When print-on-demand sticker and shirt shipper CafePress raised prices for customers and cut pay to designers starting June 1, 2009, the manner in which they spoke to designers set the tone for all that would follow. Over the phone, CafePress representatives insisted that their decision to cut pay to designers and raise prices for customers was a clear-cut corporate business move, that it was nothing personal, that designers should stop complaining, accept the change and move on.
CafePress designers, having personally invested a great deal of time and effort into building and maintaining their design collections on Cafepress.com, personally helped CafePress to maintain a lead in the print-on-demand market for years, as you can see from this internet traffic trendline against CafePress’ closest competitor, Zazzle:
Let’s zoom in on the most recent portion of that trendline:
June and July of this year mark the point at which CafePress, for the first time in its ten years of existence, lost its first-place spot in traffic volume among print on demand shops. Is that simply a matter of coincidence, or have designers taken CafePress’ advice to stop thinking of their work personally and to move on?
Without the people and their designs, CafePress.com is only a piece of software design. When CafePress is “nothing personal” and the “personal” is taken away, what’s left?