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Copyright1905: A Cafepress Experience

Updated on August 9, 2017

It began with a book, a ratty, yellowed volume discovered in a Baltimore County antique store.

The title struck me at once, The Cynic's Dictionary. I suspected some connection to Ambrose Bierce, but no. This was published in 1905, the year before "Bitter" Bierce's Devil's Dictionary was partially published under the title The Cynic's Word Book, probably because this one was already labelled dictionary. After I thumbed through the forgotten relic a few moments, I needed it. So I bought it.

My investment that day was twenty dollars, negotiated down with a friendly shopkeeper from twenty-five.

Here is where the book turned out to be an investment.

The Cynic's Dictionary (1905), crudely marked at the inspiring pages.
The Cynic's Dictionary (1905), crudely marked at the inspiring pages.


With some time, and after reading a large number of articles about the T-shirt business, I found myself with a thought: my book is too old to be under copyright. However, its words are still relevant, and still hilarious to the point where I hurt my throat laughing. Probably, too, I noted, the entries under Q, each one a question about something or other, is just silly enough to draw attention on a T-shirt, silly enough that people might buy that shirt. So, I set to work.

I opened Microsoft Paint, I chose my fonts, my colors, my various little dingbats to flesh out the jokes.

Creating the designs was the hard part.

CafePress made uploading them especially easy. Once my shop (you need one before you can start earning) was finished, within half an hour, it took me maybe another thirty to forty minutes to set everything for sale. And that was that.

It was so easy that I still cannot believe it.

Now things get Hard

Using CafePress to create humorous gift products with my book's clever comments was easy. However, even though their site says they do the marketing for their users, number one, I learned long ago not to hold my breath on such a promise, and number two, I see no harm in doing a little marketing of my own.

I signed in to my long neglected account at HubPages (why it is neglected is another Hub entirely), deciding to use their tendency to list new articles at the top of the page. That should help get me some visibility, because when you are online and selling a product, you need to be visible. On sites like CafePress, you do not lose anything, but I am personally in it to gain something, preferably something substantial and green.

A simple design in letters, numbers, and colors, posted on CafePress.
A simple design in letters, numbers, and colors, posted on CafePress. | Source

Posting to CafePress is simple. Creating designs to post can be simple, provided you do not worry too much being John Waterhouse. All you need is some thoughts, about an hour of time, and just a little nerve. Those will serve you well on CafePress. If you do social media (I still have no Facebook account and virtually no online footprint), then your marketing work has mostly already been done.

So much for Now, reader, if you will please copy the sample design, along with the following link, and pass it around to all your friends.

Let's make Copyright1905 a roaring success!


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