Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cafe Oppressed?

Quite frankly, I'm amazed when some of them sell. My "Graphictruths" are designed without consideration of the potential consequence of wearing them in public. Often they are one-offs, or designed using a generic template that I can simply throw text into. That is not a usage Cafepress, or indeed many other services lend themselves to.

I used to rely heavily on Cafepress for my core graphics sales. Well, no longer. Cafepress has decided to compete against the people that made it a success, to undercut our price-points and generally, treat us as a resource to be exploited. It's as if they didn't realize there are competitors out there...

It's been some time since I've featured a Cafepress product on this blog. One change after another made it less and less appealing to me from the viewpoint of marketing - which is important, as it pays my server costs - and from the viewpoint of easily indulging my fetish for creating editorial shirts.

The first such choice was to switch to a new affiliate tracking "solution" that I could not get an account for. So, rather than be bothered to figure it out, I fairly much moved to Zazzle, leaving my cafepress designs to fend for themselves in the Marketplace; as several did.

But they also do well on Zazzle.

Irregular Times: CafePress Announces Big Price Hikes for Buyers, Big Commission Cuts for Sellers

CafePress may try to dress up today’s announcement with a barrel full of hand waving, a slapdash cloudiness of vocabulary and a few other mixed metaphors’ worth of dazzling PR-speak, but what their news release all boils down to is this:

1. Come June 1, the print-on-demand corporation CafePress will increase the prices shoppers pay for its shirts and other gear.
2. Come June 1, CafePress will decrease the commissions paid to the sellers who make designs available on CafePress products, especially on non-apparel items.
3. Starting now but especially after June 1, CafePress will work to undercut designers who maintain their own shops and also sell on CafePress’ “marketplace” search engine.

The result: less independence for designers who work through CafePress and a greater profit margin for the CafePress corporation.

I'll be removing my designs from the Cafepress Marketplace and moving them to Zazzle and one or two other services. If you use Cafepress, I encourage you to do the same - even if you only have a few token products. In this matter, it's not merely about the money - although, of course it is. It's also about the unethical exploitation of artists and designers - and without artists and designers providing them high-quality work for free, they will be forced to hire people, or reconsider this policy.

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