Monday, 21 January 2019

Zebookfreec featured picks working well

Each day the Zebookfreec featured picks showcases three collectible art ebooks for free download.

Zebookfreec's unique proposition is that all ebooks in the collection are collectible in their own right, including as they do, gorgeous artwork from movie, tv and comic-book franchises and also from indie artists.

They all share the same thing in common, other than being free to download, and that's thing is they're all linked to their page on Zazzle where they can be bought to add to a real-world collection.

Today's free download featured picks are Supergirl, Thor Ragnarock and House Mouse:

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Gigs on fiverr for Zazzlers

The Nifty tools I've built for Zazzlers are used over and over again by most of the Zazzlers who give them a try.
Even though they're simple to use, there's one group of Zazzlers who don't use it much at all:

Those who don't realize their Zazzle store is a business

And that's the group of Zazzlers who are new to the concepts to do with promoting their Zazzle designs as a business would - and that can prove to be too much for many. Those Zazzlers are happy to share from each product's page when the fancy takes them.

What I'd say to them is that by having a store on Zazzle you are a business and to be successful in business you have to behave like a business. And that means promoting like a business does.

Do you?

For example, do you do any marketing campaigns? Any seasonal event deserves its own campaign and right now, Valentine's day is approaching. To get the results we'd all like to have, takes far more shares than we can ever hope to achieve by hand, sharing from product pages and collections.

How to get the message across?

Any Zazzler who is serious about taking more of a business approach needs to use tools powerful enough for the task. At the very least, the tools should multiply your effort and take 10 minutes to get the results you could only hope to get by spending hours at it without the tools.

Reaching those who would benefit

The main way I try to reach Zazzlers about the Nifty tools is via the Zazzle forum but I recognise only a tiny percentage, overall, visit there. So to try and reach more Zazzlers I've put up a couple of gigs on fiverr.

The first is a gig where I build an ebook for them (using the Zebookfreec service) out of one of their collections. The second offers to pin the content of one of their collections to either one of my boards or one of theirs at the rate of 12 per day until finished.

I'm hoping that people who get in touch about the gigs will (eventually?) be open to the idea of using the Nifty tools, with the standard brilliant, free hand-holding I give.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Zebookfreec groundwork completed

As you'll know if you've been following things, we've spent the last month or so working on Zebookfreec.

Looking upstream, it's a service aimed primarily at Zazzlers who want to reach into a new marketing channel, one largely untapped until now. Zebookfreec makes it possible for Zazzle storekeepers / designers / affiliates to promote their or other's art and designs via ebooks.

Each ebook page is a product, with image and title linked to the product page on Zazzle. Here's an example of a page 

example page from a Zebookfreec ebook - title and image linked to product page on Zazzle

And looking downstream into the channel, the target market is anyone, including kids, with a Kindle or other ebook reader or tablet. The exact target audience depends on each ebook's subject matter and currently includes:
  • Parents wanting something different for their kids' bedtime story time or just to cuddle up on the sofa with and spend some quality time
  • People who love Superhero artwork and comic books
  • People who enjoy art
The main thrust of the 'offering' is that these ebooks are collectible in themselves and, where the content is something like posters or postcards, the ebook is a catalog of collectible art they can buy for their own collection.

The ebook features are:
  • Made from one of your collections on Zazzle
  • Every page links to the product's page on Zazzle
  • The back page has both a bitly link and A QRCode link to the live version
    - this means someone can be showing someone else your ebook and the second person can whip out their mobile/tablet and point its camera app at the QRCode. It'll take them to the onlive version where they can buy as well.
  • Every link has a referral id and tracking code so successes (referral income!) can be tracked
  • Choices for you to get the referral sharing split that suits you (from none to all)
When you own the copyright of the entire content, you're able to publish your ebook on Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing and on ManyBooks. One of ours on ManyBooks had 35 downloads in the first 3 weeks of uploading it.

Find out more about getting your own ebook made
See and download today's free featured picks on Zebookfreec
Browse the full list of Zebookfreec titles available for free download

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Filling Zebookfreec's Shelves

I've now added a few more collectibles to the list of titles available for free download over at Zebookfreec.

They're all from Disney and so far include:
  • Disney Princess
  • Winnie The Pooh
  • Frozen
  • The Muppets
  • The Seven Dwarfs
If you have kids who've enjoyed the movies, comics and characters then they'll love having these collectibles for their Kindle or other ereader / tablet.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Disaster for some, YQL withdrawn from service

The live product grid widget and live slideshow widgets you would generate using the Nifty Promo Control Panel for Zazzle are both broken.

Yahoo has withdrawn YQL from service. It's the backend tool used by those widgets to work with Zazzle RSS feeds. Alternatives are being looked into.

This is what they say.

Important EOL Notice: As of Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, the YQL service at will be retired. This will impact users of as well as developers who creates features using this YQL service.
To continue using our free Yahoo Weather APIs, use as your new API endpoint. Contact for credentials to onboard to this free Yahoo Weather API service. Other YQL based services that use will no longer operate.

All Society6 tools are broken as well. Luckily I'd already removed the dependency on YQL from all but those two Zazzle widgets but hadn't even started on the Society6 Nifty tools.

Watch this space for any developments.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Nifty is moving home...

From the very beginning, Nifty has been living as a lodger on my domain. Great news - it now has its own place at

At the same time it's gained some new features to help develop a brand new, real-world sales channel, overlooked until now and therefore ripe for the harvest.

You'll also be pleased to know that it's had a good sweeping out of the dustweby corners and that caught me a few unusual-circumstance bugs.

It's new home is here:

The New Nifty enhancements

Here's a quick summary:
  • Improved handling of description lengths when displaying products
  • Improved product grid display on mobile and tablets
  • Much-improved search facility on slideshows (widget and sharing page)
  • The Live-print Catalog announced in the last newsletter has been refined and improved
  • Make a QRCode graphic for your slideshow or product grid in Nifty and use it in your marketing support designs - they're great on the backs of your business cards.
  • Multifeed option, there for when you need it. Simply ignore it and all tools will work as they do now
Make a QRCode for your product grid sharer page in the following section of Step 2

As the screenshot says, there's a similar button in the 'share a slideshow page' section so you can choose what's best for any given purpose.

Here's one I made for my fine art collection. It's for a product grid page because I like the way they work on mobiles. It's quick and easy to swipe up and down through the product designs.

your mobile camera app should recognise this automatically and
offer to open the web page in your device's browser

If you've not used QRCodes before, you're part of a shrinking population! They're almost second nature to millennials and younger peeps. Most camera apps on mobiles and tablets recognise them automatically and when they do, they offer to open the page in the device's browser.

They're great to put on your marketing material and give one more avenue by which potential customers can reach your designs! Real marketing pros will love the added reach this gives.

Why not point your mobile at the QRCode and see what happens?

Thursday, 27 December 2018

ZeBookFreeC - free, family-friendly eBook Collectibles store

Each eBook in the ZeBookFreeC store is family-friendly and free!

The first library room opened is dedicated to ebook collectibles of the artwork of big media brands. Think Marvel, Harry Potter, Olivia the Pig, Despicable Me, Supergirl and similar. There's also collectibles from well-known independent artists (like Sandra Boynton).
ebook collectibles of much-loved characters, superheroes and pop culture

If you have a Kindle, then the mobi download is for you. For every other ebook reader, such as iBook on iPad, the Nook reader and so on, you'll want the epub download.

Why collectibles?

The collectibles are designed to allow you to enjoy your favorites as well as to build up collections for posterity. Imagine that, in an online world of nothing but change, here's a way to capture them for the future.

Each features one artwork per page that's helpfully linked to its buy-me page at the official brand / artist merchandise store, in case you want to build a physical collection as well.

The collectibles each either contain the artwork on posters or on postcards (and sometimes wrapped canvas) but the stores allow you to transfer the artwork onto other merchandise, if that's what you want (Olivia the Pig lunchbox anyone?)

If you're a parent with young kids, you can spend some quality time with them, letting them swipe their way on a journey of their much-loved characters, and having a laugh and a giggle together remembering their escapades on the way.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Find out how to get an eBook "live catalog" of your Zazzle collections

Just added to the Nifty toolbox is a new marketing tool for your Zazzle designs - eBooks from Zazzle Collections! The service is called ZeBookFreeC and is now live!

So how will this benefit you?

  • You'll be able to reach a far wider audience than you reach currently. 
  • With an eBook on your tablet / mobile / Kindle (or other eBook readers) you're never without something to show people, if / when the right time crops up. 
  • ..even when there's no internet service!
  • Easy to upload and sell in Amazon's Kindle program - more on this below

More than that, each design's title is an active link to the repsective product page on Zazzle and, as usual with Nifty tools, all links have a referral id and tracking code in place. Those links aren't really for you, they're for others to use.

Huh??? How does that work?

For others to use the links, you could email them a copy of your eBook, but there's a much,  much better way designed into our eBooks. On the back page there's two convenient ways for them to use.

They can either point their mobile / tablet camera at the QRCode - most Android phones and all recent iPhones will automatically detect it and offer to open the online version of the catalog in your mobile/tablet's browser.

Or they can type in the short link directly into their browser's address bar.

Either way, they can now tap the product links and get taken to the respective product page on Zazzle, where they can go on to personalize and buy. So easy for them and when things are made easy for potential customers, more of them turn into actual customers.

A great way to bost your sales. And now they have it in their browser, it's easy for them to pass on to to others. Small steps on the way to big things for you, hopefully :)

This tool requires a few extra steps, so I have to charge for the service. You'll be able to get more details on the eBook tool's page, once it's been released. That's where you'll be able to order your eBook.

What is the point of uploading it for sale on Amazon's Kindle program?

It's all part of a cunning plan....
  • First off, if you price it as low as it can be priced, there are suprisingly many who would actually pay for having it on their Kindle etc. So you might earn a little that way (it all counts).
  • Secondly, you get the chance to design a great cover for your eBook, one you as an artist has full control over. And you can change the default title we gave it, too
  • Thirdly, with that great cover, when you share / pin your eBook from Amazon on social media, you get a great looking post / pin.
  • And more than that, anyone clicking your share / pin gets a chance on Amazon to "look inside" your eBook.
    If they do, the links are active and some visitors will no doubt click / tap and could end up buying.
Every aspect of this Nifty "eBook from Collection" tool has been designed to give you new opportunities, remove obstacles and smooth the way to convert interest into sales. So whether you're thinking about new online opportunites or real world ones, your eBook will meet the needs of both.

So what are you waiting for?



Be aware, I've checked with the Amazon Kindle review team and got clarity from them on this key point: they only accept eBooks where you are the exclusive copyright owner of the content.

It means you're fine with collections of your own designs but not with those of others.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Nifty improved - Yaay! Dependence on YQL removed!

✅ You might notice an improvement in using the Nifty Promo Control Panel, especially if using filters.

I'm happy to say that I've been able to remove the use of YQL in the Nifty Promo Control Panels and its tools.

The only exception is in two of the widgets, the (live) Product Grid and the Slideshow (which is also 'live'). The term 'live' means that the contents are pulled from Zazzle when a visitor lands on a page using them. The alternative used by the others is a static set of products, set in stone when you first make the widget.

My code was using a service called YQL to do the pulling from Zazzle and a drawback with YQL is that it has a 5 second timeout. I found the timeout was often kicking in when using filters or if Zazzle was being a little slow to respond to "pull requests".

I've now rewritten that part of the code, so YQL isn't being used anymore. It only took 4 days 🤪 to find out how and get it right! I really am a 🙇‍♂️ coding klutz, hehe!

Here's a screenshot of the control panel with settings to filter out products with christmas, chinese or wedding in titles, descriptions or tags, shown, with a search for new years (not in screenshot):
click / tap the image to try the filters as shown


🤓 geeky bit...

The reason the timeout was sometimes kicking in when using filters is that the code:
  • ⏳ does a pull
  • ⏳ removes products matching any of the filters
  • ⏳ repeats the above until the requested page size (of products) is obtained.
and has to complete within 5 seconds.

Of course, more 'pulls' are required if there are lots of products matching any of the filters - and if there's too many pulls, eventually the timeout kicks in.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Learn how to improve on Pinterest with your very own free personalized action guide

Edited Nov 28th: 
It just keeps getting better! Version 5.1 is out and gives you links that let you get related pins from Pinterest and see related boards. You'll find them in your tailored guidance section and they'll help you mold and massage your boards into better shape.

Find out how to improve on Pinterest with advice personalized to YOU. It's free and there's no registration, nothing to sell, you're welcome! You must have a Pinterest business account for this to work.

The online Nifty Pinterest Tailored Action Guide is now at V5, with a newly added csv export gizmo, so you can easily keep a history of your performance improvements.

This blog post explains how to use it and gives some tips to get the most out of it.

When you first visit, this is what you see. It's filled with generic advice, not yet personalized for you:
Until you paste from your Pinterst Analytics to personalize the guidance, this is what you see

To get personalized guidance tailored to you

Visit your Pinterest Profile Analytics page and select and copy the whole page (right-click, select all, right-click, copy) and then paste where indicated (the large box, currently displaying instructions and a screenshot of it in action).

Once you paste, you see your equivalent of the following:

after pasting your Pinterest Profile Analytics page into the box

Do you see the "Get tailored guidance" button in the screenshot above? Give it a click and your personalized guidance will appear in a tan color in the paragraphs that follow. Here's the first few of mine:

the first few paras of the tailored Boards guidance I got - note the new buttons at the top

Here's the most part of the tailored guidance for my pins:

the most part of the personalized guidance I got for my pins

Pinning more of the same

If you happen to be a Zazzle artist / affiliate or a Society6 artist / curator, then you'll appreciate the links included in the tailored guidance that bring up matching products you can easily pin.

The words in the board name are used as search terms, so might need some adjusting when you get to the rapid pinning tool page. Here's the results of clicking the link given in one of my pin guidance paragraphs:

the rapid pinning tool, waiting for the search terms to be adjusted to get more results you can see, there's only one result for the search terms used from the pin name. A simple adjustment of those terms will bring up plenty of similar designs to pin. The Society6 link given in the guidance paragraph leads to a similar page using Society6 as the source.

Investigating in more detail

When you clicked the "Get tailored guidance" button, more buttons appeared:

summary Board and Pin buttons

The summary pop-ups let you check things out in more detail and explore your options. Both the summaries work the same way. Here's my Boards one:

what you see when you first click the button

You can see there are various buttons surrounding the table. You can sort by any of the columns by clicking the relevant button at top or bottom of the columns. This answers the types of questions you might have like, which boards...
  • ..have the best click through rates?
  • ..require the least pins in order to get a click?
  • ..gain the most impressions for every pin?

Those are the most important because they're all about effective use of time spent pinning. If you want to see the actual values in addition to what's already shown, click the "show more" button at top right. You'll then see something like:

After clickng the "show more" button at top right

You now see three additional columns, Impressions, Clicks and Saves appearing on the left of the exisiting ones, as well as the totals for each column where totals make sense.
Again, you can sort with the buttons at the top and bottom of the new columns.

Although you might be tempted to be guided by the clicks and saves alone, just remember that they give no indication of pinning efficiency. Focussing your pinning on those boards could be much more inefficient than pinning to a board with a better pins-to-click ratio.

As mentioned before, the Pin summary table is pretty much identical in looks and how you use it, so I won't repeat myself.

When would I use the ignore buttons?

Sometimes you find that a board with a seasonal nature is in the top three, but the date for the event has passed. You're not really interested in that board anymore but you get tailored guidance for it.

The solution is simple, ignore it! When you click the button, everything to do with that board disappears from the action guide, leaving the other boards to vie for the now vacated spot. That way, you'll get tailored guidance for the one that wins (assuming it ends up in the top 3 when sorted by board value).

In my example, the Diwali and Thanksgiving events have now passed, yet there their boards are in the top three and I'm getting unwanted guidance for them. I want to focus on the future, not the past!

Watching your performance improve

You can export the contents of the summary tables with the "Export tables to CSV file" - a CSV file is a standard used by spreadsheets everywhere. Using this option allows you to keep a history so you can watch your performance on Pinterest improve as time goes on.

If you don't want to use a spreadsheet, just copy from the pop-ups instead and paste into your favourite notepad application. I find a spreadsheet easier because of the rows and columns grid you get.

Feedback and questions as comments, please. Thanks!

I hope you agree that it's rare to get such great value out of a free tool! Why not try it for yourself right now?
Enjoy 😎

Friday, 16 November 2018

Get your Pinterest personalized action guide - new features in v2.2

Edit: Nov 24 2018, Now at v4 - duplicating for Pins the functionality already present for Boards. 
Now you select the whole page for pasting - right-click, select all, right-click, copy (or <ctrl>a,<ctrl>c - or <cmd>a,<cmd>c on a Mac)

Hot off the press - new version is out. Love ❤️ the new ignore buttons and color-coded table display! Now you can home in on what works much more easily. (see previous post for instructions)

Get yours here

Do you have a board that's seasonal and the event has recently finished? Now you can ignore it and its data.

Why ignore such boards?

...because you want to focus on improving for what's coming, not what's passed!
green, blue and orange show the top three rankings, in that order

In this table I chose to ignore two boards - Diwali and Best Boss Day. If you look at the date of the post, you'll see that those two have recently passed by. I note - and I guess it's no surprise given the date - that Thanksgiving has the best click-through-rate (CTR)

- and, yes, I'm already doing more on that board - I'd actually overlooked it and building, testing, using and enhancing this tool drew it to my attention. It works!

Get yours here

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Pinterest Tailored Action Guide - a new tool in the Nifty toolbox

Have you ever looked at your Pinterest Analyics and thought to yourself, "hmmm... it looks all very sophisticated but it's overwhelming 🤪 and doesn't really guide me in what I should do more of"?
Worse, Pinterest's analytics don't take into account how valuable click-throughs on your Zazzle afilliate links are (you know, the ones that include your referral id).

Try it out for your Pinterest Boards

That's fixed with this Tailored Action Guide from the Nifty toolbox. Here's what its output looks like:
Part of the tailored guide output (tan-coloured) with the summary table pop-up shown

The tailored guidance given is on a tan-coloured background and is based on the performance of various aspects of each board and tells you where to focus your pinning effort.

Summary of steps to get your tailored action guide

  1. Get to your Pinterest account's Analytics -> Profile page (there's a handy link given on the tool page for that)
  2. Copy the section labelled Boards with top Pin impressions 
  3. Paste it into the tool page where indicated
  4. Click the button that appears labelled Get tailored guidance 
  5. Follow the advice given on the underlying page, now updated with your tailored guidance

Here's a screenshot showing the help given in step 3 for selecting and copying for step 2: once you've pasted the selection from Pinterest (step 3) and clicked the button that appears, you'll see your equivalent of the screenshot at the top of this post, with the advice tailored specifically to you!

Click here to try it out for your Pinterest Boards