Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cafepress? No More!!!

Speaking of needing to bring in abundant prosperity, a new partner and the ability to do new things with confidence (see my previous post), those of us who have been pouring years of effort into building and learning to promote our Cafepress gift shops are being put out of business.

Yesterday the company millions of us have been supporting with user-generated content-- their corporate business model -- were shocked to learn that Cafepress intends to raise their base prices to consumers while gutting the commission artists who design these products will earn on their work at the same time.

Most artists on Cafepress choose a mark-up between 25%-100% on most of their items. Now Cafepress is instituting a policy of 10% commissions on anything sold in their marketplace (but not in individual artist shops.) They say that this means we can still make money through driving sales to our individual shops but all the hard work we've been doing driving traffic to Cafepress through our product designs, product descriptions, blogging, advertising, etc. will be for naught.

This short sighted business practice means that designers who have figured out how to play the Cafepress game successfully are about to have their businesses gutted. The vast majority of Cafepress designers make most of their income through marketplace sales and it is their product designs and descriptions, picked up by Google, other search engines and found on the site itself that lead to these purchases.

Cafepress has benefited enormously from this as they make the lion's share of the profit in every sale that is made. In fact, Cafepress wouldn't be in business if it wasn't for the hard work artists have done in supplying their designs, promoting them, and getting their friends, family members and neighbors to buy them. Not to mention buying their own products to sell elsewhere.

Cafepress members on their very own forum are reporting that they will lose 70-80% of their incomes. There are people who have retired, quit their day jobs, and made a healthy living from this venture. One single mom has been supporting her family, making $50,000 a year through her Cafepress sales and 90% of her business comes through the marketplace instead of through her individual shop. She estimates her income will plummet to $5000-7000 and she doesn't know what she will do to replace it.

She's not alone! There are tens of thousands of shopkeepers on Cafepress. Paul and I have not cracked the code on how to make money with this yet. We're in it for grocery money. But that's not nothing!

By May 31st we and lots of people like us will be forced to scrap all our hard work and find other places to sell it. I, for one, will not keep our Cafepress shop open unless a major apology and turn around occurs. Even if that does happen though, we'll have moved on.


Jon Baas said...

I love the last paragraph! Great post.

St. Andrew said...

The new 10% commission is an insult to the artists/shopkeepers who have helped you grow to your current size. For most shopkeepers, this is equivalent to a 50-80% paycut. Affiliates make 15%. Will Cafepress be able to survive the defection of its most talented shopkeepers? Undoubtedly, the answer is "yes"--and that's unfortunate.

paintandink said...

Wow, I read the email and didn't even realize this was what was happening. I sell very little on CafePress, but it's still a terrible idea.

Up to this point, though, I've much preferred CP to Zazzle, because although the Zazzle site is prettier, the shipping is outrageous and the product design more difficult.

paintandink said...

Gotta add that I love the tag "economics as if people mattered"

Sheryl Karas said...

Thanks! :-)

Cindy said...

I've had a cafepress store since 2003 and it has brought in a lot of money for my family. Last years volume bonus changes were a huge hit and now this will take what used to be $2000-$3000 a month income and turn it into $200-$300 a month income. That is just wrong!!! I have had a zazzle store since the volume bonus changes and right now with 1/4 the amount of cafepress sales, I am making a larger volume bonus on zazzle than on cafepress. With this change, I have no doubt that even with the much fewer sales I'm getting on zazzle (which have been increasing each month) I will be making more money on zazzle. At least for now, zazzle seems to truely care about making you money as much as they care about making zazzle money. It is clear that cafepress only cares about making cafepress money. I wish you lots of luck with your zazzle store!

I did calculate how much money I will loss a month based on this month's sales and ended up with around 65% less in commissions with this new 10% method.

rowan said...

There are heaps of other PODs to choose from, companies that will be happy to have your business.
We have to stand up to greedy companies who think they can just steamroll over everyone.

Sheryl Karas said...

Yes! I'm sure Zazzle execs are dancing in the street!

Thanks for the link. We can use that!

Rags said...

I'm Blog Rollin' the subject Sheryl. Best of luck with whatever is on the horizon for you.

Anonymous said...

I've had a Cafepress shop for several year, but only sell my rescue merchandise. I think I may pull it hearing this.

Check into Artfire. I've been there for 3 months with a free ride with no listing fees, sellers fees NADDA. And it's only $12 a month. I'm really impressed with it.

Goyito said...

Last year I earned $28,500 in commissions from CafePress. Had they not unilaterally changed the volume bonus program, I would have earned another $5,000, for a total of $33,500.

As of June 1, shirts that I used to earn 5 bucks apiece by selling are now making me a lousy 2 bucks each. The difference is even worse on small price items such as buttons and bumper stickers.

As a company, CP has the right to make business decisions that are in its best interest. As an independent designer, so do I. As soon as I have moved my designs to I will make them unavailable via the CafePress marketplace. I am absolutely disgusted at the way I and other shopkeepers/designers have been treated. CafePress has acted in a highly offensive, unethical manner. The hell with them.

Anonymous said...

I just opened my shop, and everything was going great, sold quite a few t shirts my first few weeks on there. After I heard what they were going to do I was like what the hell! Greedy ass company. Very Greedy. I have made over 800.00 in Michael Jackson shirts this past few weeks, and I only get $80.00 of it. What kind of shit is that~ do they expect designers to put up with that kind of change????? They don't care about their shop owners. If they did they would of kept it the same. Its not like they are losing anything if we change the profit margin.They still get their cut. I had someone refer me to this place. I thought I was going to make money. Boy was I wrong, their making money off of my creativity. Their not stupid. I am closing my shop this weekend, and moving to Zazzle. I hope they lose a lot of business.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, they committed corporate suicide. I figured it would take a couple of months for people to see it start hitting their wallets. Their greed has cost me about $3000 in the last two months. Been working on moving everything over to Zazzle since. The ones who aren't completely leaving cafepress are removing their products from the marketplace. So, their site is going to look very bad. I wonder if they got sued or if they mismanaged the success of the 08 elections because they should have gone the other route with Zazzle on their heels. I worked for 2 years on my cafepress shop and it was beginning to make me a solid paycheck, so much for that time wasted. I don't think a company should be able to ask someone to invest their time based on broken promises and lies. I didn't sign up for a cafepress that would completely screw me once I did my part of the job.