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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My Work Featured on ‘Writing and Illustrating’


I am quite honored to have my illustration work featured on ‘Writing and Illustrating,’ a fun and very informative blog on publishing by author-illustrator Kathy Temean. The interview, with lots of samples of my work, is here.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions at the bottom of Kathy’s blog, I will be checking it throughout the weekend.

A hearty thank you to Kathy for her help!


A Recommendation: The King in the Stone

kinginthestone1I just finished reading The King in the Stone by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban. I found it to be a terrific adventure tale set in a fascinatingly real, yet magical kingdom – the world of Spain in Late Antiquity, during its tumultuous tug-of-war between kings and warlords. I’ve not seen any other stories that deal with this era and that made it even more intriguing.

While the heroes in this part of Spain’s history are as well-known to Spaniards as King Arthur is to the English, I really knew nothing of this culture before I began reading. But the author masterfully drew me in by weaving an alternate reality into her story: the protagonists, a young man and woman in the throes of a precarious romance, are modern day college students who actually travel back in time to early Spain. I related to them as contemporaries, and saw these Spanish legends unfolding alternately through Andrea’s eyes and then Julian’s eyes – it was like watching a movie where you can read every emotion and thought in the character’s minds. The author is outstanding at creating surprising yet believable twists of the plot, and I loved how the alternating viewpoints created delicious tension as I tried to guess what would happen next.

The author is from Northern Spain herself and her deep affection for the people and countryside is apparent. It’s also evident that her research of the past era was extraordinary – I found her vivid descriptions of the legendary Pelayo, Witiza, Arab leader Mununza and village life of that time added a lot to my enjoyment of this universe she has created.

The main protagonists in The King in the Stone are youthful, but I (middle-aged) still found their story appealing, relatable and downright riveting. There are many supporting characters in the story as well, of every age and temperament, fleshed out beautifully in conversation and action. There is genuine romance and courageous sacrifice in this tale, and I especially welcome the story’s acknowledgement of the nobility of motherhood. I give the book a five-star recommendation for anyone who enjoys romance, historical fiction, and adventure stories. For further info see Amazon here.