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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

Simple, Easy, and Cheap Halloween T-Shirt Costumes

Let’s face it, some of us are not crazy creative with a hot glue gun, glitter, and pipe straws. Maybe this year you’re too busy to deal with going to the costume store and waiting in those crazy long lines. Or perhaps you’re sick of spending a ton of time and money at the Halloween costume store just to show up in the same costume as a few other people at the Halloween party. If you’ve had it with the hassle, fuss, and muss of coming up with yet another Halloween costume, we invite you to take a look at some of these simplistic alternatives to make your own effortless, easy, and cheap Halloween t-shirt costumes.

Ketchup and Mustard

Ketchup and Mustard Costumes

This idea is perfect for couples and best friends. You can keep it simple with just a tee or go all out with temporary yellow and red hair dye and matching colored jeans. Wait and see if anyone gives you a squeeze in this duo outfit.

Emoji Group Costume Idea

Emoji Group Costumes

Emojis are modern day hieroglyphics that allow us to express a wealth of emotion with the use of simple symbols. They’ve pervaded communication and have become so popular that even a grandma that doesn’t use a cell phone still understands the gist of these characters. If you have a group of friends that want to make a statement this Halloween check out these emoji t-shirts.

Taco Bell Sauce Packets

Taco Bell Hot Sauce Costumes

Another fantastic group Halloween costume idea is going as the sauce packets of Taco Bell. We’ve got them all listed here so it’s perfect if you have a lot of friens. The only thing you’ll have to worry about is the fight for who gets to be “Hot.” Change the copy on the packets to custom messages in our design studio.

Playing Cards

Playing Card Costumes

This idea is great for groups or going trick-or-treating solo. You can find additional symbols for all the cards in the deck by searching “games” in our design studio. Choose Galatia font and switch colors between red and black to make any card you like. Flip the bottom left image by using our flip design functionality.

SWAT Team

Swat Team Costumes

This has got to be the easiest one we offer, all you need is some black pants and black shoes and you and your friends have a group Halloween costume with hardly any effort.

The Price is Right

The Price is Right Costumes

This game show transcends generations. Be part of the iconic game show with you and three other friends. Change names and colors on the t-shirt by accessing our design studio and editing. Fake game boards not included with t-shirt though but we made ours with cardboard, paint, and precut numbers.

Tequila Shots

Tequila Shots

We love this trio Halloween costume idea with Salt, Lime, and Tequila. Round this costume off with real bottles of tequila as hand held props.

Solo Cups

Solo Cups

The great thing about this Halloween costume idea is it can be pulled off SOLO or with a group of people. Dress it up even more with a ping-pong ball necklace and you’re beer pong too!

99 Problems but my Girl Ain’t One

A cute couple’s Halloween costume idea ideally matched with black baseball caps, pants, and shoes.

All the flavors of M&M’s

All the M&M flavors are represented here but you don’t have to be a group. Even couples can pull this one off.

Netflix Chill

Netflix Chill

Everybody’s familiar with the phrase, “Netflix and Chill,” make the figurative literal with this costume. Maybe you’ll find your matching Netflix at the party.

Lock and Key

The perfect concept for an uncomplicated and comfortable couple’s Halloween costume.

Strawberry and Pineapple

It’s so easy to throw on these simple tees and go as a fruit duo. You can make it fancier with matching green hats.

There you have it. Halloween doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. These t-shirt costumes show how easy it is to dress up this holiday without having to be super creative or spending a lot of time hunting the right costume down. Order your t-shirt costumes early to get free 10-day delivery in time for Halloween.

What’s the Best Method to use when having Custom T-shirts Made?

Screen Printing

There are multiple ways to custom decorate apparel with advantages and disadvantages to each method. The most commonly used methods of application are screen printing (or silk screening), direct-to-garment, (also known as digital printing,) heat transfers, cad cut vinyl, and embroidery. We’ll examine the differences between these methods and the best uses for each one.

Heat Transfer

Heat transfers are probably one the easiest routes when looking to apply decorations permanently to a t-shirt. It’s great for complex images and full color photo quality prints or when you need a full color print on a polyblend tee. The design is digitally printed onto the transfer material and then applied using heat and pressure on a heat press. The downside to using this method is the feel and certain limitations to the product used. It’s literally a big sticker so you can imagine how it might feel to wear a big sticker on a t-shirt. The ink is melted into the fabric so it may leave you feeling like your walking around with a plastic badge on your chest. The products used for this method have to be heat tolerant as well so care need to be used when applying to this.

Names and Numbers

Cad Cut Vinyl is pretty much the only cost effective way to print t-shirts with custom names and numbers as in team t-shirts. It’s also the only way to print high sparkle glitter t-shirts and other special effects like shiny foil and holograms. The vinyl is cut out on a plotter machine using digital software. The image then requires manual weeding away of the excess vinyl surrounding the image. It is applied in the same manner as heat transfers meaning it must be adhered to the garment using a heat press. The disadvantage is that this application can leave the decoration vulnerable to peeling off if the garment is improperly washed. Bleach should never be used to launder the garment and an iron is never recommended.

Screen Print

Screen printing is probably the most widely used method to decorate custom apparel. It produces vibrant colors and the print will last the life of the garment which is not always the case when using other methods. It’s by far the best option when ordering many t-shirts with the same design. There is virtually no limitation when it comes to colors or product type which can introduce some difficulties using other print methods. The drawback is the cost for small runs. In no way could screen printing ever be economically done for less than a six shirt order. So it’s no good for gift t-shirts or joke t-shirts. Each color requires an individual screen to be burned so if you need a really complex design, with more than 7 colors, it’s not recommended. Additionally screen printing with many colors can be quite expensive because of the extra work required in creating all the screens. We recommend screen printing as the most cost effective method to produce a large number of shirts with a relatively simple design using one or a few colors.

Digital Print

Direct-to-garment printing basically revolutionized the custom t-shirt industry. This method allows us to print a single custom t-shirt and offer it at a reasonable price for our customers. There is no limitation to the number of colors that can be used and photo like quality is a standard result. The ink is printed on and it soaks into the garment. Any color t-shirt can be used for almost any design because a white base is layered onto the fabric before the rest of the colors are applied. After print, it’s cured using a heat press. Because of the application process, we are however limited to the use of t-shirts made of 100% cotton. These products can be found on our website marked “no minimum.” Another drawback to digitally printed tees is they will not hold up to wash and wear as well as screen printing. The ink is not melted into the fabric like other applications.

Embroidery

Embroidery is typically the higher end of custom decorated apparel. The design is reproduced with embroidery thread and stitched onto the garment. This method is ideal for polo shirt decoration and provides a very polished look to business wear, hats, and uniforms. This method is very sturdy and will last the life of the garment. There is virtually no limitation to the type of garment that can be embroidered upon but we have recommendations based upon the design. Embroidery is priced by the stitch so to keep costs under control we don’t recommend very complex designs that require a lot of detail. In fact, a detailed design will lose a lot of clarity simply because of the limitations of an embroidery machine. Small trademark symbols are virtually lost. Because of setup costs, there is the requirement of a minimum order of six and it requires a longer production time.

So with all of these methods available to personalize your wardrobe what’s the best solution for your needs? Here’s a breakdown of the questions you should ask yourself. How many items do I need? Do I need to mix and match colors or product types like unisex, ladies, juniors, or youth sizes? Is my design complex? Does my design require a lot of colors? Does the garment need to hold up to lot of wear over time? Will I need to frequently wash the garment in hot water with harsh detergent? Is price the most important factor? Do I need performance wear or a product with a high polyester blend? Do I need specialty effects printing , (outside of glow in the dark, neon, puff, regular glitter, or crystalina?) Am I going to need this design duplicated in the future with varied quantity requirements?

If you’ve answered all of these questions but still aren’t sure which print method is the best for your needs, our highly educated customer service team is ready to help you with recommendations and pointers. Call, email, or chat with a live representative.

How to Make your Next Trade Show Exhibition the Best Ever

Trade show

Trade show exhibitions are a phenomenal resource for a lot of different business types. It’s an opportunity to present new products, make personal connections with decision makers, brand your business as an important player in the industry, and of course make sales. Trade shows are also the perfect opportunity to gather lead information for follow-up communication to keep your business top-of-mind in the future. Outside of sales generation, trades shows are an ideal venue to keep abreast of developments in the industry and to find new vendors and partnerships for your business.

Unless you’re a trade show veteran, we suggest a good deal of pre-planning. Trade shows are typically pretty expensive to attend, so winging it at the last minute is highly unadvisable. To prepare adequately for a trade show we’ve put together these pointers on how to make your next trade show exhibition the best ever.

Know your Goals

Understanding what you want to achieve by participating in a trade show is critical for many reasons. It can help set your own expectations and help you interpret which trade shows would be the best opportunity to achieve the goals. What is your primary aspiration and do you have the strategy to execute? Most companies participate in trade shows for exposure, to make connections, and to introduce new products, technologies, and services. By defining goals, you can better understand if your attendance was a success and make quantified decisions on whether to attend the same show next year.

Is this Trade Show the Right One?

The trade show industry is a juggernaut in its own right. Depending on your unique business, there may be thousands of choices each year. Factor in the cost of attendance. Keep in mind the cost of booth space is just the beginning. Most trade shows require that you purchase tables, chairs, lighting, Internet access, and flooring from them which can add up quickly. Transportation and lodging of your sales staff and equipment is another layer of expense to consider. Depending on your goals, take a look at the likelihood of the attendees being in your desired demographic. As a personal example, we would look at whether there would be a lot of business owners or purchasing agents for schools or corporations to evaluate whether attendance would be a good return on investment. Also proximity to your business will obviously impact the cost of transportation. Always look at the demographic of attendees in the past and think seriously whether this attendee is the type of person that would be interested in what you are offering.

Come up with a Budget

Factoring in all the hidden costs of exhibiting at a trade show is a task. As mentioned previously, the booth price is just a start. Remember to calculate in the cost of staff, promotional materials, giveaways, electronic rentals, food, drinks, and dinners for important contacts you may make. Trade shows are exhausting, so to keep your sales staff fresh and able to energetically engage your prospective customer, you may even have shifts so that’s double the staff.

Trade Show Planning

Plan Ahead with a Checklist

Nobody likes scrambling at the last minute so a tradeshow checklist will help keep you on track with timelines. Purchasing your booth space quickly can help with costs as early bird pricing often provides a discount. Advanced booth purchase will also yield up the best real estate options. Last minute purchases like air fare can blow your budget so that should be high on your checklist priority. Marketing materials like logo branded t-shirts as giveaways printed by DesignAShirt take at least 10-days so to not incur rush production charges, order early. There are a lot of moving parts with trade shows so make sure you understand the time constraints of other vendors that will be part of your trade show success.

Invest in your Booth Aesthetics

If you’re new to trade shows, you might be thinking it’s a booth, a table, and some brochures. To save you from mortification at the show, in almost every case, that conception is a recipe for disaster. Trade shows are a big deal to companies and they invest accordingly. It won’t matter if your product or service is truly the best of its kind if you never have an opportunity to speak with attendees. Exhibitions that garner a lot of interest and attention are the ones that use bright colors and offer a differentiator in the aesthetics. This can be in the form of creative shapes, interactive games, or even marketing stunts like costuming of staff. All of these suggestions can be quite pricey so you’ll need to position it as an investment in your future.

Trade show presentation

Prepare your Staff

There’s lots for trade show attendees to see and hear so make sure your messaging is on point and concise. Define your best selling points and what differentiates your product or service from the competition. Brevity is key to engage the most people so train your staff to ask the right questions to quickly ascertain if the prospect is a viable customer. Come up with a defined strategy to end these engagements quickly and politely if they are not. Rehearsing pitches even among your most seasoned sales people will ensure messaging is consistent and appropriate for the demographic of attendees.

Swag is King

Everybody loves giveaways so make sure you have desirable event swag to stand out from our competitors. We always recommend t-shirt designs that are unique and present a message that will resonate with your consumer. This can be anything like a funny or quirky tagline. Can your logo be modified in any way to particularly suit the specific venue or demographic? Are there certain colors that would tie in with the theme of the trade show or location? Unless you’re either a huge company like Google or part of the trendy tech industry, simply printing your logo on a t-shirt isn’t going to cut it. If you need ideas we recommend contacting our staff or reaching out to a custom t-shirt designer to come up with a really outstanding design. Choose a quality product to have your event t-shirt printed on. If you wouldn’t want to wear it, your customer won’t either.

Post Event Follow Up

After you’ve made the significant investment of time and money, you’re going to need to follow up with all of the contacts you’ve made during the show. Do this in a timely fashion, reiterate your value proposition. What makes your product or services the best? If it’s a hot lead, make communication as personal as possible by including a personalized video or even follow up with more company swag like a custom embroidered cap, or other higher end promotional materials.

How to Market your Custom T-Shirt Designs on Etsy

via GIPHY

If you’re new to marketing your custom t-shirt designs, then you’re in for a treat when we explain the amazing opportunities for marketing to niche buyers on Etsy. The power of Etsy is that it is a highly trafficked marketplace for buyers interested in purchasing something of unique and artisanal value. These are the kinds of buyers that will bypass the confusion and less than optimal designs found on sites like Zazzle and Café Press to pay a premium for high quality, artistically superior works of “art.”

The key is to find a niche that has enough interest and to offer a unique design that can’t be easily copied by other t-shirt artists. Some niches are fairly oversaturated like bridal and children’s birthday party tees, so to be successful in that arena, you’ll either need to have an exemplary design that’s really different, or learn how to maximize Etsy’s ranking algorithm, (which we’ll go over in a bit.) Hopefully you’ll be able to do both.

shopping on Etsy

Setting up a good Etsy shop is time consuming, it just is. If you skimp on this critical phase of your business, you’ll never really know if you optimized poorly, or if your designs just weren’t speaking to your target audience. Optimizing your shop and listings is essential to be found on Etsy. In 2017, Etsy announced a partnership with Blackbird Technologies to improve the user experience for buyers, because if people aren’t finding what they’re looking for, they’ll go shopping someplace else. As it’s just in the infancy with this partnership, we can only share with you our predictions for the new user experience.

Rankings are likely going to consist of a variety of factors like the positivity or negativity of reviews, the number of reviews, and the complexity and thoroughness of product descriptions. It may even take into account your reliability, such as how quickly you respond to user questions. Rankings will be of particular importance if you choose to go after a highly saturated niche. If you think about, how many pages would you go through of very similarly designed t-shirts before just settling on a listing based on price alone? Instructions on how to optimize your listing for the best results are gone over in detail in Etsy’s seller handbook. This is a list of best practices to get the most out of your experience in marketplace.

Outside of the Etsy marketplace, there are lots of ways to market your custom t-shirt designs and drive people to your Etsy shop. Create a Pinterest account that is focused on your shop and create appropriately titled boards for your pins. Make sure to pin from your pubic facing Etsy account. Describe the pin very briefly as Pinterest only shows a little bit of text accompanying the image but make it keyword rich so it can also be found independently on Pinterest. Your Etsy shop should also have a Facebook business page and a profile on Instagram, Twitter, and other visually engaging sites like Tumblr or even Wanelo if appropriate.

Encourage repeat business by offering a follow up discount code after your item has been delivered. You can proposition the code as a simple discount on a future order or market as a referral code to encourage the buyer to share the code with friends. Another approach to discount codes is to make the offer for a limited time. If your customer sees it as a good deal they may go back to your shop immediately and purchase additional products to add to their order.

word-of-mouth

Ask your friends to share the word about your Etsy shop on their social media profiles. If you have a friend or two that seems to have a ridiculous amount of followers with engagement, you could entice them to share your shop’s URL along with a pic of the t-shirt design you printed and sent to them for free. Yes, free. The reason why we mention a friend with a high number of followers is that professional influencers on social typically charge quite a bit for a product mention so hopefully a close friend would just be grateful for a free tee.

Hold an Instagram contest with one of your t-shirt designs as the prize that requires entrants to tag a friend and the method of entry. As of the date of this publication, you can also make following your account a stipulation of official entry. As long as you state in the contest description that the contest is in no way affiliated with Instagram, you can run a paid promotion for pretty cheap. Instagram is still a really effective way to grow your visibility as a t-shirt designer.

social sharing

When you’ve developed a following of people that have favorited your designs on Etsy or followed your shop, every time you add a new listing or renew your listing, that listing is top of feed when your fan base logs into their account. This is a great argument for short listing durations. While it may be more work to renew listings, it’s a lot easier to stay top of mind with people who already like what you have to offer.

List your best social channels in multiple spots in your Etsy shop. If people love you’re product, they’ll follow you on other channels to stay in touch with new products or designs you come up with in the future. Increasing followers outside of Etsy is a viable strategy to amplify your reach.

How to get Sponsors for your Event

Event sponsorship

Getting event sponsors is an important aspect of planning a successful event. When approaching a possible sponsor come prepared with information they will want to know for consideration. Recognize that your sponsor is likely to be inundated with sponsorship request throughout the year and it’s difficult for businesses to contribute to everyone that comes knocking on their door.

First, consider if the sponsor would be a good fit for your event because that is what they are going to do when evaluating whether they wish to contribute. Does your event align with their goals and vision for their company? Are the attendees of your event the kind of audience that will resonate with your sponsor’s message? Most sponsors get involved because they want to impress your attendees by aligning with common goals whether that is sales, branding, or goodwill.

However sponsors can get burnt out with requests for event organizers that don’t deliver as promised as far as attendance and demographic. What sponsors are really looking for is value and esteem in exchange for their money, goods, or services.

Have a solid message when it comes to selling the event sponsorship because that is what you’re doing. You’re selling an idea. What is the purpose of the event and do you have a mission statement? How is your audience valuable to the sponsor? Is your event unique in any way so it stands out from similarly aligned events? Who is expected to come to the event?

To come up with a strategy for this, it can help to develop a persona of the expected attendee. This persona should not be who you wish would attend, it needs to be a realistic description of the type of person that would be interested in the event with consideration to what your event offers, the cost to attend, the location, and the time of year. Finally, create a story how their involvement will benefit the sponsor. Eyeballs on their logo or a mention on a website probably isn’t going to be enough to entice sponsors so it’s really helpful to provide a compelling presentation with every statistic you can manage.

Develop a persona

A quick email introduction to a potential sponsor could look something like this:

"The team that I coach competed in the State tournament this past weekend and placed second. We are now off to the World Finals at [State Name] University in May. At World Finals, over 800 teams (8,000+ team members and parents) compete in a four-day-long tournament. Almost all of these teams create custom-made shirts each year, just like we did. Imagine the business if they all used DesignAShirt!

The cost to attend World Finals is about $1000/person, and in an effort to defer some costs, we are looking for team sponsorships. I thought this might be a great advertising opportunity for you. I was imagining a shirt that said something like "[Event Name] World Finalist" along with the DesignAShirt logo/url on the front and "Like Our Shirt? Order Yours from DesignAShirt.com!" on the back (or whatever we would decide upon). Then the team members and parents would wear the shirts all over World Finals. We also would be happy to pass out flyers when our kids trade [Event Name] pins with kids from across the US. If you want the international business, we can hand out flyers to the teams from other countries too."

Oftentimes you will be approaching a business that you have no prior relationship to so put yourself in their shoes concerning your image. If you we’re asked to give money to a charity for example but had never heard of them before, you’d likely do a little research to ascertain their legitimacy. A business will want to research your event, and maybe even you personally to see if the event is authentic. Be sure to have a professional looking image for them to find. That means some kind of web presence. Make sure that the information they find on your web page is the same information you are relaying in your conversations or emails to them. That image should align with the businesses image of the sponsorship you’re seeking.

Define offerings for your sponsors like event announcements, banner advertisements, social media shout outs, call outs in emails about the event, their logos on your custom event t-shirts, and other promotional items that would be given away or sold at the event. You may consider different levels of sponsorships like silver, gold, and platinum level sponsorships with bundled offerings depending on the tier they choose to go with. If it makes sense, offering sponsors VIP passes or tickets to the event can be presented in such a way that the sponsor could provide these passes to employees as a perk. There’s an example of an additional value added approach and thought process to your message. If you find your different levels of sponsorship are not enticing engagement for your event, be prepared to be flexible.

Sponsorship t-shirt

Start with your own network of contacts. Prior relationships are a great resource since they already know you. Have you given a lot of your business to a local company? They might be an excellent candidate to contact. Include details about your familiarity with the company and why you’re so familiar but be cognizant to the possibility you might be considered a minor customer depending on the company. Ask your friends to be a referral source for you. Do they have relationships with any business that might be a good fit? If so, send them your solicitation message and asked to be introduced.

If you get shot down by one company you had in mind that would be a good fit for your event, search for similar types of businesses by looking on a search engine for “business like [company name].” You may have to do some extra work but if you find an up-and-comer that needs more advertising exposure, you might hit the jackpot.

Business owners

Business owners and their employees are typically very busy people so while an onsite visit or a phone call seems personable, people may be less receptive and it can be a time waster for you too. One of the easiest ways to reach out to possible sponsors is through social media. If it’s a smaller business you just might get the attention of the actual owner. If it’s a larger business, you’re likely going to be communicating with an employee or worse, their advertising company. Don’t give up if you don’t hear back after an initial reach out. At that point, a follow up email would be appropriate but if you hear nothing back again, it’s better to put your effort into other opportunities.

When you do make contact, do make it personal and craft each message in a personal way, nobody wants to hear a blanket one-size-fits-all proposal. Explain how their sponsorship to your event could make a positive impact and describe what you’re expecting from them. Do you want money, services, or products? Here again be flexible. In our specific case, it is sometimes far easier and palatable to donate t-shirts rather than money if the goal of the event aligns with our values as a t-shirt printing business.

Present your entire value proposition upfront because it’s rare that you’ll get a 2nd chance. Document that you’re planning on sending X number of email blasts to X size list and that you have X number reach on social. Will you be doing flyers, radio, or TV advertising? Any paid search engine marketing? Sponsors will be far more intrigued with an approach that provides a lot of granular detail.

When you land a sponsorship you’ve really done the hardest part by building a relationship. To cultivate that relationship for next year’s event or sponsorships for similar events, it important that you deliver what was promised to the sponsor at a bare minimum. Giving them more than expected will set you above other event opportunities presented to them in the future. Even providing additional exposure they weren’t expecting on a channel like social media for example. When you do this be sure to make the sponsor aware of the extra perks given.

After the event, follow up by providing all the relevant statistics and results from the event like how much money was raised, how many people attended or participated, and all social statistics like reach, likes, shares, comments, interviews, press mentions, etc.