We’re well on our way through autumn and it’s time for sellers to start thinking about holiday sales! You should begin “holidizing” your top-selling designs and create “ugly Christmas sweaters” for shoppers to wear. The holidays also present a good time to explore new buyer markets and niches.
Ugly sweaters are always a popular design theme this time of year, and with the launch of Teespring’s Boosted Network, we expect holiday-themed designs to sell even more in the next few months.
Want free “ugly sweater” design templates to help you get started?
Finding holiday design inspiration
Alison Scott created one of the top selling “ugly sweater” designs during the 2016 holiday season. Check out some of her tips for finding holiday design inspiration and more in the content below.
Alison’s 3 approaches to finding new holiday design themes
First, adapting my top selling designs and my pet niches for holidays. If people will buy pigeon-fancying shirts, they’ll buy pigeon-fancying Christmas shirts, Halloween shirts, and so on.
Second, looking at the trending holiday designs and considering whether they can be adapted to my niches, or whether a similar design concept will work in one of my niches.
Third, spotting other niches that do have shirts, but don’t have good holiday shirts, and making shirts for them. As I always say, there are plenty of niches, and they’re not all saturated! I tend to refer to Merch Informer and Facebook ad targeting options when I’m looking for new niche ideas.
When it comes to adapting current niches for the holidays…
Don’t over-complicate it; it’s a Christmas sweater, not a book. Think about what you’d want to be wearing to a party if you were in that niche. People like puns and bad jokes on their holiday shirts (it may wear off, but it hasn’t yet) so think about puns that work in your niches.
Pay attention to comments on your ads and posts, and follow through. Someone asked for a funny variant of one of my shirts for a different niche, a couple of his mates said they’d buy it too, so I made it. A photo of that shirt went viral on Christmas eve (a bit late) and I sold 20 of them in January! It’s a UK regional shirt, but I’ve sold some to people in the US too. I’m expecting to advertise that shirt for this year’s holiday season and sell quite a few. And then, after seeing that, another customer asked for a generic version of the design that would work anywhere, not just in that region, and I’ve sold a few of that version too.
Know your niche. Non-English-speaking copycats can’t effectively copy a shirt if they don’t know who’s interested in it – they might sell the odd copy organically, but they won’t be able to market it. I do get pixel-by-pixel copies of my top selling designs removed through the IP Claim form.
And don’t just sell sweatshirts! Hoodies, long sleeve tees and regular tees all sell well with these designs.
Example of adapting the dachshund niche for the holidays
Do you test multiple holiday designs within one niche?
I try to make sure that all my designs are unique and clever, but given that, I’ll launch as many different designs as I think of. I also watch what people ask for. My best-selling 2017 shirt was a riff on the “Nevertheless, She Persisted” idea. My original shirt didn’t have a comma in it, but I amended it to add the comma after I got customer requests. Now both versions sell, and I’m going to holidize it as well.
Creating new designs
I mostly design in Adobe Illustrator. I use Photoshop to add distressed effects to shirt designs and to quickly adapt a lot of designs to a new size template.
I often use third-party images and vectors as part of my design; normally these are from sites where commercial use is allowed but you have to significantly modify the design. You have to watch the licenses!
I also use external designers sometimes. Normally that’s because someone has commissioned a shirt and I think that a third party designer will be able to do a better job on that design than I could. That often means I lose a little money on that one order, but so far, whenever I’ve done this I’ve sold more shirts over time so it’s ended up profitable.
For Christmas 2017 I’ve got a template together so that I can design my shirt as a pixel drawing and Photoshop will automatically turn it into ‘stitches’.
Having said that, I’m not sure that stitches actually help market ugly sweater designs because they make the preview image look slightly faded. You can also fit a lot more design onto your shirt if you don’t make it work in stitches. But I love the stitched effect and the way it looks on the actual sweatshirt; I think people appreciate that you could theoretically knit a sweater that looks just like my design.
I also try to ‘fill up’ the campaigns with a variety of product types for my most popular designs; so apart from a Christmas sweatshirt, I’ll add matching long sleeve shirts, pillows, and t-shirts too. Some designs are easy to adapt to the new products and some need to be tweaked.
Advertising during the holidays
I didn’t create holiday-themed ads during the 2016 holiday season. However, this year I plan to use selfies that people took in 2016 wearing my products at their Christmas party or with their Christmas tree in the background! Customer selfies are some of the best ad images in my opinion.
Apart from Facebook, I’m experimenting with Reddit ads. Reddit ought to be ideal for my stuff and it’s super cheap to advertise there, but in practice, it doesn’t quite work. You often get abuse on ad posts, and unlike on Facebook, you can’t hide that negative feedback.
One of my niches has a Twitter account and posts shirt designs there and that sometimes generates sales. It’s really useful for organic promotion and super-short-term trending shirts; where a politician or a comedian has said something hilarious and you want to get it straight on a shirt and into the hands of the people who are tweeting about it.
Alison Scott is a full-time seller, Teespring Ambassador, and an award-winning editor. You can find more of Alison’s tips on successful selling with Teespring in the Teespring Blog as well as her own website.