Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cafepress and other things I'm sick about

I know I've posted this before...but can I possibly just "opt out" for the rest of 2009? Seriously. To be frank, this year has sucked. I'm ready for a change. Since being a part of 2009 obviously doesn't help, I think it would just be much easier to opt out, as they say in internet-land. Or on websites like Cafepress...

Cafepress has caused the latest fiasco in my life. A big announcement yesterday basically stated they are taking 55-70% of my income and claiming it for themselves. But wait - it's MY ART on that product that is totally white-faced before *I* put it on there, right? Cafepress is a "print on demand" firm, the last time I checked. I mean after all - that is what I pay them for each month to have a shop and put my art on these blank products.

Or is Cafepress now a major licensing operation? As in they decide what art of mine they like, they select it, they put it on products themselves, describe it, tag it, market it, and I get paid a small licensing fee as a result. Yet in that scenario - I don't have to do all the work - nor pay them. I can spend my days simply creating art.

But lo and behold, with these changes, I'm expected to do all that work, pay for the privelege of a shop each month, plus spend time marketing....and for a measley 10%? HUH? They simply cannot be serious.

Let's do the math here. Before, I wanted to make $10 on the sale of a product, so I did the art, did the product design work, paid to have a store to put that product IN, and I made $10 on the product. Easy-peasy. No problem. Nice to have that little $10 in income last month.

With their changes - I will now receive only $4.40. Yet I've done everything else the same - still prepared and provided art for that blank whatchamacallit, uploaded it, tagged it, described it, edited it right for the product, and paid for the ability to put it ON the product. So my income on that product has just dropped by $5.40. And since I'm not doing the pricing anymore (oh yeah, that's part of their new business model - they decide what the price for my work is), I can't raise the price to cover this deficit.

It's like having a job that pays $10 an hour and you've just been told your hourly rate is going down to $4.40 per hour. Now if that were the case, I'd be evaluating whether my time and expense of going to and doing this job would see me a "profit" at $4.40 per hour. Being that I've already figured any job that pays less than $10 per hour costs me too much to even go DO, I know the answer to this: doing the work, plus paying Cafepress for the privelege, is not worth the $4.40.

The only thing that MIGHT make it worth it is if they guarantee my sales would at least TRIPLE by their efforts. And they cannot guarantee that. In fact, after this move and the feelings of millions of shopkeepers, I doubt they'll have NEAR the sales they did up to this point. Shopkeepers are jumping ship and removing their art from the site - affiliates will stop sending people there as well, because many of the affiliate sites are built around a quality niche. When a bulk of the good art is gone - there will be nothing but blank white do-dads to sell. Shopkeepers who sell there also shop there...if they leave, they'll stop shopping there as well.

It's Ebay-meets-Cafepress. Perhaps they put Donahoe in charge at CP and we just don't know about it yet. My sales tanked on Ebay after so many of the seasoned sellers took their business away, and it was only a matter of months before I had to close down at ebay for financial reasons. It was like being in a sink hole that just kept going into the nothingness.

At this point, I'm glad to be away from Ebay....I already had zippo for sales there - being there (especially after all the changes) de-valued my artwork and my self-worth, and my stress level was through the roof. Now - Cafepress hasn't been THAT stressful for me, but it does involve quite a bit of work. I've had this shop for 7 years now and have a variety of my work created over that 7 years in the shop. There's no clear best-seller - I sell a little of everything. So it's not like I can take just a piece of my store and move it to another POD provider. And moving it all seems so overwhelming, I don't even want to consider the work involved.

But I know if I allow them to only pay me a fraction of what my work is worth - that's like me telling the universe, hey, my work is worth pennies on the dollar, but I'm just fine with that! Guess what I'll get in the future if I do that? --> more of the same.

If someone is going to license my work and only pay me 10% in fees, then I'll let some major licensing agency take over the works - and they can do the work I've been doing for 7 years. Sure, I'll be happy to accept only 10% if all I did was prepare the art and don't have to do the rest of the leg-work and product preparation. But I'm not going to do all that work for only 10%.

All that being said - I have no clue what I'm going to do with my art now. I do have my recent art available via RedBubble's POD program in my shop here. I may just stick with that.

My Hoppy Humor line of digital works, however, is solely designed for Cafepress products. I haven't added to the line in a while, so maybe I'll just retire it. I have a little over one month (until May 31) to make decisions about this.

In the meantime, my left ear is still plugged up, though my fever from this awful infection I've had is finally gone. I'm very weak and out of breath, but I'm going to TRY to attempt to work on a painting a little today. In fact, I've been thinking of taking a month long sabbatical from life and do NOTHING except art. That means NOTHING. I'm so irritated and disallusioned with so many things right now, it would probably be good for me - as well as for everyone around me - right now if I did that. My input doesn't seem to matter on anything it might be for the best.

Nothing has been done about our roof - I can't get an estimate though I've had 7 people now (or is it 8? I've lost count!) out here. Well I have to take that back - I do have one estimate. And the way it's looking, those guys might get the job. I'm not going to chase these guys around...if someone wants the job I'm offering, all they have to do is give me the estimate. But I'm not going to chase them for it. To be honest, at this point I'm ready to get Lowes to deliver the materials and fix it myself. I've never fixed a roof before, but there's a first time for everything. And hey, then I could pocket the insurance money for "labor" myself. Gee, I might have just found a new source of income...the day after Cafepress announced they were cutting mine. Hmmm....


Marianne Dow said...

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

Carole and Chewy said...

Jai -
I'm so sorry.
And for once, my procrastination paid off. I had been planning to get Chewy onto Cafe Press in the next 30 days - take that off the list now. It just seems everything is going down the tubes now doesn't it?
Something has to give sooner or later, if anyone is still around to enjoy it.

Rags said...

I'm Blog Rollin' the subject Jai. It should help people discover the subject in terms of search engines. Best of luck with whatever is on the horizon for you.

Sheryl Karas said...

I'm sick about this, too! We've all put SO much time and effort in. And now I've been kicked off the Cafepress forums for trying to encourage people to speak up!

I've written two blog posts on this so far. The first one is here:

And a truly rabble rousing one -- as a direct result of being kicked off the forums today is here:

Kat Simpson said...

Shades of eBay! Jai, would you be available for a few minutes this Wednesday night to call in to my radio show and talk about this? LMK> sorry this got dumped on you, Kat