Get Sensual- Using Sensory Marketing to Attract Customers

Let’s start by acknowledging some of the most successful brands using sensory marketing today.

Apple has become a master of this, with their walk-in Apple stores. Boasting their latest and greatest tech and welcoming you to come in, touch, play, and envy. It’s a fully interactive experience that awakens almost every sense.

When you walk into a fashion store such as ZARA, we are welcomed by their familiar “spicy” scent and charmed by their playlists as we browse the latest threads.

Or perhaps Magnum ice creams with their delicious taste, smell and signature “cracking” sound as the chocolate breaks before melting in our mouths (can you taste it yet?).

Visual is just one of our senses that can be tempted, brands who have mastered sensory marketing can exploit a combination of senses to beckon new customers with great success.

What is Sensory Marketing?

Like all other types of marketing, sensory marketing is a means to drive purchases. It is used to influence buying behavior favorably.

Sensual experiences = Creation of Desire = Product Purchases

The idea behind this clever marketing strategy is to entice your consumers by appealing to their most basic primal senses. Stimulating and stirring feelings to make consumers believe they need to purchase products is an incredibly powerful tactic.

 

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Image from Clipartfest

Creating a Burning Desire

First, consider how your brand can appeal to a customer’s five senses. Depending on the products your selling, these senses may take different priorities.

Flowers immediately appeal to sight, then to smell, food to taste and sight, music to hear. But how can this be used to sell clothing?

As online T-shirt sellers and apparel brand owners, you may struggle to see how you can appeal to a variety of senses through a computer screen. You’ll need to be creative and remember, the sensory marketing does not stop after they have purchased. It also includes receiving, unpacking and owning these products too.

Sight and feel are the key senses, but your marketing should aim to adopt others to really stand out of the crowd.

Don’t forget, effective copy and imagery can appeal to more than just the visual senses when coupled with imagination. For example, if the description on a bottle of wine simply read “house red” you would struggle to awaken a reader’s senses. Whereas “rich fine wine, aged in oak caskets with sweet undertones” would get their imagination and senses tingling before they’ve even tasted it!

How Brands Use Sensory Marketing

Let’s think about some more relatable examples of sensory marketing at work. Furniture brands (although seemingly dull) do an exceptional job at appealing to their customer’s sense of sight, touch and even smell.

The easy on the eye aesthetics, the inviting touch of the fabric and the rich smell of wood or polish. The stores themselves beckon customers to come in and experience their products fully. They set a relaxing home environment complete with music and scents.

Their tactics are to create a story, in which a person’s life can be improved by owning their products. This combination of positive feelings leads to seemingly effortless high-end sales every day.

 

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These ideas can be applied to almost any brand, no matter the product or audience. To do this, you’ll need to think carefully about the messages you are trying to convey, then how you can send them to your target audience through their sensory methods.

Videos are an excellent way to appeal to the senses and get imaginations running wild. Just look at property companies touring home interiors, product reviews, and tutorials or even holiday companies showing clips of experiences.

YouTube draws a massive audience from around the globe and it’s ripe for promoting almost any kind of brand. It’s free and easy to get going and if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video takes it to the next level.

What Are the Benefits of Sensory Marketing

 

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Creating the perfect sensory experience for your audience and potential customers can provide some awesome benefits:

  • Brand Loyalty – Customers will be hungry for more, repeat buying and telling their friends
  • Immediate Sales – Hesitation is overcome, impulse buying is triggered
  • Positive Experiences – Happy customers will market your products for you and leave great reviews

Sensory marketing can be used to subconsciously influence, engage and inspire your audience. If you can appeal to three senses when your competitor only appeals to one, you’re far more likely to sell more products. Taking advantage of the multi-sensory word will allow your brand to grow and spread awareness with ease.

5 Ways Brands Are Selling Through your Senses

There are some clever marketers who know the importance of the senses and how to trigger them. Here are five of the most common ways you’ll see daily:

1. Triggering Emotions

Smell is a powerful tool that can be used to trigger emotions at will. While there’s no smell that causes people to immediately buy what’s presented in front of them, it can drastically change the mood favorably.

As an example, Barnes & Noble boast a scent of crisp new books and coffee beans that many customers find very relaxing. After a stressful day, the atmosphere created provides a get away that their customers are drawn to.

2. Triggering Memories

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Does the scent of fresh cut grass take you back to summer holidays as a child? The sweet smell of fruity cocktail take you back to a relaxing beach trip you once took? These would be perfect triggers for travel agencies getting you to purchase package holidays!

Studies have even shown that we are more likely to buy products if they are associated with pleasant smells. And the opposite is true for bad smells!

3. Organising Customers

Big department stores who really have their sensory marketing on point use different aromas for specific sections. For example, feminine sections may have “flowery” scents to appeal more strongly to the indented audience. Then vice-versa, the gentleman’s areas feature more masculine “musky” fragrances.

Its effect is so pronounced, it’s been seen that both men and women don’t often linger in areas that smell too strongly of the opposite gender. That’s why certain stores will have very distinct “girly smells” or “manly smells” whereas others may opt to stay more neutral to appeal to both.

4. Attract Buyers

Some brands, such as Abercrombie & Fitch, take their fragrance very seriously. They even use scent-spreading devices to ensure their scent is distinctive and present throughout the shopping experience. Not only does this give their stores a certain atmosphere, but also it can attract nearby shoppers to their store much like “bees to honey”.

This tactic works almost like marmite, you either love it or you hate it! That’s why they’ve carefully identified a specific audience, demographic and age range they wish to attract.

5. Create Fidelity

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Some fashion brands have poured millions of dollars into developing the perfect scent for their target audience, then spent the same again to protect it!

A prime example is Chanel No. 5, one of the most well-known scents of today, which has barely changed at all since its inception in 1921. Not only is this part of its charm, but it encourages loyal consumers. Since most of us are naturally quite reluctant to changes, they could risk losing customers if they changed too suddenly.

Imagine going into McDonald’s to get a burger and realizing they smelt and tasted different? It would be a very risky move indeed!

By now, your creative juices should be flowing with ideas on how you might adopt sensory marketing. It’s definitely worth experimenting with and will give you a considerable advantage over your lesser sensory competitors!

Lucrative Revenue Stream- Selling Promotional T-Shirts

Promotional shirts are as popular as ever! From clever guerilla marketing tactics to business team building days, they are still a marketing weapon to be reckoned with.

For us t-shirt selling hustlers, this presents us with a incredible opportunity to generate additional revenue, recognition and brand exposure. If you can get in with the right companies and supply them with awesome promotional t-shirts, you’ll be laughing.

Working with company names and logos may be tricky, but it isn’t impossible. Whether you need to include a team or group name, a corporate image, or other moderately complex designs, there are some best practices to follow for your promotion design needs.

10 Best Practices for Creating Kick-ass Promotional T-Shirts

1. Mindset Shift: Think Promotion, Not Fashion

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While the printing process remains the same, it’s important to remember from the design side that these shirts are for promotional use, not so make a fashion statement. This may not be the most exciting set of shirts ever made, but at the end of the day, it needs to get a message across. Your job is to ensure that it effectively markets the brand without going over the top with distracting design choices.

Before working with the client’s order, it’s best to discuss which designs they would like. Sometimes companies don’t know any better and want loud, busy designs; others simply want a cheap white shirt with their logo on the chest. But by nailing them down for specific design choices now, you can avoid having to redo the shirts later.

By coming to an agreement regarding styles, colors, and images you can help them out by removing most of the guesswork. Companies always think they want an artistic and edgy design until they see the end result. It may hurt creatively to keep the design so simple, but in the end the customer is always right.

2. Mindset Shift: Working with Your Client, Not For Them

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Understanding the client’s needs goes beyond shirt colors and styles. By getting a complete picture as to what sort of promotion they are looking to achieve, you can develop a better overall plan to create their shirt. By knowing the specific target audience, what they’re looking to achieve from others wearing it, and why they’re holding the promotion in the first place, you can better develop a design that will solve all of their needs.

Another factor to consider is what sort of turnaround they are expecting. Obviously, more complicated designs are going to take longer, but that doesn’t mean that they understand the printing process. Explain to them what sort of timetable you would require for each type of design and they should be more understanding. If time is a more valuable factor for them, try to sketch out a scaled down version of their design and find some middle ground.

Finally, as anyone who has ever worked with a corporate client will tell you, what they want and what is physically possible are usually two separate things. Advise them on what you are able to do with their time restraints and budget, as well as things that are simply impossible to do under the circumstances. Ask them if they’re basing their decisions off of existing designs, and if so, ask them to show you so can help them understand the project from your side.

If possible, once they’ve shown you what they would like, try and sketch out some rough ideas on the spot. This way they can better guide you towards the finished project they are expecting, and they can have a more concrete idea of what is and isn’t possible.

3. Handle Creativity With Care

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In some cases, your promotional customer will give you carte blanch in terms of creativity, and other times they want nothing more than what they’ve given you. Ask up front about creative restraints, because more often than not they haven’t even considered that as an option. The last thing you want is to completely redo a shirt, all because a simple question went unasked.

If you have what you believe to be a winning idea but they don’t want to budge off of their bland design, try making one of each, if possible. While it is double work, it can really help you pursue a long-lasting client relationship, as well as give you an opportunity to show off your skills. And since you still have the design that they want front and center, you won’t have to start all over again. Just be sure that they understand that they are in full control of the design choice and that you merely are offering the more artistic design as an option.

4. Work With Their Fonts

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While by now you’re probably already familiar with which fonts you can print with, as well as which ones are easier to work with than others, some company reps are just married to certain fonts. One of the best things you can do to make the relationship work is to go over which fonts you can and cannot work with, especially with the constraints that their job has.

Other clients are going to be completely oblivious to different fonts. If they give you the green light to use whichever ones are easiest, take them up on it; just be sure to show them first. The last thing any corporate client will want is a shirt covered in Comic Sans.

If their company utilizes a custom font, make sure they have enough materials that you can work with. It may seem tedious, but if they have a specific typeface they will immediately know the difference between it and simply “close enough”. Also, now is a good time to let them know if working with their typeface is going to be too expensive or not. While this may be a deal breaker, most will value the heads up and will be willing to work with you.

5. Adopt Their Color Palette

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Another sticking point is which colors that they require, as well as ones that they absolutely will not allow. The good news is many corporate logos use the same color palettes as other logos, while other logos will be more complex. The other problem is that some clients are too vague with their preferred color palette, simply referring to colors by their vaguest names; other clients may have complicated colors and Pantone codes, which may be difficult to obtain.

This stage is crucial for both sides to understand each other. Chances are, no matter how specific or vague their color needs are, some compromises will need to be made. If you’re able to, show them how certain colors look when printed, and try to push them towards colors you can print with.

Sometimes they want you to create a palette for them. Although at first it may seem like you have free range, chances are they still have certain colors that they would prefer you to use. When choosing colors for a client, it’s important to understand what those colors represent, how they work together in the printing process, and how close/opposite they are to their logo.

6. Don’t Mess With Their Logos

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Speaking of logos, it’s important to keep in mind how to work with a company’s logo. This isn’t just another image; this is what defines and represents their company as a whole. No matter how much creative leeway you may have, the logo is more likely than not off limits. When working with someone else’s logo, the colors, sizing, and placement needs to be discussed before it goes to printing.

7. Keep Graphics & Illustrations Simple

 

Chances are you’ll be able to use some degree of pictures or illustrations in addition to the logos that they provide. But the true mark of a professional will go deeper than treating it as clipart. By understanding any and all representations or meanings behind these graphics, you can avoid any accidental gaffes later on. As long as an image can play nice with their brand, it shouldn’t be an issue.

There are many examples of well-known multinational corporations utilizing promotional tee shirt designs for specialized marketing needs. But most of the time these companies want simple illustrations used so that it doesn’t distract from the company’s logo. It’s best to balance eye-catching designs and simplicity to easily make a win-win situation.

8. Ensure Proper Image Formatting

Even the world’s best design is rendered useless if it’s incompatible with the client’s preferred printing tactics. This is another reason to keep images simple; when a big name company orders shirts, the last thing they want to hear is that their order was too complex. Honesty is always the best policy, even if you have to tell them that what they want and what you can do are two separate things.

This doesn’t just pertain to images, either. If your client wants a specific type of printing technique and you aren’t well-versed enough in it, let them know up front. They may opt to go with a different printer because of this, but they will appreciate you forewarning them. If you can explain why you avoid that type of printing, simply explain your reasons why – they may just rely on your judgment and expertise.

9. Lock Down Your Printing Process

Once your initial designs have been approved, it’s time to get to work! Just be sure that you have everything you need to complete it properly; the more items you can be sure of now, the fewer issues you’ll run into later. This includes colors, proper printing formats, font types, and images and ensuring that they are all compatible with your process.

Any shirt design printer will rely on CMYK printing formats, but the client’s design is looking for an RBG format. Sometimes your CMYK printer can tackle it without issue, and other times it’s a complete mess. The first step is to make sure you have the correct Pantone codes, and that the images used will take with both the color palette and printer.

The best way to head off printing issues at the pass is to provide the client with previous works in different printing techniques. His way they can physically see the difference, and not just try to understand what you are telling them.

Another area everyone forgets at one point or another is simple mistakes utilizing fonts. Fonts always need to be converted to outlines, but it’s easy to forget this step. This is especially true as you aren’t completely handling the design, but utilizing fonts and images already created.

Finally, watch the design file types. Sometimes you need it saved as a PDF, and other times other formats are better. If you aren’t quite sure which is best for your specific situation, utilizing PDF is generally pretty safe, so long as it’s a high-quality sample. Anything less and the design risks coming out blurry.

10. Create and Supply Samples

Chances are if you’re crafting a promotional shirt for someone, it’s a pretty major client. The last thing you need is a surprise. One of the best things you can do is to order a sample run; this way you can know exactly how the batch will turn out. Most printing companies will be more than happy to ship a sample, knowing that it’s in their best interest because of the larger order that will be placed later on.

Design Inspiration

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If your client is willing, you can take your simple shirt design and transform it into a powerful eye-catching shirt. From utilizing colorful, cute corporate mascots in a fun design or even going for unique optical illusions, there is a lot of room to play with simple designs that are still effective. For instance, shipping companies such as FedEx have used simple designs that make it seem as if someone is holding one of their packages against their side.

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Companies such as Marshall Music have used hyper-realistic images to create the illusions that are specific to their industry. This includes headphones, microphones, musical instruments, and others.

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These Apple promotional t-shirts are a great example of harnessing nostalgic power to market their brand. By using a company’s original logo and font, they can created a limited-run promotional shirt design that captures a retro spirit. If there’s a rich history behind your client’s brand or business, this could be an interesting avenue to explore.

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Other companies have partnered with sports teams and other organizations, utilizing a cross between their own logos, colors, and fonts and crafting sports jerseys, hats, and other memorabilia. Not only is this an easy fit, but one that can be sold in many different regions and locations.

Tying it All Together

When creating promotional shirts, it’s important to make sure all the separate details tie together and flow as one. Ensure the brand takes center stage and staying within the lines of what the company gave you to work with. If you plan on going off the menu creatively, remember to keep it professional and in line with their brand.

Before sending the design off to print, make sure you have everything squared away, including color codes and CMYK compatibility, proper font types that are outlined, and the right file type for your design. By ensuring all of these items now, you can reduce the risk of issues and have your shirt designed as efficiently as possible.

Now get out their and start generating an additional revenue stream by making kickass promotional t-shirts!

Launch an Irresistible T-Shirt Selling Brand in 6 Simple Steps

In the beginning, we know we want to launch their own t-shirt business, but it’s easy to become overwhelmed with everything that needs to happen to make that dream a reality.

What a lot of new brand designers don’t understand is that it’s okay to start out small. In fact, online indie shirt brands are king, and they’re some of the easiest businesses to start right now. Although it’s going to take time, work, money, and other resources, it isn’t nearly as impossible to launch a brand as it may seem at first.

To those who find the idea of building a t-shirt or apparel brand too momentous, try breaking it down into these 6 actionable stages:

1. Start with a VISION (Not Just an Idea)

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While it’s understandable that you may think that your brand’s driving idea is selling tee shirt designs, that isn’t a specific enough idea. Many people sell shirts online, and trying to leap off of that thought is only going to become white noise lost among everyone else. You have to have an original, defining idea behind your brand before it can be considered uniquely yours.

In fact, if you keep your idea too broad and generic, it’ll only open you up to getting your idea stolen by a bigger, more established brand who can do it better and cheaper than you can. It’s in your best interest to be unique, in more ways than one.

Visions are more than just a simple idea. They are a complete landscape, that includes designs right down to the feelings they will provoke. You have to have an original, defining vision behind your brand before it can be considered uniquely yours.

Start by finding audiences of like-minded individuals, then consider what kind of brand they would be interested in. How can you identify with them, show you understand them and allow them to express themselves?

Once you’ve developed your defining audience or theme, then it’s time to shift gears and think about how the heck you’re going to make this vision a reality

2. Develop Your Branding and Logo

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First of dedicated post for naming a new t-shirt brand.

Once you have a name secured, it’s time to mark it up with a defining logo. This task can be a daunting one as not everyone is able to sketch a logo out. However, you can always find an affordable freelance artist to help you out, especially if you can find one that has a background in branding design.

If you want the best results, you need to help them help you; have specific ideas, notes, concepts or rough sketches you can send them. If all you give them is a very vague idea, the logo design stage will go on far longer than it needs to and you’re unlikely to get the results you were dreaming one. Unless, of course, you pay a professional ALOT of money to do all the creative thinking!

Remember, an effective logo does more than just look cool. It will be the defining symbol that fully represents what your company is about. It has to be eye-catching without being too flashy; unique, but not confusing; and finally, simple, but striking.

Luckily, there are many options to choose from and mix and match until you find the perfect combination of fonts, typography, colors, and images that will tell your story before they even buy a shirt.

3. Create Brand-Defining Designs

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It may seem obvious, but it’s also easy to get so wrapped up in launching the company that you’ve completely forgotten to carefully focus on making your designs. Your new fans need shirts to buy, and they need to be as unique as your name is. Artistically-inclined brand owners can do this portion themselves; less talented brand owners will probably need to recruit some artists to do it for them.

One word of warning, however; if you intend on hiring artists, either full-time, part-time or freelance, their styles need to easily blend with those of the other artists. It can be incredibly jarring to see one shirt looking wildly different from another, even when they’re by the same brand. By choosing an overarching style, it can help solidify your brand with a concrete look and feel.

You don’t exactly need a ton of initial designs. In fact, it’s common for new brands to launch with just a handful. This is actually a little easier to do than other companies, as you at least have the advantage of obviously being a small designer and the fact that you’re selling casual everyday wear tee-shirts and not more complicated inventory items.

Just make sure that you have enough inventory in stock before opening your doors, including having designs printed on different colors of shirts, as well as sizes. You don’t want to wind up with a ton of orders, only to have them professionally printed one by one. While you don’t want to have a ton of inventory to warehouse, it’s a great idea to set yourself up for success for the first wave of orders.

4. Plant the Seeds and Grow Your Online Presence

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Now that you have a vision, name, branding, logo and handful of designs, it’s time to put it to work for you. Your first step should be securing a website that users can learn about your brand, view your designs, and most importantly, purchase from you.

Many newcomers will begin with t-shirt fulfillment website such as TeeSpring. This is fine, but don’t understate the value of having your own professional brand website in place.

Many new brand owners think that they have to spend thousands of dollars on a website at the forefront of their company launch. While a professional website from the ground up is the most effective site to have for the future, you can still have access to a considerable amount of features on basic blogging platforms.

In fact, the bigger names in blogging, such as WordPress, Blog Spot, and others, have integrated e-store tools that allow you to set up your blog as if it were an online store, allowing users to add items to a shopping cart and pay with secure checkouts. And the best part is, once you make a little money, you can always have a web designer fine tune these tools until you’re able to transition to a real website.

With a website is in order, you should now set up social media pages, score t-shirt reviews on blogs and  work on boosting your web presence. This way, you’ll have an easier time boosting your search rankings as you can be found across multiple platforms online.

5. Get Professional With Lifestyle Shots

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You wouldn’t buy a shirt online without having a clear idea of what it looks like, and neither will your customers. Even the most detailed text descriptions benefit from high quality accompanying images. Take the time to find the best shots possible of your shirts before attempting to sell them. Your customers should have the same experience they would have in a physical clothing store, save for the dressing rooms.

Don’t just post boring product photos either. Bring in some models, and show your customers what your shirts look like when worn. This is crucial as they won’t be able to try your shirt on themselves. Make sure you have enough photos on your website that it leaves customers feeling confident that they can trust them; too few photos may make it seem like you’re trying to hide what they really look like. The good news is, even though you’ll wind up with a ton of unused pictures, you can always recycle them on Flickr or Instagram.

If you don’t have a great camera, don’t know how to take pictures beyond beach vacation shots, or just can’t find the time to do it yourself, a freelance photographer is easy enough to find. Keep an eye on local classifieds and professional freelance sites, or see if any photographers from Instagram or Flickr are near you. Remember, first impressions are the most important.

Now obviously, these shirts aren’t going to sell themselves. And while there are numerous avenues you could take to sell your shirts, some methods work better than others. When trying to drum up more sales across your online pages, try creating:

  • Promotional Videos
  • Environment Photos
  • Photos with Relevant Models
  • Pictures That Keep it Simple

Promotional videos can go above and beyond what pictures can do. And honestly, between how easy it is to shoot and post a short video from your phone is, this should be a top priority. Show some behind the scenes work, or short interviews with your team. Let your customers get to know the real you, so long as it helps the brand.

Environment photos have nothing to do with saving the rainforest. Rather, these are pictures of people wearing your shirts as intended. If you’re focusing on the skater crowd, show off your shirts at the skate park. If you’re going for an edgier look, make sure your models can look tough and mean in an urban environment. You could also use the seasons to your advantage, as the natural landscape matches the emotions you’re trying to convey.

Chances are, your friends will be more than happy to model some shirts for you, but you, as the boss, need to make sure you’re choosing the right person for the job. You probably don’t want your younger sister modeling shirts for an edgy audience, and you don’t need your army friend trying to sell the delicate or cute stuff.

Finally, if you can’t seem to find anyone to model for you, or you’re going for a more industrial or simplified style, trying photographing just the shirt. Different from pictures to sell them on the site, these are more artistic in nature, allowing the shirts to basically model themselves. They can be draped over a chair or hanging on a hangar somewhere unexpected.

6. Double Down Marketing On the Right Social Media Sites

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There’s seemingly a new social media site popping up every week, and if you try and join each and every single one, you’ll drive yourself nuts. Stick to the ones that will give you the most bang for your buck. Twitter and Facebook still remain the kings of social media, and now that Facebook has purchased Instagram, they’re almost a packaged deal at this point.

We’ve already written a few posts on using Facebook marketingInstagram sponsored ads and underrated social platforms such as Pinterest, Vine, and Snapchat.

Once you’ve figured out which platforms to focus on, it’ll be time to make regular postings that are relevant to your brand. Try to avoid too controversial of topics, and remember that your brand isn’t necessarily the same person as you are. Rather than making vague posts, try and create fun interaction with your fans. When all you do is sell to people, they stop listening to what you’re saying.

See which apps are most easily integrated with your platform. Some apps work better with specific sites, and simply finding this information out now can lead to exciting contests and giveaways later on. Let your sites do the heavy lifting while you focus on developing customer relationships.

While larger companies and celebrities may not respond to each and every comment or question, you’re still small time at this point. Take the time to respond to every message and inquiry, and try not to come off too robotic. Just make sure to respond soon after they reached out, otherwise, it’ll make for an awkward interaction later. No one wants to see a response to their Tweet after two weeks.

If you’re trying to have a platform that more resembles a blog, Tumblr is a good, and free, option for social media. Flickr, like Instagram, allows easy photo sharing and out media options, allowing you to quickly post smaller updates and reserving your blog for the bigger ones. Just note that for the pictures that you want to get the most attention from, it’s best to rely on Instagram.

Make A Killing Selling T-Shirts Through Merch By Amazon

Undoubtedly, you’ve witnessed Amazon’s insane market growth, and with it, FBA/private label sellers have been making money hand over first. Now with Merch by Amazon, it’s time for us t-shirt sellers to get a juicy piece of Amazon’s pie!

Amazon’s newest offering makes it astonishingly easy to design and sell shirts, in great quantities. In fact, a quick “merch by amazon” search on YouTube and other social media sites show an encouraging number of individuals making thousands of dollars using this method. Most notably, the story of two t-shirt sellers making over $150K together!

Should I Join Merch By Amazon?

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Amazon has completely streamlined the shirt design process for you. All you have to do is make the design and earn the sales; Amazon does all of the work for you, including printing, screening, and shipping, for their portion of the sale.

Compared to “regular” t-shirt fulfillment website such as TeeSpring, it’s a familiar process. So what’s the advantage you ask- Amazon’s gold-plated reputation, marketplace, and traffic. Not only do you have an almighty storm of visitors with credit cards loaded and trusted Amazon prime accounts, you have Amazon’s marketing on your side. If there’s anything that can be done to increase sales of their products, by god, Amazon will be using it!

There’s one small bump at this time, Merch by Amazon is an invitation-only program. The form is not complicated, with only a few fields to fill out, but it must be approved by Amazon before you get going. If you are fortunate enough to be given the all clear, you can then start uploading PNG files and start cranking out shirt designs.

The catch here is that at this time, there’s no real safeguard against intellectual property theft; you can bet that as the service expands, you and others will face far greater scrutiny in the future. It’s best to go ahead and adopt as many best practices now to avoid a huge headache later on (the Amazon ban hammers will be falling).

Selling on Merch By Amazon- Finer Details

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How Many Designs Can I Upload?

As of right now, Merch by Amazon is going to limit you to 25 designs. The upside is they offer easy-to-use templates to allow you to adjust image position, sizing, and other options. Luckily, as your sales climb, they will allow you to offer more designs. Think of it as proving yourself to be a professional seller. This is a great program to use to see if designing shirts are a viable choice for you.

At least initially, you’ll want to stick to simpler design choices. Amazon will allow you to choose whether or not your shirts have designs on just the front, or the front and back; however, the front and back design choice will cost more, eating into your already smaller profit margins.

What Are the Profit Margins?

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Amazon has done so incredibly well financially for a reason, so don’t be surprised to see them taking most of your profits. In essence, Amazon is simply paying you royalties to use and sell your designs. Let’s say you were selling t-shirts at $16, you may only end up with around $5 per t-shirt.

But before you get too disheartened, your increased selling power makes up for it. Let’s say you’re doing well and sold 145 t-shirts over a week. That might be $2320 for Amazon and $725 for you, still not bad at all!

It’s fairer than it sounds as they’re taking all the of the workload, warehousing, logistics and providing a bustling marketplace. Learn more about the Royalties from Amazon.

What Types of T-shirt Can I Sell?

CurrentlyAmazon will give you two shirt options, a relaxed fit by Anvil and a tighter athletic fit by Abercrombie and Fitch, both with separate costs. It’s likely that this will expand as this sector continues to grow.

In an effort to maximize your potential profits, you’ll need to make some smart design choices. While you have access to many different colors, Amazon recommends limiting this to just three color options per shirt. You’ll also want to make sure each shirt has a quality description attached to it to set yourself up for success later.

What’s the Process For Uploading Designs?

6 Considerations and Tips For Merch By Amazon

1. Understand That Competition is Already High

As with anything that’s relatively easy to get into, there’s going to be a fair amount of competition. People are beginning to catch to Merch by Amazon, so you’ll still need to put in the work to differentiate yourself in a positive way. Although Amazon will help you to sell more, they’re helping everyone else too. In fact, they will prioritize those who generate the most interest and ultimately, money for Amazon.

Because this is more or less a stream of passive income, it’s really up to you to determine how much you’ll make, based on how much time you want to put into this project. You can go the obsessive route, studying Google trends and current popular culture topics, or you can simply keep your shirts more generic and hope for the best. If you already have some form of a fan or customer base, you could use this for a slight edge; otherwise, it’s going to be a little more difficult to move the sort of inventory you’re trying to.

2. Stand Out from the Crowd

One of the biggest complaints from users and sellers alike, including real shirt designers with their own brands, is that Merch by Amazon has already been flooded with thousands of copycats. From ripping off third part designers to simply copying every other Merch by Amazon user, customers are having to wade through thousands of the same boring, uninspired designs, making them leave in frustration before making a purchase.

Before launching into creating a design, take a few moments to see what everyone else is designing in that particular keyword or theme. The last thing you want to do is simply add to the overwhelming pile that people are already not buying. But if you can come up with an effective design that’s hard to replicate, you just might be able to cut through all of the white noise.

3. Be Aware of CopyCats (and Don’t Become One!)

As discussed earlier, too many of these low-quality designers are actively ripping off brands, images, and other intellectually property they do not have the rights to. Much of these types of sellers seem to be Chinese brands looking to make a quick buck, although these scammers are popping up from all over. As a result, Amazon is actively looking for those in violation.

While they may not catch you today or even tomorrow, it’s only a matter of time before you get flagged. As we said before, do yourself a favor and don’t get into these bad habits.

Unfortunately, if you find yourself on the receiving end of getting your designs stolen, there aren’t a whole lot of options available to you. Amazon probably won’t give them the boot simply because they used your design, and unless they see shutting down a t-shirt seller from the other side of the world as a priority, they’ll take care of it whenever the feel like it.

You’ll have the option to set keywords for your shirts. However, unless you want to look like you’re a spammy designer, make sure these keywords are relevant. In addition to setting proper keywords, do yourself a favor and set your shirts as available to the public; otherwise, no one will find them.

Using free use images for your design will help you avoid a potential copyright problems later down the line. If you can find a free to use an image that requires no royalties, you’re essentially getting someone designing your shirt for free. This will save even more time and money for you, making that meager profit margin work a little harder for you.

4. Use Supplemental Programs and Tools

Templates are great and all, but only using them is a great way to have your shirts look like an amateur designed them. Even though this is more than likely your first foray into the shirt design world, it’s best to have some sort of third-party design software to give your shirts a more professional-looking finish.

If you are going to use PhotoShop or other design software, just be sure to use their design templates; otherwise, you risk your shirts winding up looking disfigured or the image not being set on straight.

If you find yourself struggling to design images via software, consider hiring a cheap freelancer to do it for you off of Fiverr, Upwork, or some other affordable site for finding contract work. As long as they give you a PNG file, you’ll be able to upload it on Amazon.

And if you find yourself being unable to stop making designs, keep them in your notebook; once you’ve moved past the initial design cap of 25 shirts, you could be selling 100 designs, 500 designs, or even more if you wish.

5. Learn as you Go

The chances of you making a handful of initial designs and simply sitting back as the sales roll in are slim. Like any business, you’ll need to test and adjust your inventory as time goes on. Because your inventory will be limited, don’t hesitate to give an underperforming design the axe. It’s also a good idea to see who the Best Sellers are.

Amazon gives out a Best Seller Rank, abbreviated BSR, to do exactly what it sounds like; rank in descending order the top sellers on Merch by Amazon. They didn’t get there accidentally, and if you can learn anything at all about how they’re making so many sales, it’s best to legally and ethically copy their lead. If your shirt is being ranked as a #10,000 or higher, for example, it’s probably not a great selling shirt. You want that sales rank to be as small as possible, with shirts in the low thousands churning out solid profits for their designers. At the same time, you could form a niche from poor ranking design topics by finding a search term that isn’t doing well in general and producing a great shirt in that topic field.

If your shirt is being ranked as a #10,000 or higher, for example, it’s probably not a great selling shirt. You want that sales rank to be as small as possible, with shirts in the low thousands churning out solid profits for their designers. At the same time, you could form a niche from poor ranking design topics by finding a search term that isn’t doing well in general and producing a great shirt in that topic field.

Tip: Consider running promotions and other marketing strategies to boost your sales and help reach greater ranks.

6. Use Your Fans to Your Advantage

If you’ve hit a creative wall and don’t know what your design should be next, ask your fans. You can easily create a poll on several different social media sites, giving users several options and finding out which one has the best review. This way you can at least have a better chance of people being willing to make a purchase on a shirt they really want.

This technique has been effective, especially with those who have their own mobile game franchise. Players who are already fans of the game will be eager to pick up some merch to show their support. This can also help create cross-promotion and boost sales as you can link the shirt to where people can download your game.

6 Ways to Find Designers and Create T-Shirt Designs That Rock

After seeing an online tee shirt store once, it’s easy for most people to get swept up into the idea of “Hey, I could probably do that!” Many love the idea of launching that one great shirt that everyone loves and that the shop can’t seem to keep in stock. And all the while you just keep raking in the money for your sweet designs!

But it quickly becomes apparent that you have little to no artistic talent, or you’re lacking inspiration. Sometimes the easiest way to do something is to have someone else handle it for you, and that’s never been as accessible as it is right now. Just about every industry imaginable relies on independent contractors or freelance workers to handle their needs, and more often than not, they work better and cheaper than going through traditional firms.

There’s a variety of different ways to go about this, each option with its own pros and cons. Not every choice will be the right fit for your needs, while others may find that multiple options may work. We’re going to explore a number of choices, starting with performing the design work yourself.

The One Man Army- Making Designs Yourself

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Even if you struggle with drawing a stick figure, many programs are available at little to no cost. And although Photoshop is the granddaddy of all image editing software, who has the budget for buying it? Luckily, many alternative programs (such as

Luckily, many alternative programs (such as Gimp) with similar layouts and can be found for free; some users even prefer them over Photoshop itself. Whether you’re able to sketch it out on the program or merely combine other images and shapes that you’ve found, digitally designing shirts without a dedicated shop is easier than ever before.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have experience in digital photography or haven’t had the time to get acquainted with the software they downloaded. Chances are, you’ve found yourself putting off developing your design more and more, and now you’re worried it’ll never get finished. If you lack the time, money, or experience to develop a design on your own, it’s probably time to hire a professional.

Outsourcing your design work frees your time and energy to spend on scaling your operation. By decreasing your own labor hours and keeping hiring costs low, you stand to save quite a bit of money, and make more!

Calling in the Professionals- Outsourcing Your Designs

1. Crowdsource Your Project

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Crowdsourcing is an increasingly popular way to raise funds for something buyers are already interested in, all without the hassle of trying to convince the local bank to loan you money. Everything from books to full-length movies and even video games have been funded using crowdsourcing techniques.

It’s an easy and effective way to generate funding and social media buzz simultaneously. By finding interested investors who like what you’re pitching, you can have a base of buyers already putting money up before the final product has been finished. This way you already know that the design sells, and you already have some sales in place. All that’s left to do is use the money wisely and deliver a killer final product.

Not all crowdsourcing sites are created equally. Some force you to do all of the legwork by uploading your own initial sketches and plans to help coax buyers to invest. Other sites will only allow you to pitch to family and friends, and most sites have strict rules to follow. If you aren’t careful, you may lose all the money you’ve raised, or worse, have to pay even more back in return.

Some sites, like 99designs, allow “designers” to pitch the idea of their shirt. In return, the artists that frequent their site agree to design the shirt for you for a predetermined agreed upon set price. It works a little like an auction site; you set your price and product description, and the artists bid to fulfill the job requirements.

Just know that many sites that follow this method allow an entire pool of designs to be submitted by various artists at the same time, and not all of them have the same price. You may want a more expensive design, but your wallet will force you to take a lesser quality one.

2. Hire a Dedicated Designer

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If you wanted to build a house, you would go to where the home builders were, right? Well, the same logic applies here. You have the shirt design concepts, so you now you just need an artist to bring them to life. Some sites are communities of experienced and establish shirt design artists that are ready and willing to work for you.

Although many of these types of sites exist, one of the more popular ones is Dribble. Dribble combines artist portfolios with the option of hiring freelance labor. Some artists are merely there to show off their work, although you may still be able to inquire about them potentially working on your project. Others will have an obvious “hire me” button illuminated on their profile page, letting you know that they are actively looking for design work.

3. Search On Freelancer Sites

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While freelancing websites may or may not have available designers, they act as marketplaces for any and all freelance workers. This includes creative professionals, such as artists, musicians, and writers, and more traditional temp workers for office and business needs. But in our experience, there is always designers and artists hungry to expand their portfolio with freelance contracts here.

The process is much simpler than many would suspect at first. Simply make a job posting describing your project, and set your deadline and price. Many freelancers are usually eager to find the next available job, and you’ll probably start receiving responses faster than you were expecting.

Just be sure to use common sense when choosing a freelance worker. While they are typically much more affordable, choosing cheap labor from another country is usually a surefire way of winding up with a low-quality final product. Some freelancers sub out their work, even when they insist that they do it themselves. Others will talk a big game to get your business, only to wind up failing to deliver in the end. Mediation actions are usually lengthy, and since most sites require escrow payments up front, the money may be out of your hands for a while.

The good news is that freelance workers need good ratings to get work, so most are reliable. Freelancing is no longer considered a fad or a trend, it’s an industry in its own right. Some of the more common freelance marketplaces include Upwork, Freelancer.com, and Elance. There are also many more options out there, and some are certainly better than others. Be sure that, like any job, you give them an interview process, asking for portfolios and previous work samples before agreeing to use them.

4. Try Cheap Options for Quick Designs

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Everyone knows that you get what you pay for, so using a cheap freelance site, such as Fiverr, comes with the inherent risk of your finished project being hit or miss. But Fiverr is a reputable discount freelance marketplace, but each user has a dedicated rating, as well as other metrics such as how many jobs are completed on time, and how quickly they respond to messages.

As long as your design isn’t too terribly complex, Fiverr could be an effective way to save you some money. Just be sure to set realistic deadlines; chances are, no matter how good the artist may be, they’ll probably need longer than a day to finish your design.

Fiverr gets its name from prices running as low as just $5 per job. There are more expensive options, and sellers are encouraged to price each additional option on every job for an additional fee. Be sure to fully read everything as a $5 job can quickly snowball into a much pricier one. But as long as you find someone who knows what they’re doing and is charging a fair price, you can avoid hiring an expensive digital artist.
Other marketplaces are dedicated shirt design sites, such as Graphic River, Creative Market, and others.

They’re always worth checking out, even if you find yourself on a budget. You never know where a great deal is going to be lurking, and knowing that you’re getting someone with experience is worth every cent. Other sites, like T-Shirt Factory, use templates to easily create a shirt design. The only downside is that it becomes easy for multiple users to be selling similar or identical designs.

5. Sell a Second Hand Design

Believe it or not, there are a ton of designs floating around the Internet that are just collecting dust. Others designs haven’t been made yet, but exist in the form of popular images, TV shows, and other entertainment offerings. It’s big business now for many companies to sell graphic design shirts, and that opportunity exists for you as well. If you find an image, poster, or other design you’d like to display, go for it! Just be sure to obtain the proper commercial license so as to not accidentally commit copyright and trademark infractions.

If you see a design by an artist that currently isn’t being sold, send them a message. You can always offer to put their design on a shirt on your online store in exchange for a cut of the profits. The worst thing that can happen is that they will say no, and at best, you just found yourself a new design partner.

Designs don’t have to be from shirt designers, either. It’s not uncommon to see striking designs from budding artists within their portfolios. Seeing one of their images can come a Eureka moment of how great it would look on a shirt, and chances are, depending on what sort of medium they use, it may have never been displayed on a shirt before.

6. Find and Hire Local Talent

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Conducting business with complete strangers isn’t for everyone. Whether it be the fear of getting taken advantage of, or simply not being able to properly convey your needs and desires online, it may be best to seek out a local designer in your area. This gives you the benefit of speaking face to face with a professional designer, getting you one step closer to being on the same page with your artist.

Going this avenue is surprisingly easy. You can always check classified sites and newspaper sections, especially for those artists looking to get started. Craigslist is always a mixed bag, but since it’s free to use it’s always worth a peek. Other websites, such as Meetup.com, show you local and highly-relevant events. By finding a nearby shirt expo or design club, you’ll have more designers available to you than you know what to do with.

Now that you know that you have options, it’s time to get to work. Don’t have time (or effort) to design your shirt yourself, get professional help. Your imagination, creativity or mental capacity be damned, you’ll have killer designs in no time!

Whip Up a Marketing Storm With T-Shirt Contests

I haven’t quite figured out why, but people still go insane over free t-shirts. Whether it easily changes their mind about attending some event or forum, to driving the crowd wild during a boring sports game, free shirts seem to just make everyone lose their minds. It doesn’t matter how thin or tight or generic the shirts are, either – trying to get a hold of a free shirt is just as, if not more so, exciting as trying to catch a bouquet of flowers at a wedding.

As t-shirt sellers there’s a number of ways we can take advantage of this crazy phenomenon, either to spread the word or help improve our brands.

Free Tee Shirts Make Awesome Advertments

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Because free t-shirts are essentially some weird form of post-apocalyptic currency, they’re an easy and effective way to market a company’s brand. If you put a company’s name and logo on a free shirt, it’ll get distributed faster than any flier could. And then once they wear your shirts in public, boom – free walking billboard. And because they’re free, they’re likely to be their favorite shirt, even if they’re horrible oversized. That means they’re likely to wear it as often as they can, even if just around the house. Free shirts may not make any sales, but they’re certainly the advertising gift that keeps on giving.

There’s a reason free shirts are seemingly everywhere now; clothing brands know that people love them, and it’s a fun way to boost their traffic, and hopefully, sales. However, before you just start throwing free shirts at people, there are a few things to consider first.

Make the challenge worth the prize. You’re handing out a free shirt, not a golden ticket. Your entry process should be a simple one, preferably no more than a few lines to fill out. If it has as many steps as buying a car does, no one is going to want to enter.

A contest should be social. Whether you keep the contest “in house” among your own company’s forum or website, or you decide to include more people on social media, a fun and creative contest needs the community at large to make it exciting. Getting the news out and building up some hype never hurts, either, and at worst, you may hit some new sales in the process.

It can’t just be a participation trophy. If someone puts in a ton of effort into their entry, and someone else spends five minutes on theirs and they both get a free shirt, it’s likely that your next contest won’t be as engaging. Make sure those who went the extra mile to get recognition for their efforts.
Shirt contests are nothing new; that said, some companies just seem to do it better than others. Their contests are fun, engaging, and really blow up easily over social media.

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Threadless, for instance, regularly holds contests for user-generated designs. They’re built up their own community, which helps foster customer feedback, and the contests boost overall creativity. By allowing the community to judge designs, it keeps contests fair, and the winner gets the best prize, cash, as well as a ton of free advertising. It’s a real win-win!

Design By Humans also hosts regular design contests. Although their approach is a simpler than Threadless, by not having a forum approach and not having their community judge, it still remains easy and effective. In fact, by using Design By Humans’ hashtags, the prize isn’t just a free shirt, but also having their designs featured on their page. And with tens of thousands of followers on social media, this is a huge prize to win by a budding designer.

While design contests are all well and good, not everyone who loves shirts is able to design them. For regular contests, it may be a good idea to switch between those that favor your more creative fans, and those that struggle to draw a stick figure correctly. When you’re able to include everyone, more people become excited and then participate.

Leverage Social Media Shares

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Possibly one of the easiest ways to host a shirt contest that requires no skill at all from participants is to ask users to follow a certain page and share the contest message. For instance, on Twitter, a simple promo message with a link to the contest, as well as an easy and short hashtag, can gain a lot of traction very quickly. Whether it’s giving away a coupon or voucher or a free product, it can really drive traffic to your store and all but guarantee some sales.

This is a favorite among companies and customers alike. It’s easy to enter, and it’s easy for the company to gain new followers. It doesn’t require a whole lot of work and it can easily be shared across multiple social media platforms. This way, it boosts your brand’s presence among several sites and eventually generates more leads for your shop. Best of all, it only takes a few seconds to enter.

Give a Vote, Get a Shirt

Community feedback is a great way to develop new products, but you don’t necessarily want to spend a bunch of time and money gathering data. But what if, instead, you simply asked people what they liked?
If you have a few new shirt ideas kicking around in your notebook, simply ask the people what they want.

By voting on which one(s) they like the best, you can have a better idea of what new designs are going to sell. And to scratch their back for their vote, you can give them either a free shirt, a voucher code to shop with you, or even a crack at designing their own shirt, which you would then feature on your site.

What’s great about voting contests is the simple way you can mix it up with the prizes and promotions side. Best of all, it’s easily shareable – they can send it to others through email, put it up on their blog, or simply like and retweet it. And if you’re extra savvy, you could make an automatically generated Facebook post when they enter, allowing even wider sharing options.

Calling All Shutter Bugs

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Everyone these days think they’re a photographer, and admittedly, each new smartphone has a better camera than the last. An easy way to get customers involved in a contest is to ask them to take their skills beyond Instagram and find a certain picture to share. By creating a theme, whether it be cool urban pics, serene natural shots, or even a fun party, customers can easily snap a picture and be entered. And for an extra advertisement edge, you could ask that the pictures feature one of your shirts.

Another spin on this idea is how the winner is chosen. It can be a voting process, it can be an internal panel among your team, or for maximum exposure, choose the picture entry that users have shared the most. This could especially be useful on Twitter and can gain a ton of new followers.

Answer Some Questions, Win a Prize

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While no one enjoys taking a long quiz, this promotion can be simple for both sides. Either you come up with a short questionnaire that you can use to improve your designs, site, brand, etc., or you use a quiz field to beat the promotion into their brains. For instance, with a current contest running, the user could gain a bonus entry every day with a simple question that ties back into it.

By entering into a field answers such as the final day for submissions, the contest theme, a promo code or hashtag, or other relevant question, it helps cement the contest into their mind on a wide scale. By forcing them to repeat the details, it helps create more excitement, as well as encouraging more people to act quickly.

How do these contest ideas sound to you? Have you had success with anything similar? Let us know in the comments what you think, especially if you’ve hosted one of these contests before. And if you have any other suggestions for promoting your shirt designs, we’d love to hear them!

Selling on T-Shirt Fulfilment Platforms vs Your Own Brand Website

Even though you are running an online business, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can forget all about either start up or operating costs. When it comes to running a t-shirt selling business, there are two main routes that can be taken. Either having their own online store built, often a long and painstaking process, or taking the easy route by piggy-backing on order fulfillment services.

Many newcomers to the t-shirt business start with fulfillment platforms because it takes a lot of the risk out of their hands. These services are typically little to no cost to you and have you upload an image to be purchased and produced. It also greatly reduces startup costs, which can really make or break a new business. But on the other hand, it also means giving up a significant amount of control to others and it can be insanely competitive to get your designs off of the ground.

An important consideration is whether you have the experience and resources to run your own show. Although selling through these platforms can take over a lot of your business, that may not be such a bad thing if you’ve never opened a shop before or want to test out a new brand.

Starting platforms such as TeeSpring or Spreadshirt can be beneficial if you have shirt designs, but don’t know what to do with them, or you don’t want to be too heavily committed. If you’re happy to stay a small shirt company or side-hustle, these platforms are often the best route.

Yet, easier in business isn’t always necessarily better. While setting up and running a shop wholly owned and operated by you can mean a lot of sleepless nights, it can also be the best choice in the long run. If you really want to grow into an apparel brand and not just a fly-by-night tee shirt seller, you’ll want to consider shaking off these chains.

You may even cosndier building a business than leverages the best of both worlds by having your own dedicated website, while having your orders taken care of by a fulfillment service on the backend.

If you are still  unclear on the best route to start, or the next step to take with your business, here are some key considerations for selling on t-shirt platforms or your own webstore.

Your Shirts May Not Be Technically “Yours”

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No matter how easy a fulfillment website might make it for you to sell your designs, the full ownership of the designs often stops belonging to you when you use them. And this doesn’t just apply to shirt designs, either; when you run your shop through their site, they get the final say on every little detail.

If you can’t stand the design of your virtual storefront, either from it looking confusing and being hard to use, or you can’t stand the colors that they use, tough – your store is their store. And this problem worsens when it comes to pricing – they may have your designs so underpriced that it may quickly stop being worth it to make them.

Or if you’re planning on reaching a wider audience, they may only ship to certain countries or even certain regions. They may not print shirts in certain languages as a quality control stance, or they may not serve the groups who speak a particular language that you had planned on selling to. By limiting your prices, your customer reach, and even how your shop looks, it stops feeling like “your” business at all.

Another limiting factor that you’ll be hit with is the types of shirts you will have designs printed on. If you planned on printing on a high quality, premium shirt, or at the very least, something better than paper-thin, you’re going to be restricted to their particular range. At the end of the day, a shirt’s material is just as important as the design on it, and if you can’t control that it will only hurt you as a brand.

Fulfillment Sites Are One-Size-Fits-All

 

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To be perfectly honest, the majority of shirt fulfillment sites use similar styling and layouts. What’s more, your “store” is going to look almost identical to the next seller on your platform. And as an online store owner, that’s a problem – when your store looks almost identical to thousands of others, how are you supposed to gain any traction? Sure, they give you some choices to customize your store, but not enough to truly make it stand out. And from a creative perspective, if your store looks generic, people will think your designs are just as bland.

Say lightning does decide to strike and you’ve got a hot design that’s really selling. What’s preventing someone else with the same-looking shop from ripping off your design? Heck, what if the site themselves decide to rip off your design? You won’t have a whole lot of options.

When you don’t control your design, you can’t control who uses them. And when you can’t control that, you’re at the mercy of hoping that nothing bad happens to it. If you want your designs to be owned and protected by you, you’re going to need your own shop.

Your Designs Will Need Approval

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When you make a design and try to upload it to a platform, it has to first be approved for printing on a strictly functional basis; will the design print out legibly? And the process can seemingly take forever to approve your shirt for screening.

“No big deal,” you’ll say. “I’ll just upload some more, that way they all get approved around the same time.” Not so fast; these sites generally have a cap as to how many designs you can upload at once. So while you may have an entire notebook of designs ready to go, you may only get to pick out a couple for now. And considering you don’t have any inventory up and running yet, this is extra time ticking away that you aren’t making money.

Chances are, since they take your design and slap it on multiple different surfaces, they’re going to require that you use a vector image. That’s all well and good, assuming you actually know how to do that. And if you don’t, that’s another time-consuming hurdle that you’ll have to figure out. Once you’ve finally learned how, your may come to the realization that your coolest designs aren’t going to fly, because they only print in three colors, and black and white are two of them.

There may also be other creative differences as well. If your shirts are a bit too profane or risqué, they probably aren’t going to approve them. This can be especially problematic if you were planning on having an edgier brand.

Who’s Really Getting the Benefit From SEO?

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If you know a thing or two about SEO, you can leverage different methods to drive more traffic directly to your website or store. Whereas, if you are selling from another platform, all your hard work may also be driving visitors to your competitors!

Many of these t-shirt platforms already receive tonnes of traffic, perphaps 500,000 visitors daily. This may even be used to entice you, but what they won’t tell you is each individual shop has little to no search engine presence. So if you expect to build a customer base through SEO, you should really be focusing on your own website or store, not theirs!

Creditability as a “Real” Brand

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Do you know how many kids sit around the cafeteria table, bang out a dumb inside joke, and then throw it up on a tee shirt site? Now imagine your designs are on the same hosting platform; do you really think you’re going to have a shred of credibility as a brand when they’re literally right next door? This may not be a deal breaker if your designs are being made for nothing but laughs and if you make a few bucks, even better. But any designer or budding brand worth their salt needs their own shop. Besides, a custom site is going to look infinitely more professional, and not like a hobbyist or amateur.

Having a real online store is effective for several reasons. First, it just looks more like “you” and not a generic template that a million other designers are using. You have more control over inventory, descriptions, and even site design choices. Not to mention your own site won’t be flooded with annoying ads; free to use fulfillment sites are going to have ads that you won’t be able to turn off, hide, or simply move to somewhere else on the page.

Another item that will help boost your credibility and image is your domain. Rather than being shirtmaker5000.shirtshop.com/free, you’ll have your own domain and URL that best reflects you. And when you don’t have a goofy URL, customers just may take you seriously.

Some of these fulfillment sites look like they haven’t had an update in a decade. The fonts are atrocious and hard to read, other design factors are simply outdated and even laughable. And to think, you and your designs are going to be a part of this. It only hurts your image at the end of the day, and if you want to look the part of “professional”, you need a professional site.

Convience Comes With Increased Costs

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So maybe they offer an option to turn on ads for an additional fee. Or maybe they’ll let you change your URL for an added fee. Or offer SEO with extra fees. Basically, if you want your free shop to not look, and act, like a free shop, it isn’t going to be free at all.

They’ll try to sweeten the deal to keep you walking; they’ll offer things like paying X amount of dollars gives you additional shops, or additional language options, or even email newsletters. But a lot of these types of options either come with a more professional site, or are affordable enough to use a third party for. By paying for your own site, you may actually save money on these add-ons.

And then there’s the payment issue. A lot of fulfillment sites make you hold off on collecting your money until you’ve reached a certain sales threshold. That means that even though you have sales, you still can’t touch the money you’ve earned. And then, when you finally can make a withdrawal, they’re going to take their cut out of it. Suddenly that big payday you were expecting isn’t all that big at all.

Consider this; how are you going to advertise a shop that doesn’t belong to you, and offers zero SEO options? That issue alone makes your own private store worth it. In order to make a website worth the cost, it has to be able to be advertised, and if you can’t do that, even if it’s free, it’s not really worth your time. Even if you pay more for your “free” site, it’s still not going to give you the visibility you need to succeed.

There are a lot of good reasons to sell through a fulfillment platform, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for what you’re trying to accomplish. Even though fulfillment sites offer an easy way to get your foot in the door, it’s probably not going to work out for your specific needs in the long term. If you’re really looking to make a name for yourself, you’re going to have to pay them more to make your site functional, and at that point, you may as well simply buy your own site. When you have more control over your business and its designs, you’ll probably be a happier designer anyways.

So what are your thoughts on owning your own website vs. selling on fulfillment platforms? What has worked for you? Let us know how it worked for you down in the comments. Let us know what your preferred method is and why.

Get Your T-Shirts Stocked in Retail Stores – Offline Gold Mine

While it may sound like a crazy idea in 2016, you should really consider getting your shirt designs into traditional brick-and-mortar stores. I know; this defeats the whole purpose of creating your very own online empire.

However, getting your designs into physical stores does not mean opening your own. In fact, selling shirts in stores should not be your main stream of revenue at all, but an additional stream. Better still, it’s a great way to obtain a new field of exposure and could help you become a bonafide brand.

Probably the easiest transition to make after coming up with a killer design or two, or even a specialized line of shirts, is to target specialty shops. Some clothing store brands target urban clothing designs specifically, giving buyers a chance to find cool, hip, and unique designs that they just can’t find anywhere else, even online. Their stores are usually the dead center of a major city or hub, giving your brand a huge audience to sell to.

However, before you start knocking on storefront’s doors, here’s a number of key ideas in mind:

Tips For Turning Up Prepared

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1. Know Who You’re Pitching To

If you have a wild, crazy, “out there” style or set of designs, it’s probably not the best idea to start out at the stores your mom shops at. If a store’s line of clothing is centered around minimal designs or crisp, clean shirts, they probably don’t want anything too bold or artsy on their shelves.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to get in with an edgier store or brand, make sure your design has enough going for it that it would be a good fit. If your shirt stands out (and not in a good way) compared to what they’re already selling, you should probably talk to someone else. Even if they’re nice and allow you to put your designs up, there’s a fairly good chance that it won’t sell well with their buyers.

2. Don’t Get Lost in the Sauce

While it’s understandable that you want your shirts to be competing around what’s currently “in” fashion-wise, it isn’t a great idea to just simply add to the white noise. If you’re pitching your line to a store, they don’t want to just see what’s current and trendy. They want to know that you’re typical design process and style melds with theirs. Show them bold and original; they may not love it, but they will at least respect it.

If 100 designers are all making the same thing, it doesn’t matter if you do it better. Stores want to know that you’re going to come up with shirts that they can always sell. If your designs run on the more risqué side, is this particular store going to carry it? Are your designs really original, or are they just different takes on current designs? For instance, are you just featuring a different dramatic picture of a city skyline rather than just your typical San Francisco or New York picture? You need to show range while also showing you meld with their brand image.

3. Always Show Up Prepared

Just as you should show up to a job interview with a résumé or a portfolio, you should probably bring in some sort of a tangible sample with you when you’re pitching your designs. You don’t have to carry around an arm full of printed shirts, but you should have a few of your best designs to hand. While a book full of designs works well, having the designs you’re especially proud of printed out on a shirt could really increase your chances of sealing the deal.

If you want to go full Shark Tank, you could even bring someone along to model your shirts. The downside is you would need enough designs to showcase your range, and they may not want to spend the time waiting for them to change shirts.

Questions to Ask Yourself

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1. Is Your Brand Name Mature Enough?

It’s one thing when you’re selling your own shirts. Your brand can have any name you want, and it doesn’t matter because it’s the only brand in stock. But when someone else is going to be physically hanging your shirt next to big name designers, is your brand’s name going to actually work?

If your brand name is trying too hard to be edgy or urban, it’s not going to work well with “real” brands that have names that sound like actual fashion designers. If your brand name uses lingo that is currently en vogue, then you better believe they’re going to pass on you. No one wants to see “Swag Shirts” in ten years.

Honestly, your exact brand name (or something uncomfortably close) is probably already being used somewhere. While you aren’t necessarily in trademark violation, you may wind up having to pay them licensing fees for your name once it goes into a physical store. This may actually be a good time for you to rebrand yourself.

2. Is It Even Worth Selling With Them?

In order to be a viable option for partnering with the store, you’re going to be expected to sell to them at a low price so they can tack on their percentage. In the end, if they’re only going to make a couple of bucks off of each shirt sale, are they going to want to pursue the partnership long term?

Another question to answer before spending too much energy getting your shirts in their store is just how many units would they need? If it’s a small trendy boutique, they may not be willing to buy the number of shirts you need them to. Other larger stores may want way more units than what you’re able to give them.

Finally, are you going to be able to make your costs work with an agreed number of units? For instance, if they’re going to mark up your shirt at $30 and you’re still using as cheap of fabric possible, buyers are probably going to skip your design for something of a better value. And if you wind up spending too much on materials, you’re looking at potentially losing money rather than supplementing your revenue stream.

3. Do People Know What To Expect From You?

Chances are if someone buys your shirt in a store, they’ve either purchased from you online, or they’ve compared your design online before buying in the store. Unfortunately, if they’re snooping for info, they may see that you’re not performing real strong at the moment. They may have a hard time paying full retail price if you aren’t even moving as many units online as you have in the past.

Or, as another way to confuse them, if your prices are wildly different online, why would they pay the higher amount in store? As long as you can consistently show that you’re a strong contender with relatively the same pricing, they will have an easier time taking a chance on a purchase.

Final Considerations & Closing Deals

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1. Keep an Eye Out for the Bigger Store Names

It may seem that when selling in physical stores you should always go big or go home. However, getting on the shelves with bigger brands may actually wind up shooting you in the foot later. If a small specialty store sees you on the shelf of a larger retailer, are they going to want to sell the same thing their competitor is? Are they going to give you the “selling out” lecture?

And are they going to have the confidence that they need to stock your shirts? After all, a large retailer can probably move far more units at a fraction of the cost. A smaller store, at the other hand, may struggle quite a bit to do anywhere near the same amount of volume or sales figures.

2. Small Details Still Matter

While selling online may give you the freedom to just simply stuff a shirt into an envelope and call it “packaging”, your shirt is going to need a little extra flair when it’s sitting on the shelf along with everyone else.

Everything about the shirt, from the design to the wash instruction tag, to even the price tag, has to have some sort of personality and style to it. If any part of the shirt looks boring, it’s going to make the entire shirt seem boring in the shopper’s mind. When your shirt looks like a professionally designed brand, you’ll have an easier time making it a self-fulfilling prophecy and become a big name.

3. Sweeten the Deal

When pitching to a store owner to carry your brand, the customers aren’t the only ones taking a chance on you. You’re probably going to have to give them some sort of incentive, such as offering a full refund on a certain amount of unsold shirts.

Chances are, they aren’t too inclined to take all the risk on a designer they’ve never sold before. By showing you’re willing to work with them, they will be a little more willing to agree to carry your designs.

4. Focus on Marketing to the Owner

Just as you spend time marketing to customers, you need to market to your potential new partner. If you do decide to put together some form of portfolio, it would be a good idea to have the models look like real models with fresh, professional-looking hair and makeup in tasteful photo shots.

If you have live models, make sure they look the part and not just like they’re your sister or friend who happens to be wearing your shirt. If using a visual media form, make sure the production values are up to snuff, yet appropriate. And finally, if you’re going to depend on your website, make sure it looks like an actual website from a real designer.

Compete in T-Shirt Design Competitions For Brand Growth & Exposure

What if there was a way that you could not only test out funky new designs, but gain exposure, feedback, and even prize money in return? A way to boost sales, brand awareness, and hone your skills with live, real-time opinions? If this all sounds too good to be true, don’t worry – I’m talking about tee-shirt competitions. If you’ve never considered joining a tee competition, or you don’t even know where to start, Compete-Tee-Tion is a great resource for beginners.

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Competing against other shirt designers may seem intimidating. After all, there is a lot of designers online and it can be highly competitive quickly. However, if you’re looking for a fast way to gain a lot of exposure, you should definitely consider entering your designs into as many competitions as possible. You’ll be surprised how getting more competitive will sharpen up your designs and brand as a whole!

Competitions, however, go above and beyond advertising. Even if you enter contests and don’t win anything, it provides a great opportunity to network, talk shop, and even be inspired by other artists. Many groups host design contests, such as the DEAFestival held in Los Angeles, recently awarding $300 and the shirt printed and sold at the festival. If you’re looking for a new way to boost your business, then you should take these pointers to heart.

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Key Benefits of Enterting T-Shirt Competitions

1. Addition Revenue By Winning Competitions

While it’s highly unlikely that you can quit focusing on “regular” sales and become a full-time t-shirt competitor, entering competitions is a great way to earn some extra money. Prizes usually include cold hard cash, free advertising on big name blogs and email lists.

Either way, you’re getting your name and designs in front of far more people than simply by selling them. Best of all, there are a plethora of design competitions out there.

2. Great Exposure to Celebrities, Big Companies and the Public

If you’ve ever walked by a band’s merch stand at a concert and thought it would be cool to design for a famous artist or musical group, it actually might be easier than you’d think. Some companies, such as Design by Human, regularly hosts competitions for well-known video game franchises, movies, and even musicians.

Past contests have had winners chosen by the studios behind Assassin’s Creed, Diablo, The Dark Knight Rises, and huge names in music like Stone Temple Pilots, Kiss, Kings of Leon, and even Lil Wayne. Winning these contests can lead to some potentially huge exposure, and possibly even for an audience you hadn’t considered designing for.

5 Tips For Finding Lucatratic Tee Shirt Competitions

1. Join Conferences

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Every profession imaginable has annual or regular conferences for those in the industry to join, learn about new techniques and technologies, and rub elbows with one another. Many, including FESPA, hold contests for their attendees to join while in between sitting in on panels about textiles and printing.

The rules are usually fairly lax, giving them a real no holds barred feeling. Not only is it fun and pits your designs against any and every style out there, but it’s a great way to get your designs displayed to a lot of your peers easily.

2. Think and Look Outside the Box

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Not all shirt design competitions are held by those inside the design industry. In fact, many non-garment companies host shirt competitions as a way to widen their sphere of influence and gain additional exposure that they normally wouldn’t have.

OpenStack is a great example of this. OpenStack, a cloud-based technology company, hosts an annual shirt design competition. The best part is you don’t even have to have a printed prototype – all they ask is that you email a design in, and they handle the rest.

3. Work with Online Communities

Some companies operate through having an entire community of fans built up that they ask about new designs, getting them to vote, comment, and otherwise participate to help give them the best, newest, and most unique designs possible.

Threadless, for instance, allows users to view new designs, their most popular, designers that are gaining attention, and other ways to modify a user’s filtered search options. Best of all, Threadless only feature top quality designs, so if you score a competition win by them, you know you’re joining a great class of designers, as well as savvy customers.

4. Don’t Stop at Competitions

Because of the printing, manufacturing, and sales process, most competitions aren’t very long, and there could be as long as an entire year in between contests. A great way to get your foot in the door is to swing for the fences and start contacting shirt manufacturing groups directly to brag about your big deal design.

Or, if you don’t think you’re ready for cold calls and rejection letters, you could also keep your eyes peeled for contests that aren’t for tee shirt per se, but fashion or clothing competitions. These are usually from big name designers or retailers, and again, could be potentially great exposure for your brand.

5. Get Google to Keep an Eye Out For You

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A quick, easy, and free tool to use at your disposal is to use Google Alerts. Simply add a specific competition, and each time information is released about it, you’ll get an email alert. Or set up an alert for a specific brand or company you plan on contacting later, especially if they post that they are looking for a specific design.

5. Don’t Get Too Caught Up in Specifics

If you keep striking out, chances are you’re getting too invested in the contests’ themes or requirements. Once you find yourself between contests, use their themes or ideas as a launching off point. Go nuts; at this point, no one is judging them. Try to tell an entire story within the confines of what will fit on a shirt design.

Whether you’re competing against others or just yourself, remember that most importantly to enjoy what you’re doing. Let the creativity flow and don’t get too wrapped up in winning. At the end of the day, you’re not looking for a trophy, but to help your brand get the attention it deserves.

Custom T- Shirt Packaging – Give Your Brand the Edge and Build Loyalty

If you’ve never considered custom packaging for your t-shirts, you may want to reconsider after read this article. It’s far too easy to get caught up in driving sales and neglect these finer marketing details, in fact, one of the single most overlooked aspects of tee shirt selling businesses is packaging.

The majority of sellers focus on getting products out the door as easily, cheaply and quickly as possible. After all, cardboard boxes or envelopes are the most cost effective solution and can be purchased in bulk or issued by your drop shipper without a sweat.

Now the last thing you want is to be considered another one of those generic t-shirt sellers. You want to pleasantly surprise your customers, leave a lasting impression that differentiates your brand from the rest forever. In this day and age, the market has been flooded with competition. So if you want to take the lion’s share, you’ve got to have a bigger impact on your customers. Switching up the standard, expected packaging for something more fun and creative is an excellent way to achieve this.

Why It’s Worth Going the Extra Mile

So long as you make the sale and the customer doesn’t have any complaints, you’re good, right? Technically, yes. But think about this; receiving a boring old package is will not even register as an event.

Some sellers are going to argue that creating custom packaging is a waste of both time and money. They argue there is no value as the customers have already bought the shirt and care only about the product and not the quickly discarded packaging. They don’t believe it warrants the added time, money, and energy put into them.

Creating Memorable Experiences

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Yet, if receiving their t-shirt is a positive, memorable experience, they are far more likely to sing your praises. This could be across social media platforms, word of mouth or even reviews.

When you find a fun and exciting way to deliver shirts that also represents your brand, you are placing yourself firmly into the hearts and minds of your shoppers. It shows that you are more than just a business, but someone who likes to be fun and creative as well. What’s more, it adds value to your sale and makes it easier for people to choose you over a competitor. It’s also the very first thing they’ll notice and it if you can make their purchase feel more valuable now, you’ll gain their loyalty.

Winning Hearts and Loyalty

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Think of it like this; how often do you see shirts being sold in a creative way? Some of the brick-and-mortar stores get creative, but it’s mainly an advertisement board for the journey home. Or if buy on Amazon, they’re in standard orange letters or generic brown cardboard packages.

When you find a fun and exciting way to deliver shirts that also represents your brand, you are placing yourself firmly into the hearts and minds of your shoppers. It shows that you are more than just a business, but someone who likes to be fun and creative as well. What’s more, it adds value to your sale and makes it easier for people to choose you over a competitor. It’s also the very first thing they’ll notice and it if you can make their purchase feel more valuable now, you’ll gain their loyalty.

But get this right, and it’s well worth it. Surprisingly cool packaging is free viral advertising to friends, followers, and even strangers. If they are impressed enough to share, they’ll be sure to send a link to your store!

It Doesn’t Need to Be Costly

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Many sellers are afraid of the additional costs of getting creative and forgo it in favor of maximizing their profits. This is not going to do them any favors in the long-run, plus they’ll need to find other ways to differentiate themselves to attract their customer’s attention.

But it’s not hard to find cost-effective creative ways to ship shirts. The small increase in shipping costs will be well worth it if you can leave a lasting impression and have buyers coming be back for more.

By selling t-shirts and shipping them in a fun, creative way will take your brand marketing to the next level. Since not many other sellers explore this idea, it’s an opportune way to set yourself apart from your competition and receive a lot of positive attention from fans.

Creating Your Own T-Shirt Custom Packaging

1. Choose a Medium Relevant to Your Brand

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Those who have already gone the custom packaging route can provide great inspiration. Some of the most adventurous have used hand-painted envelopes, pizza boxes, coffee mugs, old VHS covers they found at a thrift store, even a Chinese food to go box! Others play it safe, opting for cylindrical cardboard tubes or other shapes with interesting branding.

But there’s quirky to the point of being weird, then there’s unique with purpose. No matter what your shipping container is going to be, it needs to tie into your product and brand.

Whether you choose to go simple or exotic, stop to ask yourself, “Does this make sense?” Whether it represents your brand as a whole, or fits the theme of each individual shirt, it has to be relevant. Otherwise, you run the risk of making your customers scratch their heads in confusion.

2. Consider Keeping it Low Key

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With all of that said, your package design must be closely aligned with your brand. Not every brand needs far-out and wacky designs, instead opting for more serious and low-key designs. Always consider your target audience and customers first.

The other thing to consider is whether your products and business can handle these added expenses. Suddenly raising your prices just to cover new may not always be the wisest move. There are always cheap packaging options you can buy specifically made for shipping tee shirts. Even the smallest amount of color can separate your brand from the other guys when they’re using the old yellow mailer envelopes!

Numerous tee shirt sellers simply put stickers on the outside of packages, transforming a simple brown mailer to a Lisa Frank collection. Others use stencils and spray painted the outside, which could be effective, especially if your shirts are centered around more urban designs.

Finally, another method some big-name sellers use is custom shipping stamps. These are real postage stamps that can feature their name and/or brand, giving it an air of professionalism and an appearance that it cost far more than it actually did.

3. Consider Including Freebies

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How many times have you seen a cake that looks amazing, only to be disappointed with how bland it tasted? Your packaging is going to have the same effect. No matter how good it looks on the outside, it needs to not leave your buyer disappointed once they see the inside.

It doesn’t matter if you use a generic package or a unique one; placing some freebies on the inside is always a welcome surprise. It can even make a boring outside better, or great package even more fun. Best of all, including a small item or two can be quite inexpensive. These may include items such as:

  • Stickers
  • Buttons
  • Postcards
  • Coupons/Discount Codes
  • A Playing/Trading Card
  • A Small Toy from a Discount Store
  • Balloons
  • Candy
  • Other small, inexpensive trinkets.

Another tried-and-tested could include a small, hand-written thank you note. It doesn’t have to be large, and it doesn’t have to contain a lot of words; just something unique that will leave a lasting impression.

Your goal here is to be unique; but not at the actual expense of going nuts. You don’t want to include anything so large or heavy that it requires you to pay for additional shipping charges.

Get Packing!

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Just remember, first impressions are everything. When it comes to packaging your products, this isn’t simply an expense; it’s an investment. Take this opportunity to impress both first-time and repeat customers and keep them coming back for more. It adds the value of unexpected “WOW!” factor and it makes them smile.

Now go and turn those buyers into thrilled customers by giving them something to brag about!