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WATCH: Handy Tool for Copyright Permissions

Someone said it so well. . .

Have you ever wanted to quote someone – maybe on posters you’re creating on – and wondered how to get copyright permissions? Or if, indeed, you needed permission at all? One resource is the US government: US Copyright Office. That lets you search by works created since 1978. Then what?

But how about simply conducting a copyright permissions search by typing in an artist’s or writer’s name? Try WATCH!

What is WATCH?

The University of Reading (Reading, England) and the Harry Ransom Center (Austin, TX) together offer a searchable database of copyright contacts for writers, artists and prominent figures in other creative fields. These are the companies who can authorize (license) copyright permissions.

Read the information about the database on their About page. Note the head’s up for totally relying on WATCH as the be-all, end-all of copyright / permission information, but this is a great start.

To try it out, I enter Winston Churchill’s name. He was a very quotable person in the 20th century!

Search box for Churchill

Search box for Churchill

The results in the second box indicate with whom I should check before quoting Churchill, especially for commercial use such as for Zazzle designs. (BTW, I have zero idea if they do grant permission or not; I did not contact them.)

Winston Churchill results

Winston Churchill results

If a search turned up a licensing company, I assume I have to seek permission to use work from that artist or writer. If it turned up blank, I’d think I might be ok, but I learned better with the Oscar Wilde example!

The results for Oscar Wilde are more ambiguous on WATCH because they have notes about differing UK and USA rules AND an address in France! I don’t understand this one at all, I have to say.
Oscar Wilde search results

I used to believe that if a work pre-dated 1923, it was ok to use. Well, maybe. Maybe not. So, I try to check it I’m going to quote someone. I also double-check the source of a quote – you would not believe how many quotes are falsely attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, for instance!)

I, myself, had some Oscar Wilde quotes removed from Zazzle which was a puzzle. Wilde lived from 1854-1900, so his work would ordinarily have gone into public domain by its age. This was one of the tricky ones! I don’t pretend to understand it, but I believe it has more to do with trademark than copyright. This particular writer’s info is perhaps not fully addressed by the WATCH site. (They caution you for good reasons!)

Since I had products taken down, I did a separate Google search on “Oscar Wilde copyright” and was taken to a website of a licensing company, CMG. The Official Web Site of Oscar Wilde has more info (FAQ) and links back to CMG.

 Permission and

There are differences in using quotes in editorially, commercially and personally, so be sure to check! If you stand to make money utilizing someone else’s words, art, or other creative work, you may very well have to gain permission and possible a licensing agreement. What that entails, you have to find out on an individual basis. If you do pursue it, know that

  • You may or may not get permission.
  • You may or may not be able to afford the conditions under which you could get permission.
  • The cost of not finding out may be even higher, however!

For those of us creating on if you have permission to use someone else’s work, you may want to post a notice on your site AND contact Zazzle to show proof of that permission. Zazzle has been known to remove alledgedly offending products without warning and, often, without much recourse for the artist. An ounce of prevention saves a ton of problems later!

On the Zazzle help page,the acceptable content guidelines note:  No text or images that infringe on any intellectual property rights including, but not limited to copyrights, trademarks and rights of privacy/publicity. More info about the Zazzle copyright policy may be found on this help page.

There are always people looking out for other artists who will report designs they think infringe on someone else’s rights. (That’s not the ideal protocol, but it happens.) Additionally, licensing companies may do automated searches of the web to look for possible violators. Zazzle undoubtedly has a list of artists, writers, celebrities, companies, etc whose intellectual property may not be added without permission.

If you have ever had something taken down, you know how troubling that may be. This is one way to help yourself stay out of trouble!

As artists and creators ourselves, we should understand this subject from both sides. 🙂

Note: I am not a lawyer, nor offering legal advice. The information here may be outdated by the time you read this! And IP law is evolving all the time. WATCH is one tool available on line to help you research intellectual property concerns. It’s important to understand that there are different kinds of rights out there and intellectual property law is a complicated subject. Another online tool you should become familiar with besides the Copyright Office noted above is the US Trademark Office search.

5 Zazzle Store Customizations You Must Do!

tips for Zazzle store customization

5 must-do tips for Zazzle store customization

No coding required to polish your Zazzle custom store!

You don’t need to know any HTML or CSS to make five of the most important customizations for your Zazzle store.

Many successful sellers have done nothing beyond these changes to customize their stores, so don’t think a really fancy design is crucial to good sales. Just start with these five basic changes. These customizations will help make your site look more professional, showcase your designs AND lead to better sales opportunities!

Zazzle Custom Store Components

To create a Zazzle custom store, these are your essentials:

  • 900px x 200px header with store name or other info uploaded to Zazzle
  • 200px x 200px square profile image uploaded to Zazzle
  • hexadecimal color numbers that coordinate with your header image (see post on Colorzilla for help with this)

If you have these ready to go, it will take about five minutes to customize your store appearance! Go to your Manage My Store link and then Appearance to start your store transformation! [note: There’s a 5 minute video at the bottom of this page on Zazzle Custom Store Tips if you’d rather watch how to do this.]

how to make changes 1-4 to your Zazzle store

1. Custom Header

Add a custom header, preferably with your store name and an indication of what’s in your store. You can feature one of your designs or products showcasing your designs. Or you can carry over your branding and colors from another site. No naked people, please, but your other designs should be fine. You can create this in Photoshop, Gimp, Illustrator, etc. Most people choose the 900 x 200px size jpg image. If you have uploaded your header to your Image folder, it’s easy to drop it in here.

You can change your header as many times as you like. Save and click on the blue visit store link to see if it turned out as you planned.

2. Check the Edge Blend

By default, Zazzle adds a white blend edge to the bottom of your header. If it works with your design, awesome! Chances are – it won’t! The soft edge can look very good, but the effect is better if you create it yourself on your header image before you upload it. You can then choose the color and amount of blend. You can also put your text over the blend. I saw another store yesterday where their attractive header design was ruined by not managing this edge! You can leave a hard edge or put any kind of border on the bottom in Photoshop if you prefer.

All you do is UNCHECK the box marked Blend! Please, do this. Your store usually looks lame if you leave it on.



See the difference removing the blend option makes!

3.  Coordinate your storefront colors

You can control the text, link and title colors for your storefront and the sidebar (pod) as well as the store and pod background colors. The default colors when you’re in custom mode are fine, but your store will have a more harmonious or dynamic appearance if you coordinate the colors. Keep in mind that people are trained to think of links as blue, so if you have a shade of blue / turquoise / aqua, use that one for the links. A text font in medium gray to black, dark brown or another easily read color is good. You can choose to use your accent color on the titles.

Just be sure that there is good contrast between your link color and your main text. AND that all of your text is easily read against the background colors.

I usually leave the store background white. Why? Because I used to change it to very elegant shades of ecru and toast and aqua. Then Zazzle made changes to the backend and the backgrounds of all my products suddenly went white! Arrrgh! It eventually did get changed, but my store pages had an very unattractive patchwork quilt appearance! I had better things to do than fix that!

So, the simplest choice for your store background is white.

4. Choose a page background

Your page background is different than your store background. The store background is under your images, the page background is outside your storefront. Much of it is not actually visible, depending on the screen size a viewer has. The default color is actually fine, but why settle for fine when you can have coordinated?

Pick out a color which may or may not come from your header image and use that for your background. You can, of course, add a background image or pattern, but that will require you to break into the code. 🙂 A nice color is easy to add. Your options include:

  • blend the page background with the store background color
  • focus attention on your store with a black or other very dark color background
  • drench your store with color

Don’t be afraid to experiment with all the text and background colors. Just be careful!. Red or royal blue on black is hard to read. Light purple is so abused, be careful with it.

5. Add a profile image

Adding a profile image is the final bit of polish for your initial store customization! In Manage my store, go to the About Page section. Click on Profile Picture and upload your photo. It’s going to drop into a square space and you won’t be able to crop it, so the recommended 200x200px size is perfect.


Your profile image, or avatar, can be a

  • photograph of you, your kid or your pet. Head and shoulders, or just a head shot is good. No one says it has to be current.
  • illustration of you, your kid or your pet.
  • logo or other design that fits with the store.

Please, don’t use Mickey Mouse or Felix the Cat. They aren’t yours to use. This is YOUR store, have the profile image indicate something about YOU and/or YOUR STORE.

Ok, done yelling! It’s nuts to see avatars that don’t belong to people on their stores and doesn’t show anything about their work except they know how to copy!

Want more help?

If you would like a store designed for you, contact me and I’ll be happy to create a custom design using your own images or products. If you want to discuss your Zazzle store – its design, content, marketing – you can always ask on the forums. Or you can contact me for some individual coaching over Skype or via messaging.

Watch a quick video on creating your Zazzle custom store here:


Zazzle Product Review: Custom Notebooks

Wild Grapes in Winter notebookWhat did I think when I opened the package with my new Zazzle notebook?

Wow, the cover is beautiful! And super glossy! It is very true to the product image.

I had ordered the Wild Grapes in Winter Art Notebook from my Paper Lake store on  Sometimes a blue color leaning towards purple tips over to purple and looks weird, but this was just right. The Wild Grapes image is a watercolor style design created from a photograph of a sparse cluster of wild grapes against a blue-sky winter day.  I had not seen it printed on glossy paper before and I do like the printing! The translucency of the personalized text bar also came out very well.

This is a custom notebook where you can add your own name or other text to the front cover. Zazzle has thousands of custom notebooks available with prices starting at $12.95 and going up into the thousands. (People set those prices to raise money for charities usually, in case you’re wondering what makes people crazy enough to spend over $1000 on a notebook!)

To my surprise, the back cover is also glossy, although plain white. I rather expected it to be a cardboard, but it’s the same heavy photo paper as the front cover. The size is similar to the composition notebooks that I used to like – not so wide as those were, but a convenient size and not that many pages. It’s a comfortable size to stash in a large purse or tote or in a nightstand drawer. It’s too flimsy to write on without placing it on a hard surface.

notebook back cover


inside pages


The pages have black lines made up of tiny dots with a darker line of dots at the top – a nice effect. Both sides are printed and there’s a comfortable margin of white around each page. These pages are not perforated, but then, I didn’t expect them to be. The inside pages have a decent weight and a nice hand (feel) to them. The spiral binding is a double black wire and the pages do open flat.

It would be nice if there were an option to choose a different kind of page – like plain paper for sketching or possibly graph paper, but the ruled pages do work for most people.

I wrote on the pages with two different kinds of pens to see how much bleed through there was to the back of the sheets. Not bad, although a very inky pen would have bleed-through. It was acceptable with both a fine art pen and a Uni-ball pen to write on both sides.

notebook pagenotebook page
notebook pagenotebook page

Who would like custom notebooks?

You can get cute notebooks at discount stores for a lot less money, right? Why would you want to look at buying notebooks from an online store?

Simple. Choice and customization.

It’s hard to imagine how many different options there are when you order products from a print-on-demand or custom printing store like Zazzle or CafePress or the like. You simply cannot get this kind of choice any other way unless you pay a premium price.

Whether you buy a design already made up, personalize a template design or start from scratch with your own, you can get just what you want. Well, within your design capabilities, product limits and legal restrictions. 🙂

For a change, with this review, I gathered together some ideas of who might shop for custom notebooks – or who might like or use them. Here’s a not-very-long list. I’m sure you could come up with a lot more!


Their light weight would make these notebooks nice gifts for travelers. You can customize many of them with their name or a phrase. You can choose one that has the flavor of their destination city. Or you can create your own! And create another one with a great cover photo when you return!

london westminster england art deco retro poster spiral note book  French bulldog in Paris spiral notebook Railroad Tracks in Autumn Custom Travel Journal African Theme Notebook

New Parents

A notebook that fits in a diaper bag as well it fits on the nightstand might be just the right gift for new mom or dad who want to write notes to their baby or about his or her smiles and accomplishments.

Our Baby Pastel Alphabet Blocks Custom Notebook Mommy's memory Notebook Blue Baby Carriage Shower Notebook Baby blue dot scallop circle custom photo journal notebook 

Creative Writers

This is obvious! Creative writers and custom notebooks go together like macaroni and cheese. Many times the act of putting pen to paper is a different use of the creative mind and writers like paper!

Purple Blue Kaleidoscope Pattern Custom Note Books Abstract Turquoise Ocean Blue & Seaweed Green Notebooks Simple grace purple green inspiration journal spiral notebooks  Peace Love Write Spiral Notebooks W


Photographers can take notes in custom notebooks during a shoot, give custom notebooks to customers, take notes during a photography class and more. Show off photographs and collect knowledge!

Create Your Own Photo Design Notebook Stylish Initial Personalized Notebook My favorite things hot pink photo collage journal notebook Vintage Camera Photographers Notebook 


If you like to collect or invent recipes on the go, you might like to carry a cookbook’s notebook with you. You can jot notes for a dinner party, request recipes from a fellow cook or keep track of special diet or cooking details.

Hunter Hunting Sport Funny Eat More Fast Food Buck Note Books Macaroni Loves Cheese, Cute Mac N Cheese Cartoon Spiral Note Books Italian Greyhound Dressed Up Like a Chef Spiral Notebook  Notebook Vintage Retro Lady Home Canning Recipes


Those of you who plan your Christmas shopping in detail and get started in the Spring might find it helpful to carry a little notebook for keeping track of sizes and wishes and gift purchases.

Peace Joy Love Hope Note Book  Thank you, Santa Claus! Merry Christmas Spiral Note Books Whimsical Christmas Planning and Shopping Notebook Gingerbread Man Spiral Note Books


Brides can use custom notebooks for planning the wedding, the honeymoon or just writing about their special day. Custom notebooks also make excellent wedding guest books.

Heart of Sea Shells on Beach Photography Notebook Something Blue Damask Wedding Planner Journal Spiral Note Book  Personalized Bridal Wedding Journal Damask Notebooks Custom Photo Wedding Guestbook - Sage and White Spiral Notebooks

Guest Books

If you have  a house you rent out, a cottage with lots of visitors or a shop with walk-in customers, chances are you could use a guest book to collect notes, address and memories.

Up North Lake Huron in Summer Journal Spiral Notebook  Vintage Vegas Wedding Guest Book Template Notebook Watermelon Picnic Guest Book Notebook Personalized Pink Rose Floral Guest Book Notebook 

Hobby Notes

Whether your hobby is a handcraft, bird watching, genealogy, rock collecting, gardening or navel gazing, you probably like to take notes occasionally. What works better than a custom notebook just for that?

Beach Stones - Red and Orange Granite Notebook Black Lake Wildflower Photography Collage Notebook Colorful blocks of knitted yarn spiral notebooks  Genealogy Preserving The Past Spiral Notebook


The Bottom Line

Am I happy with the notebook? Mostly. I just would have preferred a much sturdier back cover. Actually, I would have liked a back cover that wasn’t glossy either.

Rating: ♥♥♥


  • Cover printed in vibrant, sharp color
  • Lay flat spiral binding
  • 80 black & white pages on 60# paper
  • Size: 6.5″ x 8.75″


With prices starting at $12.95, these are a bit pricey to buy a whole bunch for all the kids you know in school. It’s not bad for a gift or a self-indulgence. Not to keep harping on the back cover, but a sturdy back cover would have affected my opinion of the price. If notebooks have gone on sale at Zazzle at all, it was a one-time shot. Notebooks do not carry a volume discount either. Of course, there’s no set-up charge!

Competing Products:

For comparison, I checked on Cafe Press’s notebooks. They are a little bit smaller than these at 5×8 and start at $11. I had ordered one of those some years ago and it also had a flimsy back cover, but made of black plastic. You do get four choices for the type of inside paper however. I also looked at, which lets you order custom notebooks. You could order a very different kind of custom notebook there (hardcover and you can choose the type and number of pages and also print images on some of the interior pages). Blurb books start at $16.95

One thing both Blurb and Cafe Press do that is seemingly more helpful is give the paper weight on two different scales: Blurb is 60# or 90 GSM. CafePress is 60# bookweight or 24# bond. Not being a printer, I have little idea how either of those relate to Zazzle’s 60# paper. They might all be the same because 24# bond ledger paper is equivalent to 60# offset text paper which is equivalent to 90 GMS (grams/square meter).


  • It arrived pretty quickly and was well packaged in a box.

If you’d like to shop for a custom notebook, start here.  If you’d like to try creating your own, go here.


New on Zazzle! Custom Photo Bags by Bagettes

Did you ever think you could give the same gift to your seven year old daughter, her teacher, yourself (or your wife or girlfriend), your mother, your teenage niece, the choir director at church and the neighbor next door who babysits for you? And it wouldn’t be chocolate? And no one would say it doesn’t fit them?

[OK, probably this works better if we assume that all the above (except maybe YOU) are female.]

No, not a silly gift certificate to the mall! How about a custom photo gift? It could be a coin

New Product Introduction

Bagettes Custom Photo Bags have got to be the easiest product ever for photographers and snapshot lovers! And they are so darned cute! You will want to have – or gift – several of them. Bagettes was begun by mompreneur Felice Azorsky in 2003 and has taken off since.

Without fanfare, a few days ago added an nine bag line-up of Bagettes for designers and customers to create beautiful, fun, interesting, or gothic designs on. Or just to add that photograph of a bunch of friends together, an engagement photo, a new baby or all the grandkids.

Here’s what was introduced in the Bagette line:

  1. Small cosmetic bag
  2. Medium cosmetic bag
  3. Sueded medium cosmetic bag
  4. Key coin clutch
  5. Sueded mini clutch
  6. Small Wristlet or Mini Clutch
  7. Medium Wristlet
  8. Clip on accessory bag
  9. Travel accessory bag

BTW, you may notice that the names of the bags get a little confused (and confusing!) sometimes. Just check the descriptions. I think there’s some Google love-seeking going on as well as the organizational pains of a new product line.

A few Gift Ideas

Want a special gift for Mom or Grandma?
Create a bag with photos of her baby, kids or grandkids. And the family pet!

Want custom gifts for your bridesmaids?
Create cosmetic bags that coordinate with your wedding colors, or flowers, or have photographs from a girl get-together!

Want a special gift for a recent graduate?
A photo of her and her friends on graduation day on one side and kindergarten on the other would be fun!

There are so many possibilities to create cool bags with photos of family and friends, pets, flowers, food (think cupcakes!), schools, houses, vacations, birthdays, weddings, parties, hobbies, sports and more! And then add all the myriad artwork that would be enjoyed!

Zazzle Designers

I’ve started designing on these in my Beachwalker and Woodswalker stores already. Some people have wondered whether it makes sense to design on just one bag or on all eight of them. Because of the format, customers can easily switch from wristlets to cosmetic bags or coin purses.

However, Zazzle’s search design does go by specific products. If someone is looking for a Key Coin Clutch specifically, a Mini-Clutch that COULD be turned into a Key Coin Clutch will not show up in the search. Personally, I set up some templates to quickly design a set of eight bags at once.

How are you handling it?

Zazzle Customers

If you are a customer looking to design some custom gifts for friends and family, these little bags will be pretty easy!

Click on the links to create Custom Accessories Bags, Custom Cosmetic Bags, Custom Coin Purses, and Custom Wristlets.

Just make sure:

  1. Use a photo that is clear and nicely colored
  2. Check the design view to make sure your photo will go to the edges
  3. Check both sides of the bag before you buy
  4. Consider adding a name or date or greeting

Or, want to shop some of the new designs? These are pretty new to have all the typical pages, but you’ll find already-designed Bagettes wristlets and coin purses here. I think some designers may have gotten a head start! 🙂  In a few days, I should have some summer beach designs in the Beachwalker store and the Woodswalker store. If you’re looking for a design you like and don’t see it, just use the Send Message option in the sidebar of either store. Or leave a comment on this post.

What’s next?

I wondered when – if – Zazzlers will have access to the entire lineup of Bagettes. My crystal ball is cloudy! How’s yours?

I’m planning a coin purse for my mom with photos of her two brand new great-grandbabies. It’s a bit late for Mother’s Day, but never too late to give mom a gift!

What will you design? For whom?


How to add images to posts on the Zazzle forums

Have you tried posting a linked image in the Zazzle forums in the past few days? You probably noticed that the three options changed to two. There’s no more link to images!

Is this an image protection move? I have no idea.

Thanks to friends on the ZUG, a friendly and helpful Zazzle-related forum, it was easy to figure out how to link images in the forums with this change.

So I made a little video. Sorry, I think I was losing my voice here, but you’ll see that it’s still easy, just different.

So, if you want to learn (or re-learn) how to add images to posts on the Zazzle forums, take 5 minutes and watch!


Your Zazzle order was cancelled – now what?

Oh, no! A sale “went pink”

Your Zazzle order was cancelled is what that means. Whether a customer or a designer, no one likes a cancellation. If a sale is cancelled, the money information about it “goes pink” as Zazzlers say.

sale turned pink image

This order went pink as customer ordered this custom binder, cancelled, re-ordered and cancelled again.

OK, what happened? A LOT of Zazzlers get their panties in a real twist with the frustration of not knowing exactly why an order was cancelled. They fear there was something wrong with their design. I actually think some of them would like to email the customer and ask them! I can’t even imagine. As a customer, I would be outraged by that. Would you?

Why do orders get cancelled?

Rule out the obvious

Keep Calm and Carry On is one way to look at cancellations. After you have ruled out any reason that had to do with your work.

With the above cancellation, I know that particular binder design requires the customer to add an image and customize the text. Sometimes, people can’t figure out how to do it. Or their image or text doesn’t fit. Or I haven’t made it simple enough for them to do. Or, I just screwed it up. I don’t automatically rule out a design problem, so I sometimes go back and try the design again for myself. Then, I’ll decide whether to re-do the product or add a helpful note. Since this order was cancelled twice, I suspect she had difficulty with the customization.


I tested it again, but don’t see anything obviously wrong, so it’s not the design. It’s either her photo or the customization tools. If she contacts me, I can email her instructions or make a quick how-to video or otherwise help her. Barring that, I let it go.

Why don’t we get cancellation reasons?

Zazzle doesn’t send out notices for cancelled products. We just see them turn pink.

Please note, I am not speaking for Zazzle; only sharing information that has been posted in the forums already. It gets frustrating to see someone bring this issue up every few weeks in the forums, on LinkedIn and on Facebook like it’s a brand new topic. But designers want to know WHY.

I would say, for the most part, it’s none of our business. Nor is it a productive use of Zazzle’s resources or ours.

First, consider – who has the power to cancel an order?

  1. Ms or Mr Customer (we will say Ms Customer going forward for convenience)
  2. Zazzle

Customer cancellations

edit on 10/21: Zazzle revised a policy about returns according to forum info. Storekeepers in the past would not have been hit with a return after 30 days. That number is now 45 days when they cannot reach a different resolution (re-printing, credit, etc.) with the customer.

Ms Customer has the right to cancel her order, of course, but only has the ability to cancel it for about two hours after it was placed. Because turnaround times are so quick, the order will be in production if she waits too long. How to tell?

If there is an option to “cancel order” in her order history, she can cancel it. For details, go to Zazzle Customer Help.

So, why did she cancel?

  • She realizes she hasn’t customized the product as she actually would have liked, so she cancels and starts over. This is common and nothing to worry about.
  • She found something she likes better, so she cancels. It happens.
  • She figured out a more advantageous way to order. Mom says she’ll pay for it, so Ms Customer cancels and re-orders with mom’s credit card. Or using her own referral code. (That one bites.)
  • She just changed her mind. (A woman’s perogative!)
  • She didn’t have enough money to buy everything she wanted. Been there!
  • She freaked out at the shipping costs. Who hasn’t?
  • She decided to wait for a coupon deal. Hey, I do too!
  • A relationship went sour: maybe she broke up with the boyfriend the t-shirt was for. No sense in making bad worse.
  • Her political candidate dropped out of the race. Yeah, mine too!
  • She never meant to order it in the first place, she was testing prices and designs and quantities. Oops!
  • Everyone lost interest in the event or activity or item the product was based on. Honey Badger is so yesterday.
  • etc. I could go on for another page, you know!

Think about it–this can be just like carrying an item all around Target and then putting it back. Or taking it to the register and then telling the cashier you changed your mind, or your kid chose something else instead. The cashier would never ask you why you changed your mind, let alone would they call up the designer of the product and tell them a customer was putting it back or bringing it back!

Online sales are not special in that respect. People are allowed to change their minds without a third degree. It’s likely none of your business why someone cancelled an order.

If something is canceled within a day or two of the order, the customer doesn’t even have the product yet.  So, they are unlikely to see a design problem. If they did see a design problem, they probably wouldn’t place the order at all.

Don’t forget that the customer can contact you! If they feel strongly, they will send you a note or write a comment. And they can now give you specific feed back through the review process.

improperly designed tshirt

badly designed t-shirt

properly designed tshirt

properly designed t-shirt


Zazzle cancellations

There are many cancellations due to credit card issues. This is apparently more common with international sales.  Sometimes the purchase was never real; it was someone checking to see if a stolen credit card is still usable or what the limit is.

Orders get cancelled by Zazzle for a variety of more definite reasons:

  • Credit card fraud
  • Credit card address mis-matches (if customer doesn’t respond to email notification about issue)
  • Intellectual property concerns over copyright, trademark, rights of publicity violations. In that case, the product would be deleted and Zazzle would notify you of the product removal.
  • Product is out of stock
  • Customer didn’t remove a “your text here” or similar customization element. I’ve heard that Zazzle cancels an entire order for this!

From what I understand, Zazzle MIGHT fix a design problem (like on a binder, taking the design to the edge) or they MIGHT notify you if a product gets cancelled more than once for a design problem. I just have that from hearsay.


Products might be returned because:

  • It arrived late for the occasion
  • It doesn’t have real sequins on it – your images were too good (yes, this really happens!)
  • It wasn’t what was expected (the color, for instance)
  • Customer just doesn’t like
  • Quality not what they expected
  • Didn’t fit
  • Customer screw-up with customization (Zazzle offers to fix or refund these)

Remember, Zazzle has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. No questions asked. That makes customers comfortable ordering something they haven’t seen and can’t touch.

The Bottom Line

This is all a long way to say that most of the cancellation/return reasons are beyond our control as designers. Any notices from Zazzle about them would be a waste of time, really.

The few that ARE in our control: don’t use stuff that violates the terms of service and do a good job with the designing.

If you’re worried something isn’t going to print right. . . you’re probably right.

Be sure to check both the design and product views. Calibrate your monitor!

You could always order a version of it yourself and see. Buying a couple of postcards will certainly tell you if your computer monitor calibration is off compared to Zazzle!


Zazzle Storebuilder on WordPress – Plugin Update

Have you tried a Zazzle Storebuilder WordPress plugin on your WP site?

No? Or Not lately–should I update?

A Zazzle WordPress plugin easily incorporates the Zazzle Store Builder (ZSB). describes the ZSB:

Zazzle Store Builder offers you a convenient, flexible way to access Zazzle products through RSS. You can display your Zazzle products on your existing web site or create your own Zazzle Store site using our example files. You are free to present your Zazzle products in any context you wish: it’s your web page.

If you’ve added Paul Robinson’s excellent ZStore Helper WordPress Plugin to create a store on your own WordPress site, you already know how handy it is. You set up the plugin and then use simple shortcodes to display products in various grid formats. You can show your own products, or those of anyone else on Zazzle, including famous brands like these:

You can add one store page or one hundred. You can show or not show descriptions, designers and prices. (See *note* below if you have no clue what I’m talking about!)

I’ve been using this plugin for a couple of years. It’s pretty easy to use and your referral code is automatically added to every product once you add it in one place. Paul generously offers ZStore Helper  free of charge. There are other Zazzle plugins I’ve checked out: one of them does a revenue share of every other referral, which is quite high IMO. Another one hasn’t been updated since 2008. That’s too old!

Utilizing the ZStore Helper Plugin

To use the ZStore Helper, you must download the ZSB from Zazzle and the plugin from ReturnTrue. Then you upload (or FTP) them to the WP content folder and move a few files around to make it work. You have to go to the site for the shortcodes also. Not hard–and Paul has EXCELLENT instructions–but a little bit painstaking for some. I also revised the code when I installed it so that all links would open in new windows.

Well, you can simplify that greatly with a premium version of the plugin created by Bill at Skin Ur Site!

Introducing the Premium ZStore Helper Plugin

Paul updated the basic plugin yesterday and Bill correspondingly updated the premium version. According to Paul,

Due to a major update to the Zazzle feed system I have rushed a new update that will permanently maintain backward compatibility for all your shortcodes, even if Zazzle decide to turn off the redirect that they currently have in place. It will also help reduce the strain on their servers caused by that redirecting. This update applies to both the free & premium versions. It is advised you update as soon as possible. Documentation within the plugin & this post has also been updated to match Zazzle’s new string system in regards to products.

What’s different about the premium version?

    • Simplified the install: download one file, upload one file
    • Simplified use of the ZStore Helper Plugin: easier access on WordPress dashboard
    • Open links in new windows already coded
    • Image zoom highlights products

Here’s how the basic plugin looks on the backend and below is the premium plugin. Just a little bit easier to use! Plus, you don’t have to keep going back and forth for the shortcode info. It opens up in a handy window when you click on the highlighted Read the documention.

ZStore Helper plugin

ZStore Helper plugin dashboard screenshot

ZStore Premium Plugin dashboard screenshot

ZStore Premium Plugin dashboard screenshot

To compare the premium version to the prior version, here’s a sample from my WoodswalkerTalk site using the ZStore Helper plugin. I think I modified the box to turn that color. If I recall, it was originally blue and clashed with the site.

Basic plugin

Basic plugin may highlight the chosen product with a box outline

In contrast, the zoom feature (see in action here) on the premium version does this:


Whichever version you choose, you may want to modify two files, which you can do anytime. These are nice, but optional.

  1. zstore.php to add your tracking code
  2. strings.php to revise the error line to include a direct link to your store in case the Zazzle feeds go down. As they sometimes do when Zazzle is making updates on the backend!

Additionally, I simplified the upload of the files after I made my coding changes and sorted all the files into the proper folders. I then zipped them up and loaded them into WordPress directly through Plugins > Add New on the dashboard. If you don’t fight with your FTP the way I fight with mine, you won’t care about that!

Click on this icon to purchase your own copy or the Premium ZStore Plugin!

PremiumZstorePlugin for wordpress and zazzle

Bottom Line

Soooooo . . . if you’re going to add the ZStore Helper plugin to several WordPress sites, want to simplify things, or really like the zoom feature, spend the $5 on the premium version. Bill says you can use it on all your own sites. BONUS: he had a few free ones to give away; you might be able to grab one!


Oh, wait, BTW. . .

What about ZSB 1.5? Is it incorporated here? Will it be?

Ummm, no and it probably won’t be. In answer to my question,  Paul wrote, No sadly 1.5 may never be compatible with WordPress due to various reasons but the biggest one is due to the product pages.

I have no idea why that is. I just hope now that Zazzle will support both versions when 1.5 is officially released!

Do you want a Zazzle store on your blog or website? It’s a pretty easy and effective way to showcase your products OR those of any designers you like. Showcasing your own products is a very good way to sell more of them, of course! And to take advantage of Zazzle’s affiliate program to earn referrals of 15% and additional bonuses up to 17% more. If you want to create your own Zazzle store, you must sign up for Zazzle’s affiliate program and agree to the TOS. To learn more and sign up, click here.

I’ll cover this more in another post, BTW.

Disclosure: I know Bill from Skin Ur Site via interactions with him on a couple of Zazzle-related forums. He kindly provided me with a complimentary early version of this plugin to review and access to subsequent updates.


Custom Skins for iPads, Kindles, iPhones, Androids and More!

Custom Skins

Colorful Spring Flowers Garden Art iPhone Skin musicskins_skinZazzle just announced the introduction of custom skins for “nearly 300 of the world’s most popular electronic devices made today (and more than a few classic ones as well).”

We – designers and customers – have been waiting for these!

There are custom skins for the brand new iPad and Kindle Fire, as well as all of the popular skins for iPhone and Android devices. And laptops, headphones, MP3 players, XBoxes and more! As of today, there are 270 electronics devices covered by available skins with more being added so check  back if yours isn’t available right now.

What are these skins like?

Zazzle describes them as “super-durable, ultrathin, re-peelable adhesive sheets” made with high quality patent-pending Avery adhesive vinyl. They are high gloss and easy on/off with no sticky residue.Pirate Penguin musicskins_skin

Want to create your own?

If you have a design of your own to upload, here’s the link to the Create Your Own Skins page. Once there, you will use the drop-down menus to

  1. Choose a device
  2. Choose a brand
  3. Choose a model
  4. Create!

Design Tips

You can use JPG, PNG, GIF, PDF or TIFF files when uploading your design for a custom skin. There aren’t any downloadable guidefiles yet, but it’s not hard to figure out the design tools. Be sure your image is at least 200 ppi and preferably equal to or larger than the skin size needed (unless, of course, you are going to be placing the design in a corner, or something!). I like to use sRGB colorspace. Don’t forget, a color-calibrated monitor will help ensure that what-you-see-on-your-screen-is-what-you-get.

In addition to adding your own photo or image, you can use any of the hundreds of Zazzle fonts to add your own words to a design. Some text ideas include:

  • Your name – or the giftee’s name
  • Business name
  • Contact info in case device is misplaced
  • Proud Dad
  • #1 Mom
  • Congratulations!
  • A favorite quote
  • A tagline or slogan
  • Don’t even think of touching this! (my favorite)

More Design Tips Just for Skins

This is Zazzle’s first product with multiple design areas that will be printed on multiple sheets, so it can be a little bit complicated. Some products will have front and back, others won’t. The design tools will help switch you between sheets as you add images to the top, front, left, back, etc.Caravans musicskins_skin

Look for the drop down box located in the customize section to see what all your options are. If you need some help, check out this Zazzle Skins Design Tool Tips & Tricks.

Don’t do this!

Zazzle will not print images that potentially violate intellectual property rights (see here). This means you can’t make skins with your own Disney or Twilight or Justin Beiber images. Or images you grabbed from Google. Or anything that might infringe. You would be surprised how sensitive some people and places are about having their picture used!

Make sure you use images for which you own the copyright or have permission (your mom will let you use her pictures most likely!) and you have the right to publish the content. Otherwise, you will do all the creating and your order will be cancelled. Not fun. You’ve been warned! 🙂


Zazzle is PDQ (pretty darn quick) with most orders and says the skins should be on their way to you within 3-5 business days of your order. Don’t forget to check out the Zazzle Black program for free shipping in the USA.


If you don’t like it – whether you screwed up the design or Zazzle did or you designed the perfect skin for your girlfriend’s laptop and then she dumped you – Zazzle will take it back for replacement or refund within 30 days. Official policy here: Everything you want to know about Zazzle returns.

Check out Available Designs

There are already thousands of designs available in the Zazzle marketplace, so you have lots to choose from already and more every minute! Click any of the categories below to see beautiful / artsy / weird / sarcastic / fun / sweet designs on the shelves!Pale Horse Skull Paisely musicskins_skin


Want Custom Design Work?

Didn’t find what you were looking for?

Want something really custom for yourself or your business?

If you want custom skins  and would like to have it done for you, I can help you out – your design or one from one of  my stores placed on which product(s) you like.

Contact me for information and costs. If it’s one of my existing designs, the price is likely free!



Overview of Zazzle Fonts

As of today, Zazzle offers 308 fonts for designers to use. The default font is always Folio Medium: a realist sans-serif font that was designed by Konrad Bauer and Walter Baum 1957. It’s fine, but pretty bland, don’t you think? There are some grunge style and kid-friendly fonts as well as over four dozen script fonts,too. Over three hundred sounds like a lot of fonts, but it’s not really if you are concentrating on one grouping of design. I find there are never enough really bold ones or pretty ones.

There was an indication last year that new fonts were forthcoming, but don’t hold your breath. The only change I’ve seen in four years is the subtraction of two fonts!

Simply a guess here, but if Zazzle has to BUY fonts, they can be super expensive. And to make available for millions of Zazzlers and customers? Eeek! If you’ve paid for fonts before, you know you often get what you pay for. 🙂 But we all want some scrumptious wedding and holiday fonts. . .


The Zazzle fonts are divided into seven categories:

  • Blackletter (9)
  • Cool Fonts (52)
  • Decorative & Display (11)
  • Fun Fonts (144)
  • Picture (17)
  • Script (51)
  • Standard (78)

Depending what kind of products you design – and for whom – you will probably concentrate on a dozen or two of what’s available. There’s no master list: what you see when you add text to a product is THE list.

Font Sample Sheets

The downloadable font sheet once available in the Zazzle forums has been removed, unfortunately. I checked – the link is gone. No idea why! (Nah, nah – I have one. Somewhere. A dog-eared printed copy.)

You can make your own font sheets if you want to see how a whole character set looks. For some of the decorative fonts – or the ones you use regularly – this can be very helpful.

Did you know, for instance, that Old Dreadful had so many fun characters? I, myself, have not yet used it, but that was a mistake on my part! Its biggest drawback is readability with such variations between thick and thin lettering.

Old Dreadful font Example

Check out the Maritime font; there’s not much to it, but sometimes you just need a little bird in a corner. Note that the little boxes indicate characters unsupported in the font set.

Maritime font

Some of the other sheets don’t show all the characters, but this Folio Medium does. The Q is dirt-ugly, but that is one of the hallmarks of this font along with a square dot on the i; the rest of the letters are decent.

Folio Medium font

Did you realize that the beautiful Liorah prints dark and graceful and hogs up a lot of space? And the downward stroke of the letter J cuts off when it starts a line? It’s too iffy for monograms because many of the capitals will overlap one another.

Liorah font

The English Vivance font, on the other hand, does show a full J and has a pretty ampersand. The S is boring, which is too bad for Save the Date cards, but not a show-stopper. It’s useful to know what a font’s numbers look like, too: these are nice on invitations and places were you don’t need strictly vertical lettering.

English Vivance font

Allowable Characters

The box below shows Zazzle’s allowable characters: letters, numbers & symbols. Not all symbols are available in all fonts and Zazzle only allows Latin characters. If you want to make your own font sheets, you can copy this layout and paste it into a poster or flyer on Zazzle. (Or look for these on RightBrainLeftTurn on Zazzle). The sample sentences show every letter of the alphabet and whether “J” is apparently cut off – it’s a problematic letter on Zazzle, but people say that it PRINTS ok. Additionally, the sentences show you the leading (spacing) between lines. Some fonts have a lot more leading than you’d imagine!






The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Joyce the Bride & Joseph the Groom.

Formal Script Fonts

Below are sample sheets of the formal script fonts. If you’re doing invitations, script fonts are really key. These are set to 2.7 on the Zazzle font scale – which, BTW, doesn’t relate to anything else. Per Zazzle,

The font sizes we use are specific to the products and design engine on our site. Your product will resemble the real view offered on our site, so please refer to the Real View to be sure your text size is just as you want it.

formal script fonts 1-6

Script fonts 7-12

script fonts 13-18

Get your own!

You may find it very handy to download your own copies of some of the fonts so you can customize their appearance more and use them to accent your designs while still coordinating with the customizable text. As far as I know, all the Zazzle fonts are available for free somewhere or another – you probably have a few already on your computer. Here’s a good resource of public domain, free fonts where you’ll find many that match Zazzle’s: Eagle Fonts.

Here’s one of those scrumptious wedding fonts I mentioned drooling for. Just one version of it from is $36 – not so bad, but the family is $86. And that’s for use by one company or household.

Here’s a truly mouth-watering site for designers: Letterhead Fonts. How easily could you spend your whole volume bonus there?

OK, interminable curiosity made me search for a really expensive font family. How about the beautifully quotidian Trinite´? $4,685 for one Mac user. No, I did not misplace a decimal! Whew. (shakes head) Probably not for Zazzlers!

However, if you want Zazzle to bring on new fonts, just spend a couple of days finding and printing samples of all the existing ones! It’s sure to happen then. 🙂

Happy designing!

Edited to add: I found a Squidoo lens by where she has created a pdf of the Zazzle fonts for you to download: List of Zazzle Fonts.