Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Closing My Cafepress Shop

Due to policy changes by Cafepress that will take effect June 1st, I will be closing my premium shop at the end of this year. It will be after almost 6 years of my partnership with Cafepress. I have already closed a basic shop today and I don't plan to be associated with them any longer in any way after this year. I wish Cafepress good luck in their future endeavors.


  1. Can't imagine why you'd wish Cafepress good luck. After all your hard work they just drove you out of a major portion of your business with a single policy change. Pure greed on their part, and pure disrespect for artists and designers. I certainly wish good luck to you.

  2. Thanks Paul for the well wishes.

    I suppose I should explain that although my post gives no indication to readers that I am being sarcastic, I assure you I was.

    The inspiration for the post was from a fellow forum user (can't remember if it was on Cafepress or Zazzle) who posted that he/she felt like they had just been fired, regarding CP's announcement of marketplace policy changes.
    I decided that it would be me firing Cafepress, not vice versa.

    At my last real job, whenever one of the office workers got fired, a nice formal notice would be posted up on the bulletin board wishing that employee well in his or her future endeavors. Essentially, my post was serving notice to Cafepress that they have been terminated.

    Some may think that it is too tongue-in-cheek and that I am going too easy on CP and should be more upset. The reality is, even though I never officially left Cafepress, I have, for lack of a better term, been AWOL from CP for approximately the last two years.

    I became quite disenchanted with CP around that time because of policy changes back then and essentially put my premium shop on life support. As long as money trickled in from market place sales, I was content to pay the cost of the shop fee, because I was making more than enough to cover it. I wasn't even promoting my shop any longer. Now with the new policy changes, that will not be possible.

    I guess you could say I was looking for a good excuse to close my shop and now Cafepress has given me one.

  3. .
    Cafepress has made a huge miscalculation! Their marketplace will see far fewer quality designs once all the outraged shopkeepers have defected to Zazzle, thus decreasing cafepress sales and decreasing buyer satisfaction.

    I hope there is enough backlash from this that they change their minds. It is an awful business decision. They must be reading from eBay's playbook.

    Thanks for your post. I love that Zazzle made ''Welcome Cafepress Shopkeepers'' t-shirts so quickly.

    --Marianne Dow

  4. Cafepress has given me a great opportunity to become much more savvy about promoting my own work. No more depending on "the man", that's for sure!

    Here's my blog post on the subject:

    Thanks for sharing yours and good luck to us all!

  5. Re: Marianne

    Only time will tell Marianne but you may end up being right. Of course, Cafepress is gambling that you're wrong.

    I like that ''Welcome Cafepress Shopkeepers'' t-shirt also but it should also have Zazzle's name on there otherwise it just looks like it is promoting Cafepress (if it were to be worn in real life).

    Re: Sheryl

    There's no doubt that Cafepress has been a good teaching tool and learning experience. But now sadly it is time to move on to bigger and better things, namely Zazzle and T-shirt Monster for all you Canadians out there.

  6. 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.

  7. Re: St. Andrew

    I assume when you mention, "artists/shopkeepers who have helped you grow to your current size", you are referring to Cafepress and not me. You might want to make that clear since you are posting on my blog and not the CP forums.

    Whether this will hurt Cafepress in the long run, as I said in another reply, only time will tell.

    Have there been CP shopkeepers who have left? Yes. Will there be more. Probably. Will new members join up? Very likely. Will it be enough to compensate for the ones that left/leave? That is something none of us can answer.

    I am sure CP had its accounting and marketing teams come up with a game plan that they figure will benefit them in the long run. Make no mistake about it, this is a marathon, not a sprint. If they can weather the storm in the beginning they still might cross the finish line first in the end. Does that mean I have to like it? No. Does that mean Cafepress' calculations are correct? No. They are taking a risk and it will either pay off or blow up in its face.

    I don't want to mislead people. Making the decision to leave Cafepress was not as difficult for me as it will be for others. Before I got 100% really involved with CP, I started spreading my eggs around to other PODs. So I never built a website around my store, never joined the affiliate program (except when it was in house) and I didn't like their product designer tool, among other things. I stopped adding products a couple years ago.

    I feel bad for the people who are really counting on their CP earnings as a full time income. I have seen some of these shopkeepers who have built some beautiful websites to advertise their shops, added tons of products and did hours of SEO. If I had put all that work into it, I don't know that I would have such an time deciding to leave. I certainly would not remain in the marketplace, but I would definitely consider keeping my store open.

    In the end, the decision to stay or leave is one that you must decide for yourself and nobody else.

  8. Wow, and I thought I would be the only one leaving CP. I closed my older, free stores last week and will close my premium store by the end of June (don't forget to delete your images... those SOBs would use them as their own).

    This taught me a valuable lesson and that is to spread the wealth. My POD centers that is, no more will I rely on just one to do all my printing.

    Good luck to everyone.

  9. Re: Mark

    Mark, thanks for the tip about deleting our images first when we close our shops. It never occurred to me that we would need to do that. I assumed by clicking on the "close this shop" button it removed everything in one shot. I guess I better take that step when I close my premium shop at the end of the year.

    It's unfortunate that the phrase, "spread the wealth" could not be Cafepress' motto just as easily as it is yours, Mark.

    I agree with the idea of not keeping all your eggs in one basket. It would be nice to have that one perfect POD service, but I don't think it exists. Cafepress has moved farther and farther away from what I am looking for so I have found 3 other PODs that will fit my needs.

    I did not wait until this last announcement from CP to find other alternatives. I started joining other PODs about 3 years ago, starting with Zazzle. Even if I don't use some of the other ones very much, I make sure to sign up for their newsletters so I can keep up to date on where they are headed as far as their business model is concerned. That way I can decide if I should be spending more time at any particular POD. Always keep your options open and never shut the door completely on any situation. That is why I will still be receiving the CP newsletter. Who knows, there might come a day when they might entice me back. First they would have to make several changes and right now I don't see that happening.

  10. 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 or 6 bucks apiece by selling are now making me a lousy 2 bucks each. The difference is even more drastic 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.

  11. Re: Goyito

    Thanks for volunteering the dollar figures although I certainly don't ask or expect anyone to do so.

    I certainly didn't approach anywhere near those numbers but perhaps if I would have if i had continued to make CP my POD of choice instead of moving over to Zazzle.

    You start off with a philosophical view, saying that CP has the right to do what it wants as do you as an independent designer. Yet at the end, you curse them out for doing what you say is their right. I have to say though that this is probably how I would feel if I was making the income you were at CP. I can't blame people who feel they have had the rug pulled from under their feet. Sometimes it is good to vent even though you know it won't change anything.

    Yesterday, I opted out of the Cafepress marketplace. That was the first step in my plan to leave CP altogether. The next step will come in December when I close my shop completely before the subscription renewal comes up. It is going to be weird after starting there over 5 years ago. But like I said before, I look at it as me changing suppliers and letting CP know that I have found someone else and I no longer need them. It is little consolation to those who will be losing a big chunk of change but what other choices are there?

  12. Recently CafePress began competing with the artists for whom it acts as printer and shipper.

    CafePress rents web shops to its artists. The artist creates a website page and manually loads the desired blank products. The artist imports his image onto each product, arranges the products on the page, describes the products, titles the products and tags the images.

    Initially, the artist would set a markup and received the markup for each product sold.

    However, recently CafePress began competing with its artists, using the artists' own images. CafePress created a marketplace where a customer can search a keyword. That search brings up artist products. When the customer buys from the marketplace CafePress pays the artist 10% of the price CafePress set. Both the customer and the artist lose money. If the artist's shop sells a t-shirt for $21, the artist makes $3.01. If the marketplace sells the same shirt for $25, the artist gets $2.50. The customer pays $4 more, and the artist gets $0.51 less.

    CafePress tells artists to "promote your own shop," but CafePress buys Google adwords using the very image tags the artist provided.

    CafePress justifies this bait and switch of service terms by telling artists they can opt out if they don't like the new terms; however, many have spent as much as 7 or 8 years creating as much as 88000 images.

    In spite of their sweat-equity, many shopkeepers (content providers) are building shops at other print-on-demand companies and then closing their CafePress shops due to the broken faith and trust, the financial hardship CafePress has delivered into so many lives, and the huge amount of time and dedicated effort all lost in the momentum of their own businesses. Would you keep your AMOCO station franchise if AMOCO built a company store across the street from you?

  13. Re:Linkin Mall

    Thanks Link for the comment. You make a good point about how hard it is to compete with Cafepress' self promotion. If anyone has products left in CP's marketplace, good luck trying to get your shop to outrank your own marketplace products. You'll be shooting yourself in the foot.