USSM Swag open question

DMZ · November 21, 2006 at 2:56 pm · Filed Under Site information 

So we’re making, approximately,



on USSM stuff @ Cafepress (viewable here). We would like, I’d say, to make enough to pay at least Cafe Press’ fee for running the store. Here’s my question for you, dear readers: are there things we should be offering? Pushing them more? New designs? Or are we better off just punting the shop entirely if the items are going to be Cafe Press-level expensive?

I know people have suggested that we print off a huge batch of them ourselves and sell them, but the problem is that if we can, we’d like to avoid being in the fulfillment business, which is one of the great attractions of using some place like CP. Though, if it was lucrative enough, I’d certainly consider it.


88 Responses to “USSM Swag open question”

  1. DMZ on November 21st, 2006 5:48 pm

    No, because you’d never get out of debt.

  2. DMZ on November 21st, 2006 5:49 pm

    There’s an interesting question. I’ve been contemplating trying something like this: offering a spring-training in-depth team preview, almost like a Street & Smith’s, and selling the download for $1 or something ridiculously cheap.

    Or even using a print-on-demand publisher to do paper copies.

  3. oNeiRiC232 on November 21st, 2006 5:54 pm

    Debt? I don’t mean doing a full-fledged book publishing. I’m talking on the Kinkos-Five-cents-per-page level. A shiny cover isn’t the point; the content is.

  4. msb on November 21st, 2006 5:54 pm

    #52– which would also give you the advantage of having accurate info, rather than the ‘written two months ahead before that big trade’ stuff S&S and Athlon publish

  5. Wishhiker on November 21st, 2006 5:54 pm

    I like the idea in #24 and think it might even be good to do once a month.

    I think that an occasional slogan thread (requested by posters with a vote) would help sales and I personally would be donating or buying items if I were in a better monitary situation. During the course of a season and even during the offseason there are phrases that would be cool to be able to wear. Whether it’s a request for a certain players acquisition or a request for Hargrove to play/not play a certain player a certain way. I’m sure there’s some Marketability for a “Bloomquist

  6. pdb on November 21st, 2006 5:54 pm

    offering a spring-training in-depth team preview, almost like a Street & Smith’s, and selling the download for $1

    That would be a great idea. I’d even go as high as $2.50 for something like that. That, to me, is much more valuable than a t-shirt.

  7. terry on November 21st, 2006 5:54 pm

    you mean kinda like BP? 😛

  8. DMZ on November 21st, 2006 6:01 pm

    Yes, except written by people who actually know and follow the Mariners, like BP used to be.


  9. msb on November 21st, 2006 6:02 pm

    here you go, Corco

  10. Wishhiker on November 21st, 2006 6:11 pm

    I lost most of my last comment because of syntax…I like alot of the slogan ideas on this thread. I saw one recently “Hargrove:Human Brain Delay”

    I thought of the idea of doing the shirts as patches instead. They could be added to a plain baseball cap or a shirt or jacket. I would be the type of person to try and collect my favorites. There’d be no problem wearing the old/outdated ones for me because I’d put them all on one jacket, enabling me to display the new ones too.

    I know a embroidering company out in Bellevue that did really good work on jackets, hats and shirts, but I don’t know if they do patches or what the cost would be per. It would probably be cheaper per and enable more different ones to be made eventually. I don’t remember the name of the company off hand, it was a couple years back that I had dealings with them. Heck, Edgar owns a local embroidering company doesn’t he?

  11. jdsc55 on November 21st, 2006 6:11 pm

    First time poster here, I agree with pdb, even being a poor college student, I would probably pay a few bucks for something like that.

  12. John D. on November 21st, 2006 6:13 pm

    CORCO’S OKINAWA DRIVE (See # 41, # 44, & # 45) – Anyone: Didn’t some former MLB’er beat Corco to that hair-brained idea?

    FERRY TO OKINAWA? (See # 45) – You mean they still have that ferry? No bridge yet?

  13. Wishhiker on November 21st, 2006 6:20 pm

    Thinking of Edgar brings on a whole other idea that would be great to see

    “Vote Edgar Martinez Hall of Fame 2009”

  14. Nate on November 21st, 2006 6:26 pm

    Now would be the time to push sales, it being near the holidays…that said, I’m not real thrilled with the logos. The battleship doesn’t really have any correlation to what goes on here, the traffic question is a little obscure.

    I think they would benefit from a good slogan, though darned if I know what that is. But some sort of catch-phrase that captures the wry humor, baseball-fanaticism, and expertise that are the hallmarks of the site.

  15. jdsc55 on November 21st, 2006 6:35 pm

    I agree with #32 and the idea for a “Fire Hargrove” t-shirt. I would probably purchase one of those shirts or the “Edgar Martinez for Hall of Fame 2009” slogans.

  16. DMZ on November 21st, 2006 6:43 pm

    Under the terms of service for Cafe Press, we’re not allowed to use people’s names. We managed to get around it before (talking about the DH instead of Everett, for instance) but yeah, that’s a particularly frustrating limitation.

  17. theberle on November 21st, 2006 6:52 pm

    I’m sure Derek knows more about the pluses and minuses of this than I do, but here’s an example of Jon Weisman of the Dodger Thoughts’ self-published book:

  18. Wishhiker on November 21st, 2006 7:07 pm

    I don’t know what type of work Edgars embroidery company does, but if it’s like the logo embroidery shops I’ve dealt with it could work. Maybe his company wouldn’t have a problem putting his name on a T-shirt? Especially if it promotes his HOF entry…

  19. msb on November 21st, 2006 7:59 pm
  20. PositivePaul on November 21st, 2006 9:34 pm

    That sounds cost effective. You should work for the government. Oh, wait…

    Oooh – Ouch. Careful now, or I’ll send the Reverend your way 😛

    And, ya know, the government would probably contract out the shipping services to a company in India anyway – to ‘save money’

    I like the idea of charging Corco on a per-comment basis. You guys would be instant ba-zillionaires!

    On a more serious note — if t-shirts/mugs/etc. isn’t your schtick, I’d be more than happy to hand over the commercial rights to any of my Doyle pix, to help raise funds. I slapped together this picture, thinking it might be kinda fun to auction it off and send the proceeds your direction during the first server meltdown. I thought about even trying to have Doyle autograph it himself, but alas, that never panned out…

  21. msb on November 21st, 2006 10:07 pm

    if they’d let you use profanity as well as names, I’d suggest a shirt with a tally of this off-season’s signings, because it is just getting sillier & sillier out there … they say (you know, they) that Lee is being offered 6/$80-90M by the O’s. Roch Kubatko say (with a straight face) “Though it would be a substantial commitment, it’s not in the same neighborhood as the eight-year, $136 million contract that Alfonso Soriano signed with the Chicago Cubs.”

  22. mstaples on November 21st, 2006 10:39 pm

    To think outside the box a bit, I don’t see why the manner of paying for the site necessarily has to be related to it. If these ideas are not lucrative enough or if you don’t want to put ads on the site, why not spend the time you’re wasting on this stuff doing something that would actually make money (e.g., copywriting, being one of these Albino-looking idiots who dances in the Intel dual core commercials, selling your plasma) in that time period? (Hey, at least one of those was a serious idea.) The idea is that if you’re just concerned about things like buying a server, there are pretty easy ways to make a bit of coin. Many of them have the added virtue of being legal.

    Just a thought. Counterarguments are, of course, available.

  23. mstaples on November 21st, 2006 10:40 pm

    By the way, “this stuff” is intended to refer to efforts to sell things to make money, not to keep the site up. IMO, among many others, the time you guys add content to this site is not wasted.

  24. Roger on November 22nd, 2006 12:13 am

    I have a cafe press shop for a website I run, essentially just to see how well it works.

    One problem with Cafe Press is that the products end up very expensive for hum-drum quality. My biggest seller is a calendar (oooo, 100 sold!) and they end up selling for $20, which is steep for a calendar.

    I’m thinking of moving my shirts to Spreadshirt which offers far better quality shirts in much more diverse colors, styles, etc. They also do plot printing from vector art. It all sounds great, but the prices are the same or a bit more depending on the item. But for the quality alone, I’m thinking about it.

    Dunno what the answer is. I have about 10,000 unique users a month, looking at an average of 30 pages apiece (for a half hour per visit). I have a modestly placed donations box, an “ad” to get people to visit my store, and a few Amazon affiliate books on offer. I make about $1000 a year from the cafe press junk, have receive about $25 a year in donations, and thus far in the month I’ve been trying it, about $5 a month via Amazon.

    A friend who runs a similar site tried adsense and made about $3 a month.

    There just isn’t a lot of money in these sort of things except for the companies that provide the services. The model I might consider would be the Something Awful/Metafilter model, which is a single one-time fee for the ability to comment. $5 in Metafilter’s case, $10 I think on SA.

    I do think snazzier graphics on your shirts would sell better. Not easy to come by unless you are one/are dating one/have one in the family.

  25. Roger on November 22nd, 2006 12:16 am

    Somehow the word “designer” got left out of the last sentence, or at least should replace “one”.

  26. phil333 on November 22nd, 2006 1:23 am

    I think it’s a price issue. During the holidays, T-Shirts on Threadless are $10 a pop. It’s hard coughing up $22+ for a t-shirt.

  27. terry on November 22nd, 2006 2:15 am

    here’s pretty much a dumb idea but….

    why not offer designs in a periodic rotation but instead of a continuous offering online like at cafee press, you list them on ebay…. or I have no idea what volume/fees you guys have to deal with, but you could run a modest USSM ebay store….

  28. David* on November 22nd, 2006 3:11 am

    Make a shirt that says “Ask me what VORP means”

    I’d buy one. It’d make me even more of a chick magnet.

  29. Deanna on November 22nd, 2006 3:21 am

    78 – I joked last year that I was going to make a women’s t-shirt with the equation for VORP and the slogan “Shopping is hard. Let’s go estimating the effect a batter’s offensive performance has on his team’s number of runs scored.”

    But then I realized that the number of women who’d actually buy it was fairly low, and the number of people who’d get it might be even lower.

  30. daveblev on November 22nd, 2006 5:56 am

    I would recommend Spreadshirt

    They have lots of materials and different colors of shirts. Or you can go the cheap route and buy the iron-ons and do it DIY like hardcore punk. I ganked this Mike D ILL t-shirt logo from here time to get ill two years ago and after many washings the transfer has shown no signs of wear and tear, in fact it blends it perfectly with the shirt as a much worn shirt would do. I used Hanes Tees purcahsed on the cheap from Garden Ridge. Just my humble suggestions.

  31. David* on November 22nd, 2006 7:06 am


    You’d be a smash hit at Single’s Night though!

  32. westfried on November 22nd, 2006 9:08 am

    I like the team preview idea. I’d rather pay for content than for an overpriced t-shirt. It’s funny, because we all talk about sending money to USSM, but given the means to contribute directly (the PayPal button), we fail to do so. Instead of saying, “Hey, I’d pay 5 bucks a month,” just go ahead and do it. Nobody’s stopping you. (or me, for that matter…)

    Now, as for content, I think that that is something many of us would pay for. $5 for a team preview here, $2.50 for a stats review there, etc. How is that different from the PayPal button? Well, it’s hard to up and pay out of the blue – “hey, I’ve got 5 bucks today, so I’ll send it to Dave, Derek, and Jason.” But, given a specific “item” that prompts me for payment, then I’d bite. With our appetite for USSM content, a season preview or whatever could go like hotcakes.

    Regarding the CafePress items, I’m not impressed by the quality or the price. And I’m not all that interested in t-shirts, anyway.

  33. Livengood on November 22nd, 2006 10:08 am

    82 – some of us do . . . and more of us should.

  34. dlupham on November 22nd, 2006 11:03 am

    I don’t like Cafe Press for two reasons. The first being the price/quality issues already raised and the second being that I got e-mails from them for several months promoting all sorts of things that had nothing to do with USSM.


  35. Man From Nantucket on November 22nd, 2006 11:24 am

    My suggestion is a PBS-like USS Mariner fund raising drive in the spring. Ask your loyal readers to pony up to raise the operating budget for the coming year. Have a specific target in mind, and ask us to hit that target. If you wanted, you could send a copy of your book or other similar reward to those who donate at a certain level. Try to get the fund raising out of the way one time so you don’t have to worry about it during the season.

  36. Nintendo Marios on November 22nd, 2006 11:50 am

    I don’t think Corco’s $0.01 / comment model is far off the mark.

    I like Roger’s suggestion

    The model I might consider would be the Something Awful/Metafilter model, which is a single one-time fee for the ability to comment. $5 in Metafilter’s case, $10 I think on SA.

    and maybe you guys find it more palatable?

    Say 50% of people who’ve posted more than once during 2006 will pay you $10. Is that an interesting amount?

    Disclaimer – Yes, I work for a large subscription-based site.

  37. John D. on November 22nd, 2006 1:13 pm

    WHO? – Darn it. Who was the MLB player–a while ago–that talked about driving to some place that you real
    ly couldn’t get to by car? (San Juan, perhaps ?)
    [Someone foolish enough to try it.]

  38. Mike G. on November 22nd, 2006 5:42 pm

    I have to say I like that there is a USSM store (I’m still rocking my Doyle Softball T-shirt). However I agree with the quality complaints and the fact that you’re paying a fee to them outside of what they’re already making off you is insane. Scale the store back to the “free level” and rotate the items or switch to a different service but keep it an option. I’ve bought 2 shirts, I’ll buy your book, just please don’t charge for content.

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