a hundred products.
My production of designs and products has increased considerably and the affilliate link pages have begun. Next project will be Pinterest. To showcase my designs and to promote other people designs.
Last week I finished a new Barcelona tile design for my Zazzle store. This time it got a flower pattern in the tile. I think, but I’m not sure, that flower and nature images sell well on Zazzle. My top product is ink art drawing if a hop plant. That is the “fruit” an leaf. It was my first ever attempt on zazzle, just for laughs. Oddly enough it sells well.
This kind of ink art takes a lot of effort, though. It taught me one lesson, nature sells well. Unfortunately efficient designs and graphics tend to be more abstract and geometrically. The trick is then to combine the two, nature and efficient, in a design. This Barcelona tile design does it well and I’m very curious to see how it will sell.
As you can see, it is not only cool cases that I sell 🙂 Why not try this soft and comfortable pillow.
Next little project will be figuring out how to leverage the Zazzle affiliate program. I have an idea and I’ll show it to you pretty soon.
I’ve added a new Barcelona tile pattern to my Zazzle account in order to create a bunch of products. It’s not the first Barelona tile pattern, but this one I explicitely show off for the first time on a website. For the purpose of selling, that is. Below is an Apple iPhone 4s case as an example, but I’ve got dozens of products with this pattern.
Most of my patterns I get from books and I redraw them in Inkscape. If you’re into patterns for products designs, a vector graphic program is essential. Especially if you need to design fo a whole range of products at Zazzle.
I’ve got a bunch of examples of Barcelona tile patterns. They pretty colorful and bright an I find them very well suited for Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy cases or the like. As you can see above, a nice clear and bright picture on a webpage.