Category Archives: t-shirt promotion

Chris Hardwick brings back Groverfield

Yeah, I know. Cloverfield came out in 2008, so the Groverfield parody shirt is old news, right?

If you were Joel Watson over at Hijinks Ensue comics, you would’ve felt the same way. Or at least until you woke up this morning and wondered why your sales page was getting so many hits.

This is why:

The moral of this story is:

1) Make a cute shirt referencing something in the Pop Culture sphere.
2) Get it in the hands of Chris Hardwick (or the celebrity of your choice).
3) Convince him/her to wear it on a nationally aired show, like Attack of the Show on G4.
4) Profit, rinse, repeat.

*2.a) If it’s a comedian, consider showing up for a few shows and be seen laughing at all the right spots. Fans tend to get better access. Offer to buy a few extra CD’s if they agree to wear your shirt.

If you don’t have the gumption to go thru all of that effort, you can take the express route and buy the shirt

$18.75 + shipping at TopatoCo

If you would like your site or shirt featured on, send us an email and let us know.


Four Cheap & Easy Ways to Get More Site Traffic

I constantly hear people with T-shirt brands that sell online complain about the lack of traffic to their site/blog. Whether you’re just starting out or have been at the game for a while, the following tips will definitely help alleviate that problem. But remember… its not just a one time fix. The following solutions will take up some of your time, but the rewards will be huge.

1. A Good Website (free). The most important thing you can do to increase traffic is to make sure your site is… well… good. This means ease of use, flows well visually and mechanically (structure), and is helpful to the visitor. I recommend looking into bigcartel. It’s a website creator and shopping cart service that’s free if you sell less than 5 products. If you sell more than 5, it is still extremely cheap and worth every penny. It does all those things for you that I just listed above and more. I know that when I see a crappy website, I usually don’t buy from them or keep going back. When a site looks unsafe and unprofessional, then its probably a direct representation of their product or service also.  A good website is important to create returning visitors (customers) and people will be more likely to recommend it to their friends.

2. Forums (free). A forum is an online community where people discuss anything from music to cars and from home crafts to sciences. There is a forum for everything. Since you created a brand about something you like or have a passion for, you may already be a member of one of these forums. If not, go and join one. You will find a great wealth of information and sometimes even make friends. Put your brand name and website (or blog) in your signature (if allowed-different forums have different rules). Your signature appears after every post so anyone reading that thread will see it. Provide useful and helpful information to other members and only bring up your products when appropriate. Don’t be an annoyance. Most forums will terminate your account if you specifically join to advertise. This is also known as spam. Although not free, you can always place banner ads on forums or become a “sponsor” where you ARE allowed to advertise your product (if the forum allows sponsors and is related).

3. Facebook (free). It is a great tool for brands to keep their fans in the know. Create a Facebook page (for your site, blog, or a combined one) and post updates that really show the person behind the brand. Make it personal and let your fans see the real you. Post links to your website or blog to drive more traffic to them. Since these posts show up right in the user’s news feed along with their friend’s updates, they won’t miss a beat. Every person who “likes” your Facebook page will see your posts.

4. Blogging (free). Create an effective blog about the industry as a whole, not specifically to your brand. For instance, if your company specializes in video game parody shirts, create a blog that reviews video games you own, or talk about new ones coming out. Consider posting funny, interesting, and related content that people will find useful and want to read. Remember to update and post often. Blogs are great because people can subscribe to them and will constantly be checking your blog for updates.

Then, advertise on your blog (also free) in the margins or as a post to drive customers to your online store (don’t overdue the latter). Not only are you creating a blog related to your product, you will be providing people with a service that they find useful. At the same time, you are gathering your target market in one place where you can directly advertise to for free. Since these people reading your blog are genuinely interested in the subject, they will find your tees and other products interesting as well. A blog will give your site traffic with a higher percentage being potential buyers.

You can also advertise on other blogs fairly cheaply. Find an already established, high traffic blog that is similar to yours with the same demographics (but a different goal), and send them a shirt to review (ok, this one isn’t really ‘free’). Using our example, you can mail one of your video game tees to a blog that reviews T-shirts – like Pop Culture Tees for example.

So there you have it. Four tips to get more traffic to your website. Do any of you use these methods? How are they working out for you? Do you have any other ideas you’d like to share? Let us know in the comment section below!


Telling Your Story: How to Write a Great Mission Statement

Have you ever read a mission statement that starts something like this?:

“Brand X is a brand that represents urban culture and is for creative edgy people everywhere. Every product of Brand X incorporates our unique vision, style, and attitude. We’re not just a t-shirt shop, we’re a culture…”

Horrible, right? Because there’s a half dozen problems with this:

  1. Of course your products are unique… but what actually makes them different from anyone else’s?
  2. T-Shirts are not culture, and they’re not a representation of the entirety of urban culture or anything else. They’re clothing. And unless you’re really lucky, they reflect pop culture, not create it.
  3. Lots of words without saying much. Buzz words are cheap, and you can string them together to make something that sounds great. Problem is, they usually don’t mean anything.
  4. Trying to defining and classify your customers is a great way to drive would be buyers away. If I don’t feel like I’m edgy and creative person, I’m not going to feel like your tees are for me.

This isn’t a real mission statement, but it is inspired by (and in some spots roughly borrowed from) dozens I’ve read from submissions to the site, and around the web. Your mission statement says who you are, and what you’re about, so why short change yourself by writing a bad one that doesn’t really say much at all?

If you want to write a great mission statement, follow these 3 simple rules:

  1. Tell people where you came from: how your brand started, what was the inspiration, why are you doing what you are.
  2. Tell people what’s really unique about your brand: Maybe all your tees and ink are organic or maybe your designs are all inspired by your favorite Star Wars characters, or maybe you donate 10% of each sale to the WWF. Whatever it is, make it plain and easy to understand.
  3. Tell people what your designs are about: This is hard if you don’t have a theme that connects your clothing line (hint: your brand will be stronger if you have a central theme), but you should be able to talk about what connects all your designs and what they’re about.

Expert Advice: Running A Clothing Line

If you love apparel and design, starting and running your own clothing line can be one of the most rewarding things in the world. But like any other start-up business, there’s also a whole lot of struggle, missteps along the way, and tons of learning.

There’s no magic pill for success, but we wanted to give you a few hints. Rather than writing this one ourselves (after all, we haven’t run a clothing line… yet), we turned to some of the most popular faces around the industry and asked them one question:

“What advice would you give to someone starting a clothing line?”

And here’s what they had to say (in no particular order).

From Eric, Linty Fresh:

BE UNIQUE! There are TONS of clothing lines out there and I see/hear about new ones starting every day. For you to succeed, you’re going to need to give people a compelling reason to choose you over everyone else. What is that reason? What element of your business will make people buy your stuff, wear it proudly, come back for more, and most importantly, tell their friends about you?

In the long run, what will have more impact than advertising, promotions, and sponsorships will be your product itself. If it doesn’t stand out, it’s time to rethink things. So find out what’s being done out there and go the other way.

Linty Fresh is an Atlanta-based clothing company owned by Eric Terry, who handles everything from design to order fulfillment, and has been running it full-time since June of 2008.

From Bill, Retro Plus Tees:

It is vital to get people to “buy-in” to your vision but also give you realistic and critical feedback.  You never want to surround yourself with yes men or women.

In order to create a quality product you need to have people that are willing to tell you what is good and what sucks.  These same people are the best street team personnel.  They will buy into your vision, market your product via word of mouth or social media and they will provide you with candid feedback that will improve your product.

I also have another t-shirt company owner that I use as a sounding board and motivational peer.

Retro Plus Tees is an Original Design Brand that specialize in off-color humor printed on Alternative Apparel with a vintage twist.

From Chris, Rizzo Tees

Everything about starting a business will cost more than you budgeted.  Be careful to order the right amount of inventory (not too much).  Leave yourself cash to operate.

Chris says: “I am a t-shirt superhero that clothes the naked.  That’s not pretentious, is it?”

From Robert, Envee Apparel

One piece of advice I would give to clothing line owners would be to make sure you have a well thought out marketing plan. More often than not people think that all they need to market their apparel is a few stickers, fliers and a web site. It takes more than some a good design and some decent SEO.

The reality of the situation is, you really need to have a handful of brand ambassadors (friends) to help promote your brand. The more people that spread the word and let people know how quality your product is, they more people will trust your brand and in-turn feel fine about purchasing your product.

Really do your homework on brand trust and recognition because a little trust can go a long way with product sales.

Envee Apparel creates artwork that has it’s own special story to tell, making the experience of owning Envee Apparel that much more unique.

From Darren, Regal Clothing Co.

Don’t ever give up, there have been some weeks I’ve thought “WHAT!? No orders?!” and then considered packing it all in. The flurries of orders make it all worth while!

Darren says: “I started out designing t-shirts for myself, the only reason I’m doing this is to feed my habit… If i can sell them along the way that’ll make me very happy! It’s coming up to my first year trading and I’ve loved every minute of it!”

From Tim, Assault

Don’t be Threadless, don’t be Affliction, don’t be anybody else. Pick what you know and what you love and stick with it. Don’t try to be another brand because there’s plenty of imitations out there on the market already. Find your fans treat them like they were your best friends cause they are and you’ll build a cult following who loves your product.

If I had to give a piece of advice that was 6 words or less. It would be: Blog!

Assault is a clothing company started by Tim Toomey and Craig Kaplowitz specializing in t-shirts and accessories for rockers, musicians, political activists, social activists, and counter culture enthusiasts.

Do you agree? Have advice of your own? Please share what YOU think in our comments.


Do’s And Don’ts: Getting Your T-Shirts Reviewed


The genesis for this article was an email I received a few days ago from a new clothing line (who shall rename nameless) that was also sent to about a dozen other blog owners in the industry. I know this for a fact because it the author of the email used CC instead of BCC, allowing myself and all the other addressees to see exactly who he had sent it to.

These types of emails are horrible for two reasons:

1. Unless everyone you’re emailing knows each other, CC is a great way to open up a can of spam – all it takes is 2-3 people hitting “reply all” and you’re suddenly stuck receiving endless emails that you can’t opt out of or stop. It’s literally a nightmare.

2. It’s “lazy marketing” (put so well by someone who responded to this latest email). You’re essentially appealing to a blog owner to take the time and effort to look at your products, and then compose a well-thought out (hopefully positive) review… But you can’t take the time to write them a personal email?

This was the second time in recent months that I received an email like this. I “replied all” on the first one with a very long, and very annoyed rant about the relative lack of consideration, so this time I thought I’d do something a little more productive…

In this article, you’ll find some do’s and don’ts for clothing lines (especially new ones) on emailing blog owners to get some press on your apparel. These tips won’t guarantee you a feature, but they’ll definitely increase your chances.


  1. Do actually be a reader of the site you’re submitting to. Blog owners can easily be bribed with praise, and we’re more inclined to respond if we know you’re an actual reader. So tell us you enjoy reading the site, give us a suggestion to make it better, or just let us know you appreciate what we do.
  2. Do provide lots of information with your submission. At minimum, give us some nice product shots, the price, and link to buy. We can work with that. But if you tell us (don’t just copy and paste from your website) the story behind your line, or some interesting tidbit about another aspect of your company, we can build a more compelling story.
  3. Do offer a personalized coupon code. If you have the capability and you’re running a discount anyway, why not create a code specifically for blog you are submitting your tees to? These are great because it offers an incentive to buy for readers and give us a measure of authority too. We like personalized coupon codes – it makes us feel special. Plus, it’s a great way for you to know when you’re actually getting sales from a post.
  4. Do track who you email, and when. This is more for you, than us. But keeping track of who’ve you submitted to ensures that you can do follow-ups (after a reasonable amount of time) and also keeps you from emailing the same person twice.


  1. Don’t send canned messages. You’re asking for our time, so give us a little bit of yours. Fair is far, right? We’re also one of your best allies in reaching the masses, and we are generally huge fans of good clothing lines. This isn’t just a one shot thing, it’s your chance to build a relationship. And that will pay off down the line.
  2. Don’t feel obligated to send us a t-shirt. Yes, we solicit tees, but only for people who want to send them. Don’t feel like you need to send us stuff to get on the site. That said, if we have a physical t-shirt, we can talk about things like print quality, shirt feel, and packaging experience that’s simply impossible to do if we’re just looking at a website.
  3. Don’t get hurt or offended if we don’t respond to your email in a day… or even a week. As much as we’d love to say we respond to every single email we receive, there’s just not enough hours in the day. But we do read every single one of them. It may be a month before a submitted tee makes it to the site, but if it’s a compelling design, it will make it.

Got any suggestions that I missed? Share them below!


Make Your T-Shirt Packaging Memorable

t-shirt pakaging idea

Creative T-shirt Packaging for Burn Card Clothing

When you ship out shirts to your customers, it’s your last chance to make a positive, professional and lasting impression. Beyond the obvious – shipping good product that’s neatly folded and arrives without being all beat up – there’s a lot you can do to go above and beyond and make your customer’s purchasing experience truly memorable. This in turn increases the chance they’ll buy again, or recommend your shop to a friend.

To help you get started (and inspired) we’ve compiled a list of tips (with links for resources) for packaging your tees and some samples of really remarkable stuff that other folks have done.

Tips for shipping your shirts in style:

  1. Invest a few extra bucks in plastic bags to individually package your t-shirts. This looks especially pro when you are shipping multiple tees out to a customer.
  2. Order some hang tags to attach to each shirt. Some of the most memorable shirts I’ve received had tags that are as well designed as the graphics on the tees themselves. Put your company name, website URL, and some amazing artwork on your tag. There will be people who keep them just because they look cool.
  3. Throw in a few stickers (here or here), buttons, or other trinkets with each order. These are cheap to produce in bulk, make sweet little freebies, and are great for promotion if they are cool enough that people will use them. Don’t mention it on your website – just do it without saying anything and be a hero.
  4. Find a way to say THANK YOU. Whether it’s a hand written note, or a pre-printed message, let your customer know you really do appreciate their order.
  5. Include a coupon code good on your customer’s next purchase. Many big-boy retail shops follow this policy to lure shoppers back and turn them into repeat buyers. Even if it’s just 10% off an order, you can easily increase your chances of getting that next purchase.

Really Creative Packaging Ideas

Of course, one of the best ways to stand out is to make your actual packaging unique. If you’re on a budget, just getting some pre-printed mailers is a great way to start. But here’s a few examples of some out-of-the-world packaging to inspire you:

Johnny Cupcakes is a juggernaut in the world of established t-shirt brands. Their packaging, and this is just one example, is always creative. (via lovely package)


Oddica has been around forever, and has always had custom printed flexible shipping bags. The design has changed over the years, but the branding is always consistant. (via notcot)


Butchrd Apparel, who we’ve featured before, actually packs their tees in styrofoam meat cases. The idea is perfectly inline with the concept behind their line which is an example of really smart marketing and branding.

Here’s another example of packaging matching up to the brand. Creative + cheap + easy to pull off = a true winner. (via flickr. ldandersen)

Want to share some tips or other outstanding packaging ideas you’ve seen? Post em below!


T-Shirt Designers Who Blog

It’s pretty common knowledge these days that if you have an online store selling t-shirts, it’s a good idea to keep a blog too. We even talked about in it as a promotional technique in our article, “7 Ways to Make Your Store Stand Out and Sell More“.

A blog can help “hook” users, generate repeat visitors and potentially repeat sales.

But what if you aren’t printing and selling your own designs? What if you just participate in contests like Threadless and Cameesa, or sell your art to other clothing lines?

Well guess what. You’re still selling something. It just happens to be yourself.

A blog is still a great way to help develop a legion of followers and alert people who like your artwork of new pieces and where they’re available.

Your blog doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, you probably have more leeway to just throw something up there than you do if you have a storefront and a certain overall brand/design to try and match.


One of my favorites is of illustrator Mikko Walamies, who’s simple, no frills blog is hosted on blogspot. Mostly, his blog just highlights his latest projects on threadless and beyond, but I find myself checking back on a regular basis just to see what he’s up to.


We’re building a list (of who’s been naughty and nice?)

Are you an illustrator/tee designer who isn’t selling your tees through a store front? Hit us up in the comments with the URL of your blog and we’ll do a giant review/list of them after the holidays.


How to Make Your T-Shirt Shop Stand Out and Sell More

As web designers and t-shirt addicts we’ve learned a few things about what goes into making a t-shirt shop a killer success. So we put together this article on the details that a lot of people overlook when designing their stores. We hope you find it useful.


1. Use clear, simple navigation.

Why? The goal of a store is to SELL STUFF. That’s it. By removing clutter from your navigation and keeping it simple, you avoid confusion and funnel users quickly to the key areas of your store.


These stores have clear, creative, and to-the-point navigation:

Go Ape Shirts


the Tee Party

2. Use your main page to promote best sellers, specials and products you want to highlight.

Why? Your home page is the best advertising tool you’ve got. It’s the page that visitors (usually) see first. Don’t waste that valuable real estate with boring text welcoming users to your site, or news about your company.

If you have a sale, put it front and center. Find out what products are selling best and create a section to highlight those. If a particular design isn’t selling well, see if some front page visibility can help it do better.

You can include the news and welcome text, just remember it’s not the most important thing.

3. Cross promote products by including links to similar items on product detail pages.

Why? It’s the same idea as putting the Hershey’s syrup at the end cap in the ice cream isle. By suggesting similar or complementary items to users you give them a nudge in the direction of buying something else they might not have seen or thought of.


1. Use photographs of your product instead of graphic mock-ups whenever possible.

Why? People like seeing exactly what they’re going to buy. When you’re ordering something online, you can’t touch or feel the product, so it’s important to give people the next best thing: actual up-close photos. Plus, because screen doesn’t translate perfectly to garment, you don’t get a true picture of how a design looks until you see it on the shirt.

2. If you have printed tags, custom sew-ons, or branding prints in locations other than the main print, show photos of those too.

Why? These are often the details that make a shirt extra special and unique. Showing them off adds value to your product!

3. Show large images of your product.

Why? There’s nothing more frustrating than looking at a design and not being able to see the details of the artwork.

Some sellers, artists especially, are concerned that showing large versions of a design will be an open invitation to theft.

But your know what? Get over it.

You’ll be doing a disservice to both your customers and your bottom line if you give into this fear. Worry about any theft when and IF it occurs; chances are actually relatively slim that someone will put in the necessary work to rip off your design.


Check out these guys for some great examples of good product photos:

Wire & Twine
Large preview image of the shirt on a model, and tons of extra super-large pictures showing all the great details of the print.

Chop Shop
Preview images are displayed in a slide show and include detailed shots of both the actual garment, and the design. Click “see larger image” and you get whisked down to a nice full size graphic of the print.

Wonder how many and what type of images are best for your store? You’ll be safe with the following combination:

  • A preview image (for product listing pages and features on the home page)
  • A medium-sized photograph of each printed location (for bonus points, offer a pop-up zoomed version of each)
  • A large graphic of each print (front, back, sleeve, etc so people can actually see the detail in the print)

If you have them, model shots are also a fantastic way to showcase your shirts because it allows people to see how they actually fit.

Oh, and accepting photos of customers wearing your shirts is a great way to encourage user interaction.


1. Tell people what brand of shirt you’re printing on.

Why? Every brand fits a little bit differently, and you’d be surprised how many people who buy t-shirts know which brands fit them best and have developed a preference. In addition, lots of folks know that an American Apparel t-shirt is going to cost more than one by Fruit of the Loom; use this to help justify higher prices for your goods if you’re using premium brands.

2. Include size charts for all your garments.

Why? This goes back to the same idea that it’s really hard to buy clothes that fit correctly online. Having size charts lets people better judge whether a particular size will fit them. This is good for them because they get a t-shirt that fits the first time around and good for you because you have less returns.

3. Is your garment 100% organic? Made in the USA? Pre-shrunk? Washed by the hands of 1000 angels before being printed? Tell your customers about it!

Why? Anything that’s unique about your garment choice is another aspect that adds value to your products.


Check out these guys for some great examples of good garment info:


The big daddy of t-shirt sites offers so many different brands that they have a page crammed with information and size charts for them all. This link is on every product page.

The link for the size charts is intelligently placed right above the drop down box for size. Clicking launches the chart over the existing content.


1. Offer returns (or exchanges), promote the fact that you do, and provide detailed terms.

Why? It’s just good business and it makes people feel more more confident ordering products from your store. Think of it like this: who would you rather order from? A store that offered returns or exchanges if something didn’t fit, or one that said “Sorry, tough luck?” Be the type of store you’d want to buy from.

2. Have a detailed FAQ and keep it up-to-date.

Why? The longer you’re in business, the more you’ll find that many of your support emails have the same questions again… and again… and again. Save yourself some time and preempt these emails by creating a FAQ for your site to address common questions.


1. Have an “About Us” page and talk about your company. Be funny, be serious, just don’t be boring.

Why? People like stories. By telling a story about your company – how you got started, what your mission is, who does the artwork – you build interest, legitimacy and a connection to your customers.

That connection, by the way, is one of the reasons that indie design is so successful: people like buying things from real people instead of faceless corporations.


Check out these well-written About Us pages:

Completely absurd, but makes you read to the end.

The Ampersand Shop
Written with a designer’s flair and a bit of humor added in for good measure, you learn about both the shop and the folks behind it.

Assault Shirts
A mini history lesson of the company and tons of pics of the people behind lends tons of color to this otherwise black and white site.

2. Start a mailing list and include options to register on your site and as part of the check out process.

Why? Mailing lists are a great way to generate repeat customers. How many times have you ordered something from an online store, only to forget the name of the store after a few weeks?

Use your mailing list to periodically remind customers about new products, special deals, and coupons for your store. This significantly increases your chances of creating repeat buyers.

We recommend icontact to manage your mailing list because it’s easy to use, inexpensive (10 bucks a month), and because we’ve used it too.

Got any other tips that have been useful to you? Share em below!