I agree with both reviews in some respects—neither site is quite as suitable for selling framed art prints as Imagekind or RedBubble, both of which offer better options for fine art printing and more framing choices for buyers.
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However, I have to say that some types of art (or some artists) might actually be better suited to CafePress’s range of products than a strictly “fine art” printing service.
For example, if you’re like me and much of your art is quirky, humorous or whimsical characters that appeal to children, these may translate more appropriately to a t-shirt, mug, or sticker and have greater appeal than a fine art print.
In addition, I was first attracted to CafePress for the Premium (paid) shops and all the features they offer. Check out mine and you’ll see what I mean. Neither Zazzle, RedBubble nor Imagekind offer shops that are anywhere near this customizable.
Premium CafePress shops also allow such a level of template customization that they can be integrated into the look of your own website or blog (right down to the help and checkout pages). You can even embed videos on your product pages, if you wish.
That ability to keep people within a familiar template gives you far more control over how you upsell or tempt buyers to purchase related products.
It also doesn’t have the effect of splitting your marketing/branding efforts between two sites—even though technically you are. Using a CafePress Premium shop, people can browse and buy without feeling like they’ve left your main website.
Don’t discount CafePress’s free shops either. Yes, they’re limited (one design per product) but this is easy to circumvent by using several free shops linked to your website. It may sound cumbersome but speaking from my own experience, it isn’t.
I actually paid for the first three months of my Premium CafePress shop from the money I made from ten free shops which were all linked to my main website.
And although CafePress is known more for humorous slogans and political themes there are still thousands of artists using the site for traditional works of art.
Of course, to be found on CafePress you’ll need to pay close attention to your design tags and category placements, as well using keyword rich product titles and descriptions. It’s a little like eBay in that regard.
As I said from the outset, I agree with the original EmptyEasel review about CafePress from a fine art print perspective, but before you discount it entirely, do take into consideration the type of art that you make.
CafePress definitely has the potential to make your art more accessible and fun. . . especially if your target market prefers something a little more portable or functional than a framed print.