Service Review: TeeSpring

Amanda looking fabulous in her Pure Geekery Shirt.

Amanda looking fabulous in her Pure Geekery Shirt.

Claire and I have been working on finding ways to start getting Pure Geekery to at least pay for itself. We’re running ads, have opened an Amazon store, and a Spreadshirt shop. But our first try was to use a service called TeeSpring to fundraise for our upcoming Fandom Fest trip.

Why Not Order In Bulk?

This was the first question I was asked by a handful of people. It’d be “you know company XYZ has really cheap shirts you can order.” Which is true. And if Pure Geekery was bigger we’d totally do that. But we’re tiny. It’d be hard to order enough shirts to get a bulk discount. Plus we’d have to guess what sizes you guys wanted. And I’d have to store them. And mail them. In other words, too much work for little reward.

Why TeeSpring Then?

The reason we went with TeeSpring was twofold. One, we were able to keep the cost down for all of you. Two, even with the lower price we were able to make more money per shirt. It was a win-win.  The reason we could do this is the business model of TeeSpring. They work similar to Kickstarter. You have to meet a minimum before the shirts will print. You can choose anywhere between 5 and 21 days to sell your shirt (we went with 21) and you set your own minimum.  When you hit the minimum your shirts are guaranteed to print. If you don’t hit the minimum your shirts don’t print.

What Went Wrong?

This Kickstarter-eque model posed a few problems for us. Some were problems we brought on ourselves, and some were places the service could improve.

Our Issues

The biggest problem we brought on ourselves. Although we set our minimums low, we didn’t set the women’s minimum low enough. We set the men’s minimum to ten, which is the absolute minimum. We had no problems selling those. We set the women’s minimum a little higher at fifteen, figuring our teammates would buy them no sweat.  Setting the minimum higher meant we could make a little more money without changing the price. But we misjudged our market. We struggled to meet the minimum for the women’s shirts, and without family jumping in would have never made it.

TeeSpring’s Issues

There are a few things though that tee-spring could do to make this whole process easier however. One is to allow men’s and women’s shirts for the same campaign. You can have one style per campaign. Period. This also meant if you wanted a men’s and a women’s you had to pay shipping twice. I understand with their model you have to sell X shirts of a same style. But maybe “linked” campaigns would help.

The sizes at TeeSpring also left something to be desired.  They didn’t go into plus sizes (although that may be the style of shirt I choose as well).

You can’t add to your order at TeeSpring. I went to add orders for my friends (to offset shipping costs) and I couldn’t. I had to contact TeeSpring to get shipping refunded. Not fun.

Lastly, there’s no marketplace like feature. People can’t go to TeeSpring and search “Geek” and find our shirts like they can with our SpreadShirt shop. I’d like to see more of a self-promotion tool.

What Went Well?

The shirts themselves are fantastic. The printing is high quality, and the fit is amazing. We got them pretty soon after the campaign ended. Setup of shirts was also easy. And Like I said, we made way more money per shirt than we would through another service.

Would I Do It Again?

No. It’s too much stress. I was always monitoring the status of the shirts. Hoping they’d hit the tipping point that day. Granted, the stress was brought on myself by setting my minimum too high, but I just don’t want to deal with it again.

If you choose to go this route, my advice would be to show a sample to your fans and take a poll. Would you buy this? And would you want a men’s or women’s cut. I’d take your responses , cut the number in half, and set your minimum to that.

Overall TeeSpring is a good service, but wasn’t a good service for us. It’s probably more suited for bigger clients.

3 / 5 stars     
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