Here's another old design that I've sent to another design contest
Take Me To Your Reader
Enough about me though, I want to talk about cameesa (the site I've subbed to) I love the idea of this site, it's like a co-op for t-shirts! Basically, you submit a design and rather than going up for voting (a system that is often rendered obsolete unless you have a big enough community, like threadless, to prevent vote rigging) here people place a speculative pre-order for your shirt. So they pay $20, and if 49 others do the same, then the shirt gets printed with the proceeds, everyone who invested gets a tee (with free shipping) plus a small cut of any subsequent profits made from further sales. The artist also gets $500 (so half of the initial outlay) plus $2 from any subsequent sales. Lovely.
I might be making it sound a bit too utopian, as the company obviously make some money from the sales too, but I think they've really thought out a fantastic community-driven business model where people are essentially putting their money where their mouth is in a way that "Awesomeeee tee $5" can't quite manage (that's not to diss the threadless model, which is superb, but I think it's great to see something different).
Of course, you might be wary of a site that asks you to make a purchase without any guarantee that the product you pre-order will get made, but unlike "real world" speculation this is pretty risk free; if after a month the design does not have fifty "supporters" (pre-sales), the investments are refunded. What is there to lose?
But I think the potential for the site is huge. Those who do pre-order are incentivised to promote the design to others if they actually want a chance of wearing it, incentivised to get others to actually go and "buy" a shirt. On the threadless-style sites few voters (I imagine) really feel impelled to get their friends to vote too, and even if they do, this isn't necessarily generating sales. Cameesa also, shrewdly, offers the opportunity to essentially buy more than one "share" in a tee; by placing multiple pre-orders (say, purchasing for friends and family) you increase the chances of it printing and thus of ever being able to wear it. Customers (during the "voting" stage anyway) are being actively encouraged to consider ordering more than one tee, buying more than one slice, so that they can see their favourite designs printed, and wear them.
There's also the actual share factor. "Supporters" do get a cut of the profits, albeit a tiny one (3 cents per slice owned for each shirt of that design sold). That's actually pretty good when you think that means $1.50 per shirt is going to the people who made it's printing possible. It's not going to make anyone rich (as far as I can work out), but a shrewd investor- especially at this early stage in the site's life- could pre-order a couple of shirts by a big artist which ends up going through multiple print runs (think, using Threadless as a model again, of something like Flowers In The Attic which must have sold squillions over the years). You'll be racking up six cents for every sale, and over the years, if a big seller like that emerged, you could be raking in a healthy return (enough to buy a tee every now and then, anyway!). If you invest in a few tees at this early stage and the site continues to grow, not only will you have a some cool shirts but you could end up with a nice little source of spending money. Especially if you were also willing to do some promotion of the designs you've invested in (perhaps the guys and girls who run the big tee blogs should consider making some investments- would that be corrupt?) Something to think about certainly, especially if any of the big tee names decide to sub anything.
What I like most about the site, however, has nothing to do with earning. It is that it is truly democratic in a way that none of the other sites, despite all their web 2.0 posturing, really are. The decision about which tees get printed rests solely with the consumer, there's no deciding panel who have the final say and who are ultimately (to a greater or lesser degree) driven by profit. For this reason I think the site could be a godsend for outsider artists with niche markets and a loyal fanbase- I would love to see some of my favourites subbing there. The element of risk is removed, because if a tee prints it means that there are already enough sales to cover costs, and I'm sure it will turn out that demand for some of those artists is far greater than just the initial fifty.
Anyway, that was quite long, but I hope I've persuaded you to check out the site! I really hope this one takes off, because I think they've got everything right!