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Developing a Home Business Utilizing CafePress - Part 1

by Mary Emma Allen on May 30th, 2007

As I mentioned in the previous post, Developing a Home Business Utilizing Cafe Press - Introduction,  a number of people are looking for web sites where they can set a business rather than developing a web site on their own.

So I’ve asked Mark Allen a few questions about the development and operation of his two online businesses, Defy Gravity Apparel and The Spanked Monkey.

MEA: Would you describe your businesses and tell us what you do and the general type of products.

MARKDefy Gravity Apparel and The Spanked Monkey are primarily online stores selling t-shirts printed with designs that I have come up with.  Between the two stores you will find different styles of printed t-shirts and sweatshirts, including children’s sizes, hats, mugs, buttons, magnets, tote bags, and more.  In addition to the items in my stores, CafePress has many other items available, such as books and magazines, audio and data CDs, stickers, note cards, mouse-pads, and the list goes on.B-1B Bomber Over Ocean Kids Light T-Shirt

MEA: Why did you decide to set up an online home business?

MARK:  The great thing about an online business is that the world is your market.  To date I have had sales in 38 states, England, Ireland, Wales, and Australia.  An online business can be run from the comfort of your home and schedule.

MEA:  Why did you choose CafePress?

MARK:  About four years ago, I had the idea of a series of shirts with “Defy Gravity” as the tagline.  At that time I didn’t see how I could follow through coming up with designs, the expense of having a minimum order printed, then finding a way to sell or distribute them.  If I opened an online store on my own I would need to handle all the production, orders and shipping.

Then in July of last year, I found an article in a magazine that mentioned CafePress.  I had an “AHA!” moment and realized I had found the way to follow through with my idea. 

A basic store at CafePress can be opened for free.  A Premium Store that is fully customizable is only $6.95 per month if paid monthly or only $5.00 per month if the year is paid up front.  The risk is essentially zero.  With CafePress I only need to come up with the designs, upload the designs, choose what items to put the designs on, and set the mark-up. 

CafePress will make my designs searchable on their site, process orders including credit cards, produce the items as they are ordered (no inventory), and handle all shipping.  If there are returns, which are possible since CafePress has a 30-day, 100% money back guarantee, they will take care of that also.

After you have a minimum of $25 profit from your sales, CafePress will send a check.  There are a few other companies trying to do the same thing, but CafePress, I feel, is by far the best one for me after all factors are considered.

MEA:  I know you have a computer background so do much of your own designing.  Does one have to do this, or will CafePress provide designs or designers?

MARK:  Although I do not consider myself an artist or graphic designer in any way, I do all my own designing.  For some of my items I start with a public domain image and work from that.  I figure if you put enough designs, good or bad, in front of enough people, you will get sales.

CafePress does not provide designs or designers.  You need to do it yourself or hire someone else to create designs for you. 

MEA: Do you see yourself developing in other directions with your business?

MARK: At this time I only see myself going where CafePress does.  They have the market knowledge and do the research to know what to offer next.

(I’ll continue a Part 2 of my interview with Mark.  There we’ll discuss the possibilities for others in developing an online home business.)

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POSTED IN: Advantages, Business Blogging, Online Resources, Success Stories

10 opinions for Developing a Home Business Utilizing CafePress - Part 1

  • Developing a Home Business Utilizing CafePress - Part 2
    May 31, 2007 at 9:00 am

    [...] my interview of Mark Allen, who has developed two online home based businesses using CafePress.  (See Part 1 here.)  Mark’s businesses are Defying Gravity Apparel and The Spanked Monkey.(Dog t-shirt an [...]

  • Networking for Your Home Business - Online
    Jun 3, 2007 at 6:01 am

    [...] Mark Allen said in the interview about his online home business, “The great thing about an online business is that the world is your market.”  [...]

  • Will Graduates Start Home Businesses?
    Jun 21, 2007 at 8:42 am

    [...] Press, something he hopes to turn into a full time income in the future.  I wrote about him at Developing a Home Business Utilizing Cafe Press, Part 1 and Part 2.(Example from Mark’s Defy Gravity [...]

  • Do You Need Advice Before Starting a Home Business?
    Jun 29, 2007 at 9:40 am

    [...] the posts about Mark and Dorothy’s  online businesses as examples of those requiring little [...]

  • Moving Your Home Business
    Jul 21, 2007 at 5:22 am

    [...] entirely operated on the Internet, like Dorothy Thompson’s,  with no inventory, or one like Mark Allen’s business with CafePress taking orders and handling shipping, there’s no question about continuing if you move.  [...]

  • Moving Your Quilting Business
    Jul 21, 2007 at 6:01 am

    [...] entirely operated on the Internet, like Dorothy Thompson’s,  with no inventory, or one like Mark Allen’s business with CafePress taking orders and handling shipping, there’s no question about continuing if you move.  [...]

  • Travel with your Quilting & Fabric Arts Business
    Jul 23, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    [...] of computers and the Internet, sales can be transacted from almost anywhere.  Or you could do as Mark Allen does by utilizing an online company, like Cafe Press, if you have something quilt related to sell that can be adapted to their capabilities.  And they [...]

  • 10 Home Biz Notes Posts Featuring Home Businesses
    Sep 15, 2007 at 8:25 am

    [...] Allen operates an online business through the utilization of CafePress as his [...]

  • Making Money Online : A Comprehensive Guide | Like Chapaa
    Jun 2, 2009 at 1:39 am

    [...] Merchandising – Some sites gain so much of a following that their users are willing to buy T-shirts, mugs and other branded merchandise. All you need to do is build up a following of users passionate about your site. Once you’ve done this, it gets as easy as pie. Café press helps you design and brand stuff, and then sell them. Your goods will be sold in your own virtual shop at café press. Whenever someone orders a mug or cap, café press will print your logo, girlfriends name or whatever on it and ship it to the buyer – for a cut of your selling price. More on this here. [...]

  • Mary Emma Allen
    Jun 2, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Thanks for sharing this information about making money with items at Cafe Press. Most of the time we think about developing our products or brand first. This is interesting about creating a following at a blog or web site and then turning to merchandising.

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