Purchase advertising through Project Wonderful.
Project Wonderful allows you to buy advertising auction-style and many of the per-day bids are under 50 cents.
With most of the major t-shirt blogs using these guys, along with tons of niche bloggers, this is one of the best ways for small companies to purchase affordable traffic.
Participate in the forums of popular t-shirt communities
And by “participate”, I don’t mean spam the site with the URL to your store. Here’s how you do it right:Set up a link to your store in your signature with some creative and/or descriptive copy (things like “Click here to see my work” or “Click here to see awesome urban designs” seem to work well). Write relevant responses to other people’s posts and try to really get involved in the community.
The more valuable your posts are, the more curious people will be about who you are, and what you do. You’d be surprised how many great networking connections you can make through forums.
Set up an affiliate program with shareasale.com
This is another advertising site that targets smaller retailers and blogs. Affiliate programs work by offering people a percentage (or fixed dollar amount) per sale that’s made by following banners to your site.
You choose the amount you want to offer, provide a selection of banners that people can put on their sites, and then approve or deny affiliates that apply to your program. This is a great way to get sales without paying for per-click advertising. Click here to get started with them.
Submit to the major t-shirt blogs/sites
Start with PopCultureTees, and then submit your store/new t-shirt to all of the major industry blogs. Most of us bloggers are more than willing to feature new designs. Make sure you get an email address from the sites you submit to and build a mailing list. You can use this list later on to notify en masse about new t-shirts, specials, or important news.
Check out this BIG LIST of t-shirt blogs to help you get started.
Create an etsy store and sell a select number of your products through their site
Etsy, a worldwide marketplace, is the hottest thing right now in the world of handmade/indie goods. Setting up a store here has a couple of advantages: there’s a huge amount of existing traffic on the site to tap into, there’s great options for low-cost promotion in their showcases, and many of their built-in search functions offer opportunities for free promotion.
Setting up a store takes just a few minutes, payment is handled through PayPal, and there’s a place in your store description where you can include a link back to your main site.
Start a blog (or write more, if you already have one)
It’s common web-wisdom these days that having a blog for your company is a great way to encourage repeat visitors to your site. Not sure what to write in your blog?
Talk about the experiences you’ve had as a designer/store owner. Talk about finding the write printer for your t-shirts. Talk about your successes, your failures, and what you’ve learned along the way.
Encourage readers to subscribe via RSS, work to create great and interesting content, and then use your blog as a platform to announce new ventures, products and sales.
Compete in one or two larger design competitions on sites like Threadless or Cameesa
Ultimately, selling your products is all about exposure, exposure, and then more exposure. Even if you don’t win, submitting a design to one of the larger competition sites buys you some additional exposure and buzz via comments.
It can be a great way to get people talking about your work, reading your profile, and gives you an opportunity to engage more people.
Check out our REALLY BIG LIST of contest sites for an idea of where to start.
Got some other suggestions for marketing ideas that have worked for you? Drop a comment and let us know!