How to advertise and market your clothing line

My Name is Ray, I am currently a college design student at Parsons School of Design in New York City. I run, designs, and own Lowdtown Friends & Freaks, and writes articles for the Lowdtown Blog.

Intro – The Marketing Misconception:

So probably the greatest misconception when it comes to marketing is that advertising makes a brand successful. That statement is completely FALSE! It’s not the advertising that makes a brand famous; it’s the products and branding. Of course, you may have heard a few cases where people got lucky because someone saw Justin Timberlake wearing their shirt, but more times than not, advertising is used for different means. Advertising and marketing a brand is what maintains a brand’s success, it never creates it. Advertising and marketing should be used to supplement your brand. So before reading this article, remove that from your head. Without a great product you’ll never be truly successful regardless of your marketing.

I’m assuming that most of you indie brands out there don’t have your own brick and mortar shop, so I’m mostly going to be covering online advertising.

Online Advertising Techniques

I think a good practice in terms of web branding is to have your own domain and website. So even if you have a bigcartel which would probably be something like i.e. lowdtown.bigcartel.com; you should still have a main site called i.e. www.lowdtown.com for the sake of marketing. Hosting and domain names are so cheap nowadays, that it’s stupid not to have a website. And even if you don’t plan to get a website just yet, you should at least buy the domain name and park it. That way, no one can steal your perfect little domain name. I think GoDaddy has deals for like $10.00/year (and they have some damn good advertising).

Your website is going to be your main engine for marketing, so you have to consider many things.

The most important aspect is probably it’s SEO ranking. SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is a whole science on its own but here are a few tips to help get you started.

Good SEO means to be easily searchable through sites like Google and Yahoo and such, so if you have a high pagerank, you will be more likely to be listed favorably, so when someone searches for “graphic t-shirts shop” or something like that, it is more that someone will click on your store’s link.

SEO tips:

how to promote your blog post seo How to advertise and market your clothing line1. Have descriptive titles.
a. Often times sites like Google will index your website based on your websites title. So if someone is searching for Lowdtown, my website lowdtown.com is much more likely to show up if the title is “Lowdtown Friends & Freaks Shop” rather than something vague like “Homepage.”

2. Make your site easily crawlable (aka Have a clear navigation)
a. So basically what all these search websites do is use these little virtual robots that go through all the websites over the net and crawl through all your pages. If your navigation is clear and goes where they need to go, you won’t really have a problem.
b. One thing to note is that the robots cannot crawl through flash-based navigations (yet?), so try to steer clear of that. If your pages cannot be crawled, your pages will not be indexed.

3. Have a lot of updating content.
a. The search engine robots will keep returning to your website if you have a lot of updated content. That’s why blogs are so fantastic. If you have a lot of well-written relevant content, the search engines will love you. Ultimately, search engine’s really just want to display good content, so don’t worry too much about keywords and update your site with good relavant content.
b. One thing to note about keywords is not to overload your content with keywords. Don’t be stupid with sentences like: “Hi, I own Lowdtown clothing, and I love clothing, and clothing, is awesome clothing.” Search engine robots know when you’re trying to cheat the system; they’re smarter than that! (Shit, I shouldn’t have done that, haha.)

4. Have good links.
a. So when it comes to your search engine ranking, having good links to your site are really important. For example, if my blog was linked by a very popular and important t-shirt website, my page rank would go up.
b. Conversely, if I were linked by twenty of my friends’ blogs, my page rank wouldn’t really be affected. Unless of course, one of my good buddies was Pharell and he linked me to his Billionaire Boys Club blog, haha.

5. Don’t freak out over metadata.
a. There’s been some debate over this, but most professionals say that your meta keywords and meta descriptions don’t really affect too much in terms of page rank.
b. It never hurts to add them just in case though. Some professionals also say that other search engines, with the exception of Google, do use the keywords, so you might bring in traffic from other search engines that you’ve never even heard of!

So after you’ve optimized your website, don’t forget to actually submit your websites to the actual search engines. There are plenty of free services out there, but I don’t really want to name names. Just look up “free search engine submission” on Google or something. Just keep in mind that a lot of these search engine submissions will send you a lot of spam and stuff, so be wary of that.

More tips:

- Another good tip is to submit your website to t-shirt directories. I haven’t really seen a major flow of traffic from any of these sites, but it’s still a good idea to do so.

- This won’t necessarily increase your visitors, but an extremely good practice is to sign up with Google Analytics and track your visitors. Google Analytics is a really powerful tool, and you can see where your visitors came from, what pages they viewed, and even how long they stay on the site. Google Analytics will give you a good idea of how strong or weak your pages are.

Google Webmaster Tools 300x177 How to advertise and market your clothing line- Another great tool from Google is Google Webmaster Tools. If you sign up for this (free) tool you can track what people are searching to get to your site. For example, I learned that in February 2009, I was position 87 on Google for the keywords “shat bricks”. Haha, sweet! I’m finally reaching the “shat bricks” community!

- Try to upload and consistently update your sitemap. The sitemaps are basically a clue to the search engines that you’ve updated your website, so if you have constantly updating sitemaps, more pages will be indexed. Lucky for this blog, which runs on WordPress, there’s a handy little plug-in that automatically updates its XML sitemap.

- To try to get relative visitors to your website, try to submit to relevant forums. For example, if you have a punk clothing company, maybe go on punk music forums. But don’t rub your clothing company in their faces, just be subtle, maybe put it in your forum signature or something.

- On the same note, if there’s some blogs you like try contacting them and see if they can review you. You might strike a better audience when you contact a different kind of blog, not just t-shirt blogs. Going back to the same example, if you follow a popular punk rock blog, and get featured on it, you might receive better exposure and returns than you would on the t-shirt blogs that are already filled with tons of other t-shirt designs.

- However, if you do want to get reviewed by a blog, the best way besides asking them nicely is usually to actually send them your product. People are a lot more generous when you’re generous to them.

Some other ways to market your brand:

I have never personally worked with any print or television media, but it might be something that interests you. Note that it is far more expensive than most web-based advertising, so if you’re planning on these mediums, you have to have the money to do so.

- If you live in a friendly neighborhood, a fun idea for some attention may be to contact the local newspaper to try to get an article about your brand. I mean, people have a lot of pride in their community, so it might be exciting to hear that little Ray Masaki is starting a clothing company with some potential. The plus side is that it’s free and there’s no harm in trying. If you don’t get the article, big deal, it’s not like you lost anything.

billboard 300x210 How to advertise and market your clothing line- More risky ventures include: television ads, magazine ads, billboards, etc. These are most likely not very appropriate for little indie brands like you and me, but hey, if you have the money it may be worth it. Unfortunately, I have no experience whatsoever in these fields, so I have no idea what kind of returns you get for these kind of advertisements. If you want to take the plunge, just do your research. The unfortunate thing about print and television advertisements is that you can’t really track where your visitors are coming from unlike web advertisements. However, if you see a sudden peak in your visitors after you started your print campaign, you can infer that it was the advertisement.

Well I think that’s pretty much it for today, I hope that helped! I am certainly no master of SEO or marketing, but this should at least get you on your way. The thing is, there are so many great books out there that teach you how to properly brand and market your company, so go to your local library or something. Seriously, I went through a binge of books on internet marketing a week before the launch. It really gets quite addicting, and it’s always a good thing to learn things on your own!

 

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  • http://google Thamsanqa

    This infomation is truelly interesting and answers most Q’S i needed to know. I am planning on starting my own clothing brand.

  • http://www.cutteeth.com Michael

    I love the articles, they are very helpful. Much appreciation and congrats on your stardom =)

  • NickO

    Hi Ray,

    I found this to be really helpful – I’m also going to be checking out the related links for weekend reading :D I am in the business of putting my designs on Tshirts, Jeans, you name it – and am involved with a couple deals where we’re actually developing a company as well, so this has been great – please keep up the good work!!!

  • http://www.ivoryskies.net Carlo

    This is really awesome Ray! Totally inspiring for people who need to get on there way and even for people who want to learn more like us.

    Thanks Ray!

  • http://www.tendermoments.cceasy.com frida

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information. There are tips that can be used for any website as well as the t-shirt or clothing industry.

  • http://www.adlogo.co.uk dejones

    The article is been very impressive and very helpful to people like us. Thanks a lot for posting.

  • Tywanna

    Thanks for such insightful and enjoyable articles. Your willingness to help others is much appreciated.

  • kngdavid

    Thank you for your valuable information this was a God sent for me.

    How ever I do have a couple of questions maybe you can help me out with.
    1. if I have the design, artist, and the company to produce my my brand. Do I just start salling out of my trunk?
    2. do I need to also have a permit to sale in my state.

  • yassir

    hi..

    it would be awesome of you could cover beginner basics. the thing im worried about is.. how many shirts do i start off with? and how many designs/types of shirts. which sizes/how many.

    another interesting thing would be to cover things like negotiating with retailstores. setting prices / wholesale accounts.
    and on the other hand.. where you get your raw tshirts from/where you print them. can you get discount / interesting deals?

    great freakin site!
    I love this place. thnx guys.

    greets from The Netherlands!

  • shawn

    Ray,
    I too am starting a clothing line. Could you please go over the things that Yassir from the Netherlands posted:

    how many shirts do i start off with? and how many designs/types of shirts. which sizes/how many.

    negotiating with retailstores. setting prices / wholesale accounts.

    where you get your raw tshirts from/where you print them. can you get discount / interesting deals?

  • http://www.lowdtown.com Ray

    Hey I just updated my blog answering those questions. It should probably give you a good idea of what I do.

    http://blog.lowdtown.com/?p=413

  • http://Marinogoods.com Marino

    very useful info. It helped alot, be sure to check out Marino Clothing
    started by a few high school students. Marinogoods.com

  • http://www.orangeheat.com Sean

    Thanks I need to weed out my flash nav bar I guess.

  • nic

    great article, to the point and clear on some important yet mysterious topics.

  • Seemal

    Just wanted to say ive learnt so much from articale, I’m trying to set up asian clothing line and was very confused on how to market my product.
    Thanks Ray

  • http://www.clothesdir.com Alex Sam

    I think it is not much difficult to open or start the clothes related business but the main thing is run the business it is too much difficult to run and maintain. So there are many techniques that helps in running the business you have to make the shop in the market or very prominent location, the advertisement is very important so advertise your business through a good and popular medium, the main thing about running the business is your behavior and your methods about dealing with people. You must have very polite and decent with customers.

  • Drew

    Ray, great information. I am starting my own clothing line and have already sold some shirts and doing ok, but I want to expand. My shirts are original and I hope to bring some new and fresh ideas to today’s market. I just have to get there. thanks for the infomation. Drew

  • Drew

    Ray, great information. I am starting my own clothing line and have already sold some shirts and doing ok, but I want to expand. My shirts are original and I hope to bring some new and fresh ideas to today's market. I just have to get there. thanks for the infomation. Drew

  • http://www.baldheaddesign.com Tania Cagney

    You know people are getting more interested in putting up their own business. And having your own website is one of the most effective ways in making your business successful. But it doesn't stop at that. When a certain website has great web design, it can attract more clients and can make your business grow bigger. Just like what I always do now that I have my own business here in Ohio. I make sure that my site will look awesome for my clients.

  • Mypraier

    Ray,
    Thanks for the information this really helps a lot! Thank goodness for people like you! You have a great sense of humor.. Check out http://www.ellsa.co… Do you know of any t-shirt companies in my trend setting that I can submit my site to?

  • Mypraier

    Started my own business at http://www.ellsa.co the information you gave is so helpful and you've got an awesome sense of humor…Do you know of any links to t-shirt companies I can submit my site to. I have a classic 1960's feel to my shirts.

  • http://twitter.com/Estabrookart Estabrookart.com

    Thanks Ray…. just launching my clothing company heveon, i pulled a few things out of this to add to my “to do list”…. hope the brand is doing good, and good point with the flash, i just got done arguing with a friend why flash was nt worth it… looks good, but shit i would rather have people actually find me… how about an article on social network advertisment. Thanks again for the blog

    Brent

  • Ikenna

    thanks ray…that was pretty cool and very easy to understand. i really enjoyed reading those advise and i will hope to get more…thanks from ikenna

  • http://aequitasclothing.com Aequitas Clothing

    Great advice! Glad to see we are on the right track, but I did learn a couple things that I hadn't thought about, like the T-Shirt Directories. Thanks!

  • Abhyuday Grover

    Hey Ray (its rhyming)…… anyway……..thanks brother for a good and helpful range of information! Really appreciate!

  • mandy heng

    Awesome stuff!

  • http://www.schismapparel.com Dg1

    Good info. I started my first clothing company awhile back Schism Apparel, and I was having a haed time getting traffic to my web-site, hopefuly with this info my traffic will spike.

  • Monica

    Nice suggestions, especially the contacting blogs stuff, I see that a lot of them use affiliate programs. You can also try artisanal sites like http://Dawanda when you get started but be careful that they don't hurt your brand if you are going the lux route. High end sites like http://stiitch.net only take designers with experience so I am trying htp://indicustom.com

  • http://stores.shop.ebay.com/Vintage-Clothing-Designers-Plus Carol

    Hi, thank you for all of your advice.  I've been considering my own website since eBay fees and regulations are becoming a bit ridiculous.  You've sort of helped to my possibly getting started real soon.  Thank you.
    http://stores.shop.ebay.com/Vi

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=31708487 Brittany Louis

    Wow this is great. We're doing just what you said!

    We're making a website with our domain http://www.247swag.com and we're using our shop page too http://www.247swag.spreadshirt.com

    We also use Facebook.com247swag and Twitter.com247_Swag and both help!

  • Jason

    Hey what’s up Jon… My name is Jason and my clothing line is called LIFE LINE CLOTHING. I think it’s great that you took the time to give sound advice to others on the clothing industry. You have a lot of good tips for those up and coming. Your giving back shall help you prosper far….

  • lucubrate75

    Thanks for the advice, unable to see the pictures, were you able to give Justin one of your tee shirts? Great opportunity.

  • andrew

    Hey I was wondering if I could talk to you I have some questions. I just started a clothing company. thank you

  • Wilson Allison

    That was a great review. I like the step by step guide and all the resources you included. I’m trying to get my site http://www.cavecloth.com out there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005611441858 Facebook User

    Great advice. Thanks much!
    This could vastly improve the visibility of my site

  • Danielle

    New to this industry and our site is a work in progress and this article truly helped. http://www.StayGrindinLifestyle.com

  • SHEPHERDS CLOTHING

    A great resource which helped us tremendously at http://www.shepherdsclothing.co.uk

  • kevin

    Thanks for the tips.. great to know to help generating traffic to our website http://www.gazefashion.com store..

  • amazingdreamer

    With the info im getting from these blogs, I will be up and running in no time.

  • LKQ

    This tips are really great.even with the way so many people who are starting clothing lines comment an over look the networking capability. If anyone would like to network with another up and coming line follow legendary_kq on Instagram

  • joy adel

    Great advice! Glad to see we are on the right track, but I did learn a couple things that I hadn’t thought about, like the T-Shirt Directories. Thanks!

  • Fandabby Apparel

    Very nice advice thanks :)

  • http://www.modernbajubatik.com/ Baju Batik Modern

    Wow, that’s what I was looking for, what a stuff!

    existing here at this weblog, thanks admin of this website.