Three-brains Spreadshirt shop up and running

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Our first e-commerce platform for three brains launched today. That’s a very simple statement but there’s a lot of things had to happen for us to be able to say that. We’d like to share a few of those things that got us to our Spreadshirt shop going live. In particular, there are three things in that sentence that require unpicking. Firstly, the word “first”. Then the words “e-commerce platform”. And finally “launched”

There are quite a few learnings that got us to this point we felt were worth sharing. We’re not developers or IT professionals, but we have relatively good knowledge for being non-technical. And we are exceptionally good at finding our way around the web to find the answers we need.

“First”

As one of the “brains” on this site relates to e-commerce, we plan to add more e-commerce functionality and content. Our Spreadshirt shop is only our first entry into selling online as three-brains.

We wanted to follow the principles outlined in our article on Setting up an online store and show a live example. We’ve started with Print On Demand, but as you can read more on in our Getting Started with Online Selling section, there are multiple options in e-commerce including drop shipping and working with retailers. We plan to cover these other channels in the New Year. 

We picked Print on Demand for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we needed something to sell. As we were able to apply some of the lessons from our marketing and creative articles, creating merchandise designs was a relatively simple place to start.

Concept designs

Our designs are based on some market research where we used Google Trends and Google Ads keywords a little like in our article on Research on your own . We are testing two concepts in our first designs. 

One concept relates to introverts. We know there’s a decent amount of media coverage on introverts versus extroverts in the past few years, and when we looked at what other T-shirt designs for Introverts were available, there were a few we liked (the INFP T-shirt which ranks #1 on Spreadshirt is pretty cool) but a lot of the designs seemed same and didn’t have the depth of thinking that we thought introverts would like.

With the upcoming Christmas holidays and knowing what an introverts ideal Christmas looks like, that’s when we had the idea of a “Christmas Day in the life of an introvert” design. We’ll cover some of the creativity and design thinking behind that T-shirt in another post. 

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 actual much simpler to create.

Checking trademark and copyright

But we did go through several iterations because of the potential infringement on copyright and trademarks. Here’s a few of the articles we read around this topic which are quite important to know when it comes to what to design. Nobody wants to get sued.

What was clear was we couldn’t use the name of any movie. That would clearly be a copyright infringement. We thought we’d be clever and use some of the dialogue from a movie. But then again, this is quite a legal grey area since someone else created the dialogue and arguably owns the copyright so we decided not go that way either. 

The only way we could be sure was to create something original that was more in the parody area. And also a design that wasn’t specific to any one movie or TV show. So, that’s why we took the approach of creating the TV screen. And on the screen generic descriptions of the types of typical scenes you might find in multiple movies or TV shows at Christmas. Not any specific movie or dialogue. Individuals may well think of one specific movie or TV show but there are multiple 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 that doesn’t infringe on any copyright.

“E-commerce platform” – Spreadshirt shop

We reviewed the options that were available on Print on Demand, and settled on Spreadshirt as our first entry here. The Spreadshirt shop documentation was pretty good, and they had a lot of positive user reviews. 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. Setting up the look of the shop didn’t have as many options as say setting up your own Shopify or Woo Commerce shop, but there was a decent amount of flexibility. For something that is essentially free to use, we won’t complain too much. 

A couple of learnings we’d pick up for next time is to remember there are a tremendous amount of colour options for T-shirts in the Spreadshirt shop. We’d take a bit more care on the colours we’d use in our design. 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 a little 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. The recommendations are to 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 does not seem set up for API links. 

There is 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. How to do that is detailed in this post 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 Spreadshirt 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.

However, we still have a lot to do on the digital marketing side. Next week, we’ll be working on the advertising for the shop. 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.

Watch this space for more updates.

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