For Artists: Comparing Etsy and Zazzle

1etsy_eaglecardhilltop1My experience of ‘opening a shop on Etsy’ to display my Eagle Scout congratulations cards has been a very good one.  I would recommend Etsy to other artists, and I’ll explain why for me it is a better fit than another popular platform for selling product art, Zazzle.

At Zazzle you can also open a ‘shop’ page, but a big difference is that Zazzle actually does the production work on your items – whether you wish to sell your art printed on cards, t-shirts, mugs, etc.  So when someone orders your Zazzle item, it ships directly from Zazzle and you don’t see the finished product – therefore you cannot judge the quality of the print job. Because Zazzle does the heavy lifting of production and distribution, you, the artist, receive a very small percentage of the asking price.


My photo display of my Eagle Salute card on Etsy.

With Etsy the artist herself has to have the products made and in stock, so she gets to monitor and approve the print quality – I like this aspect better even though it means I have to do the production myself. (I have a terrific printing partner in Cortineo Creative, here in my hometown of Doylestown.) When a buyer orders my cards, I receive the full asking price that I list on my shop page. Etsy also estimates, from a form I filled out on the dimensions & weight of my product, what the postage will be on the package, and that is added onto my asking price so the buyer pays that postage as well. Etsy provides a customized shipping label and packing slip that I can print out and put on the package; when Etsy deposits my earnings, they deduct the cost of the postage from my total earnings, since the buyer initially paid that postage cost to me.

The tradeoff in payment between the two is this: I can list my products on Zazzle for free; with Etsy there is a charge for each item in my shop. The charge is 20 cents per item per quarter of a year. So I do pay 80 cents per year for each card on Etsy – so far this seems like a good tradeoff, since I am being paid the full price of my cards. Another disparity is, Zazzle has a threshold you must pass before they will send you your earnings – I believe it is $50 – and it takes a number of sales to accrue that amount since you are making a small percentage of the payment on each purchase.  Etsy, on the other hand, deposits your earnings into your associated bank account once a week.

Edit 01/03/19: I have since learned about 2 other options with payment for Zazzle:

  1. Under your payment settings and the PayPal option at the top (in very small print) it says
    Note: For PayPal there is a minimum threshold of $50 to be paid automatically. If you have less than $50 balance after one month of sales, we will hold your funds for future use, or you may request a PayPal payment for a $2.50 fee. Payment will be made within 45 days.
  2.  And if you are purchasing an item from another Zazzle store, you may use your account’s  “Cleared Earnings” against the cost of the item you are purchasing, sort of like a store credit.

One other detail, on Zazzle, there is an option to allow your buying customers to ‘customize’ the item they are purchasing.  These custom changes range from changing the color of the t-shirt and ink color, to adding their own words to your design. While this may be attractive to buyers who want the item for a very specific purpose, as an artist I hesitate to let others adjust and modify my designs. I have complete control with my Etsy products since I do the production.

I’ll also mention, I have done no advertising at all – until this post – to promote my cards on Etsy and yet I’ve made a number of sales, and have received great reviews from my customers, without even soliciting reviews.

Edit 04/17/19: I have now deleted my Zazzle store, mainly because they announced “accounts that have been non-contributing (that is, haven’t either (1) published a public product, or (2) had a Referral Sale attributed to that account) for the previous 15 month period will be charged a “Non-Contributing Account Fee.”  I don’t make enough through Zazzle to incur another fee, so I’ve cancelled.


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3 thoughts on “For Artists: Comparing Etsy and Zazzle

  1. I have been selling on Etsy for about 5 years now. Nothing huge but enough to make a few hundred bucks a year. Something I recently noticed is that unless I promote my own items I get few sales. Once I repost them to Twitter and Pinterest along with other sites then I start getting sales again. Etsy does offer the ability to pay for promotions but I opt not to do that since I have only a few items.

    On the other hand, I’ve only recently started setting up shop with Zazzle after hearing of a few who are turning six figures after only 4+ years on Zazzle. I’m going to give it a try since I won’t have to send my items out for printing, I can have a huge variety of items for one design and now they have it so you can choose to give the customer the opportunity to change the text. I opt NOT to so the customer will only be able to change the color of their fabric or style and size in which they want.

    Also, since Zazzle makes a profit only if you do, they do all the promoting for you! Also, you can promote other’s items on your own site and receive a referral amount from those sales as well.

    We’ll see how it goes. I don’t plan to go live with my stores until just before Black Friday! That way my items will show up on the new items and hopefully get better recognition and sales.

    • Hi Debra, thanks for your input – I can certainly understand your comments. I’ve read great success stories with Zazzle as well, and it might just be the type of images I create, or the amount of time I have (or have not) devoted to my Zazzle store that makes the difference. Great point that Zazzle has some investment in your success because they make money on their production end of it. And yes, around Black Friday is the optimum time to push for sales, I’m looking toward that as well. Best of luck in your business this year!

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