Teemill Updates

Custom Domain on Teemill, the Easy Way

Teemill comes with a free subdomain and web hosting, meaning that you can build a store at [anydomainyoulike].teemill.co.uk. Some folks prefer to have a simpler, neater domain for their marketing and add brand strength. It’s easy to do.

Once you’ve build a Teemill store, there are many different ways to get your own domain name. The fastest, easiest way is the redirect or 301. This means that you can buy any domain you like (for example, MyRadBrand.co.uk) and when a user types this into their address bar, they will be magically transported to my Teemill store at myradbrand.teemill.co.uk without noticing.

301 redirects are a free service with most domain providers and take minutes to set up – they give you the best value for money if you’d like to change your Teemill URL to one that is simple and easy to remember.

Combined with custom packaging and the advanced theme features available in Teemill Pro, it’s an effective way to disguise the fact that your brand runs on Teemill at all.

You can run Teemill entirely on a domain without a redirect, however it requires some dedicated hosting and SSL packages that will cost many hundreds of pounds to set up and run, and to be honest, a 301 works just great these days where URL’s aren’t even fully visible in mobile screens: We tested the conversion rates of a Teemill URL, a 301 redirect and a full SSL. There was no difference at all in over a year’s data.

How to set up a custom domain redirect

Firstly, you need to buy a domain. We recommend GoDaddy for affordable prices and easy domain configuration. Search for a domain and purchase it.

Then follow this up-to-date tutorial on how to configure your redirect from inside the GoDaddy control panel. Make sure to choose ‘Forward only’ rather than ‘Forward with masking’ when it asks what type of forwarding you would like, as masking is not compatible with Teemill.

Forwarding with masking, or using an Iframe to run your Teemill store, is not possible. If we allowed this, it would invalidate the security measures we put in place to keep your cart secure. A 301 forward is faster and secure.

Remember to point it to your Teemill store web address. Sometimes, redirects take up to 24 hours to process. You can check in on the status after you’ve saved the changes by simply typing in your domain in any browser. If it loads your Teemill store, you’ve done it!

 

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Controversial Designs and our Values

Teemill is a platform, not one big shop. Anyone can potentially upload a design to Teemill, build their own store, sell their designs to get printed. It raises some interesting questions… Do we need some rules?

Firstly, there’s the obvious: In order to upload a custom design or create a product, the user will have both agreed to the custom product terms, store operator terms and confirmed they have obtained all relevant licenses (i.e. copyright and trademark permissions) to right to use, sell and reproduce the artwork.

So that’s clear: Designs on Teemill must be original artworks. But this blog is about something else – the more subjective idea of what is “ok” or “acceptable” to sell on Teemill. It’s a really interesting question, and it’s the first time we’ve had to think hard about this. After all, every time we’ve created a product in the past, we’re responsible for it and know the intent and values behind it. Teemill is different, because we don’t create any of the designs. We created the platform that allows people to upload and sell these designs. And it unlocks loads of powerful results.

Teemill is for the new brand that needs a platform to get started. For the talented designer to make creativity pay. Or the struggling charity that needs revenue to keep going. Maybe the band who want a better way to do merch in the 21st century.

That’s a nice idea. But it’s on the internet, we know what can happen: Trolling, incitement, extreme opinions. We want to build a platform that shares the values of the business we started out as, Rapanui. And so we got everyone at the Rapanui factory together to debate this. This whole blog is a result of that debate.

Quality

The first word that came up and everyone instantly agreed upon was quality. We want Teemill to be a quality platform with good products and designs. That means we might need to have an active role in maintaining quality. We also felt we don’t want Teemill to be about exclusivity – we want Teemill to be accessible to anyone, but the product and presentation has to be of a high quality.

Freedom of Expression

We then talked about opinion. Some of us are atheists and some of us are religious. Some gay, some straight. Some like guns. Some don’t. Some love football, some like photography. Our own beliefs and opinions shouldn’t dictate what people can and cannot design on Teemill. We all agreed that even if we don’t agree with a message or like a design, freedom of expression is important.

Some designs or opinions might be considered unpalatable or in bad taste, annoying or even offensive. It’s not always easy to know when: If you look hard enough, you might find an individual somewhere that’s offended, no matter what you do or say. For us, it becomes different at the point where a design’s made with the intention to upset people or cause offence.

The Teemill platform is a place that enables freedom of expression, even if your opinion of belief isn’t universally popular. At the same time, we will work to prevent and reduce designs that incite hatred, are designed purely to be offensive or that attack people or groups of people with the intention of causing harm.

Politics, conspiracies, far out beliefs

Politics came up when we discussed our values. We really didn’t relish in getting too involved with politics. If individuals that feel like they’d like to make tees that represent their politics or beliefs in state institutions in a reasonable way with a quality t-shirt design, this should not be something we prevent. We decided that it’s not our place to censor messages in products with a political theme.

Nudity, adult content

Nudity came up. It was quite early in the morning, and nobody liked the idea of printing lewd pictures so soon after breakfast. We’re all adults and it’s not our place to censor a bit of risque fun if that’s what you’re into. Those cheeky or flirtatious designs, if you think they’re cool, you’re welcome to upload them – but we’d rather not have all out nudity submitted in T-shirt designs for Teemill.

Profanities

Whilst we’d rather not have heaps and heaps of dumb profanity t-shirts all over Teemill, we recognise we’re all adults and if you choose to have some mild sweary language on your store for the purposes of making a funny or entertaining t-shirt, that should be up to you. Please remember, Teemill is about making profit from great quality clothes, not making a scene so let’s agree to draw the line at the C-word.

Giving customers a voice

And we realised too, that our customers are part of this debate. We have made it easy for any person to comment or flag a product that they believe is not in the spirit of Teemill’s values at any time on the contact page of every Teemill store. This page also gives anyone the opportunity to resolve a copyright or IP dispute with the store owner, and in both cases the user can alert us to help resolve the situation if a resolution cannot be resolved.

It comes down to Intent

Really, it came down to tone and intent. If a design sets out to offend, abuse, shock or hurt people or organisations, please don’t be surprised if we uphold a complaint and shut down your account.

Our attitude is that if a t-shirt design is of a high quality and the tone is not intended to be malicious, whether we agree with you or not, you’re welcome on Teemill.

*This article is blog intended to give the user a deeper understanding of how our values  guide choices that we have to make at various stages in Teemill. You might now better understand the values that influenced the design and action of algorithms that can detected and rejected your content. Or you might now have a better understanding of why we upheld a complaint against one of your products from an offended member of the public.  It does not form any part of the Teemill user agreements.

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Building Links for SEO

Backlinks tell Search Engines that your Teemill store is trusted and relevant. Build quality backlinks and you will be rewarded with traffic and profit by search engines.

The world has changed so much that the top spot on Google might just be worth more than the best storefront on Oxford Street. Best of all, this prime high traffic space is available to anybody, anywhere, with the right content, skill and appetite for working hard at Search Engine Optimisation. In short, you can go from zero to masses of traffic (and with a Teemill print on demand shop, that means profit) without having to spend anything but a little quality time. A big part of that journey will be building backlinks.

Backlinks are simple links that link from other websites to your website. This is an example link.

They are called backlinks because they link back to you (not from you!) – this means you’ll need to convince other people with a website to give you a shoutout and link to your store.

The words that link to you count too. They’re called the anchor text. In the example link, the anchor text would be “this is an example link.” And as it links from Teemill blog to Rapanui, it’s a backlink for Rapanui – from this blog.

Furthermore, the website that links to you will be taken into account. Think of it holistically, as if that website is a person endorsing you. Are they trustworthy, respected and relevant? (A winner of Crufts endorsing your dog t-shirts would score well, a bank robber would not).

A good backlink has the following attributes:

  • From a trusted, quality website
  • From a website that is relevant to your products
  • A genuine endorsement in a write up, article or blog
  • Contains anchor text words that are relevant.

Ads, social media accounts, paid links, poor quality links or loads of the same spammy links will only harm your Search Engine Ranking Positions (SERPs).

So how do we build backlinks?

There are loads of articles out there online about building great quality backlinks. Techniques range from investing in viral videos to infographics, PR to just plain old asking for a link.

The thing is, it’s not about quantity. It’s about quality. One link from the BBC would do more for your search engine reputation than a year of spamming message boards.

Our advice is to start with a quality press release and get news and media sites talking about you. You can read up on the blog about how to write a press release. Remember to add a quality link back to your site inside your press release!

Once you’ve built your press release and sent it to some reporters, you won’t see change the same day.

SEO is a mixture of quality, trust an relevant words – so naming your products and writing great quality descriptions using words that are relevant to what your customers might be searching for is important.

The rankings take time to brew – often months.  Stick to your link building strategy, even if you build one quality link a day, you’ll start getting some organic traffic.

Remember, backlinks mean free daily traffic from people who are looking at buying your stuff. It’s worth it.

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The Difficult Second Album

Lets say you’ve decided to make money selling t-shirts online and built a store using Teemill, with some success. How do you take it to the next level?

Ever heard of “the difficult second album?” It’s an idiom about the difficulty we have in finding a way to produce successful creative content, time after time. Thing is, it’s really quite simple. A good understanding of your goals and applying the constant improvement process will make this stuff a breeze.

So first, what’s your goal?

Too often folks can’t answer this well enough. “Well, to make money of course!” – when actually, you might be more interested in growing the brand and reach at first, and not so bothered about profits. The two have different outcomes: If you want money today, go sell some stuff on eBay. If you want to grow reach, get on social media and hammer out some comms.

Clarification of goals is the fastest way to find the right action to take.

Once we’ve clarified our goals, for example, to increase the number of tees we sell, we need to find the right metric. Simple: It’s not money, it’s volume of tees sold. Now we can make a plan.

Constant Improvement Process

Enter our ethos, the constant improvement process. The constant improvement process is a way of thinking that helps growing businesses facilitate the change they need to get to where they want to be – in other words, a framework for your goals.

CIP

Plan.

Planning is where you set out your goals, and devise plan to achieve them. Be calm when planning – your strategy could be any plan, even a bad one. Just write it down.

  • Plan: Increase sales of t-shirts by eating more salami.

Do.

This rule is important. When you do it, you do it. No half measures, no slacking. You go at it like Obi Wan vs. Anakin. Stop after an agreed time, i.e. a week or month.

  • Do: Eat as much Salami as possible in that time frame.

Measure.

This is not a finger in the air, see how we feel thing. Teemill is equipped with a quality suite of lightweight, powerful analytics tools – use them. Measuring is about numbers – and normalisation, ie. percentages and fractions. “I sold 1000 t-shirts this week” may be great news to a startup but failure to an enterprise: A 50% increase in sales is universal.

  • Measured: Sales dropped by 1%

Report.

If you’re working alone, take time to read and think about your report, and challenge assumptions. If you’re in a team, have a quality meeting – it doesn’t matter where, although we find it’s best to go someplace without distractions.

  • Report: Salami does not affect t-shirt sales.

 

Repeat: Make sure you go straight into your planning phase….

  • Plan: Stop eating so much Salami, it didn’t work. Start posting some marketing communications each day.
  • Do: Post an amazing quality story each day, every day, no matter what.
  • Measure: Sales increased by 10%
  • Report: Posting online increases sales.
  • Plan: Increase posts, and design a new product to keep story fresh.

… Continue all the way to success

So that’s it?

Yes. This is pretty much the engine of most great companies, and is perhaps one way of explaining what people mean when they say “success is not a destination, it’s a state of mind”. Enough of the cheesy stuff. You really should be starting out on your first planning phase. After all, the number of times you repeat this process is linked to how fast you will reach your goals.

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Marketing for Special Dates

We have future special dates locked in to Teemill at the ready – you’ll get an alert and a little help preparing for these. Once you’re aware an event is coming up, it’s important to think about how you’re going to approach the marketing: What might the buyer’s motivation be, who is the buyer and how to frame your pitch.

Forget the product, focus on the buyer.

The temptation is to do a lot of work for these events and with Teemill’s powerful product creator tool, it would be easy to design an event-specific product like a Valentines day t-shirt. In reality, it’s best to forget the product for a minute and focus on the buyer.

Special occasions are all about gifts. Think about who is buying the gift, and for who.

You don’t need a gift with love hearts on it for Valentine’s day – Instead, choose any product and associate love, gifts and giving in your marketing.

No need to do loads of work on your product range: In fact, you don’t need any new products. The art of marketing for special occasions is in framing the product as a gift suitable for the occasion.

Pick something that fits

Now you know you don’t need a new product, pick a product you already have that is suitable for the recipient. T-shirts, tops, sweats or vouchers: All suitable for Valentines day or Christmas.

Make sure you pick a product to front your campaign that your customer can imagine their loved one wearing.

Dad would love a t-shirt or a warm jumper for Father’s day. Mum might be more interested in a tote shopper bag or teatowel for Mother’s day.

Preparing the store

Think of your store like a shop window. On special occasions, great shopkeepers will refresh the look and feel of their stores with a theme. The best way to do this is with your banners on the homepage and in your categories. You may choose to build and merchandise a category full of Gifts for Him, for example, and design a Valentines-themed homepage banner directing them to the category.

Using homepage banners is a great way to temporarily theme your store for a special occasion without doing very much work at all.

You can make these with our tools, or design your own – and reuse them each year for this event.

A day early is better than a day late

Remember that gift buyers will be anxious about their gifts arriving late. This means that we must be out ahead. Whilst Teemill orders are shipped the same day, many people will be shopping online weeks in advanced of the event.

Supermarkets put Easter Eggs in stores in February for a reason: Don’t be afraid to remind your customers an event is coming up. On the day is too late for e-commerce.

We will remind you through email and in the Teemill dashboard if we think it’s time to start marketing for an event. The last thing to do is to create your posts, build some amazing banners and schedule your content on social media. And remember the marketing rule of seven – The more marketing, the better!

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