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Finding a reputable, successful marketing person/company?

In my entire life I've never had any reason to deal with marketing agencies/people, but now I'm thinking about it. Long story short, my CafePress shops used to bring me 4-figures a month in commission, then CP changed their commission model and it literally dropped to TWO figures overnight. I'm serious. Whereas a typical month's commission used to be $2,000-$5,000, after this change it fell to $20-$35/month. :eek:

The real kicker is that my stuff is selling. It's not like I have something that no one wants to buy. It's selling, alright, but I'm making pennies on each sale while CP is raking in the dough. Some examples: hooded sweatshirts that used to bring me $20 commission, now yield me $1.19; bumper stickers that I used to make $2.00 each on, I now get $0.18.

I have no experience at and, frankly, I suck at promoting my stuff. I've tried. I mean I've really tried, even tried things like paying for Google ads, but nothing has worked because I'm just NOT a salesperson.

I need to find someone, and I don't care if it's an individual or an agency, who will be successful at generating sales. Someone reputable, reliable, successful at what they do. I don't have a clue where or how to look! A random search on the Interwebs isn't going to cut it.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how to find someone like this? Ideally, what I hope to do is work with them on some sort of commission basis, i.e., where sales they generate (and these will be VERY easy to distinguish from other sales) yield them a certain percentage of my commission. But if I have to pay in other ways, like a monthly or hourly fee, or whatever, that's fine too.
You could make a commercial with very attractive people wearing noting but your bumper stickers.
Presumably the appropriate bumper sticker would be "If you can read this you are too close" ;)

What changes to CafePress make to their commission model? Because when I did a little web research to find out whether there is an obvious better print-on-demand service I quickly found complaints about their offering low commission rates (default 5%) from several years ago.
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Presumably the appropriate bumper sticker would be "If you can read this you are too close" ;)

What changes to CafePress make to their commission model? Because when I did a little web research to find out whether there is an obvious better print-on-demand service I quickly found complaints about their offering low commission rates (default 5%) from several years ago.
I could literally write volumes about this. I'll TRY to give you the short version.

Originally, the shopkeeper (SK) set the markup on all items they chose to sell, e.g., a sweatshirt whose base price was $20, I added $15 as its markup, the customer paid $35 to buy it, I got my $15 as commission and CP got their $20. I, and a number of other people, had VERY successful sales. This was their main source of income, their full-time job, for quite a few of the REALLY successful (better than me, like 5-figures per month) sellers.

There were always two distinct places for customers to buy: shops, and the CP marketplace. I was a really esteemed member way back when--I got the 'top shopkeeper spotlight' banner on the home page (marketplace) for ONE MONTH showing my stuff, a banner *I* designed, with my text, my models (two gay friends of my daughter's who posed for one of my gay marriage designs), pointing to my products. Back then, it made no difference, in terms of commission, where the sale was made.

Then the shoe dropped. Overnight, CP began a commission model where *they* set the markup for all items in the MP, AND you earn a pittance percentage of their selling price. Items sold through your shops still earned YOUR markup. The percentage was initially stated as 10%, however as time went by it kept dropping, based on convoluted rules CP dreamed up; my current commission is only 7%; for others it's 5%.

Here's the clincher: CP can and does UNDERPRICE their products, so there is NO POSSIBLE way a shopkeeper can compete. Example: they put a hoodie, whose base price is $30, on sale for $22.99. See the problem? If I wanted to match that price, I literally CAN'T, because the base price is not changeable, i.e., in my shops, if I try to modify that hoodie's markup....I can't enter a negative number....and if I could, I'd be a real moron! I'd LOSE commission. The absolute LOWEST price I could make that hoodie would be $30--and make nothing, and still lose the sale to their $22.99.

Their promise at the time--and believe me there was a HUGE uproar--was that, yes, you're making less per item sold via the MP (which is where 99.99% of all sales occur), but you'll make it up in volume! They said that. Really. It never happened. Here I am, years later, seeing a $20-$40 deposit in my PayPal account every month or every OTHER month. I used to make thousands every month. The holidays were like Christmas morning, all the SKs excited and predicting how good sales would be, the forums absolutely buzzing. Now? Nothing. There's no difference in my commission after the holidays than any other time of year, and the forums died long ago, with nothing but complaints and discussions about alternative sites--which they promptly removed. Comments from disabled people who RELIED on the few hundred dollars they were making each month broke my heart. :(

TL;DR To boil it all down, the ONLY way I can make my markup is by driving sales directly to my shops. The sale must be initiated and completed from my shop--if the customer visits the MP while they're shopping, and buys my same product there, I don't get my markup.
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FWIW I've never heard of this Cafepress, and know nothing about marketing, but are there any other outlets where you can sell your merchandise, that have better rates?
Yes, and no. CafePress is what's known as a POD--print on demand--company. They do EVERYTHING, from stocking inventory, to printing the products, to handling payments/refunds, to shipping the orders and managing customer service. My part is to create designs, decide which products I want each design to go on (and there are hundreds of products), upload my designs, apply them to the products I want, and that's it. After that they do everything.

Their biggest competitor, Zazzle, I had never thought of using until the horrid commission change. After that, I did sign up and start using Zazzle, but it really sucks compared to CP. I mean it's really bad. Its tools for mass-editing or mass-adding products just suck...so much.... :eek: A task that would take 15-20 minutes on CP can easily take several DAYS on Zazzle. No joke. I just don't have the patience to deal with the frustration using their site gives me.

There are/were other PODs, but none comes close to the overall quality of CP, both in terms of products offered for sale and tools available to shopkeepers. There's just no comparison. I have a lot of work invested in my CP shops; my products have sold in the hundreds of thousands; I don't want to leave! I just want my fair share of the proceeds.
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It almost sounds like "bait and switch": wait until we have a big enough pool of content and then change the rules.
I know, and I agree. What shocks me now and has since it happened, is how this could even be legal. But apparently it is! The way it worked was they popped up a revised 'terms and conditions' that you had to acknowledge before you could continue. By acknowledging it, you were accepting the new terms. IOW, our only choices were to accept the new [awful] terms, or leave. We all chose to accept...then we realized just how devastating the new model was, and nothing has been the same since.

There was one guy on forums who was the BIGGEST CP cheerleader--he even called himself that. He had a line of comic books, but it was his CP merchandise based on those characters that brought him five figures a month. Talk about a change of mind! The last I heard of him he had nothing but horrible things to say about CP, and understandably. They literally ruined people's lives--overnight. There were people who immediately would not be able to pay their rent, disabled people, living on SSDI or SSI, unable to work, making $200-$400 a month on CP, which was enough to give them a little breathing room. Then the shoe dropped. It was gut-wrenchingly sad.
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If you have some imagination, you can do great things!
Um, yes, I know. That's how I turned designs I dreamed up into millions of sales!! Unfortunately, all the imagination in the world isn't a replacement for knowing how to MARKET your products, hence my predicament.
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Resurrecting this thread because I still need help. I've had so much else going on that this kind of got pushed to the back burner, but now things are finally winding down and I started thinking about this whole issue again.

As always, my CafePress products are selling like hotcakes--and I'm making LITERAL cents per item. I used to get 4-figure checks from CP every month, now about every 3 months I get one for $30-$40. No kidding. :mad:

I've thought about posting on NextDoor to see if anyone in my neighborhood can help, but I really need to reach far and wide to find the right person. I need someone who can take my wealth of already-created products/designs and drum up customers to go to my CP shops and buy my stuff. I want to do this on a commission basis; I do not want to pay someone a fee upfront nor do I want a monthly retainer or anything like that.

Every time I receive an e-mail from CP with its happy subject of "You made a sale!" I get pissed off. I remember when those used to make my eyes light up. Not now. It's very demoralizing to open a message and see that I sold 10 copies of a bumper sticker--which used to net me $2+ dollars per sticker--and I earned a whopping $1.98 or whatever it is. :(

All ideas gratefully accepted.
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i would go to Instagram, you tube, twitter and Facebook and put ads on all of them.
I tried variations of that years ago, and got nowhere. I even advertised on very specific forums, e.g., for my ballet-related designs I advertised on a dance board I used to be very active on. Nothing. I paid a lot of money for Google Adwords, each ad targeting one specific topic, i.e., politics, animal rights, humorous slogans, etc. Nothing. I tried, but just couldn't get into, promoting my stuff on Instagram and Pinterest. I'm simply NOT GOOD at advertising! I suck at promoting my own stuff, and I know it. Meanwhile, day after day I get "You made a sale!" e-mails from CafePress and get more and more disgusted at their paltry commissions. Pennies instead of multiple dollars like before. Ugh.

It's not like I have shitty designs. I've sold tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of products since I started on CP, and then Zazzle, too, so people definitely *like* my stuff. I just need to figure out how to drive traffic directly to my CP shops--if items are sold there, I get my full mark-up, as opposed to items purchased through CP's marketplace.

I think you can try to make your own site and try to sell there. Of course you need advertising in order to attract people to sell, but I think that for you it will not be a big problem. Now I have begun to pay attention to companies on moderation. One of the best investments you can make for your company is to have a content moderation service that will help you protect your company's image and reputation, they are now gaining a lot of popularity about this I learned here. It is unflattering for businesses when some people post rude or sensitive content on company websites and social media.
You're making some very good points but, unfortunately, been there, done that. :( I had multiple domains/sites for many years, finally killing all but one last year. I don't want to go that route again. As I've said numerous times, I suck at promoting myself, so there's just no point in going through all the work (again) of putting together websites only to get nothing out of it.

With CafePress set up the way it is, all I need to do is direct interested people to the appropriate shop. So, for example, a pregnant woman who's looking for clever pregnancy designs, point her to my shop with shirts saying "future physician" or "future Linux user" or "future astronaut," etc. Someone looking for merchandise about their home state would be pointed to the shop for that. And so on. But I've tried and failed to accomplish this myself!
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