Thanks for being a part of Thought Leader Thursday today Jason. You’ve become quite the media sensation by taking something that we all do every single day, getting dressed, and finding a way to make money doing it. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came up with this idea?
I’ve been in marketing/design for over 10 years, when I graduated college I worked a 9-5 gig and hated it. I co-founded a web design company from my couch and saw some great success from that for 2 years before trying to make money wearing t shirts. I knew that companies were cutting back on their advertising budgets and that lots of companies weren’t able to use social media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc). I figured t-shirts were an easy enough item for companies to make and the majority of them were already doing so. I bought the domain for iwearyourshirt.com, had a website up a month later and soon after that I was wearing t shirts for money. When the last day in 2009 sold out this past August I knew I needed to focus on become a full-time shirt wearer to avoid being a “one hit wonder”.
Your business has really taken off and right now you’re booked solid until September of 2010. The momentum you have now is probably a pretty stark contrast to what you faced when you first started talking to people about this. What sort of challenges did you have to overcome and how did you do that?
I was incredibly fortunate early on, in that I didn’t have months or years of waiting to become profitable. My expenses for iwearyourshirt.com are insanely low (I had to buy 200 extra hangers at Target) so as soon as days started to sell a month after launching the site I was happy. My biggest challenges where spreading the word without sounding like a salesman and dealing with copycats. I had a nice sized Rolodex that I had built up over the years and knew that if people liked the idea they’d mention it to their friends. And I knew that I’d work longer and harder than anyone else who copied the idea and that hard work would pay off… and it did!
Quite a few well-known companies have paid you to wear their shirts, along with lots of smaller companies. If you had to pick, which one was the most interesting?
It’s too hard to pick my favorite or the most interesting. Not because I don’t want to show favoritism but because almost every company has a great story to tell. I wore shirts for Zappos.com, LifeLock, Turbo Tax, Bill Cosby, HARO, Wired Magazine and also wore them for a Breast Feeding Book, a women’s makeup company and many more. I’ve supported charities like WaterIsLife.com as well as the Race for the Cure (breast cancer). About the only thing I haven’t done is wear a painted on t-shirt…
You’re prices are definitely a bargain considering how exposure you’re giving advertisers, why don’t you tell our readers exactly what they get for their investment?
When you buy a day on iwearyourshirt.com you get 3-4 photos published to Flickr, 1 of those photos becomes my Facebook Profile photo for the day, a blog post about your company, a unique/creative/humorous YouTube video (also published on Facebook) and a 1-hour live video show on Ustream.tv. All of these items are pushed to my 22,000+ followers on Twitter and 3,600+ friends on Facebook. In 2010, you get everything DOUBLED with my buddy Evan White wearing your shirt as well.
What do you tell the super-analytical marketers who want to measure every detail about the effectiveness of their advertising?
I am glad you asked this question and I have a few points to make here. #1 It’s not about the exposure outside of social media of me in your t-shirt. If I went to Times Square where 1,000 people walk a minute and was there for 10 minutes, 10,000 people should see me. How many of them will go to your website or better yet – remember your company? None. #2 You are paying at the most in 2010 $730 (already sold) for the content listed in the question before this one. If you paid an advertising agency or something else it would be 10x the price, maybe better quality, but who would they share their content with? I have a tuned in audience, ready to consume my content and enjoy it. #3 Not everything boils down to immediate hits on your website, followers on Twitter or views on a video. I am creating content that will live on forever on the Internet, content with good SEO authority and content that is fresh and engaging. Many people have mentioned that they get referrals months after their day because people find them through Google or saw their stuff on iwearyourshirt.com. Think of iwearyourshirt.com as a fun branding promotion to a highly engaged audience through t-shirts. I’m not your saving grace for your company, but I’m also charging a very affordable rate.
You’re obviously a creative guy, what’s next for you?
More t-shirt wearing!!! I’ve had some great success and press in 2009 and 2010 only has 68 days left to sell as of this interview. I want to add more t-shirt wearers to iwearyourshirt.com in 2011 and will need to find them next year. I encourage people to use social media to get their foot in the door with me and avoid sending another email with a word doc resume attached. I’m a social media guy, use social media to get in my face. And of course I have to mention that I’ve got an underwear deal next year with TommyJohnWear.com, a sock deal with BlackSocks.com and some other really fun, big-picture, stuff in the works for 2010!