Monday, 21 November 2016

Slideshow of best selling outer space gifts and cards

Carina Nebula feature close-ups Postcard - click/tap to see the slideshow for related designs

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Share buttons with iPad and Nifty Slideshow Maker

For a while now the sharing buttons service from addthis that I've been using have only shown up intermittently when viewed on an iPad Pro.

Now solved. To get them to show permanently, tap and hold the refresh button on the address bar:
You'll then get the "Request Desktop Site" message - tap that and the share buttons will appear :-)

Monday, 14 November 2016

Nifty Pinterest sharing tweaks

I've made a couple of small but cool tweaks to the way Nifty Slideshow Maker works when pinning individual products on Pinterest.

Before the tweaks, I noticed that products using & and ' in their titles substituted & and ' in their place. It looked ugly and meant you had to edit manually to correct. The one above is meant to be Blue & Silver...

The tweaks correct those by replacing them with & and ' respectively:

Have a go here: Nifty Slideshow Maker (opens in new window)

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Nifty Slideshow Maker sharing button improvements

Since the Major V3.0 release I've sent some time polishing.

The sharing buttons on the Nifty Slideshow Maker page do much more sensible things now, depending on which section your working in. You should find them much more intuitive to use now.

I also found a couple of bugs where the new footer bookmark link wasn't including your title or the store id.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Major new version of Nifty Slideshows released - V3.0

In a nutshell

  • hugely improved autopost blog support
  • save your settings
  • better notes explaining what's going on
  • improvements to layout, a bit of re-jigging 
Try Nifty Slideshows V3.0 for yourself.

Reason for update

Anyone who follows this blog knows that I develop Zazzle promo tools, mainly for my own purposes. But I also know that loads of Zazzlers find them useful, too, so I try to make them as user friendly as possible whilst keeping their power and flexibility.

A major update to Nifty Slideshows was in the offing anyway - making it a bit more understandable and re-jigging the layout a bit at the same time. But those weren't important enough to deserve an update by themselves.

Well, in the last few weeks I've been spending a fair amount of time pinning loads of linked slideshows on Pinterest. But I needed variation.

Variation needed in promoting, so...

You see, I know that variation is important in my promoting on Pinterest, so what next? Well, the obvious thing was pinning products instead of whole slideshows. With this in mind, I saw that in essence, it's exactly the same as for linked slideshows - except for a few tweaks. And Nifty Slideshows is a great tool already to actually get a bunch of just/mostly the products you want in your face.

So I made a new version that included a feature specifically to help with it. It ended up just being some tweaks to how it was already letting you send linked slideshows to autopost blogs.

This is a screenshot of the relevant section, as tweaked to allow you to send a product to an autopost blog.

Streamlining autopost support

You can see there's now a check box to allow you to choose to send products instead of linked slideshows and also somewhere to put the secret email address for the autopost blog.

You can also see some buttons that let you whiz through the products in the slideshow, only pausing when you want to send one that you like. This saves you having to scroll up to the slideshow each time - a right pain on mobile.

New: Save your settings

Another tweak, essential to regulars. Now you can save your settings to make it easier next time. Just bookmark the link in the page footer.

Why is that so cool?

If you're serious about maximising your promotion reach while minimising your time spent doing it, then this feature lets you set up, say, a spreadsheet or a text file and keep your settings links in there, one for each autopost blog. Saves having to remember the secret email addresses and search settings for what each owner wants shared on their blog.

That's pretty much it. For the curious, read the next bit about scheduling using autopost blogs and IfThisThenThat

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Find out what the new V23 of Nifty Slideshows brings you

Bug fix

I fixed a bug with sharing slideshows to the gallery but the main reason for releasing a new version was some behind-the-scenes changes to improve things generally.

New features

  • All major and some minor settings can now be set in the link you use to start up Nifty Slideshows. This means you can set your own defaults like referral id and store id. More on this below
  • Customer-only products now fully supported from the following makers:
    • homewetbar
    • glasswithatwist
    • alpisano
    • agogocreative
    • banderoleandbirch
    • bears4humanity
    • calliopedesigns
    • carriageoakcottage
    • carvedsolutions
    • christmasbykrebs
    • coinrings
    • cookiecutterkingdom
    • countrybarnbabe
    • crystalimagery
    • custom_candleworks
    • customphotoblanket
    • cutmaps
    • dayspringmilestones
    • ellawinston
    • factory_enova
    • gogostickers
    • handcraftedaffairs
    • hammers_and_heels 
    • hello_bride
    • heybabycraftco
    • helloworldpaperco
    • holmesstamp
    • holtzleather
    • hipflaskplus
    • jdsmarketing
    • justtherightpillow
    • lazerdesigns
    • lepapierstudio
    • loveyoualatteshop 
    • magic_wood_art
    • mrcwoodproducts
    • marshmallow_farms 
    • metalandlights
    • missyvdesigns
    • milkandhoneyluxuries
    • mkdesignsus
    • moresprinkledjoy
    • newswangerpen
    • paragonleatherworks
    • rustalgic
    • range_leather_co
    • rnkshops
    • sipdark
    • sistermoonboutique
    • smilingtree
    • sofacitysweethearts
    • sugar_yeti
    • tealsprairie
    • themintbox
    • uniqueledproducts
    • visionusa
    • waggingwipers
    • wordswithboards
Customer-only products are those where there is nothing for storekeepers to design. All those I looked at are exclusively available on and not international domains, so I've assumed that's the case for all of them.

Setting your own defaults - advanced users only

You can pass the settings you want used into Nifty Slideshow maker by including them as parameters in the link you use to start it.

For example, let's say your store id is dizzydebbie, you can save yourself time typing that every time by starting Nifty Slideshows using this link:

Once you've set up the link for your defaults, bookmark it for ease of use next time. You can even set up different defaults for different promotion needs and bookmark them all. Maybe one per autopost blog you regularly use, for example.

A full list of parameters you can use follows. If you don't use a parameter, it will use a default, usually blank.
  • rf=
    Your referral id, for example 238582202591969585 (this is the default)
  • bg=
    Background colour to use for non-in-situ product shots, eg ffffff (this is the default)
  • st=
    Sort type. Choice of popularity or date_created (default = popularity)
  • sd=
    Sort directon. Choice of desc (most popular or newest first) or asc (least popular / oldest first). The default is desc
  • ps=
    Page size. The number of products requested from Zazzle's rss feed mechanism (used to get the products for the slideshow). Example 35 (default = 15)
  • pg=
    Page number. Instead of returning the first "page size" set of products, pull the nth set. Example 2 (default = 1)
  • tc=
    Tracking code. For example, nft_ss_pntrst_thnks_gvng (default = nft_ss)
  • title=
    Title of the slideshow. Use + instead of space. For example Mugs+with+Thanksgiving+designs
  • qs=
    Search word / term. Use + instead of spaces. For example thanksgiving+turkey
  • storeid=
    The part that comes after for example hightonridley
    Note it can also be a collection. If so use collections/collectionid For example, collections/119815600039373332
  • dp=
    Department id. For example, 252178814251104427
  • cg=
    Category id. For example, 103739611579647755
  • pm=
    Promotion code. For example, ESSENTIALS40
  • zd=
    International Domains. Choice of 1 use international domains or 0 don't use (default = don't use)
  • mt=
    Autopost blog secret email address. For use when using your own email client to share to autopost blogs. Example
  • uh=
    Unhide autopost section. Choice of 1 unhide or 0 hide (default = hide)
Remember, the first option (url parameter) you use is preceeded by ? and subsequent ones are preceeded by &

For a full description of how Nifty Slideshows uses these, please see the documentation.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

More on sharing Nifty Slideshows to the Gallery on Pinterest

The Nifty Slideshow maker page uses the AddThis service for its sharing buttons. When clicked, they let you share the page with your friends so they can make their own Nifty Slideshows.

So how do you share that wonderful slideshow you just made to the gallery? Simple, make sure the gallery is on display and only then click the envelope share button.

Here's what it looks like with the gallery on display. You can see the tops of the first few in the gallery at the bottom of the screenshot:
When it looks like the above and you click the gray envelope share button, you should see the email share dialog looking something like this:
Now you're ready to fill in the secret "To" email address, currently the one shown in the first screenshot. Next, fill in the From email address (use your own - note that I won't see this), do the Captcha and hit send.

If you want to get a copy of the email that gets sent, after the secret email address in the "To" box add a comma and then your email address. Note that I won't see that email address either.

If you see instead the screenshot below when you click the gray envelope share icon, then either the gallery wasn't on display when you clicked it or I have a bug I need to know about!

That's what it should look like when sharing the maker page itself, not when sharing to the gallery. Do you see the difference?

Do let me know in the comments (or on the Zazzle forum) if it's not working as described.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Nifty Slideshow Maker V22 now out with new blog autopost support

I found out that the email client on my Mac allows me to paste into the email body any images, links and text previously copied from a web page. "Hmmm", thought I, "that's useful..."

(This works on Macs, iPhones and iPads. I don't have other devices to test on...)

Promoting by autopost blogs

Autopost blogs are a popular way of promoting, so I've added support to make it easy to send your Nifty Slideshows to autopost blogs.
They won't be "live" slideshows on the blog, instead you choose the slide you like best and that product image is used in the blog post. It and it's (product) title are then linked to the actual slideshow.

Remember, a great benefit is...

Remember, one of the great things about this approach is it keeps a visitor's eyeballs on your products. Unlike on Zazzle, where they can be enticed away by any number of distractions on actual product pages. You know, things like "See related designs", "We thought you might like this", "You recently viewed", "Here are some related collections" etc etc.

Anyway, I can't think of any more features to add to Nifty, so this is the final version?

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Display your best on the new Nifty Slideshow Public Gallery!

I've just released a fantastic update to Nifty Slideshows. There's now a public gallery you can display your slideshows in for all to see! As usual it uses your referral id and tracking code to make sure you earn any due referral commission and know where the commission came from.

Free Promotion

The gallery is on a dedicated Pinterest board and the good thing is, you don't even need to have joined Pinterest in order to get yours into the gallery!

If you are on Pinterest why not have a look at the gallery and see what people have been sharing already.

I've added the gallery section just above the tips advanced section.

When you click the show/hide button two things happen.
  1. the section opens up to show the existing Gallery
  2. the share buttons switch from sharing the Nifty Slideshow Maker page to sharing the slideshow previewed

Get in the queue!

As you can probably read, you add your slideshow to the gallery queue by sharing by email and sending to a very specific email address. To do this you click the gray envelope icon:
Before you click it, make sure the image you want shown in the gallery is on display. Don't submit lots all at once - the queue is only so deep and everyone deserves to get a fair crack :)

I'd love to hear any comments or suggestions :)
Happy Zazzling!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Enhancement to Nifty Slideshows for your blog side bar or where space is tight

Ok, this really is the last enhancement ;)

Where space is tight

Where space is tight, such as in your blog's sidebar, you use a small Nifty Slideshow, obviously. This works just fine when the available space isn't too restrictive.

However, a 'prettiness' issue arose for very small width slideshows and that was that the navigation buttons, search box and auto-titling could be just too big and impractical for the space available.

New Nifty setup option

To resolve this, I've now added a new option in the Blog/Website slideshow generator only section. It's a checkbox and checking (ticking) it suppresses them as a group. You'll see that reflected in the live preview at the top of the setup page.

To be clear, this won't affect Nifties you're making to share on social media, just the code snippet stuff for page/blog.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Nifty Slideshows and FB sharing now beautiful

In my last post I said:
There is one more but I can do absolutely nothing about it - the ugly url you get on your share when using the Facebook share button. There's a little bit of hope - I've sent an email to AddThis, the share button service providers, asking if it can be resolved - fingers crossed, hey? ;)
Well, I did some playing and guessing and after only a couple of tries got it cracked without needing a reply!


Now, instead of that ugly url it uses the title of the designed product on display when the Facebook share button was clicked. I also add a call to action on the end of it "- click/tap any to personalize and buy"
Here's an example so you can see what I mean:

That now completes my Nifty Slideshow tool. A rough diamond originally, it's now a fully cut and polished gem :)

Zazzle storekeepers or affiliates can try it out here:

Titling update for Nifty Slideshows

You know you can give a title for the Nifty Slideshows you create? Well there was something that didn't work out so well.

How it was and the problem

The way it worked was that
  • if you didn't give a title, then an auto title would be created for you saying something like Top nn trending search term designs or, if you didn't give a search term, Top nn trending unique designs
    any more Nifties opened from yours when a visitor does a search would use the same approach.
  • If you did give a title then, just like above, it would be used both on the original Nifty slideshow a visitor sees and any subsequent Nifties opened as result of them using the search.

This didn't work out so well because the title given could so easily stop being meaningful on the subsequent Nifties.


Say I arranged things so the first Nifty showed the best of my funny designs (by using my store id and the search term just fun) and I used a title of Have a laugh with these fun designs. Great, that's what sits above the Nifty and it makes sense for the products shown.

But if the visitor then uses the search box and changes the filled-in just fun with their new search of, say, sympathy cards, then the same title on a bunch of condolence, grief, bereavement and so on, cards would be entirely wrong!

How it is now - and it works beautifully

So I've changed it so it uses the title you give on the first Nifty and then it auto-titles for any subsequent ones.


In the example above, the first Nifty would have a title of Have a laugh with these fun designs and the next one would have a title of Top nn trending sympathy cards designs - much better.

And that's the last of the things about Nifty Slideshows that has been come up as needing fixing, discovered as I've been using them in anger for my promoting.

There is one more but I can do absolutely nothing about it - the ugly url you get on your share when using the Facebook share button. There's a little bit of hope - I've sent an email to AddThis, the share button service providers, asking if it can be resolved - fingers crossed, hey? ;)

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Enhanced category handling for Nifty Slideshows

While I was making slideshows earlier today, I came across a sort-of limitation with using store categories.
I was building slideshows of the collections that Children's Illustrators have put in their Zazzle stores and sharing them on Pinterest. I then came across one who didn't use collections but instead used categories.
Ok, no worries, just use the category feature of Nifty Slideshows. But then I got to thinking about the guided search option - the one where the search terms are used for guiding subsequent searches.

Searches were confined to original category

The way I had it, any search done would be confined to searching in that category. For categories with few designs in them, that would be a terrible experience for any visitor - and no way out for them.

Categories now work like this

So I decided the best bet when using store categories (marketplace, too) would be to:
  • ignore the given category entirely for the guided search, but
  • give a direct link under the search to take the visitor to that category
I think that gives the best flexibility to storekeepers making Nifty Slideshows and visitors using them, so that's how they now work.

Thie is one further refinement I may look at in fututre and that's to make marketplace categories behave as originally - because there will be many thousands of designs in them and so not the issue that store categories have.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Nifty Slideshows - Now you can share on the Zazzle Forums!

The latest enhancement I've made allows yo to share your Nifty Slideshows on the Zazzle Forums.

A new button let's you create the needed BBCode (that's what it's called) to paste into your forum post. You get to choose which picture from the slideshow to use in the forum post
  1. Just pause the slideshow on the one you want
  2. Click / tap the "use current slide" to get your BBCode.
Just copy the code you get and and paste into a new forum post.

Here's an example of one on a post on the Tools Forum.


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Nifty Slideshows - improved speed to first slide display

I've spent the best part of today removing Nifty Slideshow's dependence on the Google script widget that it's been using until now.

The script widget's purpose was to change all links in a Zazzle RSS feed's content so they included the given tracking code, the given voucher code and to change the thumbnail size.

Today I managed to penetrate the inscrutable-until-now data structure and call-backs of the Google Slideshow widget the whole thing is based on. That allowed me to make the tracking code, voucher code and thumbnail size changes entirely within the Nifty Slideshow Javascript and so bye-bye to the Google script.

This is good from three perpectives:
  • one less link in the chain of requests and responses going from Nifty to Zazle and back, so things speed up some under normal conditions
  • overall, one third the chance now of that chain getting broken when there are glitches at the Google widget end or the Zazzle RSS feed mechanim end of things
  • Google operate a quota system on Google scripts. When they are exceeded, the script stops working until the next period starts. As Niftys become more popular there was going to come a time when this would be a problem. Not any more :)

Updated tools so far:

  • Nifty Slideshow maker pages
  • Nifty Slideshow displayer page (for social media links)
  • The generated code snippet for putting Niftys on web sites / blogs
  • Staging-NS
The last three of the above are all availble via the Nifty Slideshow maker page. Exisitng Niftys shared on socail media will use the updated version of the displayer page and therefore immediately get all the benefits of the new approach.

Still to do:

  • Marvin maker page Done
  • Marvin dislayer page Done
  • The generated code snippet for putting Marvins on web sites / blogs Done
Those last three should be done in the next few hours / day. 

Other updates swept up on the way:

  • Niftys now consistently respect international domains by not including US-only products for non-US visitors
  • The number of products in collection-based slideshows now respects the &ps= setting
  • The removal of US-only products happens after the &ps= has been accommodated.
    This means you may end up getting fewer in your slideshow than requested, even though there may be more non-US products that would otherwise be avaliable.
As above, these still need to be done with Marvin. Not applicable

Monday, 1 August 2016

1-2-3 Zazzle Pro-look Promo Videos with new Stager-NS tool

Introducing the easiest ever way of making promotional videos for your Zazzle collections or store products, all for free:

Here's a video I made with it. All spooky for Halloween - don't be too frightened by the sound!

As easy as 1-2-3

  1. All I did was use the Nifty Slideshow maker page to choose what I wanted to promote
  2. Then I clicked the Staging link it gave me and chose a background
  3. Next I used my screen recorder to make the video
Yes, that's all! I think youll agree that's pretty wow!

The good thing is, you can use the video in your store's media section as well as upload it to YouTube, Vimeo etc.
And the brilliant thing about YouTube is it lets you share a live video to all major social media channels. By live I mean that it either comes with a play button that plays there and then, or a click takes them to YouTube where it plays.

Now you have no excuse to delay promoting your wonderful designs!

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Nifty Slideshows - International domains exclude USA-only Zazzle products

It's been bugging me for a while but I managed to get it dealt with today.

It's all to do with international domains... but first I need to make the point that there are some products, like postage stamps, binders, edibles and others that are only sold on Zazzle's .com domain.

The problem was that the international domains feature of Nifty Slideshows was showing the USA-only products to people outside the USA. Because the link was adjusted to use the Zazzle domain associated with their country, if they clicked say, a postage stamp, they'd be taken to an error page on Zazzle - postage stamps not being available on their country's domain.

Well, I did battle, I lost, I re-grouped, got smacked about some more, had a cup of tea, wrestled the beast again, saw an opening in the armour and finally scored! (Not to mix too many metaphors!)

The end result, follow this link and if you're in the USA, you'll see a postage stamp near the beginning and some cake pops and other edibles towards the end. If you're not in the USA, you'll not see those.


I've still got to make the same changes to the code snippets generated for blogs / websites.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Marvin introduces Nifty Slideshows for Zazzle Storekeepers

Watch Marvin take you through what Nifty Slideshows can do for you - One-tap sharing of sticky slideshows, hot-linked to your Zazzle products. Make your own!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Vid: How to use a Zazzle Collection in a Nifty Slideshow

In this video, I show you how easy it is to to make a Nifty slideshow of your Zazzle Collection.

It's only three and a half minutes long, well worth a look if you're a Zazzle storekeeper.

If you want to see the Nifty Slideshow featured in the video, it's linked in the video description on Youtube.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Reminding myself about ZazMySite

There was a question on the Zazzle forum by Paul Stickland about prouct grids. In Zazzle's recent blog post about updates to their rss feed mechanism, they had a screenshot from a website as an example.

Paul's question was, how was that product grid created? I've had my head stuck in Nifty slideshows and Marvin the Guidebot recently and had forgotten about ZazMySite.

Here's an output from it:

Strangestore Cuties

Funny Little Black Cat Woman's T ShirtFunny Little Black Cat Woman's T Shirt

Funny Owl BinderFunny Owl Binder
Funny Owl Binder
$27.40 USD

Cute little more

Black Cat Business CardBlack Cat Business Card
Black Cat Business Card
$28.05 USD

Create your more

Three Funny Black Crows Two-Tone Coffee MugThree Funny Black Crows Two-Tone Coffee Mug

Two Cute Robots Funny T-shirtTwo Cute Robots Funny T-shirt
Two Cute Robots Funny T-shirt
$41.45 USD

Cute friendly more

Not the same but close :)

Zazzle promoting buddy for newbie storekeepers

EDIT July 2017. This no longer works.
Here's a great little promoting buddy for your store.

For starters, you get a slideshow of your store's top 50 performing products that you can easily share on Pinterest - just click the pin button you'll see.

Next, it's stupidly simple to share any product shown on Fabeook. How?

When you're looking at the slideshow in one window, and Facebook in another, you drag an image right off the slideshow and onto a Facebook status update. It really is that simple!

Note that you have to start the status update first by clicking it.

Just adjust the following before you copy and paste into a new tab:

How do you adjust it?
Simple, replace my store id (hightonridley) with your own and do the same for my referral id (238582202591969585)

Saturday, 23 July 2016

3 tweaks to Nifty Slideshows

I've been tweaking the Nifty Slideshows maker so it:
  • plays nicely with collections as the source
  • includes a search facility
  • same for the code snippet it generates for blogs / websites
See an example below. The nifty slideshow was pulled from this collection.

Fetching...won't be a tick!


guided search (opens in new tab)

Cool, hey?

Friday, 22 July 2016

Zazzle rss feed update means new Collections feature for Nifty Slideshows

Zazzle announced on their blog a few days ago about a new feature they've added to their RSS feed mechanism - the ability to pull from collections.

Until the update you could pull either from the marketplace or a particular store. Now you can pull from a collection, too.

This is great news for Nifty Slideshows - it automatically makes use of that feture if you tell it to. All you need is the collection id, which you get from its link url. Once you've got that, in the Nifty Slideshow maker page, use this where you'd put the store id:
collections/your collection id

It's all explained on the maker page. Here's a Nifty Slideshow pulled from this collection:


Thursday, 21 July 2016

Generic Marvin Creatives for your Zazzle Promos

Marvin is a guidebot, primarily to give guided tours around your Zazzle store - 365/24/7

But he's much more flexible than that. He can do shopping guides for other people's Zazzle stores and also for the general Zazzle marketplace. Have a look at the one below.
It uses some generic creatives I created that you can use, too. Together they make up what I've called a generic Zazzle shopping guide. That's because it's pulling from the Zazzle marketplace.

Fetching...won't be a tick!


guided search (opens in new tab)

I could also have limited them to just designs in the official "occasions" category by using that option (and giving it the value of 103661321574220876 - the Marvin Maker page tells you more on using marketplace and your own categories).

About Marvin

Marvin is never seen, visitors only see what he does - and that's to show them a series of flash-cards. The guided part comes about because under the slideshow of flash cards is a search box that Marvin fills in for you.
Of course, those terms are cunningly chosen so they bring up the products or design styles being talked about on the flash card they're with.

Who chooses the search terms Marvin will use?

The person who makes the postcards are the ones who decide. - Yes, the flash cards Marvin uses are actually postcards on Zazzle.
So where are they search terms...
That's easy - they're in the title you gave to the postcard when you made it.
Note that in the postcatd's title you have to use + symbols instead of spaces if you use more than one word in your search term. For example, summer+beach.

What other options are there for controlling Marvin?

Lots and lots :) See the Marvin Maker page - everything's explained there.

What a store guidebot looks like

The heading and slideshow below was created by my Marvin Maker page.

Marvin always sits behind the scenes. He's only making an appearance here so he can introduce himself and what he can do for you, your Zazzle store and your visitors.

Note the search terms can change for each card.  Btw, there's nothing special about them being postcards, it's just postcards are a convenient size and shape to maximize the available space for your creative / message.
Enough, over to Marvin:

Fetching...won't be a tick!


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Self-Introduction from Marvin, your Zazzle store Guidebot

Hi, I'm Marvin...

Let Marvin introduce himself - he's your Zazzle store guidebot. He's a ready, willing and able, 24/7 personal shoppper guidebot, always working tirelessly on your behalf!

He guides them round - you don't have to!

But no more from me, watch him live and interact with him on this link

How cool is that?

Imagine, I'm a bride to be, looking for wedding stationery (your store specialises in wedding designs).
I bump into your Marvin and he's proclaiming about your gorgeous winter crsytal range - something that appeals to me. Not only does Marvin show me them, he's now upselling to me your gorgeous wedding reception table cards and party favors!

Hmm... but I was also thinking I might need to plan for a spring wedding instead and... oh, look, he's now showing me other seasonal ranges you do. Oh my, I'm sold! I'm bound to find what I need in this store. That's one worry off my mind!!

When will you get a Marvin for your own store?

How you use Marvin is down to you but no mis-treatment! He likes nothing more than to be showing potential customers around, so make sure you share him far and wide! A depressed, paranoid android is never a good thing (nods in the direction of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy).

He works brilliantly on Pinterest. Use the slideshow buttons to get to the image you want used as the teaser for your pin, then pin it using the pinterest button on the page. Don't forget to write a good teaser description before you finally choose which board to pin to.

Good on twitter, too - but no image on the tweet :(

Facebook is mostly ok. You drag the image you want for the status update to your desktop. You then start a new status update with your teaser text. Then you drag the image from your desktop and drop on the status update. Finally, you have to paste in the special link for your Marvin.

Same for Google+ as for FB. If you don't do the image drag thing, the both use a boring default image.

About that link for your Marvin... 

There's no fancy Marvin generator page yet. Until then, you'll have to make do with these instructions. Don't worry, not too hard - it's just some copying and pasting.
Sorry 'bout that :)

Enjoy making Marvin happy by letting him do his thing for your store!

Find out how to get your own Zazzle Store Guidebot

My first Zazzle Store Guidebot

Let me introduce you to Marvin. He sits behind the scenes and guides your visitors around your store on your behalf. He's active 24 hours a day working tirelessly to bring you more sales.

Botting 24/7

Here's Marvin botting for my hightonridley zazzle store. Did you notice how the suggested search terms changed for each slide? That's the key to the whole "guided" thing.

What you need for your own Guidebot

  • A set of Postcards created on Zazzle - the cue cards in the store guide Marvin works from.
 You design each one to get across the point you're making. Maybe you're talking about a particular color pallete or maybe a design style. Possibly you want them guided to your new range of scarves.

As Marvin is a bot, he needs to be told how to guide. The guidance he gives just consists of a pre-prepared set of search terms, ready filled out in the search box, so all the visitor has to do is click "go".
Where does he get those pre-prepared search terms from? Simple, you put the right ones to use in the title of the postcard when you created it on Zazzle. When that postcard comes up in the slideshow, Marvin pops the search terms from the title into the search box. Easy-peasy!

Once you've published, you just need to wait for Zazzle's indexers to get round to making the products available via their RSS feed mechanism - the one the guidebot relies on.

Btw, here's a link to one of the postcards from my first guidebot. See how the the search terms / postcard title works?

What you need for your own Guidebot part 2 

  • The link to your store guidebot
Eventually I'll build a Guidebot Maker page but until then, it's a case of messing with gobbledigook codes in a link url, as described below. Sorry 'bout that ;)

If you can't wait for the maker page, here's a quick low-down on the codes. If you do nothing else, for your first play with it, just change the qs and the storeid. Here's my store guidebot link, just change it to make yours by changing some text in it:

qs= the unique codeword powertag you used for your postcards (remember, one postcard per slide image) (if just having a play, put in any old query for your store)
rf= your ref id
st=date_created - leave alone, this is so your slides appear in the right sequence
sd=desc - leave alone, as above
storeid= mine's hightonridley
tc=nft_ss_ad1 the tracking code you want used so you can identify any arising referral commission
title=blah+blah the title you want displayed above your guidebot

Good time to mention getting the slideshow sequence you want. I created mine in reverse order so that's why those 'leave-alone's are there - so you can create yours in reverse order, too. If you choose to create the first, first, the second, second etc. (yeah, I know, it's the logical thing to do, I must have had a brain hiccup!) then just change the sd=desc to sd=asc

During testing today, I noticed things were a bit glitchy again between Google and Zazzle, not sure which. The upshot is getting the dreaded 'feed not loaded' message sometimes. When this happens, a reload of the page will often sort it.

Well, that's it for now. Do drop off a comment if you can see how it would help you and in what way you might use it. I'm happy to answer questions.