Friday, December 1, 2006

Producing and printing your own 2007 photo calendar


By David Gewirtz

We continue our 2007 photo calendar project by creating the actual calendar. As you'll recall, in "Creating your own 2007 photo calendar, step-by-step", we selected 13 images to be used for each month, plus a cover. Next, in "Images and a cover for your own 2007 photo calendar", we learned about proper image formatting and created the cover image. In this final installment, we'll upload the images to CafePress and show you how the whole calendar came together.

Understanding CafePress

Let's start by talking a little about CafePress. CafePress is a service firm that does one-off production of a wide variety of items, from T-shirts to mousepads to calendars. They provide three key functions:

  • First, they do the actual manufacturing and production of your product.
  • Second, they provide you with Web pages from which customers can order your product.
  • Third, they provide the handling and shipping of those orders.

The thing about CafePress is that they're very much a vanity press. For example, the production cost to ZATZ for the calendar we're showcasing is $14.99. There are no real volume discounts. By contrast, had I printed, say, 1,000 copies of the calendar using a traditional printing company, the calendar would have likely cost about $3 each.

Of course, I'd have had to invest close to $3,000 up front to get the price-per-unit so low. With CafePress, there's no initial volume production investment at all. Obviously, the difference in volume between producing single items and a thousand unit press run changes the economics.

Once you define your CafePress-produced product, you markup the amount. So, for example, I decided I wanted $7 profit for each calendar, which made the purchase price a whopping $21.99. I could have sold it for as little as $14.99, but then there'd be no profit at all. If there is a profit, every so often CafePress will send you a check for that amount.

If you just want to have a few fun items to sell, and maybe make a few bucks, then use CafePress. If you want to make real money, do it the real way, using real money.

Obviously, nearly every photo service provider makes some sort of calendar service available. Kodak Gallery and Shutterfly, for example, each charge $19.99 for a custom calendar.

Creating your store and uploading your image

Like most of these services, you need to create an account on CafePress, which creates a "store" on their Web site. Once you've got a store created, you'll need to log in and navigate to your Media Basket, which is where you upload your images.