Tutor Tanith

Why Mainly CafePress®?

I guess you could call this a rant, although there is little anger in it. Still it is a discusison that won't help you much with your POD experience. It just provides a bit of background on this site and the choices for its content.

At first this site was mainly about CafePress simply because that was where I had the most experience. I was spending a lot of time providing information in the CafePress forums. Often the information could be understood more easily with pictures but images could not be used in the forums. So I created TutorTanith to hold and share the information I had to offer.

At the time I did have a Zazzle shop but I used it very little because at the time Zazzle limited commissions to 10% markup, an amount I felt was not worth my time. They also didn't offer volume bonuses. I felt if I succeeded in selling through Zazzle I might be depriving myself of sales through CafePress, and thus losing bonuses. So I had limited experience for providing Zazzle help and thus minimized Zazzle specific references. All this changed when CafePress made some policy changes that reduced my income there, and Zazzle made some policy changes that increased my interest at Zazzle. I started spending a lot of time on Zazzle.

At first I did as I am accustomed to doing. I participated in the Zazzle forums and offered what help and advice I could. I was surprised one day to find that typing the name "Tanith" resulted in a * replacing the word. It turns out that Zazzle had decided to ban any mention of these tutorials from their forums. They didn't contact me. They didn't share with me the nature of their concerns. They didn't suggest any changes to the content, or point to any rules I violated in mentioning the site. They simply blocked mention of it. It took two tries to get an answer from them as to what the problem was. They said that they had gotten "numerous complaints in the past few weeks" that my "tutorial site is misleading and confusing members of our community."

I never learned what was confusing or misleading. I never responded to those statements. My first impulse was to write back and suggest that I would be happy to see if I could clear up whatever was misleading or confusing. The site exists, after all, to unconfuse people. However before I could compose and send off that response another thought occurred to me. I was doing this for free. I get zero out of it. Why, then, would I want to essentially beg them to let me continue to mention it? Why would I ADD work and effort that they don't want?

I don't monitize Tutor Tanith. Of course when I provide examples I do tag them with affiliate tags - DOH - it costs money and time and effort to write and run the site. I'm not going to pass up a chance of possibly getting a return on that. However, no example is created for the purpose of income generation. And yes, I request donations. In the years of running this site I have received six donations. Yup getting rich off this site. So when I thought about it ... if Zazzle can't do me the courtesy of communicating up front ... why do I want to work with them? They don't want to work with me. So I dropped it. If they want to ban this site from their forums ... oh well. I don't lose a dime. It also saves me much time and effort.

So obviously since this site can't be mentioned in the Zazzle forums there is no point in continuing to develop Zazzle specific help resources. Still most of the information here applies to all PODs including Zazzle, so it will still be useful ... If Zazzle shop keepers can find it.

Well what about other PODs? Like I had intended with Zazzle I will occasionally add information specific to other POD sites. This isn't a CafePress site, it is a POD site. That is why it is named "Tutor Tanith" instead of something specific to CP. I planned from the beginning to increase the scope. However, as mentioned, while I provide the information for free it isn't free for me to create it. Every minute I spend writing an article is one I'm not writing product descriptions or creating a new design, or scripting or whatever that actually produces income. And since I don't monitize the site getting more traffic does nothing for my bottom line. I do enjoy it, I love being helpful, but to that isn't enough. I also have to find out that I AM helpful. To that end I found that six people thought I was useful enough to send a small amount of money, and CafePress sent me a thank-you note, a modest gift card, and a mug. On rare occasions (a couple times a year) I will get a note of thanks, and that is much appreciated. A bit of cash is nice, but really being told "thanks, that helped" is what motivates me. It doesn't take a big investment to make me feel welcome, and it doesn't take much of a snub to make me know where I'm not wanted. So how and whether this tutorial site expands to other PODs really depends upon whether I get some sense that the effort means something useful to someone. Zazzle has already established that they can't even be bothered to initiate a dialog. I'm not eager to repeat that experience elsewhere.

I have some level of experience with Skreened.com, Spreadshirt.com, Printfection.com, Redbubble,com and ImageKind.com. If I get questions about them that are not answered in the general POD articles I might feel inclined to write something specific. Or if I need to fix somthing in the general POD articles to reflect their practices, I only need to be asked. It is jumping in and working without getting asked that I'm reluctant to take on.

I hope all this makes some kind of sense. In the words of Daniel Jackson "It's how I feel about that." (Star gate: Window of Opportunity).


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