It all seems so simple over at cafepress when you first get started–and in many ways, it really is that simple. You just open up an account, upload your images, put those images onto some products, and voila–you have a store. There are so many details, however, that just aren’t obvious at first.
If you seriously want to make a go at using Cafepress to sell things, I heartily recommend buying the book Success with Cafepress.com (review to come soon). There are so many things you’ll learn quickly and easily in that book that you’d have to hunt around for ages on the site to figure out.
For one, you’ll find out all the correct sizes and resolutions for your images. This has a serious effect on how good your items look. After reading through the book I redid every single image in my store, and now I have a great deal of confidence in the quality of the items there (verified by ordering some of the ones I knew would be trickiest in terms of how they might come out).
A couple of my own quick tips for base beginners (nothing useful for old hands here):
- Make sure the first image you add to a set of items is the correct size (since all the shirts will take square images and the largest square image you can use on an item is basically 11″x11″, make that size and use it on any item that will take such a size). If it’s too small, then when you use the replace image function to add a larger image, it’ll load in the new image at the original reduced size, and you’ll have to either delete all your items and make new ones, or re-size each item individually.
- Since you can adjust the size of an image on most items, you don’t necessarily have to make a separate image for buttons and magnets and such. I find the images I use for shirts often go a little over the edges of buttons, so I just tell the product creator to shrink them a bit.
- Because you’ll probably have to go through and make adjustments to your items before you begin, “hide” a section until it’s ready to go. Cafepress makes items live the moment you add them to your shop, but you can hide a section. The more traffic your store gets the more important this is, because you want a chance to correct those sizes and such before people see your items.
- Buy a handful of your own items. When you try out new effects and styles, buy one to make sure it’ll work well. For example, if you have five designs that are small text and eight that involve large swaths of complicated color patterns, make sure to order at least one of each so you’ll know if, for example, you need your image at a higher resolution for the small text to be clear. Or so that you’ll know if the large swath of color doesn’t come out right on fabric, or conversely, looks particularly good on items such as mugs.
- And did I mention, buy the book?