T-shirts? Seriously?

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T-shirts? Seriously?

Postby ShadowsMyst on Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:26 pm

So the poll I have for shifters merch lists T-shirts and the #2 choice. Kind of surprises me because I keep seeing the signs that T-shirts are not great sellers. So I have to ask, what is it that you guys would want on a shirt?

My research has generally shown that character art on stuff doesn't sell well, but usually its more pithy sayings or smart ass remarks or some kind of in-joke, or something completely unrelated to the actual comic.

What is it you guys would actually want to buy? I'm guessing the t-shirts should be black?
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Re: T-shirts? Seriously?

Postby Jae87 on Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:32 pm

I've never really been a fan of buying or wearing T-Shirts. When I DO buy t-shirts, I sometimes buy them from shirt.woot because they're cheap ($12 and free shipping), nice designs, and good quality- so go with those standards if you're going to try to sell them. Darker shirts sell better, so I agree with the Black. If you've never heard of that shirt.woot site before, check out the weekly derby and see what they put as their contest requirements and what wins / sells. You might even want to try your hand at the contest. It really gives you a good idea of what kinds of shirts sell, especially when text isn't allowed (or when text IS allowed, but a shirt without text still tells a good enough story to win).

You've mentioned before that you read Strays, right? You should check out their store and think about selling little trinkets like that instead. Maybe it's just me, but I'm much more likely to buy stuff than clothes. Also the owner of Strays' has a Sugar Bunny Shop with more examples. They seem to avoid the T-shirt thing entirely, but they still have a very crowded storefront.

However, I'm not going to leave you with nothing about the topic at hand; t-shirt designs. When I do buy a shirt, it must be either adorable, comical, or awesome. In your case, I'm thinking you could do something with some kind of tag line, but it would need something more than justtext. Additionally, a logo-style design of some sort would be neat, assuming you went the "awesome" route. I don't really think your comic has anything for the "adorable" route unless you want to do put a chibi-kinsmir on a t-shirt. Give it some of those chibi-anime-bat-wings and people might *squee* and buy it.

*shrug* I dunno. I just don't like T-shirts, but maybe that's just like me. I'm a sucker for *stuff* though. :3

---
[Edit] Just a note- for the whole "Logo-style design," I didn't necessarily mean the Shifter's logo, but something in the style of art that logos are usually drawn in. That Kinsmir design you made is a nice example, but would be nicer if it were placed on the BACK of a black shirt, over the shoulder-blades. For the sake of this "style"-- I know the shirt I'm using as my example is already being sold-- I would also recommend removing the gradient on the wolf's fur to make it a solid gray and match the solid-colored wings, or using a halftone effect of some sort. Your first version of this design was better with the less shading, but I would have liked to see it how without any gradients, matching the wings.
--Jae


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Re: T-shirts? Seriously?

Postby ShadowsMyst on Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:25 pm

Thank you very much Jae for this insight.

What you are saying actually echoes most of my experience in terms of sales thus far. Unless the T-shirt is a crazy deal, or really strikes a chord with someone, they really aren't going to buy a shirt. People have/get so many of them its kind of a tricky sell. The vast majority of webcomic artists DO NOT sell shirts because of the inherent high cost of carrying any stock and low sales. Unless they are using a service like cafepress or spreadshirt. Which is an option, but it won't earn much money and will cost more to the end user than if I printed them myself.

But your viewpoint is exactly why I was puzzled about T-shirts being #2 in the poll. If half those who answered the poll pre-ordered shirts, I could probably make quota for a small run. It's usually around 20-25 shirts, although I might, if I look hard enough, be able to find a place that does lower, but that's the normal benchmark. And that would probably be for a single color silkscreen. Add more colors, and you get higher requirements in terms of price and quantity. Although direct to garment printing is getting more available, dark shirts is the tricky part because you need a special kind of D2G printer for that.

There are some other options, but dark shirts do make that tough as well. Dark printing is /always/ more expensive than lighter shirts because the technology required is either limited in terms of colors, or requires extra/special equipment. Also, small runs of either are pretty pricey, which makes things tricky. A lot of shops have minimum orders, which can be hard to meet if you are paying out of pocket. Although I'm not totally out of options.

I could do something like that woot shirt thing and have several designs which can be voted on, and then take pre-orders for the winning design to meet the minimum quota. If the quota isn't met, the shirt doesn't get printed. Quota

With whatever profit there is from the pre-orders, I could order a few extra shirts for conventions and the store. Although likely they'd be very limited in quantity for anyone who doesn't preorder. Limited sizes as well. Larger sizes like XXL and XXXL are tricky to secure and usually more expensive. So any shirts would be kind of an exclusive thing, with very short availabilities. It could even become a kind of community thing, people could submit ideas and if it gets made, they get a free shirt or something. This would provide better prices to the community for shirts for sure, closer to what woot can charge, as opposed to something like spreadshirt. Its the difference between 12-15$ for a shirt or 25$ for a shirt to the consumer. Periodic reprints might be possible of particularly popular designs.

However, I don't REALLY have time to do multiple amazing designs every month to have people vote on. I can be witty, I can do good artwork (cute or simply badass), I can do stylized, it's really more knowing what people want that's the problem. Direction is important. If I do a bunch of designs it would probably take months. It might be something that happens once or twice a year.

The trinket/charm/keychain/button route is something I'm already sort of doing. I've got buttons and zipper pulls (they are like.. buttons on a clip). i've had a lot of success with my buttons (i've got over 50 some odd designs I sell at conventions although none are shifters specific), and I've been playing with the idea of ordering charms for necklaces or keychains. Also looking at things like stickers, figures (like 3d models), cellphone charms, possibly plush/sewn stuff, but REALLY not sure on that yet. All this stuff costs money to get stock, and I just don't have that much to experiment with out of hand. I have to be careful, but that's why I keep asking. What do people want?

With the limited cash most people have, I've found that cheaper items are better. People at conventions are more likely to buy something under 20$, and wayyy more likely if its $10 or under. Above that, people want some serious bang for their buck.
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Re: T-shirts? Seriously?

Postby Jae87 on Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:34 pm

You've mentioned the poll twice and I only just now found the thing. Maybe I'm blind, or maybe it needs to be pointed out and promoted in your update blog, because that would definitely give you more accurate results. There are 132 votes, but people can choose more than one option and I don't know when you posted the thing, so if more people saw it it might be in the thousands. From those results, you can only guarantee that the highest number of votes is the amount of people who have voted (meaning, no less than 108 people have voted... though some have chosen more than one option). You should post an un-advertized poll to see how many people are actually aware of and using the poll- have that literally be the question- and have only one option be the answer "Me!". After that control test, begin your little promotions via the blog.

I like the idea of your own little shirt derby, but don't worry too much about detailed samples for people to vote on if that will take too much time- especially if they're just going to get scrapped. Just make a few basic mockups that get the idea across, and show where they'd be printed on the shirt. Give the votes a lineup of the options and let them vote based on concept art. You can do an elimination thing if you want, and even do something like your Wallpaper Wars from before where people pay $1 to vote (towards the end). As the options are narrowed down, you could work on more detailed pieces for the ones that seem to be winning, then reveal the final versions for the final round of voting or something. Make a game out of it and people will become much more interested.

I know you sell your buttons and stuff at cons, but they're not for sale on the website (as far as I can see). You should consider putting them up for people who live too far from the cons you go to, possibly in 2-, 4-, and 6-packs or something so that it's worth your effort.
--Jae


First, click this link to give me Shifter-Coins.

Then, feel free to read the first two chapters of my book, Blood Moon: The Blue Vampire, by clicking here.
You can also visit the grave of my old webcomic, Linnyanie, or the wasteland of my DeviantArt page.
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Re: T-shirts? Seriously?

Postby Anthius on Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:30 am

Time to add in my own two cents. For webcomics and everything else shirts are probably thing things I have purchased online the most have been t-shirts. That being said. I don't purchase things online a lot and I usually only do it when I'm buying several things at once or doing a group order for several people to save on shipping. Quite often with my friends I'll let them know if I plan on doing an order through think geek, or whatever else and end up doing a fairly large order. There are rare times I'll make smaller orders just for myself but it doesn't happen often and usually then it's still buying several things.

I'm not sure if this helps you at all, and unfortunately I don't have much for ideas on what to carry in the store. But in my opinion the more variety you can add the better, because if I'm going to buy one thing, there's a higher chance I'll pick up something else on the store I may not have purchased on it's own.

Edit: Thinking of it this is likely why shirts are fairly high on the poll, I think I lot of them would order one while they were ordering something else, since your poll allows multiple choices. Myself I'd just check off everything on that poll XD
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