Don't blame anyone else - this post was started a lifetime ago in the printing and personalized world, an era when you needed to buy a ton of shirts (for example) in many sizes and hope your inventory sold. Times have obviously gotten better and over the next several weeks I hope to get the ball rolling during my recovery from knee surgery - coming up next Thursday.
I have a www.zazzle.com
account and had several items made for me and others as retirement gifts, etc.. They do very nice work and to offer several designs which members can pick and choose for various items is very easy to set up there.
As always, all these online companies sell items at what I believe is an inflated rate if the designer is to see any profit for causes. Zazzle lets people with products choose their own mark-up levels, which is ideal for many reasons: the one that comes to mind is if a charity has a set goal with a given amount of expected members contributing - they can easily up their profit to see that a charity reaches its goal and the buyers understand they are paying a higher price for a goal oriented cause, often a tax write-off thing.
We are not in that boat obviously, our only goal would be to offer members items that they would enjoy having because the forum means something to them and with the hope that any markup to help cover forum expenses does not make the item(s) out of the reach of the member's wallet.
I'm a realist. Beemaster is a wonderful place to be a part of, from any level membership we have really tried to always make this feel like a second home on the Internet for everyone. Our costs have gone up recently and several members have yet again stepped up and donated toward our costs. To all of you, thank you again.
RECENTLY, and this is the first public mention - we've added the ability to donate using credit, debit or gift cards, still using Paypal's system, but with the expanded features of accepting credit cards. This has been asked for many times because obviously not everyone uses Paypal - and the credit card section opens the window for practically any to help if they want. The donate button at the top right of each page will lead you to the newest donation options. The content written on the donation page needs updating, I have rewritten it and will be updating it soon, but the link itself takes you to an improved options page. Please note: if you have interest in donating via credit card, the link is where they credit card images are on the page. Paypal still likes you to use their service and opts to make the page PayPal heavy, opting to place credit card options in smaller fonts.
Didn't mean to get so long with this: old habits I guess. But if you are still with me, what kind of things would you like to see Beemaster on? From hats to shirts to really nice coffe mugs (I have quite few of those) please check out www.zazzle.com
and see the items they sell there, it is a huge selection.
The last big issue is design art. Our logo, designed by Robo is very nice and instantly recognized by those who follow the forum - that obvious is a given. But having a simple logo on a shirt pocket or logo with Beemaster.com or a catch phrase like "Where Beekeepers raise beekeepers" or whatever is quite possible even for a single item today.
Thanks for bringing this post back, sorry it took me awhile to reply - but this isn't about making a ton of money, our bills get paid and I hope with very little begging on my part - I have always promised that if no donations came in, Beemaster is important enough to keep going out of pocket - and I still truly mean that. Personalized items is more about members wanting something to show their pride in helping build our community and something quality that will last a very very long time.
Thank you all and let's get this rolling with ideas. I'd love you artistic type to offer up some designs of your own, Zazzle does all full color stuff and any quality higher res image with text prints very well. I'll dig up the few items I have had done to show you - the weren't beemaster stuff, although I have 2 Beemaster.com coffee mugs bought many years ago from someone else and they hold up terrific. Thanks again.Note: on the photos of the mugs below, my camera did NOT do justice to the image on the mugs. The mugs are really beautiful, but the poor camera quality and the glossiness of the mug made for terrible images. These images by the way are where I work and what I do - I make the steam that launches Strike Force F-18s and F-35s primarily. The mug artwork with all the names was a retirement gift to a coworker who really loved by the crew - we went all out for him, something I don't see happening again in my 6 or so remaining years there. But it is a cool job and a heck of a way for a civilian to serve his country. BTW this is a Navy Released Photo, I didn't take the photo, just borrowed it :)