Three-brains Spreadshirt shop launch – it’s up and running!

Screengrab of the Three-Brains Spreadshirt shop home page showing design topics for T-shirt designs

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Snapshot : We just launched our first online shop for Three-Brains. So, we want to share what’s going though our brains now we can start to sell online. We’ll share the steps we followed to launch the Three-Brains Spreadshirt Shop. For example, learn how we came up with our first designs and the technicalities of setting the shop up. And we’ll close with what’s in our heads about what to do next. 

Our first e-commerce platform for Three-Brains launched today. That might not sound like big news. But it is for us.

Because we had to do a whole bunch of things for the  Three-Brains Spreadshirt shop to launch

And to mark the launch, we want to share some of those things, so anyone else thinking about setting up an online store, can follow the steps we took. 

To do that, we’ll go back over a couple of things in that opening sentence. 

Screengrab of the Three-Brains Spreadshirt shop home page showing design topics for T-shirt designs

Firstly, the word “first”. Then “e-commerce platform”. And finally “launched”

“First” online store launch

As one of the “brains”of our Three-Brains deals with e-commerce skills, we want to make sure we have content and experiences where we can put those skills into practice. Setting up our Three-Brains Spreadshirt shop is only our first entry into selling online as three-brains. We believe there’s much more functionality and content we can add in the future. 

The set-up and launch of the store followed the principles of our setting up an online store article. The shop acts as a live working case study for us.

We’ve started with Print On Demand. But as per our how to start selling online article, there are many more e-Commerce channels including marketplaces, dropshipping and working with online retailers. 

All of which we plan to look at in the future. 

Print On Demand – fast and cheap

We picked Print on Demand because it’s a relatively fast and cheap to start selling online. The infrastructure to sell is set up for you, and you only have to focus on your designs

We still had to apply many of our marketing and creative skills though.

For example, we’d to carry out market research to define who the designs were for. We’d to think about how designs would fit our brand identity. And of course, we’d to use our graphic design tools skills,  especially Adobe Illustrator to actually produce the designs.  

Online T-shirt Store Concept designs

We had an initial idea generation session around what we could do, and then used secondary market research to refine the ideas. 

We used Google Trends and Google Ads keywords to see what was popular around the themes we came up with for our designs.  

The first concept related to introverts.

We’ve seen a lot of social media coverage on introverts versus extroverts in the past few years.

Woman wearing a green T-shirt with The Introverts Guide to Christmas Day, with 16 different activities from 6am to 9pm

The secondary research confirmed people still search on introversion. But when we looked at what other T-shirt designs for Introverts were around, though some were OK (eg. this INFP T-shirt), most were a bit lame. 

They seemed same-y and  didn’t have the depth of thinking that we thought introverts would like.

With Christmas coming up and knowing what an introvert’s ideal Christmas looks like, that’s when our creative thinking kicked in. 

We had this idea of am ideal “Christmas Day in the life of an introvert” design. Check out our design notes for more on the background to the idea. 

And of course, where there are introverts, there are also extroverts. So, we also took an ideal Christmas day template, and applied that to how an extrovert might see it. 

Man wearing a T-shirt saying the Extroverts Guide to Christmas Day with 16 different extovert activities from 6am to 9pm

Christmas movies T-shirt concept

Our second concept is also Christmas related and has to do with the fact that people always choose from the same limited selection of movies at Christmas time.

This idea from a creative point of view was actually much simpler to develop.

The shapes are simpler, there are less items and it’s mainly a text driven design. 

We don’t think it looks quite right yet. Maybe there’s too much text and it’s not easy to read what it actually says on the T-shirt from a distance. 

But given we are just starting out on our T-shirt designs, it doesn’t look too bad.

And it gives us something to work on to see if the idea will appeal to Christmas online shoppers.  

Man wearing a blue T-shirt that says Christmas Day decisions and shows a TV with 4 options - baddie falls from skyscraper, creepy guy on doorstep saying nothing, family flee nazis while singing, grown man overacts but nicely

Check trademark and copyright

We went through several iterations on the movie design. To be honest, we were worried about risks on copyright and trademarks. We wanted to be sure we weren’t infringing as the last thing we wanted were any legal issues. . 

Here’s a few of the articles we read around this topic. It’s important to know what’s legal when it comes to what to design. Nobody wants to get sued.

Small metal statue of lady of justice holding scales

It was clear we couldn’t use the actual name of any movie. That would clearly be a copyright infringement. So, next, we thought we’d be clever and use some of the dialogue from a movie.

But a bit more research showed this to be a legal grey area. Someone else created the dialogue so arguably owns the copyright. We decided to go a different way. 

Be original and stay safe legally

The safest legal route for this design idea was to create something more original and that was more in the parody area. And also a design that wasn’t specific to a single movie or TV show. Tropes about movie genres are not copyright-able, so that’s the route we took. 

That led us to create the TV screen. And on the screen, generic descriptions of  tropes you might find in many movies or TV shows at Christmas.

Not any specific movie or dialogue.

They may suggest a specific movie or TV show to you, but there are many movies or shows they could be. In the same way, we could have chosen “Car Chase” or “Buddy Movie” or “Cartoon Animals” as our choices. 

We believe we’ve created something unique in this design with no copyright issues.

“E-commerce platform” - Three-Brains Spreadshirt shop

We reviewed the available  Print on Demand options, and settled on Spreadshirt as the best place to start to set up our online shop. 

The Spreadshirt shop documentation was very clear. They had a lot of positive user reviews.

It seems like they also have facilities in Australia which was a positive for us.

Setting up the account was easy. Once we had our designs, they were simple to upload.

Spreadshirt back end - what the shop management page looks like

Setting up the look of the shop didn’t have as many options as say setting up your own Shopify or Woo Commerce shop. (See our guide to online store websites for more on these). But there was still a good level of flexibility in being able to customise the style of the store.

For something that’s free to use, we won’t complain too much. 

Take care on your colour choices

A couple of learnings for next time is to remember there are a huge amount of colour options for T-shirts in the Spreadshirt shop.

We’d take more care on the colours we use in our designs.

We ended up having to do two different versions of each design, one with light fonts which work better on dark colour T-shirts. And one with dark fonts which work better with light colour T-shirts.

And because we’d added some reds and greens to add a bit of Christmas flavour, some of the red and green T-shirts we couldn’t use as the text was illegible.

Spreadshirt does let you choose which colours are available by T-shirt, though we found the system fiddly.

You need to apply the changes by each product and then apply all your changes across the range. We had a couple of times we forgot the second step and had to re-do all the colour choices. 

A few thoughts on the technical side

Embedding the site into our WordPress site took a little bit of research to get right.

It recommended we use a WordPress plug-in called WP-Spreadplugin and then API link to Spreadshirt.

We tried this, but eventually worked out to access the API key, you need either an American or European spreadshirt site.

The Australian Spreadshirt site isn’t set up to handle API links. Mildly annoying. 

Close up on person writing (typing) on a MacBook

However, there’s a useful automatically generated Javascript code you can copy from the Spreadshirt shop set-up and paste it into your WordPress page. This was how we eventually got the page to embed.

We found out how to do that by looking at this article on WP Beginner, helpfully titled How to Easily Create a T-Shirt Shop in WordPress.

However, not so easy when you realise that you can’t paste Javascript code directly into a WordPress page.

You need to be able to add in a custom field. This wasn’t a default on our WordPress site. It wasn’t until we found this wonderful additional article on WP Beginnner under Option 3 using the Code Embed plug-in that we got the link up and running.

“Launched” 

We say, launched, but to be honest, the Spreadshirt version of this site we pushed live two days ago.

We spent yesterday refining the designs and the look of the Three-Brains Spreadshirt shop site.

It was only today that we set the link up to the Three-Brains site and we can say the shop is now officially live and ready to sell.

However, we’ve still much to do to actually start selling.  Next week for example, we’ll be working on the advertising message for the shop.

Inside a concept hall, lots of confetti flying in air, with audience reaching out their hands towards it

Then, we’ll focus on digital media. Setting it up to be searched properly. Some paid search. Some social media posting.

The “launch” of an e-commerce site is only ever the first step in the journey. The Three-Brains Spreadshirt Shop launch was our first step on that journey.

Conclusion – Three-Brains Spreadshirt Shop Launch

That’s about all for this week.

We know our shop’s not perfect, but you have to start somewhere. Having an online shop is better than not having an online shop, and though we’ve almost certainly made some marketing mistakes along the way, we know we can only get better. 

Watch this space for more updates. Check out the shop and see what you think. Or contact us, if you’d like some help to set up your own Spreadshirt shop. 

Photo credit 

Legal scales : Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

Person typing on a Macbook : Photo by Thomas Lefebvre on Unsplash

Confetti : Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

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