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My Personal Path For T-shirt Marketing Success

September 20th, 2014 by ToolTrainer

Wow!

So as you may or may not know I mailed my list yesterday just to say hi and find out what everyone was up to.  I shared a bit about what I’d been doing personally involving t-shirt marketing (Teespring, Facebook Ads, etc.), not really knowing if any of you would also be on this path.

Well to my surprise, a number of you are also in “the t-shirt game”!  That’s pretty dang cool.

I’m sure you’ve all got your own approaches and paths that brought you here, but personally I find it highly valuable to find out how other people got to where they are.  Especially if it coincides with where *I* am!  So with that in mind, here’s the path I took to get here and the information and tools I’ve consumed along the way.

Here’s the TL;DR version (Too Long, Didn’t Read):

I use:

Dark Post Profits
Targeting Inspector
Tee Profits Recipe
Broad Targeting Formula
Tee Inspector

My very first introduction to this whole world was actually when someone referred another marketer to me, who needed help fixing/finishing a wordpress plugin for split testing Teespring campaigns.  I’d never heard of Teespring – the whole thing sounded really goofy to me.  This was back in I think February, and I agreed to help out and my team & I proceeded to finish their plugin for them.  It’s called TeeSplit and I think they sell it… not really sure as it wasn’t my product.

But then over the next few months… I kept hearing more and more about this whole shirt thing.  But it was all sortof under everyone’s breath… like it was some big secret and nobody was really talking about it openly.  And then early this summer everything changed.

Suddenly everywhere I turned it was shirts.  Spy tools, research tools, courses, Facebook groups… it was EVERYWHERE.  Seemed like every few days there was something new coming out, often by people I’d never heard of.

Now, me being the jaded affiliate and marketer that I am… I took that as a sign that the whole shirts thing was a fad that had just apexed and was due for a spectacular crash.  I wanted nothing to do with it.

Boy was that ever a mistake on my part.

Flash forward to August.  I started working with a launch manager to discuss some projects, and he tells me about what some of his other clients are doing.  Turns out they’re in the shirts game, but not just selling “shovels to gold miners”… no, they’re actually selling shirts and making pretty good money at it too!  And it’s only increasing, showing no signs at all of slowing down.

This got me intrigued.  He suggested I get into the shirts game primarily as a way to see what sorts of tools might be needed that I could potentially build and provide.  Made sense to me, so I grabbed a copy of Dark Post Profits (since I hadn’t touched FB Ads in almost 5 years) and got to work.

I mean hell, it’s selling silly t-shirts to people who like them.  How hard can that be right?

Wow.  Was I ever in for a learning curve.

This whole t-shirt game is deceptively simple.  In actuality it’s almost the ultimate study of human behavior.  Your targeting is damn near everything.  Seriously.  The same shirt can fail miserably and with nothing more than a change in targeting, have wild success.

Anyway.  DPP got me up to speed on the basics of FB Ads.  But it was nowhere near the complete picture.  In particular it doesn’t really focus on t-shirts specifically.  It has many applications both in and outside the t-shirt marketing world though, so I’m glad I got it.  Useful stuff for sure.  But clearly I needed a bit more than that.

It was time for some specific research tools.

I turned to Targeting Inspector for that.  It’s in a class of tools that is one of my personal favorites – tools that massively speed up processes that you already could do manually, but that are miserable and boring.  TI helps make the process of identifying the interests that your potential audience shares, much easier and faster.  Speed is definitely crucial in this game so it’s pretty useful.  Though it’s not the simple “cut & paste riches” tool that it does sortof appear to be at first glance.  But that’s just marketing for ya.  See it for what it actually is, and it’s a very useful research tool to have in the toolbox.

Now I had some decent starter info on FBAds, and a tool to greatly speed up my audience research.  But I was still missing some key information on shirts themselves.  I was able to get a pre-release copy of a then-forthcoming course on shirt marketing called Tee Profits Recipe.  If you seriously want to get into shirts, this course is about the best “bang for your buck” that I know of.  I strongly suggest grabbing it and going through it several times.  That’s what I did.  It was a VERY big help, definitely filled in a lot of gaps I’d been having, and got me pointed in the right direction.

Still however, I was operating in a vacuum.  In my experience, this is always a bad thing.  I’ve run into this countless times in the past from stock/options trading to affiliate marketing.  It’s vital to connect with others doing the same things you’re doing.  So I got into several Facebook groups – the Targeting Inspectors group, Teespring Strategy, and Teespring University.  I haven’t been overly active in all of them, but there’s a lot of good stuff to absorb.  Seeing the things other people run into and how they overcome them is incredibly valuable.

But now here’s where the story takes an unexpected twist and gets considerably more interesting (for me anyway ;) )

So I mentioned how important it is not to work in a vacuum?  Well here’s a classic example of what happens when you “put yourself out there”.  Synergies come in the most unlikely of forms.

One of my private coaching customers from years ago, was in one of these groups as well and saw my name pop up.  So he messaged me to say hi and offered to help if I needed any advice or anything, since he’d been doing this stuff for quite some time now.

We got to chatting and… holy crap.  I don’t want to go saying things I shouldn’t but suffice it to say that he had seriously undersold himself.  The guy’s a freaking shirt selling machine, and has become the Yoda to my Luke-fresh-off-of-Tattooine!  This is when things really began to click – having that other more experienced person to act as a sounding board for you, is more valuable than anything else you could ever hope to buy.  Don’t get me wrong, tools & courses are hugely important too as they lay a solid foundation.  But the life experience of an experienced mentor is unequaled.

One more tool that “Yoda” pointed me to, was Tee Inspector.  Unfortunately for me it’s Windows only and I much prefer native Mac software.  That being said I’m able to run it just fine under Parallels.  It’s definitely useful, but I don’t find myself relying on it a whole lot, as I find my own personal tricks with Google are about the most effective “spy” techniques there are.  But not everyone is as adept at “Google-Fu” as I am, and so for some Tee Inspector is a really big time saver.

And lastly one more course that he said I had to check out, was the Broad Targeting Formula.  Boy was he right.  Especially now that the whole “scraping UIDs to build custom audiences” game is pretty much dead (unless you just haven’t had your head handed to you by Facebook quite yet).  Understanding how to target broad interests with precision, it absolutely vital.  This course is surprisingly short, to the point, and immediately applicable.  Great case studies too.  Oh and it will be very obvious once you see it, that it’s where Targeting Inspector got the idea for their tool (and they’ve even admitted as much).

So that takes us up to today.  I’m continuing to design and sell shirts and am steadily getting better and better results.  I’m not where I want to be with it yet, but I can see the trajectory and it’s pretty exciting.  Of course along the way I’m also noticing all sorts of tools that I wish existed but don’t, so you can expect to see some things from me on that front in the near future.  ;)

In conclusion, if you decide to get (or are already) into shirt marketing, I strongly urge you to not only buy courses and tools, but get interactive.  Get into the various groups dedicated to this, and most important of all find one or more people you can privately connect with.  There will always be things happening “offscreen” that you won’t see in those groups, and you want to get yourself involved in those conversations.  It’s where the biggest ideas and best tactics are generally going to come out.

On that note, I’m thinking about starting a Facebook group just as a quiet place where some of us can brainstorm, mastermind, help each other out, etc. I like the existing groups but I find they’re a bit large and “noisy”, if you know what I mean. Would you be interested in a small focused group like this? (free to join of course)

Now go sell some shirts!  LOL

JVC

Are You Doing T-shirt Marketing?

September 9th, 2014 by ToolTrainer

Unless you’ve been living in a cave or under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the current phenomenon that is T-shirt marketing. Sites like Teespring and others are popping up all over the place.

Well, I’m not immune to the siren song of the shiny object any more than anyone else, and I finally caved in a few weeks ago and started to more seriously explore this world.

My conclusion?

There’s something here.

Now before I continue, let me say that I am not promoting a T-shirt marketing course or anything like that.  I just wanted to see who else was getting into this world as I am, and who’s doing well with it.

No doubt about it, there is an absolute ton of money being made here.  I’m not net profitable myself yet, as I’ve been learning Facebook Ads at the same time (I haven’t touched it since 2009 when it was an abysmal pile of crap) and have spent quite a bit in “education” on that platform.

But, I’m definitely on my way to profit and way beyond.

The possibilities of this are far bigger than I had imagined.  What I thought was just a passing fad that had run its course, is actually only just beginning.

One of the biggest challenges in this whole thing is creating designs.  Despite what you may think, it is absolutely not as easy as throwing any stupid text on a shirt and suddenly you’re making a pile of cash.

OK sure that happens once in a rare while, but then everyone else tries to copy it and they all lose their shirts (pun intended ;)) in the process.

I’ve come up with some methods & techniques that are working for me, and I’m thinking of documenting them and making sort of a mini course out of it.

My methods do NOT use Photoshop at all.  In fact, they can be done 100% with free tools that are mostly web based.

In fact the only paid tools or services I’m currently using to design my shirts, are a $20 amazing vector text manipulation program, and a $1/image stock image library subscription.

Oh well, and of course my computer and all its associated peripherals.  LOL

I’ve gotten pretty good at using all these tools and can go from idea to design often in minutes.

Would you like to see what I’m using and how?

I see a lot of focus on the marketing side of selling shirts, but so far I’ve seen absolutely no information being shared on the actual design process.

I’m NOT a designer btw, but I’ve figured out the cheap or free tools to use, that give me the capability to create a design of nearly any complexity without a lot of effort.

And definitely without investing in very expensive and complicated tools.

Anyway, if a course like this would be of interest and value, please let me know in the comments.  It will take some effort on my part to document my methods, but if there’s enough interest (meaning it would be financially worth the distraction), then I’m game.

For now, back to testing more shirts!  ;)

JVC

P.S.

What do you think is a fair price for a concise and easy-to-follow solid course on the tools and techniques to use to make solid shirt designs that will sell?

I’m in no way promising that this alone is all you need to make it rich selling shirts – the marketing side is a WHOLE other beast.  But this is an absolutely vital component that I don’t see being offered, and I think I can help.  Love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Autoresponders Are Such A Pain In The Ass.

July 3rd, 2014 by ToolTrainer

Is it me or is the proliferation of email list management services actually making it harder to decide who to use?

And the prices are all over the map, and seem more than a little outrageous to me.  I guess if you email your list like crazy, selling hard in every message then maybe it’s worth paying so much.  But to me, a couple hundred bucks a month if you have a list of 50k addresses, seems pretty harsh.

Since I’m finally getting back into my IM software development business, I needed to get an email service again and import my old lists (I had saved them to CSVs before I shut down my old mail services).  I chose Mailchimp because I thought that I would have unrestricted capabilities with a list of under 2,000 names.

WRONG.  Turns out you are limited in daily email volume as well as total monthly volume.  And limited pretty severely too.  When I started doing the math to get serious about building my lists again on their platform, I didn’t like what I saw.

But then I remembered something that had been suggested to me a while back, but that I thought sounded like too much trouble.  Some sort of self-hosted thing that ran on AWS (Amazon Web Services) called Sendy.

I read up on it and within a few minutes realized what it actually was, and bought it.  For about $60, you get a PHP/MySQL script that installs on your own server.

This is the part that scared me… sending emails from my own server?  Oh hellz to the NO WAY.

But that’s not what Sendy does.  Not at all.  Turns out, it just acts as a middle-layer to Amazon’s own transactional email service called SES.

Basically it’s what Amazon uses to send emails, and now you can use it too.  So you get the benefit of their infrastructure, IPs, deliverability, etc. but for an absurdly low cost.

How low?  Try $0.0001 per email address!

That’s crazy cheap.

Oh and did I mention, no specific restrictions with regards to affiliate marketing?

Also since it’s a transactional service with its own API, it’s built to be able to send individual emails from your own systems.  This means if you’re a software developer like me, you can send things like license emails and other one-time things without sending from your own server, which generally results in tons of your messages going to junk/spam folders.

So far, Sendy seems like a near dream come true.  $60, once, and $0.10 per thousand emails sent??  Simply awesome.  If you’re tired of paying $30 or much much more per month to have an email list, you really gotta check out Sendy.

Amazon… you rock.  Seriously.

JVC