Our writer Jim has done an excellent job documenting how CafePress has deprived its shopkeepers of income by incorrectly calling listing shopkeepers’ own sales as coming from the CafePress marketplace directory. CafePress shopkeepers make significantly less money when their items sell through the marketplace.
As a result of these kinds of problems, many CafePress shopkeepers have pulled out of participation in the marketplace directory. Theoretically, that shouldn’t harm shopkeepers’ own efforts to sell their items without the marketplace’s outrageous markups. Of course, we’ve learned over the last few weeks that that the way that CafePress operates in theory does not match the way that CafePress operates in reality.
This brings me to Squidoo. Squidoo has been a good tool for CafePress shopkeepers, giving free space in which to develop issue-focused pages that can include quick-to-create modules for selling related CafePress items. Sometime in the last couple weeks, this system has broken down.
The image you see here is from a Squidoo page I set up recently to provide an easy way to follow news on the effort to legalize marriage equality in New York state. It’s the CafePress module in that page, which had bumper stickers, buttons and a tshirt for people who wanted gear to express support for the effort. As you can see, it’s blank.
Why is it blank? I had 5 items there before, and I certainly didn’t take them out. There are a couple of possibilities I can think of.
First, since I set up the module, Squidoo has altered its own model a little bit, offering different themes of appearance, and taking away a tool that encouraged Squidoo members to link to other Squidoo pages. It’s possible that this shift has caused some kind of programming glitch that empties out CafePress modules.
Second, since I set up the module, we at Irregular Times have removed our CafePress shops from the marketplace program. It’s possible that this shift has caused problems with CafePress modules at Squidoo. If this is the case, it suggests that CafePress was counting sales made as a result of shopkeers going through the trouble to market their own products, not as shopkeepers’ own sales, but as sales made through the marketplace. That would contradict what CafePress has told its shopkeepers, that marketplace sales were due to the hard work of people CafePress, and not shopkeepers’ efforts.
Whichever is the case, the timing couldn’t be worse for CafePress, which already is dealing with a large number of angry shopkeepers. There are a lot of Squidoo pages that had been directing traffic to CafePress, but aren’t any more. It’s likely that many CafePress shopkeepers who had maintained CafePress modules at Squidoo pages are feeling too disenchanted with CafePress to repair these modules, and may work with plain text modules linking to alternative print on demand companies, such as Skreened, instead.