It’s my understanding that if you get printed, you get $1000 as a flat fee for the sales the first day, then $2 in perpetuity per shirt sold after that.
These days, how often does a shirt sell over 500 on launch day? Seems to me that this structure (unless commission on each shirt were to increase), would benefit the artist vs going strictly on commission.
If I were an artist, I’d be less willing to sign away rights to a design if there weren’t a minimum guarantee in it for me. Is it a risk for woot doing it this way? Yeah. It probably doesn’t happen enough for it to matter to them, and the benefits outweigh the risks.
Analytics would probably also show that the site receives more traffic on certain days of the week. As an artist, if my shirt was featured as the daily sale on a date that didn’t have as much traffic, and sales suffered because of it, I’d be bitter about it.
@narfcake I don’t follow the online shirt sites much. Is this a trend everywhere (lower sales), or is it just shirt.woot losing interest/traction?
Are sales lower because traffic overall is down, or because the designs now aren’t as good as they used to be?
If sales are down because traffic is down, that’s not really the fault of the artist. If it’s a commission only structure, then you are relying only on woots ability to market your design on your behalf and maintain interest in the site. Not a situation I would want to be in as an artist, with sales being as low as they are in general. In my opinion, it’s only the $1000 that would make it worth my time to submit a design to woot, vs going to a competing site with a larger user base. Maybe going to a $500 guarantee, with a $2 royalty on all sales including first day would help slightly, but it’s still a risk.
If you piss off the people making the designs for your site, and they decide to go elsewhere, the quality of content is going to decline, making your site even more irrelevant.
It probably does need to be restructured in some way, but I’m not certain that a commission only structure is the way to go.
@lichme@narfcake I would assume the huge drop in sales has to do with lower traffic and lower community involvement - but also the sheer amount of competition. T-Shirt sites have popped up all over the place and there are more choices than ever.
@marcee@lichme@narfcake I still think traffic above all is what’s done in the numbers. Shirt sales really started to tank once Woot switched to the 700-products-a-day model. I honestly believe a bulk of the sales came from people first going to the main woot page and then clicking over to shirt.woot. Now few people go to the main woot page, so there’s equally few who click over to shirt.woot.
And woot successfully sold designs that would never succeed on the other sites. So while the market is saturated, I’m not sure we’re talking about the same customer base.
Of course the next question is–if Shirt.Woot relied on Woot’s success, will Mediocritee be similarly visible from the Meh landing page?
I think it was in one of the podcasts that mentioned how shirt.woot’s audience was nearly 50/50 with males/females, which was significantly different from the rest of woot. When the blanks changed, anyone who was a women’s small or medium in AA did not have a shirt option anymore, and those who were an AA large or XL ended up with Anvil small or medium that were way shorter than the AA shirts.
The main woot site didn’t help, of course. IIRC, the full site makeover was just before @snapster left.
Neither did all the QC issues at shirt that followed.
And the #1 volume artist setting up his own shop one day after the change was announced probably didn’t exactly help any bit either.
During the process of applying to medical school, though, I decided to venture off and start my own business so that I could enter my life as a future physician with no regrets. One year and $750,000 in sales later, I took an official leave of absence and committed fully to my newfound passion. Since then, I’ve grown TeeTurtle to over 300,000 followers and a projected $7 million in sales this year.
@narfcake I just took a look at teeturtle desgins… Glad he is doing so well but what he designs is not my style, not even close. Some clever snarky shirts on that site but they are, in my opinion, all way, way to cutsie and in their own way too much alike. When pop style changes enough and his designs start to tank I hope med school lets him back in and he hangs on to most of that money rather than blow it on the downward curve trying to revive it (either that or manages to change and then has a new upward curve). I only found 2 I liked enough that I would consider buying. For anyone I know. I hope medicritee is going to have far more variety than that.
@Kidsandliz I would like to guess that Mediocritee would be more inline with shirt.woot, Threadless, and old Design by Humans; that market isn’t “saturated” like the mashup market is.
Yeah, the style still leans towards cutesy, just as it mostly was back in the days, but that’s the audience that has been cultivated there. Given that in the past 2-1/2 years, Ramy/TT has added staff with business backgrounds, artists with art backgrounds, and has gotten big enough to get into licensing (because Marvel and LucasArts doesn’t hand out licensing agreements just because you send them $$.), I have no doubt about them adjusting to any changing/emerging trends.
I’m having trouble understanding Woot’s selection criteria lately. Lots of them haven’t materialized much in the way of sales. Nothing against randyotter, but as soon as I saw that design, I thought it was going to tank. I get it’s hard to predict what will/won’t be popular (as evidenced by varying derby success), but this decision seems off.
@narfcake I stood by @fishbuscuit during that transaction, but didn’t want to call that out here. Just didn’t want to disparage an entire catalog based on one design, though I like other styles far more than his.
We made like 100 changes to that model in my tenure and they don’t seem to have the appetite to make any.
One of the funnier business plans I enjoyed pondering on was a community here that would separately take submissions on and vote for shirts and then submit them to Shirt.woot so they would win the derby (with our community also supplying votes there) and then Amazon would print them at a loss so we could enjoy them cheap.
narfcake, one aspect to consider is that while a per-sale commission structure minimizes risk for the site doing the selling, it can be less attractive to artists. In some respects, it increases the risk to artists (especially if the site printing retains rights!).
Artists may be less likely to attempt creating designs they feel are less likely to be big hits, which contributes to their focusing time on proven formulas (pop culture, cats, coffee, etc). Many commenters here have posted their hopes for less pop culture, but if we want artists to break from successful patterns we need to make sure that doing so is incentivized in some way (sharing the risk with the site in the form of at least partial guaranteed payout is one way to do this).
Working with an unproven shirt site is also a risk in and of itself, as artists are trusting that the new site will reach an audience and sell the artwork to the best of its ability. It’s a calculus that doesn’t always work out, and I think many (maybe even most) longtime artists have designs in limbo that have either gone out of print at defunct sites and/or never paid all that was promised.
Basically, it’s easier to reach more artists (and more diverse artists!) when the site’s benefit to artists can be explained quickly and clearly with no confusion. $1000 makes sense to everyone, whether you’re familiar with the industry or not. $2 per shirt (and similar) only makes sense if you know how many copies you can expect to sell, and even then it can sound more like marketing hype than a real business opportunity.
@mj All fair points. The printing rights has seemingly been the differentiating factor between the compensation models. Back when Threadless held full printing rights, they only paid a flat fee regardless of quantity versus TeeFury and many other daily sites, which pay per sale. Shirt.woot was in between the two.
The question is now is how Mediocritee will be set up …