So a few weeks ago I promised a .eduGuru shirt was coming soon and even tossed out a few lines for potential shirt quotes to let people vote on them. I’ve had a lot of fun building .eduGuru. I’m always trying to think of new ways to build this blog that is starting to becoming a little more than just a blog. Can I be so bold as to call .eduGuru a mindset? Higher Education Web Developers and Marketers are a community who experience unique and challenging experiences on the web. Marketing to our audience is different from a normal business and our product is much different. Selling someone on the education your institution provides is a tricky matter. Designing sites for our variety of audiences isn’t straight forward.
So before launching the next step forward, new blogger contest coming next week, I wanted to get the gear out there for the community. Also now that the gear is a click away I’ve got fun stuff to maybe start giving away!
So really this post is a two pieces. First to introduce you to our new customizable merchandise catalog and secondly to provide a little detail about how I spent the time to research and test a few services before finally going with Zazzle.
Karlyn and I have already create a range of custom shirts and if you have a crazy slogan or idea for a shirt drop a comment or shoot a twitter and I’d love to get in a toy with another shirt idea. You can click on the “Get .eduGuru Gear” on the right had side of the blog to check out our range of gear already created. Of course you can also go and customize the shirts we created changing fonts, text and parts of the layout to customize your own .eduGuru shirt. I’ve already ordered the Got Guru? shirt and will be wearing it to Stamats… Watch out! Who knows I might even go all crazy and present in it? You can also get .eduGuru ties, coffee mugs, and yes I even created a .eduGuru Beer Mug!
I’d love to create a page on the site at some point to feature people sporting their .eduGuru gear! Wearing your shirt, drinking beer out of your mug or even someone wearing a .eduGuru tie! Take a picture and send it in and let’s show everyone that you can be a bigger dork than Kyle.
Searching For a Storefront
So let me just start out by saying I really haven’t done much of anything to integrate a .eduGuru store yet besides create a bunch of crazy shirt and product ideas around a little brand. I knew I needed something that would be very customizable and allow a range of branded merchandise. T-Shirts were of course the most important, but being able to create other little tidbits would also be nice.
There are quite a few options out there to create merchandise like this. Besides doing a little web searching on my own I also utilized my Twitter network to ask about tools (Thanks @jodycb, @elliemay, @draftmotif and others for input). The options were narrowed down to:
First I tested CafePress, but had read that shirt quality was low and I didn’t like the customization allowed on T-Shirts. They do allow you to create Polo’s and other higher quality shirts, but these really didn’t look all that impressive. In my opinion quality is an important element. I did get to the point of testing their storefront and was decently impressed. Lots of functionality existed and it looks like this could be a good option for many people.
Spreadshirt was next. Honestly I didn’t make it too far into this service. I wasn’t a huge fan of the interface to create a shirt. When I went to design a shirt the program said that they took vector .eps files which was a nice option. The problem was once I loaded one it wanted me to wait until the next day to get approval. Moving on…
Zazzle has a nice website and their customization options on products are quite extensive. They also have a rather large catalog of products for you to customize. I also liked the community aspects of the site. Can you tell I’m a social media junkie? The font options available were quite impressive with hundreds of fonts to choose from including some really creative ones.
Sorry QOOP. I did have good intention of exploring you more, but creating products is just so fun and easy that I was hooked.
Finally in the research I did find a really interesting site called UberPrints. It looked like this would be a great site to use if printing in bulk, but I wanted to create something where anyone in this community could just go order a shirt and be done with it.