One of the best ways to market your t-shirt and apparel brands online is to capture and cultivate your target audience. This can be achieved using social media profiles, blogs, websites and even events, so long are seamlessly matched to your target audience and brand image.
No matter how great your designs and branding is, without a decent audience to market them to your going to struggle to gain traction. So, the faster you can get your designs in front of a large group of people, the better.
Yet all of these methods, including social media, will take a significant investment of time and/or money before you see good results. While this is the wisest long-term strategy for scaling your brand, how can you trigger a surge of traffic and sales to keep your pockets flush in the meantime?
You may consider the paid advertising route through social networks such as Facebook or Instagram. If you know what you’re doing it’s a great way to immediately turn on a stream of hungry buyers. But for those who aren’t, it is still going to take both time and money to get your bearings.
Now, since we are hungry for more immediate returns, the next best to having your own audience is borrowing someone else’s! Once you start looking, you’ll notice there’s plenty others building their audiences who may have a similar demographic to you. The more closely they resemble your target audience and the stronger their buyer intent, the more profitable it will be for you to approach the owners.
While there’s a whole variety of platforms and places this can be done, we are going to focus on leveraging tee shirt and apparel blogs. These websites are often buzzing with potential customers, all looking to catch a glimpse of emerging brands. But not only will you attract potential buyers in the short-term, you’ll reap long-term SEO benefits from mentions and links from a large reputable website.
Now your initial reaction may be to bombard a bunch of different blogs with a soul-less email template asking to be featured. But if you don’t want to be ignored, you need to understand there’s a right way and a wrong way to solicit these invaluable blog owners. We’ve compiled a bunch of tips to provide you with the best chances of scoring a juicy t-shirt review blog post!
1. Get Creative- Put Your Best Foot Forward
Actions always speak louder than words. And nowhere is this truer than in the fashion and style industry we reside in. So it goes without saying, you need to let your t-shirt designs do most of the talking.
To stand a good chance of being picked by a popular t-shirt or apparel blogger, your going to need to break in with unique and one-of-a-kind designs. If you start touting boring, dime-a-dozen designs that look just like everyone else’s, why would they offer you a spot on their blog? After all, they want to offer their audience fresh and interesting content to grow themselves!
So let your creativity do all the talking, whether with fun, witty, intelligent designs or something a little more artistic. The more creative the better, but like anything, they need to still be within the confines of sellable designs. After all, tee shirt designs are one part art and one part business, and bloggers are sticklers for having both. While there may be a niche blog that features the weirdest and most out there designs available, most are going to a little more mainstream. Your design has to be unique, yet accessible. Like with any piece of creative work, if it’s too out there, no one will get it.
Also remember, not all of your designs need to be creative masterpieces to secure a spot on a blog. You may only need 2-5 signature pieces or a specific line to really captivate the blog owners and their readers.
2. Question Yourself- Would You Feature You?
Now you need to take an objective look at what you’re offering. If the blog is wildly popular, it’s because they rely on the best designs they can find to feature. These aren’t just good shirts; these are ones that they would purchase themselves. While this barrier to entry may seem intimidating, that’s a sure-sign of a more rewarding experience.
So what makes you different? After all, if they’re a bigger blog, they’re probably bombarded with fellow tee shirt designers, and their feed is filled to the brim with designs every day. Yours will have to sit proud in a sea of designs, otherwise, you better believe that they’re going to pass. Try to see if you can match your designs with the particular themes they seem to focus on.
It’s far too easy to become enamored by our own designs. It’s much harder to recognize when a design just isn’t quite what their blog would be looking for. It may be a hard pill to swallow, but if you can determine for yourself whether or not your design is guest post worthy or not, you can keep from wasting your time and theirs. But don’t get too bummed out, just start looking at different blogs that are more suited.
3. Don’t Be a Stranger- Build Familiarity
Compare the feeling when a stranger rings your doorbell compared to an acquaintance? In the same vein, stone-cold emailing is starting from a disadvantage.
You should already be (or at least appear to be) a subscriber of theirs by demonstrating a familiarity with their blog. Better yet, been seen as active by liking posts, offering relevant comments, and most importantly, interacting in a positive, constructive way.
If it’s clear you aren’t signed or even vaguely aware of what they are all about , do you really expect them to go out of their way to scratch your back? Why not like their Facebook page, read some of their emails/posts and show them that you really support them and what they do.
The great thing about blogs is they’re great for creating partnerships and communities. So why not create a unique offer for them, either with a free shirt, a discount code, or even offering to do a free interview. By building a relationship first, you’re less likely to come off as trying to take advantage of their readership base and look like more of a professional. While spamming every website you can find online, may result in some low-quality leads, it’s better to focus on quality. Building up a relationship with the best ones is going to be far more lucrative!
4. Provide Value- Mutually Beneficial Arrangements
Blogs come in all different shapes and sizes. Some bloggers are in it for the for the passion and treat it as a hobby, whereas others it’s a form of income. Smaller blogs may be hungry for content for growth, bigger ones can afford to be more choosy.
You’ll feel out the blog for their purpose, audience, monetization and size. With a good understanding of their needs and focus, you'll be able to work out feature terms to suit them. For instance, a small blog may be happy to write and publish a dedicated review for a free t-shirt or two, whereas larger blogs may also require monetary compensation.
A free shirt certainly isn’t going to be an automatic “yes” in most cases. With more popular blogs space is limited and in demand by those wanting exposure to their huge audiences. You’ll need to carefully consider the value of your featured t-shirt article or review while negotiating deals to secure a mutually beneficial partnership.
5. Showcase Your Brand- Don't Post Just Products
Influential bloggers understand the value of linking their followers to your shop and they won’t plug you without good reason. Bloggers and readers are hungry for information and entertainment. The best way to reach them is to enthrall them with a story; your brand story.
They are not merely an advertisement board on which to display products, they wish to really engage with their readers. Facilitate this by providing an interesting brand story. It should contain who you are, your influences and why you do what you do. Right now, your vision and story are your strongest assets. If you can create a strong connection with their audience, you more likely to score a spot plus you’ll draw plenty of traffic your way.
If you're lacking inspiration, research big name or interesting brands you’ve come across that stuck in your mind. It’s likely they had a captivating story behind their brand or products that created a deep connection it’s readers.
6. Don’t Let Rejections Get You Down
You’re going to receive radio silence, and even “no” at times. But if they feel you aren’t the right designer for their blog, you’ve got to respect that decision and perhaps, they are right. But, if I told you that you would go through 5 rejects before scoring an awesome blog feature, you would plow through right?
Rejection is especially hard when it comes from a place of creativity. It can be easy to equate a “no” with “it sucks”, and your knee-jerk reaction is a bruised ego. But it’s important to keep a level head. As badly as you may want to fire back at them, just thank them and move on. And remember, “no” right now is not a “never”. It may be worth staying in contact and active on their radar. If you can show them how you’ve grown and offer value at a later date, they will be more likely to take you up!
While these tips don’t guarantee that you’ll get your t-shirts featured or reviewed on an awesome blog, they will increase your chances ten-fold. In the meantime, continue to hone your designs and your brand image and you’ll eventually land yourself a decent spot! Need some decent blogs to get you going? Check out the 10 most influential t-shirt blogs.