Sunday, September 10, 2006

No Sales - Why?

Every few days a question pops up on CafePress forums.

  • I am not making any sales. What am I doing wrong?

Here are all the possible answers I can think of:

  1. You did not read the help pages. I strongly recommend that every new shopkeeper reads all the help texts and files provided by CafeShop. There is the learning center, there are the tips, templates... Further, s newbie shopkeeper should read CafePress forums archive, especially the stickied threads, and than make it a habit to read the forums on regular bases. There are additional useful texts to read at Cafepedia and it is highly recommended to read those, too. It sounds like a lot of reading, but if you want to make sales there is no other choice but to learn everything there is to know. Most of the other shopkeepers are willing to help with specific problems, but nobody will hold your hand and guide you through everything.
  2. You think that CafePress is easy money. Being a shopkeeper is a complex and demanding job. You need to know at least the basics of design, marketing, copywriting and SEO plus be witty, artistic or both. Making a quick design and putting it on a few products in a basic shop and than waiting for sales will not do.
  3. You forgot to write tags when you uploaded your images. Tags make your designs visible in the marketplace. It will take time for search engines to index your shop and for affiliates to notice you, so the marketplace is your best bet. You do not want to exclude your best bet, so check your tags.
  4. Your used generic tags. Dog is a descriptive tag, but how many designs are there that are tagged with the dog? Too many! Miniature dachshund is a much better, more specific tag. Another example... gifts doesn't say much while dog lover gifts is a much better, well targeted tag.
  5. You do not do any marketing. You need to promote your products every way possible. Squidoo, Craigslist, MySpace, AdWords, Froogle are just a few. Collectively they make a powerful tool for making your products visible to shoppers.
  6. You offer just a few designs on a few products. Make a variety of products and put each on all the products where it fits and makes sense. The more designs the better chance that somebody will like one of them. The more products the better chance that the person that likes the design will find it on a products s/he wants to buy. Someone might like your design, but what if s/he wants it on a sticker and you only offer t shirts?
  7. Your designs don't fit the products. Products with unfitting designs look unprofessional and unattractive. Put some effort into making your designs. Make a clock design, a mug design, re-size your designs to fit different products. CafePress is full of talented people working hard on making best possible designs. If you want to compete with them, you will have to work hard on your own designs.
  8. You did not take the time to write quality descriptions. Your products, sections, shop front, titles and meta tags will all have to be filled with descriptions filled with relevant keywords. As soon as your shop gets listed by the search engines the descriptions will play a huge role in your visibility to the shoppers. It takes time to write the descriptions, but once again, you just have to do it if you want sales.
  9. You were not lucky enough to get a sale. Yes, luck plays its role on CafePress, too. It is the matter of the right person looking at the right designs at the right time. If you do everything from the previous eight points you will not need a lot of luck to make sales. If not, you'll need lots and lots of luck.
  10. Finally, the reason why you have made no sales might be that you have not been a shopkeeper for long enough. Many shopkeepers wait months for their first sale. They say that if you make a few sales in the first couple of months than you are doing extremely well. You would need an existing audience to start making a lot of sales right away. If you are starting from scratch you will need to wait before your sales start piling up.

Perseverance, hard work, continuous learning and patience are a must for a CafePress shopkeeper. Keep working at it and the sales will come!