Saturday, May 17, 2008

Marketing Tips for Your CaféPress Store

I love it when readers e-mail me with insightful questions! Christine e-mailed me to ask if I had experience of affiliate marketing to promote Cafépress shops. Below is her e-mail, along with my response. Thanks, Christine.

Hi Jason,

I found your website searching for ways to promote my cafepress shop, and I was just wondering if you do affiliate marketing of shops on Cafepress? I've had my shop for a while now, but I have not been very successful promoting it. I think part of the problem is I don't have alot of time to work on marketing it. I'm a stay at home mom to two boys on the Autism spectrum, so a great deal of my time is spent taking care of them as well as getting the proper educational, and medical necessities in place. It's truly a full time job all it's own. Before my Adventures in Autism, I used to be a freelance illustrator, so creating and making products is actually the easy part for me. I do sell stuff with virtually no marketing what so ever, and I just wonder how well my shop would do if marketed properly.

Anyway, I was wondering if you did do affiliate marketing with the Cafepress affiliate program would you consider taking a look at my shop and see if you would be interested in taking on some of my products? I was thinking that since I don't really have alot of time for marketing maybe if I could find affiliates who think they could market my stuff and get the affiliate commission.

Thanks alot in advance for taking the time to look at my store,

Best Regards,

Christine Marlow


I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I literally get dozens of e-mails each day from people with questions like yours and I try to answer them all. I wanted to take a little more time and review your websites.

I have a couple suggestions, in no particular order.

First, regarding using affiliate marketing to promote a Café press shop...

I don't do it and probably won't. Affiliate marketing is an art form. It's actually not something I do heavily. The successful affiliate marketers I know takes years to build their lists. Additionally, they look for very high percentage products. Many websites offer as much as 25 to 50% of affiliate commission. They focus on dollars per sale. Unfortunately the margins are slim with a Café press. I like the Café press print-on-demand system, but it probably isn't right for attracting serious affiliate marketers.

Cafépress works better by using niche marketing. The idea is that you create products for specific types of people.

You have some great products, Try organizing your main store into categories based on audience rather than on products. For example you have refrigerator magnets as a category, but I notice you have several baby related products. I would probably create a category for new parents rather than refrigerator magnets.

The other thing you can do is have multiple stories with the fewer products. Your main store is terrific, but frankly there are too many things from which to choose.

Try the "value meal" approach. Create other stores with a smaller selection of products focused on individual audiences. If you go to McDonald's there are dozens of items on the menu, yet nine out of 10 customers order a value meal. It's easier for them to make decisions out of a few selections rather than choosing items à la carte.

I'll be writing more about the value meal approach on my website in the future.

Finally, this is obviously a serious endeavor for you. Well you certainly enjoy and have talent for illustration, you simply need to dedicate time to marketing. My experience is that most people know what to do when it comes to creating products or writing for their blog, but since they don't know how to market they think of it as an overwhelming task.

Here's a few quick tips:
  • Create individual pages or stores with just a few audience focused products.
  • Find websites, message boards, blogs were your audience hangs out.
  • Participate in the communities, posting messages or comments, and subtly link to your stores.
  • Create product announcements on your blog. Make an event of new products.
  • Start collecting e-mail addresses from customers and people interested in your topic.
  • Start connecting with other bloggers, like you did with me, and ask them to review your pages and write about them.
For you personally, I would recommend focusing on Autism awareness. It's something that you already spend time learning about, and probably communicating with other parents. It's your best opportunity to practice marketing.

If it's okay with you, I will share some of this advice, along with your original e-mail on my blog. Of course, I will link to your Cafépress store and one or two of the products.

Have a great day,


A couple of points for my blog readers.

First, my Cafépress store doesn't follow any of the suggestions I offered to Christine. I earn very little money from Cafépress, because frankly, it's very time consuming for me and I have found other ways of generating revenue that are more to my liking. I focus my time on generating article content rather than physical products.

Second, I did check out Christine's store and found a couple items I enjoyed. I didn't order them, but I'm considering it. Here were some of my favorites:
Third, it's time for some blatant self-promotion. Here are a couple of favorites from my own store.
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