Yinz Will Love These Pittsburgh Themed Shirts, n'at.

Posted by Mongo

I am a Yinzer, born and raised in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  I bleed black and gold for my beloved Steelers and Penguins and will feign a paper cut for the Pirates.  I mean, come on, that losing seasons record is old enough to take across state lines. (18 years old).   But, I love all things Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas.  That's why i felt the need to show off the true Burgher in me but putting up some great designs dedicated to the Yinzer in all of us.  I've also included a few I didn't do just because they are awesome, n'at.  Enjoy!

Wanna Burn One shirt
Wanna Burn One by Mongo Angry!  Mongo Smash!
View more Pittsburgh T-Shirts
When we win championships the streets are alive with revelry and burning couchesIt even comes in Morgantown, West Virginia and East Lansing, Michigan versions as well.

It's like Cheers.  Yinzers is my tribute to the local pub where everyone knows yinz names.  All the steelworkers would go there after a hard day in the mills for a cold Iron or boilermaker.  Sometimes, you didn't go very far for a beer because some had built bars in the basements of their homes in Southwestern, PA.  There is also a rival bar located in Bellevue, PA called Jagoff's which is a play on the phrase, "Jagoff from Bellevue."

With all the talk about leasing the Pittsburgh parking revenues to outside companies, one must remember that in the residential areas, parking is also at a premium.  But instead of having permit parking, Burghers tend to use a lawn chair to stake their claim to a parking spot, or even a spot on a parade route.

Duquesne Incline shirt
Duquesne Incline by speedround
Browse more t-shirts created on zazzle.com
This one is by SpeedRound and I love it.  It has a great look with the awesome angles and lines creating a perspective of riding on the Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh.

412 Pittsburgh shirt
412 Pittsburgh by Mongo Angry!  Mongo Smash!
Shop zazzle for a different tshirt at Zazzle.com
This is a tribute to the prevailing area code for Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.  I used a couple of techniques to give it a stamp like appearance making it look like some of the ink didn't completely transfer onto the design.

There are a few Pittsburgh Steelers shirts out there that use retro looking clip art in the designs.  I was inspired to create this from one of those shirts, which I own, and a song performed by WDVE's Randy Baumann toting the love of girls from Western PA.

Pittsburghese is spoken throughout Southwestern, PA.  We have things called Gumbands, Jumbo and  Buggies, which you may know as Rubber Bands, Balogna and Shopping Carts.  I wanted to be able to express that love of these terms by implying that, unless you are from Pittsburgh, you probably won't know what we're talking about when we say these things.  So, on the front is the Pittsburghese item and on the back is the phrase, "It's a Burgh thing.  Yinz wouldn't understand."

Buggy shirt
Buggy by Mongo Angry! Mongo Smash!
Browse Zazzle for a different shirt.
Here's another example of Pittsburghese in the form of the shopping cart which we call buggies.

The rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals stems basically from the individual rivalry of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.   Here is a bartender's joke from the perspective of Sidney having won a Stanley Cup versus Ovie having not won one.   The joke is "Guy walks into a bar and asks the bartender to make him an 'Ovechkin.'  The bartender asks 'What's an Ovechkin?'  The guy says 'It's a White Russian without a cup!'" (rimshot)

For 50 years, the Civic Arena, known as the Mellon Arena from 1999-2010, was the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins as well as big name concerts, monster truck rallies, ice shows, Pittsburgh Spirit and the setting for the Jean-Cluade Van Damme movie, Sudden Death.  I even got to be an extra in that film  With the construction of the CONSOL Energy Center, the Igloo is now slated to be demolished in 2011.  I chose to remember the Igloo in a way not too many people do, with the roof open, showing the skyline.

Yinz n'at shirt
Browse Zazzle for a different t-shirt.
Another popular set of Pittsburghese terms are "Yinz" and "N'at"  "Yinz" means "You all" and "N'at" translates to "And that," which is tagged onto various sentences much like Canadiens using the word, "Eh."  For this particular design, I chose to showcase the different regional pronunciations in the style of the ampersand shirts which string together a set of terms much like the original Beatles shirt denoting all of the members with "&" between them.   Of course, the last one is purely Pittsburgh replacing "You all" with "Yinz" and "&" with "N'at"

That's all for now.  I plan on expanding the product line with more Pittsburgh themed designs, so stay tuned.

Zazzle $5.00 Off Black Apparel Sale

Posted by Mongo

Use coupon code OCTSHIRTSALE to get $5.00 off of black shirts.(1)
Might I suggest some shirts to get?  All of these are available from my Zazzle store.

Home Run shirt
Home Run by Mongo Angry Mongo Smash
See other tee shirts created on zazzle.com

speed kills dark shirt shirt
speed kills dark shirt by Mongo Angry Mongo Smash
Browse more tees created on zazzle.com

Zombie Task Force shirt
Zombie Task Force by Mongo Angry Mongo Smash
See more Shirts created on zazzle

412 Pittsburgh shirt
412 Pittsburgh by Mongo Angry Mongo Smash
Browse more t-shirts created on zazzle.com

Pittsburgh Girl shirt
Pittsburgh Girl by Mongo Angry Mongo Smash
Browse Zazzle for a different tshirt

(1) Offer is valid from October 25, 2010 at 12:01 am PT through October 31, 2010 at 11:59 am PT. This promotional offer may not combine with any other Zazzle promotional or volume discount offers. If a volume discount applies to your order, you will receive either the discount set forth in this offer or the standard volume discount, whichever is greater. This promotional offer does not apply to screen printed shirts nor Labz shirts and offer is valid on Zazzle.com only.

The Tao of the Tee

Posted by Mongo

Ten days without an update.  I apologize peeps.   I’ve just been really busy.  Honest... I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD.  I feel better now.   Anyway, I thought I’d take some time off from promoting [read: pimping] my designs and want to just talk about t-shirts.  

Besides getting into this kind of work to make extra cash, I do have a profound love of t-shirts.   It’s a form of expression, I guess.  When you wear a graphic tee, you pretty much put your thoughts and opinions out there without having to say anything.   But t-shirts are more than just expression to me.   It’s a way to relax.  T-shirts and jeans are a great dress code.   Let’s all just be comfortable and kick back.  A t-shirt is a statement all its own, regardless of what is printed on it.  It’s you saying, “Today, I’m not a CEO, or a doctor, lawyer, office worker, surgeon, or soldier.  Today, I’m just someone looking to be free and relaxed.”  I like that.  I like that a t-shirt can make you feel comfortable.  In that regard, a hoodie or sweatshirt can make you feel safe and snug.  It can make you feel warm and protected.  You can put the hood up and disappear.  Maybe t-shirts are my religion.  I pray at the altar of a poly-cotton blend.  HA!  

Let’s take a look back at my life with shirts.  When I was kid I would usually get hand me downs from my brother.   I remember going to school when I was ten and wearing concert shirts from Hall & Oates’ H2O tour.  LOL.  What did I know.  It was 1984 for love of Oates’ mustache.    My absolute favorite shirt was a long sleeve black and white baseball shirt with a simple graphic of an alligator holding a smoking shotgun and the words, “Save an alligator.  Shoot a preppie.”  I loved that shirt.  I doubt I could get over my neck these days.

However, my tastes changed, as most kids often do going through adolescence, and I went away from custom graphic tees and leaned more towards what I thought was the hipper trend of the late 80s / early 90s.   I strictly wore button down shirts to school from Bugle Boy and Shah Safari (see Marty McFly’s checkered shirt from BTTF.)  I also loved a store called, Just pants which sold more than pants but mostly denim in nature.   Of course, I also pegged my Bugle Boys and Dockers, so there’s no accounting for taste.)  During the warmer months I became addicted to wearing Ocean Pacific shirts as much as possible.  But I would still look for cool tees when I’d go on vacation.  Sometimes the impetuousness of wanting a souvenir at the expense of level headedness will get you something dumb, like a Miami Mice shirt in 1987 or a airbrushed shirt of you own name in chrome lettering from Cedar Point in 1989.  I have no idea why I wanted these shirts, it was just impulsive buying while on vacation.

Once I got out of the awkward adolescent years and became more of an individual, not influenced by the need to try and dress to impress I went back to my love of t-shirts.  Aside from the occasional Nike shirt I went with the generic graphical tees that usually advertised companies that don’t exist or are simply obscure.  Oddly enough, I still have a few t-shirts from high school that I can still fit into like a Canyon River Blues shirt.

After high school, college became more about function over form.  I wanted shirts that were comfortable more than ones that expressed opinions or humor.   No corporate logos or famous people.  The only time I would violate this rule was in regards to Old Navy, mostly because they were clearance items and I just couldn’t pass up a $5.00 t-shirt.   Otherwise, they were mostly plain and solid colors with no discernable endorsement from any corporation.

Then, in 1996, I spent a summer working at Cedar Point, returning to the scene of the fashion crime, as it were.   As a part of the games crew I felt the need to step in and help bring about a “team shirt” project.  Several people, including myself, contributed to the wording on the shirt and I enlisted the help of one of the caricature artists to draw up a graphic.   The front simply said, “We’re rigged for your pleasure”  while the back consisted of a drawing of a team member surrounded by various games and games equipment like hoops, rings, footballs, basketballs, a whac-a-mole, and water gun.  Appearing with the image was the phrase, “Whether you whack it, smack it, toss it or squirt it, the object is to score.”   I went to a local screen printing shop and got an estimate on a bulk order.   I was able to set the price for each shirt, including larger sizes, at $10.00.  This also gave the artist compensation for his work.  I had just enough left over to cover the cost of gas.  Unfortunately, I had come down with walking pneumonia before the end of the summer and had to turn over all of my paperwork and inventory to another coworker and things got fouled up from there.

The next summer I offered to do the same work and put together a sort of top ten list of most commonly heard questions from guests which constituted some of the stupidest things ever heard at the park.   This time the front said, “It’s our way or the midway”  and the back image looked like a sign from a game with the ten items and a couple of game attendants as well.   Again, it was $10 a shirt and this time I stayed until the end to ensure everyone got their shirt.

So, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I ended up running a t-shirt design business.  All the makings were there from an early age.  Of course, now I wear my own tees, usually.  I have a few that I like from other stores.   There’s the “There are no stupid questions.  Just stupid people.”  And “You’re unique. Just like everyone else.”    Those are from the evil empire known as Walmart.   I also have a tee that I bought from a peer’s site, the ever present in my blog, GritFx.  It’s an Indiana Jones tee called “Bound For Cairo.”     I actually sat and watched Raiders of the Lost Ark, not aware that I was wearing this shirt at the time.   I have some Steelers’ themed shirts which is about the extent of my corporate endorsed apparel.   Otherwise, I’m wearing a funny tee, a pop culture themed tee, or simply a plain tee.  It’s a blank canvas, usually reserved for spilled food. 

So, everyone turn to your tag’s washing instructions as we rejoice in the word of the shirt.  Can I get an amen?

Zazzle Sweetest Deal Sale 10% Off Until October 16, 2010

Posted by Mongo

10% of the net sale price will be deducted when the coupon code SWEETESTDEAL is applied at checkout. For most products, the net sale price is the price of the product (excluding shipping and taxes). For Zazzle Custom Stamps, the net sale price is the difference between the price of the Zazzle Custom Stamps (excluding shipping and taxes) and the face value of the postage. Offer is valid from October 12, 2010 through October 16, 2010 at 11:59pm PT. This offer does not apply to past purchases and may not be combined with any other Zazzle promotional or volume discount offers. If a volume discount applies to your order, you will receive either the discount set forth in this offer or the standard volume discount, whichever is greater. Offer valid on Zazzle.com only.

What Kind Of Entrepreneur Are You

Posted by Mongo

Manz over at GritFx and Tees In A Pod posted a great article, complete with flowchart, on the Pitfalls of PODs.  It was a huge coincidence that I was writing a similar post about brand awareness when it came out.  I posted a comment on TIAP and went on, ad nauseum, about the type of designer who uses PODs as an alternative to doing the heavy lifting themselves.  So, I thought I would once again ride the coattails of those well versed in the game and write an additional post expanding on my comment.  As always, I try to write from the generalized perspective of an entrepreneur, but gear my examples towards specific tips in t-shirt and apparel design.

Grumble Beginnings
If you have actually taken the time to sit down and plan your strategy for world domination, then I tip my hat to you.  I had no clue what I was doing and was basically a monkey flinging poo at the wall in the hope that something would stick.   Mongo Angry! Mongo Smash! was born out of a failed idea.  It was one of those, pie in the sky, million dollar ideas we are all have while we toil away in a lackluster 9-5 job.  Unfortunately, our business plan rivaled that of the Underwear Gnomes from South Park.  But, sometimes you look at it from the Edison point of view.  I didn’t fail, I just successful found a way to NOT run a business.  In fact, had it not been for that successful failure, MAMS would not have been born.    If you want to waste a good half hour, here’s the whole story of how Mongo came to be. 

Choose Your Own Adventure
Now that I’m a good two years into t-shirt designing I’ve come to the realization that I don’t spend nearly enough time on this.  After all, this was simply a side project, a way to earn some extra cash.  I would only make it a full time gig if I was about 100 times more successful than I am now.  Of course, by full time I mean having a fully dedicated website and in house printing equipment.  I am nowhere near ready for that type of commitment.  I am the main source of income and health benefits for my family and couldn’t afford to make that leap.  I suppose, one day, I might have a Jerry Maguire moment and just flip out and quit but I think I’d have to win the lottery for that to happen.

For now, I am content letting sites like Skreened, CafePress, and Zazzle do all the heavy lifting for me.  That was one of the things that sold me on the idea to start my own t-shirt designing business.  Inventory is not a problem since I don’t have to stock anything.  Billing and ordering is all handled through the PODs.  All I am responsible for is the designs, product choices, and any marketing or promotion outside of the sites.   For me, marketing and promotion is free since I use a blogspot account, a Facebook page, and Twitter to do all that.  But I also get plenty of help in that area thanks to others in the business who have been gracious enough to help promote and share my work with their readers and fans. 

But before you get to that point, you really have to ask yourself, “What kind of entrepreneur am I?”  How much time do I want to devote? How much overhead do I want to have?   Here’s a Monday morning quarterback graphic detailing the different levels of the t-shirt business.

POD Pyramid
Not a definitive classification.  Open to interpretation.

The top most level of the pyramid represents the simplest of ways to earn money online.  The bottom represents the most effort. 

Affiliate – Uses POD sites and other websites to promote affiliate links through own blog, social media outlet, or website for percentage from sales of advertised products (commission junction, share a sale, Zazzle, Amazon, Skreened)
An affiliate needs more marketing savvy and communication skills than actual designing skills because they are simply choosing to showcase products from other sites and derive their sales from driving customers to the products they list.  In return, they get a percentage of the sale.  They can do this without owning a website and their success is measured on how well they can promote an item.

Bulk Sellers – Designs and publishes for self or events or gatherings.  Isn’t concerned with continually publishing content.  Designs on a per job basis  Think Contractor.  Uses PODs like Skreened and CafePress or screen printing shops for fulfillment.
Bulk Sellers aren’t in the business for steady streams of incomes.  They get most of their sales from bulk orders for events like reunions or local sports teams.   They may not even be the actual artist but will provide a service to others by word of mouth and simple advertising.  They are usually associated with their customers through family, friends or peers.  I did this in college when I worked at an amusement park.  I went to a local print shop and ordered hundreds of screen printed tees for our games team.  I supplied the design based on mine/group idea and asked an artist to do the work.  The screen printer did a bulk discount and it whatever profit I made covered gas, artist fees, and extra costs for bigger sizes. 

POD part time – Little to no investment. One or two designs centered around a specific idea. (CafePress Basic Shops)  Designs own work for special projects or posts a few designs in niche areas with little online marketing.
POD Part Timers may just be testing the waters like I did when I first started out and do not want to devote a lot of time to the venture.   They can be simply watching the trends of pop culture and the news and then will publish one or two designs to grab quick sales.  Another example would be a personality or small businesses that want to offset some of their costs with branded apparel and goods for swag and promotional purposes.  They may use a CafePress basic shop with a few items and rely on their own website to promote the products.

The Designer – Designs own work for multiple ideas or categories, markets through blogs and social media.  Simply uses PODs as an outlet to be creative and generate revenue streams for their work.  Wants some control over their brand and identity but is still not a full time business owner.    Might have a steady full time job that gets more priority.
The Designer is how I would classify myself at this moment.  I have multiple POD sites with hundreds of designs.  I publish my own content for my blogs, market through Facebook and Twitter as well as peer sites like SupportSKs and Tee Gazette.  Still, I don’t have a specific domain and am looking to establish multiple streams of repeatable revenue.  In other words, all the hard work for me is done from a front office mentality, branding and marketing, while all the heavy lifting is done by the POD in the back office.  Free labor as it were.

POD full timer – Designs own work, may have own domain built around POD ordering and shipping site, does own marketing through blogs and social media GritFx, Saucewear, Soge Shirts, Creature Creations)
POD Full Timer.  These are the real web and business savvy folks.  They have their own websites and brand presence but let the POD handle the ordering, inventory, shipping, and billing.    They have more overhead and work harder to generate more sales to offset those costs.   More control over their brand and identity than other POD users.

[sidebar] I want to interject a sidebar here about PODs and the different types of users.  At some point all suffer from the same pitfall, which Manz points out in her post on Tees In A Pod.  Namely, the branding issue.  It can mean a lot in your decision making.  I was going to go on with a huge point here but decided to table it for another post called...um, The Branding Issue.  Stay tuned. [end sidebar]

Seller – uses shopping sites to sell own items or acquired items (Etsy, EBay, Amazon)
I didn’t know exactly where to place the seller because they don’t follow a regular model like the others but in some cases they resemble the independent business model.   Basically, a seller is the person who has an online business that sells physical items that they have either constructed or acquired.     For instance, a person goes around to yard sales and picks up interesting items and then turns around and sells them on eBay or Amazon for a profit.   Their costs are derived from listing fees and shipping fees and possible fees from hosting their own website.    At one time, I felt a seller on EBay was the surefire way to go but it seems like the marketplace is flooded and it’s hard to gain any kind of identity when you have to compete with countless others for pricing and content supremacy.    You can also use sites like Amazon or Etsy to sell products  but the responsibility is on you as a business person to handle a lot of the transactions on either end of the sale.

Independent – designs, prints, ships, and markets own work in house or sells licensed apparel. (Saucewear, Lady Umbrella, Crock Tees, Busted Tees, 80sTees, Snorg Tees, T-Shirt Hell <- NSFW)
The Independent Shopkeeper is the pinnacle of entrepreneur evolution yet I listed it as the bottom of the pyramid because of the amount of coverage it takes.   You control all aspects of the business.  You design the products, you host the work on your site, you market the products, you print them and ship them and you handle the ordering and billing.    You are responsible for inventory levels, forecasting and other fine points.   If you can find someone to do the website work you’ll be relying on them to do the blocking and tackling of everything from the interface, shopping cart, and secure server for the payment transactions.

Well, I hope that gives you some insight into the different types of entrepreneurs and what you need to know in terms of choosing your own business model.  Maybe you can find a hybrid.  Like I said, this is by no means a definitive classification system.   You should do your own research.  I suggest checking out Tees In a Pod and T-Shirt Forums for more information.

Three Tips For Brand Awareness

Posted by Mongo

So, you’ve started up your own Print On Demand or other type of online business and you’ve made a few sales.  Things are going along smoothly and, for the most part, you are exactly where you want to be at this stage of the game.  You have your publishing schedule optimized and can easily create content on the fly.  What’s your next move?  How about, gain awareness?

Assuming you already have a plan of attack for designing and publishing your content, you need to get people interested in your brand.  In t-shirt designing, you can be proactive or passive about your brand awareness as a designer.   You can sit around and let customers find your work through search engines like Google or Bing or even let the search tools provided by sites like CafePress or Zazzle or Skreened drive people to your products.  This will get you sales based on the quality of your design and the effectiveness of how you have tagged your images.  But once that sale is completed, awareness of your work can simply vanish.  

If you’re fortunate, a buyer will walk down the street and a person will say to them, “Excuse me, good sir, I like the cut of your jib.  Where did you acquire such threads.”  Apart from being stuck in the 19th century,  the buyer might say, “Why, thank you.  I procured it from a witty shopkeeper named Mongo.  He has an apparel store which can be found on that new technical gizmo called The Internet.” 

Silliness aside, the point being is that it’s hard to expect a customer to remember the name of your store when they wander in from the Internet through search engines.   When someone buys something from the mall, they never say, “Oh, I bought it at Eden Prairie Mall or Lone Pine Mall.”  They say they bought it from such and such store in the mall.  Brick and Mortar stores are easily differentiated because of that who sensory, three dimensional memory thingy, and yes that’s a technical term.   However,  e-retailers, especially Print On Demand apparel shops have a relationship that is more about the overall name of the site than the smaller pieces, like the individual designers shop.   So, more than likely the scenario will be,

“Where did you get that shirt?”  
“What’s the website.”
“Zazzle”  or “Cafepress”  (depending on your POD of choice)

The inquiring person will then just search a keyword and may end up at your shop, or they will find a different design to buy, instead of yours.   In the age of the Internet and short attention spans, you are always one click away from losing a sale.

I don’t want to deter you, though.  You can still make a decent living by just designing and letting the websites do all the work.  However, here’s a small sampling of tips that can help you build more awareness for your brand and your stores. (I’ll have a later post about what kind of POD user are you.) 

Host your own designs
Looking back at our scenario, we can now change how the interaction takes place.  I’ll spare you the goofy dialogue.

“Hey, I like your shirt.  Where did you get it?”
“What’s the website?”
“Thanks, I’ll have to check that out.”

Now, the potential buyer is going right to your site with all of your work.  In case you’re worried about overhead and inventory and having to do a lot of extra work, fear not.  You can still use websites like Zazzle and Caf├ęPress to host your products.  All you need to do is get a domain and you can build your store online using tools provided by Zazzle and Caf├ęPress.  The checkout and actual buying is handled on their end.  You’re just providing a portal.  It adds a little to your bottom line, in terms of service provider and hosting costs, but you might be able to translate it into more sales. 

Use Social Media Tools Like Facebook, Blogs and Twitter
Wordpress is a pretty powerful tool but unless you use the web hosting end of it at Wordpress.com, you will need to set up some sort of hosting of your blog and other pages using WordPress.  If you are like me and would rather keep your costs low, you don’t want to pay for website hosting services.   Free is nice, but you get what you pay for.  If you go the free route, you’ll need to be more creative.  There are blogs that  can offer you a platform for showcasing your work without having to pay for a domain.  Blogger is free and rather easy to use.  What you are reading right now is an example.  I use this blog to promote designs, share tips, and just connect with an audience.    The creative part is how you go about presenting the information.   Anyone can start a blog and post links to shirts in their Print On Demand stores but that doesn’t mean people will go there.  You need to be able to write quality content and craft a message that draws people into your site.  Learn about SEO, back linking, research HTML and CSS, and just read other people’s blogs.  

Once you can create a good user experience and interactive environment, potential customers can click into your stores and possibly buy something.  The best part is that you still have a website address that directs people to your work with your branding somewhere in the URL. There’s a saying that people remember the first thing you tell them and the last thing you tell them and everything in between gets lost.   If the first thing they see is your brand and the last thing they see is your shirt at their door, hopefully, they’ll remember you more than the mailing address on the packaging.   Do understand that with the “free” route of promotion you still have a lot of the POD’s name and labeling on the finished product in the form of packaging, but hopefully your brand can stick out in their mind.

Facebook is a great tool with better “real time” results as you can see who likes your page, so you know who your audience is at that moment.   You also have insights built right into the page where you can see how things are working.   Here’s a great look at how insights on Facebook work from Tees In a Pod, complete with video.

For MAMS, I use a Facebook page to show off new designs, interact with people who might be interested in buying my designs and just generally try to have fun.  It’s also a great communication tool because when people like your work, they can share it and that can lead to new fans and new buyers.  Word of mouth, whether orally or electronically, is still a free and powerful tool for advertising.  Better yet, with Facebook, the message doesn’t degrade like our original scenario.  The link follows the conversation.  There’s no “What’s the website called?” and then the potential buyer has to sift through results to find you.   Here, they just share the link.

Twitter is another instant tool for getting your brand out there.  Once again, if your followers like what they see, they’ll retweet it to their followers and that link to your work stays attached to the message.  It can also get picked up by search engines like Google. 

You can set up outside applications to tweet, as you publish from any tool you already use, to your twitter account.   A really crafty way is to tie all three of those social media tools together and streamline the process to make more yourself more efficient.  This blog updates my Facebook page which in turn updates my Twitter feed.  I write the content once and three social media tools pass it along.  Granted, I use the other tools as standalone communication methods, but it’s nice to not have to do triple the work when you aren’t a full time designer and shopkeeper.  This is all done using Twitterfeed to create feeds draw from various tools and post them to twitter.

Be a part of the community
You can’t live in a bubble.  There is a huge community of t-shirt designers and t-shirt lovers out there and they are more than willing to help you grow as a business owner and will help promote your brand.  The old adage of treating people how you wish to be treated is very applicable here.   Join groups on Facebook, follow other bloggers and twitter accounts for designers and reach out into the community.   Comment on posts and interact with others.   This does two things.  One, it allows you to interact with other people and it adds the link to your website or brand.  It’s not spamming because usually, in form posting, you have the option of adding your website link which anchors your name to your website.  This helps in backlinking to your site for search engines.

Secondly, reach out to these subject matter experts for help.  There are some awesome people out there to get involved with in the business.   Tees In A Pod and The Tee Gazette are great ways to get brand awareness and build relationships.  Manz, from Tees In A Pod and GritFx tees also has a page for the supporting of shopkeepers.   These three places are great places to start. 

When I first started my shops I was pretty much out in the woods, all alone, with a hatchet and a dream of a log home.  That might be a poor analogy, but the point is that I had a hell of a lot of work to do to achieve my goals with no help and the most basic of tools.    But as I became more involved with the community of online designers I found myself being promoted by them and in turn I promote their sites.  I retweet giveaways and contests and designs from peers and they in turn spotlight my work or even offer to help out with promotions I’m running.   For instance,  I held a giveaway for Halloween and as soon as I mentioned the topic on Facebook, I got emails and messages, from some of my t-shirt brethren, offering to help get the word out.   That’s pretty awesome and I finally gave something away.  

Why are people, who are in somewhat direct competition with myself, helping me out?  That’s just the community nature of this business.  It’s a really great atmosphere and environment in which to work.  I’ve talked back and forth with Manz at GritFx and Tees In a Pod about the Halloween giveaway and she has been a great resource.  She’s had experience with the business and gave me a lot of pointers on how to engage people and get the most out of my message.  She even alerted Kelly at TeeGazette about the giveaway.  That’s class.   After talking with Kelly at TeeGazette she threw a post up on her site promoting the giveaway on mine. 

Of course, I am getting all of this help for a campaign that is offering to give away something.  There’s no sale occurring.  However, all of the drummed up awareness of my store and “brand” could go a long way on the backend to bring people to my galleries which could result in future sales.  I’m treating the customer how I want to be treated.  It’s all connected.

Here’s another example of being a part of the online community reaping benefits.  Back in July I received an email from Skreened asking to do an interview for their newsletter.  It was part of their Comedy Summer promotion and they felt I was funny.  So, I answered a few questions and they added a picture of my big ole melon to the top of the page and people screamed in horror, parents pulled their children off the Internet and there was general chaos.  I kid, but it really was a big picture.  LOL.   Anyway, immediately after it went online I saw a huge spike in sales on my Skreened site.  Were the two related?  Metrics will only tell me so much, but I firmly believe that at least some of the people who read the newsletter went on over to my site and purchased something.

Well, that’s all I have this time.  So, in closing, remember that you are part of a larger machine and you can easily get yourself into the mix without having to be an expert or spend a lot of money.  All it takes is having a little awareness and a lot of openness.   Take care and get noticed!

Stay tuned for more posts on branding and business models.

Zombie vs Zombie Giveaway From GritFx

Posted by Mongo

It's time to declare zombie film supramacy!  Which movie is the best?  Dawn of the Dead (Romero) or Shaun of the Dead (Pegg/Wright)?  Where do you go in a zombie outbreak, the mall or The Winchester?

Get on over to GritFx and vote your way to winning a Zombie themed t-shirt!  It's easy.  It's simple.  It's a great selection to choose from.  You have until October 15th to enter.

Personally, I went with Romero's movie.  I respect the classics and frankly, without Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead would not have had a title. 

And The Winner Is....

Posted by Mongo

After two weeks and 30 entries we finally have come to the end of the Mongo Angry! Mongo Smash!  Halloween 2010 Giveaway.   I took all 30 entries from both the blog and the Facebook pages and went to Random.org to get a winner.   That winner is...

Diane Trujillo
who picked Van Helsing as her favorite monster hunter. 

I would like to thank Diane and the rest of the folks who entered for being a part of this and making this the most successful giveaway since the last one when no one entered.  LOL.  I wish I could give you all a prize and hope you continue to follow along in the madness. 

I would also like to thank Manz at GritFx and Tees in a Pod as well as Kelly at Tee Gazette for their help in putting this together and promoting it on Facebook, their blogs, and Twitter.  I also want to give a shout out to one of the nicest and coolest guys I've ever had the chance to work with in an acting capacity, Mr. David Early.  He jumped on board and contributed a signed photo, from Dawn of the Dead, to make the prize package even better.

Stay tuned to here and Facebook, because there will be another giveaway, soon.   The voices in my head are thinking about a holiday themed one and considering that I had some movies and music and shirts involved with this one, who knows what kind of prizes will be involved for Christmas.

Thanks again,

a.k.a Mongo