By Andrew Jenkins
I have always admired other entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas. I especially admire the ones with business ideas that are beautiful in their simplicity.
If you ask Jason Sadler what he does, he proudly says, “I wear t-shirts for a living.” Huh? Yes, you read that correctly. He wears t-shirts for a living.
Jason is the founder of iwearyourshirt.com. Begun January 1, 2009, the idea was to sell t-shirt-based promotion by-the-day to companies wanting to advertise their product or service. Things started slowly, but momentum began to build and 2009 was sold out eight months into the year. Continuing to build, 2010 sold out early too.
But building and maintaining the momentum has not been easy — it has been a serious investment of time and effort. Jason works 12-16 hours per day, seven days a week. At last count, he had worked 612 days straight without a day off. This dispels the myth he often faces from potential clients and audiences: he was not an overnight success. Social media is not easy, nor is it cheap in terms of true costs. It took Jason 18 months to accumulate his following and it must be maintained daily. In his own words, “It is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Profitability in the first year of operation, selling out each year early, to-die-for press coverage, and an army of loyal followers and clients are just a few of the results of his efforts. Not bad for someone who has never advertised, has no media kit, and doesn’t use salesforce.com to track leads. He has actively used social media tools, media coverage, and public speaking to promote iwearyourshirt.com — and the result has been clients seeking him out, not the other way around.
What do clients get in exchange for buying the day, sponsoring the month, or becoming a proud partner? If you buy a day, you get Jason and his team wearing your firm’s t-shirt, blog posts, a Ustream.tv show covering your firm, and mentions on Facebook and Twitter to and by the iwearyourshirt.com army.
Their YouTube channel has had 1.4 million views, and they get approximately 1000 viewers for the daily Ustream show, broadcast from wherever an internet connection can be made. Jason has approximately 24,000 followers on Twitter and nearly 5000 friends on Facebook. These channels all get leveraged for the sake of the day’s client, and people show up every day to find out who that client is. Not bad at all.
If you look at the “How it works” section of Jason’s site, you can see that buying a day is relatively cheap in comparison to other options. And you can’t quantify the passion behind doing something fun for a living and engaging people on a daily basis.
Jason does not guarantee a specific ROI but he does guarantee content and engagement. That content lives online forever, and Jason and team can advise on what to do next. Based on iwearyourshirt.com's success, some clients have been afraid of the potential increase in business and how to handle it. That’s a great problem to have.
Brands like Nissan, Pizza Hut, Jockey, and Lucky Brand Jeans have all jumped on board. Competitors have tried to copy Jason’s approach, but he is authentic and his passion is contagious. Clients have remained loyal, for the most part, and Jason reciprocates by only promoting things he believes in.
Wearing a t-shirt for a living is not a complicated business model. However, it was not a back-of-the-napkin idea nor was it exhaustively planned out. Jason adheres to a “focus more and do less” mindset. He mapped out the idea, looking ahead a few years but not allowing planning to stand in the way of execution. In social media especially, things move too quickly to waste time deliberating.
With two years of growth and success under his belt, the future still remains uncertain. New members are being added to the team. Relationships with clients are growing and deepening. Word of mouth continues to grow and, despite the relentless activity, Jason still feels, “It’s much more fun to say I wear t-shirts for a living.”