T-Shirt Linking 301

When I decided to finally start a t-shirt campaign for Initial Charge, I already knew that I was going to be using Teespring. I’ve purchased shirts from them in the past — Minimal Mac and ATP, off the top of my head. I was very happy with the print quality and thought the customer experience was great.

Although this selling experience got off to a rocky start — waiting weeks for my shirt of choice to become available and going through a lengthy email exchange in order to determine when they would be in stock — I wouldn’t hesitate to use Teespring again. But as with all online services, I knew that it would be wise to consider the future and leave my options open down the road.

I certainly don’t expect Teespring to go away anytime soon, but I needed to make sure that if another service cropped up that I liked better — or if I wanted to take my t-shirt sales and fulfillment in-house — I could do so painlessly. I knew I was going to be publishing links each week and tweeting regularly to promote the shirts, but I didn’t want a reader to come across those links months or years from now and be taken to a dead end.

The solution I came up with is pretty clever and something I haven’t seen any other writers do with their own t-shirt promotions. Before launching the campaign I built a landing page alerting the reader that shirts are no longer available. The page is located at initialcharge.net/shirts, but if you try to visit that URL now you’ll be redirected to the Teespring page.

In order to point my readers to the appropriate sales page I added four lines to my server’s htaccess file:

redirect 301 /shirts http://teespring.com/initial-charge/
redirect 301 /shirts/ http://teespring.com/initial-charge/
redirect 301 /shirts-w http://teespring.com/initial-charge-w/
redirect 301 /shirts-w/ http://teespring.com/initial-charge-w/

They’re just simple 301 redirects, but what this did was give me two simple URLs that I could share that took those interested directly to Teespring. As you can see I built one for both the men’s shirt and women’s shirt, which would allow me to direct readers to the one they’re most likely to be interested in. And when the campaign is over, I can remove all of the redirects and point /shirts-w  to the self-hosted landing page.

If readers come across an old Linked List item or tweet and end up at the landing page, they can even bookmark it to revisit when the campaign is active. If they do, they’ll be automatically redirected to the sale page. Whether that’s Teespring or otherwise.

It seems so perfect to me. Readers find something relevant whether they’re following the link during or after the campaign. And it’s not as though the contents of the landing page are that magnificent — just a note about when to expect the next round of t-shirt sales and some suggestions of how to help support the site in the meantime. But, it’s a page I own rather than a page Teespring owns.

I was more than aware that others might share the link to the Teespring page, and I can’t do much to prevent that. But at least I have some more control over the links I share myself. Honestly this might be a bit too fiddly for other would-be t-shirt sellers out there. But I think it should become standard practice for web publishers that are in it for the long haul and are comfortable editing their htaccess file.

One Week Remaining

As an aside, there’s just one week left to order The Initial Charge T-Shirt. There will only ever be one first printing and every reader who purchases from this batch is going to be part of an elite group of early adopters. Don’t forget, it comes in men’s athletic gray for $22 and women’s athletic blue for $21. And both are printed on high-quality American Apparel Tri-blend – the best shirts available.

I’d also like to offer a hearty thank you to everyone who’s already purchased — please share the link and encourage everyone you know to purchase one too. I appreciate it more than words can describe.