A Motley Vision will turn five this June 2009. Since AMV moved to its own domain in June 2006, I (by the way, this is William in admin mode) have paid for the hosting costs to the tune of $70 a year*. Not outrageous, but I’d like to distribute the costs if I can. Even more: I’d like to do it in ways that are fun and cool and experiment with some of the concepts we kick around here at AMV.
First up: Killer t-shirts
We’re launching a Spreadshirt store. The first offering is the traditional “advertise our blog t-shirt” — but with a twist. I’m not too keen on turning you all into walking billboards. In fact, I generally refuse to wear any item of clothing that prominently displays a logo. So here’s what I have come up with: the phrase A Motley Vision (which as you will recall is from an Orson F. Whitney poem) transliterated into the Deseret Alphabet. The t-shirts come in either white lettering on black t-shirts or black lettering on white t-shirts. The transliteration has been verified by AMV’s own Deseret Alphabet expert Katherine Morris and uses a true-type font created by Joshua Erickson. I don’t want you to advertise AMV: I want you to non-advertise it. And in so doing connect with the funky Mormon history we know and love. I personally love this concept. I have no idea how others are going to react. But for me, the idea of this alien set of characters on your chest that’s a phrase from the overwrought epic poem written by the godfather of Mormon literature and the name of the premiere Mormon arts blog totally cracks me up. And is also very, very cool.
Here’s what it looks like (click to view a larger size):
There are both men’s and women’s t-shirts, but I’m limiting it to just one style for each gender for now (for reasons why, read the FAQ below). And as a caveat: I have yet to order from Spreadshirt, but after an exhaustive Internet search of all the major t-shirt on demand sites, it seems like the best one to use.
PROMOTION: If you order $30 worth of shirts (that means two or more) between Dec. 9-11, you get 15% off the total (not including shipping). If you order $30 worth between Dec. 12-15, you get 10% off. Use the coupon code NOW1 or if you are using Canadian dollars, it’s CADNOW1.
This just the first t-shirt design. We’ll roll out more every few months or so. There are a couple more Deseret Alphabet-themed t-shirts on tap, and we also have some other very cool, eccentric, esoteric Mormon-themed concepts in development.
Second: Shop at Amazon and AMV gets a cut
If you haven’t done your Christmas shopping yet, and plan to do any of it on Amazon, consider doing it by clicking on this link. Most readers probably know how this works — if people get to Amazon via links from this blog and buy something, we get a very small percentage of the sale. I don’t have high expectations for this one, but every little bit counts. Plus, if you are going to shop Amazon, you might as well do it in a way that benefits your favorite Mormon arts and culture blog.
We’ll also be using Amazon links occasionally in posts — in fact, we already link to Amazon fairly often so it seems only fair that we get something out of it. But as befits our vibe, we’ll be low-key about it. By the way: we’re doing this Amazon Associates thing, but that’s as far it goes. We’re not going to do Google AdWords, banner ads or any other advertising that would clutter up the site.
Third: Coming in the new year — direction donation + incentives
Sometime in early 2009, I’m going to open up PayPal donations. But we don’t expect anyone to donate without receiving a little something in return. So I’m working on an incentive that we’ll e-mail to anyone who donates a dollar to AMV. First up will be a PDF file featuring a translation I’ve done — but others may include special MP3 readings, photography, etc. So if the two options above don’t appeal to you, save your hard-earned dollar(s) for next year.
I also may come up with some premium incentives for those who wish to give at generous level.
How the funds will be managed and used
Currently, I have everything set up to go into an AMV PayPal account. All money received will go towards hosting costs for AMV. If we meet our hosting costs for the year, donations will then be used to buy specific Mormon cultural products for each of the AMV bloggers (in order of seniority) to thank them for what they do and have done to build this excellent blog (with the expectation that they’ll post about whatever novel, film, subscription, etc. they end up receiving). If we do reach that point, I will announce it here. The idea is to reward my co-bloggers, support Mormon artists and generate more well-written content.
In terms of keeping it all legal: Spreadshirt already takes out taxes and unless we experience a surge in Amazon Associates earnings and PayPal donations, we’ll consider any taxes owed to be my donation to AMV. So yes, I’ll include all earnings on my personal income tax form. However, if this takes off, we may look at a more formal means of organizing the financials. I plan on being upfront with my co-bloggers about all income generated, and I will provide some indications of how things are going to AMV’s readership. This is meant to be a cooperative effort.
Does this all make sense? If you have an suggestions or concerns, feel free to e-mail me at my-first-name AT motleyvision DOT org.
Because they seem to have the best rep online and because they offer plot printing. Here’s the thing: I was a screen printer for a summer. If I could make them myself, I would love to do so. But I don’t have the space, time or start-up money to set up my own shop.
Why not more t-shirt styles (slim fits, long sleeves, etc.)?
In part because of the plot printing thing. AMV is only allowed so many vector graphic designs and some t-shirt styles require a different size graphic. If the t-shirts sell well enough, Spreadshirt will give us more vector graphics slots, which we will then use to offer more styles (and more designs). However, if there is something you desperately want, e-mail admin AT motleyvision DOT org, and we’ll see about setting up a standard digital print design (which can still provide excellent results).
Why do the t-shirts cost so much?
Because they are high quality t-shirts with cool concepts. But here’s the breakdown: I have put a $5 design fee on each t-shirt. That’s the only mark up (e.g. I haven’t added a mark up on top of the design fee — which is possible to do). Of that $5, $1.90 goes towards taxes and the rest goes into AMV’s PayPal account. I plan there being a $5 design fee on future designs, but for those that aren’t designed by me, I will be giving half of the $3.10 profit to the designer as payment for his or her services.
In addition, I apologize for the shipping costs. I don’t think that they are extraordinarily high, but shipping is certainly an annoying part of e-commerce. I’ve had the experience of finding an amazing deal on a product online only to realize that shipping costs were going to make it no cheaper than picking it up at a bricks and mortar store — although this is one area where the cost would probably be even higher if I made the shirts myself.
* Actually the first seven months or so of AMV’s non-blogspot existence were covered by the check we received from the Association for Mormon Letters for receiving an award for criticism. Many thanks to any AML members who paid their dues in 2005.