How to Hype a T-Shirt Design on the Web

by . December 12th, 2011

Creating a signal in the midst of all the noise in the t-shirt industry is not an easy thing to do. It is highly competitive, very fragmented, and saturated with varying styles and tastes. Yet everywhere we turn, we are practically bombarded with messages about the need to build hype to get exposure. Unfortunately, you can’t just create the artwork and watch the promotion build itself. In this article we’ll look at some key strategies that t-shirt designers can use to build hype on the internet for their t-shirt design.


Social Like Never Before


The first major step in hyping your design is blowing it up on the social channels. You have different sets of friends on different social networks that you can pitch the design to. This obviously includes Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and any other design related forums on the web. You want to begin a conversation about the design’s inspiration, its intentions, and what you plan to achieve with it as a finished product. This information creates a story that people can get behind and follow. Surprisingly, the first step begins long before the design is finalized.


Works In Progress


Twitter WIP Post


One very important concept in the marketing push that is often overlooked, is to begin promoting your design while it is still just a work in progress. Start talking about it early and often to build the buzz! Ideally you’ll want your friends and followers anticipating its release, not merely reacting after it comes out. Take note of your supporters that are helping to foster the conversation and make sure those are the first to be notified of the final result.


Your Own Internet Real Estate


Twitter WIP Post


If you’re like many designers, you probably have your own website or blog as well. Naturally you’ll want to post your latest design as it progresses. Showing your work as it matures draws people in like a story….they want to see the evolution and what comes next. Again go ahead and make sure to leave requests for Facebook likes and Twitter retweets, etc. Having the necessary links and social buttons on your site will make it much easier for your visitors to oblige you and spread the signal.


Check Your Ego At The Login


The hardest part about self-promotion is leaving the ego and sensitivity behind. Some people view this process as throwing yourself out there to the wolves. This is hardly the case. You should find the whole process more rewarding than it is condemning. Be confident in your design but not cocky. You should want to receive constructive criticism and suggestions because it always helps to have other sets of eyeballs for opinions. Be persistent but not overbearing. You’ll want to give your design a fair chance by pushing it to the masses but you don’t want to shove it down their throat. Find a happy medium for how often you should mention your design in the social stream.


Submit for Critiques


Twitter WIP Post


Everybody loves to be a critic. Most people won’t even comment unless they can flex their “critical” muscles and show you just how much they know (or don’t for that matter). There are actually sites that encourage you to submit your artwork for viewing, critiquing or selling. Such sites include:



These sites make it easy to promote your shirts because they are targeted to like-minded creatives who are often very eager to make purchases or provide feedback.


Scratch Their Back, They’ll Scratch Yours


Another very important hype building strategy is to reach out to t-shirt bloggers. The t-shirt blogging community is huge and having your design picked up and shared by the t-shirt blogging world is a great way to get thousands of viewers looking at your design as well as building credibility and respect for your design and brand since most of these bloggers are trusted and respected by their readers. So how do you get the t-shirt bloggers to post announcements of your releases and/or images of the designs? Very often you can accomplish this simply by emailing them or contacting them through their contact forms. After all most t-shirt bloggers are constantly on the look out for real event t-shirt news to write about.


A short list of t shirt bloggers that are great for helping you launch your work are:


However, the best strategy for reaching out to the t-shirt bloggers is to actually develop a relationship with them. Subscribe to their blogs. Visit their site regularly and comment on posts that you find interesting and engaging. Let them get to know you and see that you have something to give back to them and their readers. Then when you want to announce your latest release it will be much more warmly received. If it’s feasible for you, consider offering a discount to their readers.


Design, Rinse, Repeat


The internet is a huge place and it’s easy for your design to slip through the cracks and never be seen; however, the internet’s size can also work to your advantage. It provides you the platform to build up hype and momentum and reach out to potential buyers who would otherwise never have known you even existed. Create a system that works best for you and continually try to improve upon that process. If the old adage is true – any publicity is good publicity – then your design will be a success in no time!


Blake Poutra

About the Author

Blake runs ops at You Design It, a custom t shirt printing company. He enjoys designing t-shirts on the side and doing web development work. You can follow him on Twitter as @youdesignit.