Low & Slow: How I’m Using Facebook To Sell A T-Shirt

Adam Barber
Dec 4, 2015 · 4 min read

Edit: Part 2 is online now. Read it here.

A few weeks back, I met with James, the director of engineering from TeeSpring. Unfortunately, the park was too crowded to get a cup coffee. Never the less, we sat in the park and discussed the state of TeeSpring and technology.

During our chat, James told me about the challenge posed to all the new engineering recruits.

Can you make a t-shirt, and run a successful campaign given $50 of Facebook ad credit?

So far, the answer has been no. According to James, none of their engineers have been able to turn $50 in ads into 3 shirt or more sales.

I wanted to try it for myself to see if I could do any better.

Coming Up With A Niche

There is a mountain of advice available online about how to run your first teespring campaign. The most consistent suggestion was that shirts focused on a specific niche sell best. With this in mind, my first challenge was deciding who to make shirts for.

Given I am interested in flying, I figured I would start there. That way, even if I don’t end up getting other people to buy, I’d have a design for a shirt that I would wear. Not scientific at all, but I was focused on running this experiment, rather than coming up with the “perfect” idea.

Deciding On A Design

Now that I knew I wanted something flying-related, I had to come up with some ideas. Again, nothing scientific. Just something that would made for a good design, stand out, and be (possibly) relevant to other private pilots.

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Here we see the majestic Cessna 152 achieve liftoff.

If you’ve ever taken flying lessons, then you’re probably familiar with the Cessna 152. This plane is the quintessential trainer aircraft. It seats two people (barely), weighs less than half as much as a Ford Explorer, and takes the phrase “slow flight” literately. Despite it’s shortcomings, the plane makes for a great trainer aircraft, and is conspicuously present at flight schools in the U.S., and abroad. Long story short — most student pilots end up behind the controls of one of these bad boys at some point during training.

For that reason, I feel it makes the perfect subject for my t-shirt experiment.

Hiring A Designer

With that out of the way, I turned to UpWork to find a designer. After posting a job, and spending a fair amount of time searching through the portfolios of active consultants, I came across Mihai. I sent him a message with my rough idea of what I had in mind, along with some photos for inspiration, and links to a few t-shirt designs I liked.

Over the course of 3 days, we chatted more about what I had in mind, while he helped clarify what I was looking for. The first design, save minor tweaks to the text, is what’s currently live on the teespring contest.

I think I got lucky finding a talented designer so quickly, but I’m very happy I did.

Driving Traffic With Facebook Ads

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A small sample of the ad variations AdEspresso generated for me.

Per the conversation that originally drove me to try this out, I dove in to setting up my Facebook campaign.

At my previous startup, I worked with my colleague to run our app install campaigns, so I have some experience with PPC ads.

This time, though, my budget is a smaller, and I don’t have the benefit of co-works to handle design and optimization. For that reason, I’m trying out AdEspresso to help with the heavy lifting. I created a few different image, headline, and text variations, which I then uploaded to the AdEspresso dashboard.

The campaign is currently running, and at the time of writing has had about 100 impressions.

The hardest part of this entire process so far has been trying to avoid the desire to smash the refresh button and see if anyone has clicked yet.

I consider myself a developer with a strong eye for making products. Even though I come from a marketing background, I haven’t spent very much time executing performance marketing campaigns, so this is definitely outside my wheelhouse. That said, I’m excited to see how things go, and most importantly, share what I learn when it’s all over.

Go Ahead. Order Your Very Own Shirt Today!

If you haven’t already, go visit my teespring campaign page, and reserve a shirt. Once the campaign is finished, I’ll be back here with details, and numbers.

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