How to Successfully Launch a New Product with Artist Shops

Print-on-demand websites enable you to upload your graphic art and make it available for sale on a variety of products in only minutes. But despite how quick that process is, a product launch requires a lot more thoughtful planning for it to have a meaningful impact. If you’re looking to drive sales and grow your business, Threadless Artist Shops offers you a variety of tools and resources to help make your launch a success. Follow along to learn best practices on how to launch a new product, from creation to promotion.

Phase 1: Product Creation

Effin' Birds products
Visit Effin’ Birds for an example of an Artist Shop with a wide variety of products.

At Artist Shops, you have full control over your product selection. You can create and sell hundreds of print-to-order items ranging from apparel, such as t-shirts and hoodies, to unique accessories, such as skateboards and jigsaw puzzles. If there’s a particular product you’d like to sell, there’s a chance you’ll find it in the Artist Shops catalog. If you’re already an Artist Shop owner, keep an eye out for emails detailing new and upcoming products.

Of course, as an artist and seller, you’ll want to feel confident that your designs look as best as they can on these various products. Seeing how great your art looks on merchandise will not only put a pep in your step, it’ll excite your followers and potentially convert them into customers. Here’s what we recommend doing to ensure your products look awesome.

Fit the art to the product.

In many cases, the primary design file you upload for a t-shirt will also work on a variety of other products, such as fine art prints, tote bags, and more. With just a few clicks in your Artist Shop Dashboard, you can apply your design to all available products and colors—but that doesn’t mean you always should.

"CATS,CATS,CATS…." Socks by makart, "Bash Brains" Backpack by Madballs, and "Flower Bucket" Leggings by hellofromthemoon
Examples: “CATS,CATS,CATS….” Socks by makart, “Bash Brains” Backpack by Madballs, and “Flower Bucket” Leggings by hellofromthemoon

Whenever you’re creating a design for a new product, consider how your art will look on its intended canvas. Always refer to our Help Page for recommended file sizes categorized by product, as well as templates that’ll help you format your design files correctly.

Cut & Sew T-Shirt
Cut & Sew T-Shirt template (left) and finished product (right). The featured design is “All Good” from our example shop.

Products like Cut & Sew T-Shirts allow you to cover the entire garment with graphics, and you’ll need to use a special template to properly fit your design on the product’s unique dimensions. This type of product requires a little more effort to set up, but it also allows you to get more creative with graphic placement and all-over patterns.

Order product samples.

As a shop owner, you can get a ton of mileage out of product samples. Here are some of the ways they come in handy as you prepare to launch a new product:

  • Design adjustment: Seeing the physical product in person will help you determine if you need to make tweaks to your design, be it the size, color, or print placement.
  • Quality control: If you’re on the fence about offering a particular item in your shop, being able to experience the product yourself could help you make your decision.
  • Lifestyle photography: Take promotional photos of you and your friends using your product samples. Showing real-life people interacting with your merchandise will help your followers envision themselves using your products.
  • Giveaways: Generate more excitement on launch day by running a giveaway and using your product samples as the prize.

NOTE: When you order from your own Artist Shop, you can purchase product samples for only the base cost of the item. Also keep in mind, you don’t need to publish your product in order to purchase samples.

Publish! But only if you’re ready.

Once you’re completely satisfied with how your new product looks, it could be tempting to smash that “publish” button right away. But have you thought about how you’re going to promote your product to your followers? If not, it’s worth taking the time to plan out your promotional strategy before making your product live in your shop. Otherwise, your launch might not have the impact you were hoping for. Which brings us to the next phase…

Phase 2: Prepare for Launch

Glitch Goods by Rob Sheridan announcing the launch of their new puzzles
Glitch Goods by Rob Sheridan announcing the launch of their new puzzles

This is a special occasion. Make it feel like one! Get the most out of your product launch by devising a comprehensive plan to communicate with your followers before, during, and after the launch. This incentivizes your audience to keep returning to your social media pages for updates. The more quality content you post, the more opportunities you give yourself to grow your following and convert new customers.

Whenever you post, always remember to let your audience know where they can find your product with a direct link or “link in bio” callout. If you choose the latter, we recommend setting your bio link to a Linktree landing page where you can list out all of your Artist Shop and social media links in one place.

Continue reading for pointers on building an effective social media strategy for your product launch.

Define your goals and expectations.

What does a successful product launch look like to you? More followers on social media? A lift in shop traffic? Increased engagement? Having clearly defined goals right out the gate will help you gauge the success of your launch and determine if you need to switch up your approach for the next launch.

Google Analytics
Use online tools such as Google Analytics to capture useful metrics on visitors to your site. Read this post for step-by-step guidance on setting up Google Analytics for your shop.

Whenever you’re setting any type of goals, make sure they’re measurable, realistically attainable, and bound to a timeframe. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment!

Create and schedule your posts in advance.

Do your future self a favor. Don’t wait until after you launch your product to start creating promotional posts for all of your social media pages. Scrambling last-minute will impact the quality of your posts and could stress you the heck out.

Instead, write captions and assemble all of your promotional images in advance of your product launch. If you need help creating promotional images featuring your products, use Promo Tools in your Artist Shop Dashboard, lifestyle overlays, or our Instagram post template.

If you don’t already have a social media calendar, we recommend creating one to help you strategize exactly when and where to post. You can also use services like Hootsuite and Buffer to schedule your posts to automatically publish on a variety of platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and more.

Social Media Calendar Example
Example of a social media calendar built with Google Calendar. Right click and open in a new tab for a larger view.

Schedule your posts during your peak times to reach as many people as possible. For example, if your metrics tell you that you receive the most engagement during lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays, those are great times to schedule posts related to your product launch.

Drop hints to build excitement.

Leaving a trail of breadcrumbs leading to your product launch is a great way of getting followers to return to your social media pages for updates. Plus, it gives you extra content for people to engage with. The more content you post, the more you’ll stand out in feeds. Here are two approaches you can try:

  • Be secretive. Don’t reveal your new product right away. Instead, tell your followers you have a special announcement coming soon. On a separate post, drop a few hints and ask your followers what they think the surprise is. Then, on launch day, make the big reveal.
  • Show a work-in-progress. Start with an initial design sketch, then show your progress post by post. On launch day, share an image of your completed product.

Don’t forget to link to your shop and tag Threadless for a potential reshare. You can also add Threadless as a branded partner on Instagram if you’d like a chance for our social media team to boost your post.

Focus on what’s most compelling about your product.

If you’re more of an artist than a salesperson, it might feel unnatural to promote your own work to your followers. But in reality, you must be your biggest hype person if you want your merch business to grow. That doesn’t mean you have to be a caricature of a used car salesman slapping the hood of a car. Using your own tone and brand voice, briefly explain the selling points you believe make your new product special.

von Kowen Instagram post
While announcing their newly published design, von Kowen mentions that they’re donating all of their proceeds to two charities, UNICEF and World Central Kitchen. This is an example of a selling point that grabs attention and potentially drives sales.

While you’re writing promotional copy for your posts, ask yourself these questions:

  • What needs does your product fulfill for your customers? Is it an article of clothing available in expanded sizing? Is it a puzzle that’s great for family game night? Think about what problems your product solves and hone in on those details.
  • What features do you appreciate most about your new product? Is it a style of shirt that’s uniquely lightweight and soft? Is it a fine art print made from museum-quality materials? Highlight the features that made you want to sell the product in the first place. Read product descriptions here to get an idea of which features to point out.
  • Is there a story behind the design featured on your product? Sharing your creative process and what inspires you will help audiences get more acquainted with you. The more they feel like they know you, the more likely they are to purchase from your shop.
  • Does your product raise money for an important Cause? According to Forbes, younger generations of shoppers are especially motivated to give back through the way they shop. If you’re donating a portion of your proceeds through Threadless Causes, talk about the organizations you’re supporting and the ways they help communities in crisis.

Keep posting, even after the launch.

Once you publish your initial post announcing the launch of your new product, the job isn’t done yet. Not everyone is going to see your original post, so plan to send reminders periodically to reach more people. Space them out in-between your normal posts so your followers see a good mix of content and aren’t fatigued by your promotions.

Come back to Creative Resources for more tips on how to create, promote, and market your products. Don’t have an online store yet? It only takes minutes to build your own Artist Shop and start selling your art on a wide array of apparel, accessories, and home goods.

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