Getting your slot messages ready for Christmas

Now is the time to prepare your slot messaging for the holiday season. At the time of writing, I’ve used only one slot message, an animated gif from of a christmas tree with snow falling. I’ve also got a Google ad set to show part of the time, so you might see that instead.

You might want to set up a number of slot messages, each with a different creative to showcase what’s important to you. The point is, now’s the time to do it!

Search Zazzle market place for:
How many to get (max 120):

Here’s the shortcode I used for the above grid:

[niftygridzpro title_font_size="11px" title_alignment="center" cell_max_width="190px" cell_border_color="#888888" cell_background_color="#DDDDDD" cell_font_color="#333333" cell_vlink_color="#666666" description_font_size="10px" description_alignment="center" description_length="0" include_product_names_in_titles=1 use_only_product_names_in_titles=0 include_by_line=0 include_tags_line=0 include_price_line=1 product_grid_nav_font_size="20px" fallback_filename="default-fallback-grid.html" grid_sort_method="pulledorder" associate_id="238582202591969585" store_or_collection="collections/119076182750895596" page_size="12" product_background_color="ffffff" tracking_code="ngrdzwp_xmas_ready" use_local_zsite=0 allow_interaction=1 show_visitor_search_form=1 ]

Example of the V3.5 feature: paragraph embedded grids

V3.5 of NiftyGridZPro introduced a new feature for embedding product grids into paragraphs. The shortcode option that controls it is:

  • paragraph_embed=”L”
    the product grid will be on the left with following paragraphs wrapped around on the right of it
  • paragraph_embed=”R”
    the opposite of the above
  • paragraph_embed=0
    no embedding happens and is the default if the option isn’t used

<1 of 20+>
<1 of 20+>
This is the new feature in action. You can embed the grid on the right, as in this example, or on the left if you prefer.

It’s perfect for small grids to illustrate the subject of the paragraph. If it’s taller than the paragraph, then the following paragraphs will squeeze up as well.

If you’re familiar with html styles, it uses a float left or right, depending on which you choose for the paragraph embed. Other styling it uses:

  • The maximum width for the embedded grid is set to 50% of the available width
    this is so everything will look good on mobile / tablet as well as on desktop / laptop
  • There’s a 6px margin between the edge of the grid and the paragraph text
  • The 1px border surrounding the grid takes its color from the cell border color
  • There’s 5px padding between the border and the grid

When using the paragraph embed feature, if you’re showing grid navigation, it’ll be centered as shown.


The shortcode used for the above product grid is:

[niftygridzpro use_only_product_names_in_titles=1 title_font_size="12px" cell_max_width="120px" cell_border_color="#aaaaaa" cell_background_color="#ffffff" cell_font_color="#333333" description_length="0" store_or_collection="hightonridley" search_term="law" page_size="4" product_background_color="#ffffff" allow_interaction=1 show_visitor_search_form=0 tracking_code="ngrdz_blg_pplr_pembd_exmpl" use_message_slot=0 product_grid_nav_font_size="14px" paragraph_embed="R"]

Only product grids with fewer than 10 products in them are eligible for the local domains feature. This is because, behind the scenes, NiftyGridZPro has to make a request for each product to check its availability and this takes time. Too much time to be good for your site if you have lots and lots of products in your grids, hence the imposed limit.

Search engine magnet blog posts and how to write them

As a Zazzle affiliate / storekeeper trying to promote your product designs, you need your blog posts to be like a neodymium super-strong magnet for search engines.

magnet attracting nails

If you can do that, the types of visitor you’ll get will be interested in your post’s subject right from the off and that can only help you to make sales.

This post will tell you exactly how to do that. It’s aimed at WordPress blogs but the general points are valid for all.

First, a summary of what we’ll cover:

  • Be really clear to yourself what the post is going to be about
  • Work out the post’s structure – one way is to create a summary first, like this one
  • Put products out of your mind for now and just write a very, very first draft
  • Go back and start to flesh out your post, noting where the natural places are to embed a few products
  • embed them with the NiftyGridZPro shortcode (you do use NiftyGridZPro, yes?)
  • Put your SEO hat on and polish your post

notepad and pencil

Keep reading to make sure that when you publish your post it’s a search engine magnet.

What’s your post all about?

Whatever subject you choose, you need to keep specific to that subject – don’t wander too much and dilute its point. You don’t need to think about product designs yet because Zazzle has something to cover every possible (G-Rated) subject you can think of.

If you want to promote from your own store, then you’ll obviously have to think of an appropriate subject that works for what you want to promote. Once you’ve done that, then forget it for now.

Why is that? It’s because your frame of mind determines how interesting and appealing the post will be. If you’re focused on product-designs, your post will suffer.

Post structure of a search engine magnet

Everyone’s got their own style but be sure to pay attention to and include:

  • an intro that lets a visitor know what the post’s about – you have seconds for them to decide if they’ll stay
    It doesn’t have to be an obvious introduction but is still needed in some form
  • a call to action
    It’s not quite enough to include designed products, the call to action is what really helps convert
  • some form of closing that summarizes the post in some way or draws consclusions and also inspires them to come back for more another day

Very first draft

Because you’re not worried anymore about the time and effort involved in including products (because NiftyGridZPro takes the strain) you can engage your left brain creativity on what’s important – writing an engaging post.


Don’t worry too much about the finer points you want to make, sketch it out, get the flow going and go with it. Fleshing out and polishing come later as you’ll see below.

Flesh out your post

If you’re anything like other people, by now you’ll have a post that has:

  • some bits close to complete
  • some that might just have a starting sentence or two
  • and some previously unthought of ideas triggered by your creative flow while writing

Now go over it all and add to / rephrase and fill in the gaps.

fleshed out sketch

Again, if you’re like anyone else, this phase will likely involve lots of your favorite hot beverage (coffee or tea anyone?) and some distractive nonsense when you dry-up. I washed the kitchen and bathroom floors while writing this! 😅

Don’t worry, that’s perfectly natural. Taking a break and then re-reading afresh will help you read it through the eyes of a visitor.

Pay particular attention to grammar and spelling. Here’s some easy-to-mix-up stuff to watch out for:

  • you’re and your
  • their and there
  • would of instead of would have – it’s never would of
  • it’s only ever it’s when it’s a shortened it is – see what I did there? 😉
  • to instead of too
    if this one gets you, say to yourself “Mary likes ice cream and I like it, too“. Listen to yourself. Now say “I like ice cream to cool me down“. Did you hear the first one made a longer “oo” sound? When it has that long “oo” sound that’s the one that’s spelled too

It might seem like a pain, but it goes like this in the mind of a visitor that can tell the difference:

hmmm… they keep getting their grammar / spelling wrong… if they were a professional outfit they wouldn’t make those mistakes. I don’t trust this site very much if they can’t take the time to get it right. I’m outta here…

You never want to chase away otherwise interested potential customers. Looking at it the other way round, good grammar and spelling could boost your income from the post by 10%? 20%? Maybe more, if you’ve written a good search engine magnet post.

Drop in the products

Decide on how you want your products placed and how many and then drop in a shortcode:

  • using a collection
  • or using your keyword / phrase as the search term
    • …and possibly the store to pull from
    • …and possibly the department and / or category
<1 of 20+>
<1 of 20+>

If you’re embedding a small grid within a paragraph, adjust the grid cell max size so the experience on mobile / tablet works just as well as on desktop / laptop.

Even though you can get NiftyGridZPro to display up to 120 products, that’s not really appropriate for a blog post. Larger grids like that are best reserved for WordPress pages where you’re presenting something more like a store front.

Do allow visitor interaction on your included grid as it improves the “stickiness”. This is another way of saying how long someone stays and how engaged they are. Obviously high “stickiness” is a good thing. (If you include more than one grid in a single post, remember that only one can allow interaction.)

When you use stickiness, your “bounce rate” will improve and that helps the strength of your search engine magnet.

Polishing your post and wearing your SEO magnet hat

As you move from fleshing out to polishing, now’s the time to also put on your SEO Hat. Here’s one you can wear if you haven’t got your own yet:

your SEO hat

Polishing just means re-reading, adjusting, leaving a while and then re-reading again. Rinse / repeat.

As for SEO (search engine optimization), these are things you absolutely must do to make your post a magnet for search engines:

  • Use a post title that includes the subject key word or phrase you’re focusing on
  • Make sure you include that same key word / phrase in the first sentence / first paragraph but don’t make it look contrived
  • Any images you include should have alt text defined for them
    In WordPress you set the alternative text when you edit the image’s options with the pencil icon
  • Aim for around 300 words or more in your post. If it’s a major one, consider around 900 words or more
  • Make sure you have a heading that includes your chosen keyword / phrase
  • Don’t use your keyword / phrase repetitively or too often
    Above all, the flow of the text has to be natural and overuse, when not needed for the sense, can be a downer in the eyes of search engines
  • Do use other words that mean the same as your chosen key word / phrase in the natural flow of your post
    Synonym searches on your favourite search engine can help with this
  • Do include one or two links to other relevant pages / posts
  • Do include a link to a non-commercial reputable site, where appropriate – it’s a small thing but search engines use this as a ‘signal’ as to a post’s quality
    If you can’t think of one, Wikipedia is a good fall-back

Don’t worry about about the SEO on the product grid(s) you include. That’s because NiftyGridZPro takes care of all that for you, which is nice.

Now you know one approach to writing a blog post that acts like a magnet to search engines. What will you write about to attract those search engines like bees to nectar?

Animation of benefits and features 350x455px

NiftyGridZPro – taking the strain to let you focus on creative writing
Click the link to get your free, fully functional NiftyGridZPro plugin

If you know someone whose blog posts would benefit from some of the guidance here, please share so they can get better results!

Affiliate tool earns blogging income from Zazzle

gold bar respresenting a gold standardgold bar respresenting a gold standard

this gold-standard affiliate tool turns on income from your blog like water from a tap

The one proviso is that you must already be getting a goodly number of visitors. This affiliate tool is for monetizing your blog, not for getting you footfall.

The earnings come from you illustrating your blog posts with products from Zazzle’s vast storehouse. When we say vast, we truly mean it!

Zazzle has millions on millions of product / design combinations from tens – hundreds – of thousands of dedicated independent artists. Since they cover every subject niche imaginable, there’s bound to be at least one for your blog!

Why this affiliate tool?

We’ll list the things that makes NiftyGridZPro the right one for you and then cover them off as we go, or expand on them later on in the article. So keep reading!

  • It’s the best in class: responsive design and styling you can change to suit your blog theme
  • So easy to use “out of the box”, with sensible defaults for every option
  • Unique: it has fallback grids so you’re always earning, even if Zazzle has issues (like any provider does occasionally)
  • Unique: live promo messages / home-grown ad injection / Google ad injection
  • Unique: option to use a visitor’s local Zazzle domain for increased revenue

Why Zazzle?

Official Zazzle logo

Apart from the vast storehouse mentioned above, Zazzle gives:

  • 15% referral commission
  • 45-day cookie

Zazzle has already, and continues to spend millions of dollars raising brand awareness. You can be sure a goodly proprtion of your visitors will already  perceive them as a trusted brand in their own right.

And anything that smooths the flow of see-click-purchase is a boost!

Examples for your niche blog

A travel blog

If yours is a travel blog, you’ll be pleased to know that Zazzle has postcards and souvenirs for every place of interest on the planet. A simple shortcode and search term will give you a pretty grid of 1, 2 or more products right there in your post. Like this one:

[niftygridzpro search_term="machu picchu postcard" page_size=2]

Fashionista’s blog

If you’re a bit of a fashionista, then Zazzle has all the trending hotness you can imagine. Elle Magazine has “red” for the trending fall color (at the time of writing), so that’s what we’ve used for the grid shown. We used more shortcode options to draw out the most popular red fall wedding items on Zazzle right now – yes, at the time you’re reading this post! We’ll give you the shortcode we used in a moment but let’s continue first with the idea.

So you write an article about, let’s say, planning for and having a wedding this fall (ok, it’s a bit late for that but you get the picture). When the time is right, drop in a grid. Like in this paragraph. Note we’ve taken the precaution of setting the maximum size of the grid cells small enough so that it still looks good on mobile. To make it work nicely, embedded in the paragraph like it is, we did this. We switched off the product titles (by the cunning move of setting their size to 0) and we switched off the description text by setting its length to 0.

To get that, just include the shortcode option paragraph_embed="R". It’s what we used above:

[niftygridzpro paragraph_embed="R" page_size=2 search_term="red fall wedding" cell_max_width=140px cell_border_color=#992222 product_background_color=#ffffff description_length=0 title_font_size=0px]

Affiliate tool must-haves:

An affiliate tool needs to:

display products perfectly matching your article subject:
✅ as well as search terms, there’s shortcode options for types of product, selecting work from a given artist, even displaying collections curated by artists themselves

reach the widest target audience:
✅ NiftyGridZPro’s product grids are equally at home on tablet, mobile or desktop

track your sales:
✅ you give made-up tracking codes for different types of post and the successful ones are reported against the Referral History report in your Zazzle affiliate account

be SEO optimized:
✅ uses php so search engines see the content; all images have alt and title text; links all use rel=”nofollow”

rise to every challenge you set:
✅ you can switch on grid navigation and an inbuilt search form independently; for total grid control we even have how-tos on “roll your own” pages

Promo / Ad injection with A/B testing

Part of keeping a visitor engaged and making your site appealing is for you to speak to your visitor from within the content. Sure, you communicate special offers and make announcements in your header, sidebar or footer – but everyone does that.

screenshot of a grid with a home-grown promotion
grid with a home-grown promotion

When such communication speaks from within your content, you can get even more engagement. This affiliate tool lets you do just that! When you use the injection options, one slot / cell within each product grid is chosen at random to display your message / ad.

NiftyGridZPro lets you control the injection of your own home-grown ads or promotions, or even Google ads. You control it all in real time from your admin settings panel, where you also set up ad rotations and priorities.

screenshot of grid with Google Ad
grid with Google Ad

With it being in real time, you get tremendous communicating power. You set a new promotion message and link (with its own tracking code), hit the save button and all grids across your entire site will start displaying it to visitors – right away.

A/B testing was never easier!

Local domains

🇬🇧 🇩🇪 🇪🇸 🇫🇷 🇵🇹 🇸🇪 🇳🇱 🇦🇹 🇨🇭 🇧🇪 🇦🇺 🇳🇿 🇯🇵 🇧🇷

As well as its main .com site, Zazzle has a domain for many major countries. Visitors to those domains see everything in the local language, with prices in the local currency. As a result, visitors from those countries are much more likely to buy from their local domain. Zazzle and the various country tax systems encourage that behaviour.

There’s a barrier to earning here but we have an answer! The barrier? If an affiliate refers someone to the .com domain but they end up buying from their local domain, no referral is earned. To compound it, not all products (esp. edible ones) aren’t available outside the US.

So to banish those barriers, uniquely amongst Zazzle affiliate tools, NiftyGridZPro gives you the option to switch on local domains. It’s a bit time consuming interrogating Zazzle for product availability, so the feature is auto-limited to grids with fewer than 10 items.

Here’s how it works. NiftyGridZPro determines the geographical location where a visitor is browsing from and looks up the Zazzle domain for that country. It then swaps in the local country domain for all Zazzle links.

Now you will get any referral commision due 🙂

Comprehensive help

There’s lots of how-tos, FAQs and tutorial videos to help you with any aspect of using NiftyGridZPro.

There’s one last thing for you to do:

Get Your Premium License Now!

Affiliate tool for Zazzle - NiftyGridZPro

Creative product grid use – how to improve your posts

Here’s an example post that demonstrates various ways that NiftyGridZPro can be used creatively to improve your blog posts. You’re not restricted to plain old grids between some paragraphs, not when you get a bit creative!

We’ve used wedding-themed products – pretend that instead of all the “how it’s done” stuff, there’s a gorgeously written article all about weddings, illustrated with occasional products.

Embedded on the right in a paragraph

Update Oct 11 2017: Now catered for using new shortcode option: paragraph_embed

Something for the Bachelorette?

Here’s what we did to get this paragraph looking like this. In text mode we enclosed the shortcode for the grid in a div. Still in text mode, we gave that div an inline style that floats it to the right of the text that follows.
Here’s the enclosing div and shortcode we used:   <div style="float: right;">[niftygridzpro title_font_size="12px" cell_max_width="200px" cell_border_color="#aaaaaa" description_font_size="12px" description_length="0" search_term="bachelorette party" page_size="1" page_number="1" product_background_color="#ffffff" tracking_code="ngrdz_blg_eg_layts"]<div style="font-size:small;text-align:center;margin-top:-30px;">Something for the Bachelorette?</div></div>

Embedded on the left

Update Oct 11 2017: Now catered for using new shortcode option: paragraph_embed

In the following paragraph, a page_size=4 grid has been used. Instead of it being floated to the right, this time it’s floated to the left. More than that, the inline style sets its max width to half that available.

One thing to remember, make sure that there’s enough width for those viewing on mobile! It’s easy to overlook but remember that 50% of your visitors, more as time goes on, are going to be using mobile devices. Ok, here’s the div-wrapped shortcode: <div style="float: left;max-width: 50%;">[niftygridzpro title_font_size = "9px" title_alignment = "center" cell_max_width = "110px" cell_border_color = "#aaaaaa" cell_background_color = "#ffffff" cell_font_color = "#333333" description_font_size = "12px" description_length = "0" include_product_names_in_titles = 0 use_message_slot = 0 store_or_collection = "" search_term = "chevron wedding" department_id = "252145500430512226" page_size = "4" page_number = "1" product_background_color = "#ffffff" tracking_code = "ngrdz_blg_eg_layts"]</div>

Creative, or wot?!

So make with the divs, don’t be afraid to go small and when you do, mess around with the details that are shown for each product. We’ll leave it as an exercise for you to work out how to show no details at all 🙂


If you’re going to use single-product grids somewhere that space is tight, make sure you have a generic fallback grid the same size mentioned in your shortcode.

That way your layout will be preserved should Zazzle go down. The same goes for any layout where the number of products matters.