A Big Fat Thank You

Big Fat Thank You - Marshall Atkinson

As we’re winding down the year 2015, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you very much for reading and supporting this blog.  I appreciate the time you spend reading the articles, and I sincerely hope that whatever topic I’ve chosen for the week helps you in some way.

That’s always my goal.

The mindset over these past years has always remained the same, which is to share some knowledge, ask some hard questions, and help others navigate the sometimes rough seas of the decorated apparel industry.  It’s a journey for all of us.

On December 19th of this year, the 100,000th article was read on this blog.  That’s zero to 100,000 in four years.  Fireworks didn’t go off, champagne wasn’t uncorked – mainly because I’m more of a beer and whisky guy; but there still was some celebrating deep down inside me as I greatly appreciate that number.  For other blogs, they might get that in one day.  (Currently my record is 805 on one day – hey, help me break that in 2016!)

Readers are mostly from the United States, but my stats indicate that people from a total of 150 countries have read something.  That’s simply incredible.  Talk about outreach!

I also have to mention and thank the 2 Regular Guys Podcast, and their incredible audience for voting this blog as the Best Educational Industry Blog for 2015.  My sincere thanks!  I’m incredibly honored and touched to be recognized by my industry peers.

I’m just like one of you guys.  Trying to get through the day.  Orders have to ship, customers have to be happy.  Staff needs to stay on track.  Sometimes my work day is incredibly awesome, sometimes it’s the other end of the stick.  However, every morning on the drive to work I reflect that I just can’t wait to get into the office and start it back up again.  This is such a great industry.

Which is all fodder for the blog.

I certainly don’t have all the answers.  I make mistakes too.  In fact, a lot of the reasons why these articles come about is that some challenge was resolved, another day ended and went perfectly and we reflect on “hey, how did that happen?”, a new technique was discovered, or disaster was averted in some way.  Just working in a shop means I’ll never run out of ideas.  Usually, it’s deciding what topic to pick is the hardest part.  It’s great that I work with such talented, creative and hard-working people every day.  They don’t get credit enough, so here’s a major shout out to the crew at Visual Impressions for being the rock stars they are every day.

So, what’s next?  

Like a lot of people I’d like to learn some new things and make some stretch goals.  In this next year, I’d like to do some video blogging and also work on writing a book for the industry.

For video blogging, I’m not sure what might work or how to do it…which is why it’s going to be fun.  Some say I have a face for radio, and I’ve never really liked the sound of my voice so we’ll see how that goes.  I don’t just want to read my blog articles, so creating something unique is going to be the challenge.  I have zero idea how to this, so it’s going to be a creaky start with lots of mistakes.  But that’s how you start anything really!

For the book idea, I started working on it last summer and actually had a lot of it put together.  Then my laptop hard drive crashed and all was lost.  Yes, idiot me didn’t make a backup.  Rookie mistake! My replacment laptop now is a Chromebook, so everything is auto backed up as I type.  You live and you learn.

I’d like to redesign the blog too.  Been awhile since I put in any effort into the page, but with over 150+ articles now, it’s time to reassess the aesthetic and maybe make it easier for people to find information.  Got something you need now?  Just type any interesting word for your shop into the Search window and I’ll bet an article comes up.  Go ahead, try it…I’ll wait.

There are a lot of changes coming to this industry.  Governmental regulations, minimum wage increases, improved products, sustainability issues, new fabrics and customer demands, decoration techniques, staffing questions and problems; the list goes on.  I can’t wait to write about all of them.

I would also like to involve you if I could.  What topics or direction would interest you?  Maybe a questions and answers post, guest blogging opportunity, or some sort of interactive something.  That’s the fun part.  Just being creative and inventing what to do.  I would love to hear your opinion on the matter.  Add your idea in the comment section below, or shoot me an e-mail to matkinson4804@gmail.com if you don’t want to list it publicly.

Also, I’d like to mention I love it when I get feedback from an article.  Taking the time to write me, posting a short comment, or stopping me on a trade show floor for a quick chat and introduction makes this all worthwhile.  I love hearing your stories and struggles.  It’s always fun to meet people and make a connection.  If you see me wandering around a trade show floor, please feel free to come up and introduce yourself.  That’s how friends are made.

If you are new to the blog, I hope you find some ideas that can help you.  Here are a dozen of the favorite articles listed in order by the most read:

When Your Are Up To Your Ass in Alligators – still my most read article.  I get dozens of readers a day on this article alone.  My favorite, because it reminds me of my Dad.

The Top Twenty – hey, it’s a list of my top twenty articles…go figure it would make this list too!

Creating Art for T-shirts: Common Rookie Mistakes Defined – new to the art part of the t-shirt industry?  This is a good place to start your journey.

20 Biggest T-shirt Shop Mistakes & How to Avoid Them – a good list of shop challenges and methods for ironing out those speedbumps.

Shop Unicorn Status: Denied – you aren’t as unique as you think you are.

Disruption in Our Industry – changes are coming…are you ready?

7 Habits of Highly Effective Production – do you do these in your shop?

T-shirt Color Matching: The Pill for the Pantone Migraine – make sure your ink mixes and prints are perfect!

Why A Daily Production Meeting Is A Waste of Time – do you still do this in your shop?

PMS 485 Is The Color Of The Devil – And Other Funky Stuff – just a little venting here…I’m sure you can relate.

Top 10 Bonehead Apparel Decorator Business Blunders – how many of these has your shop made this week?

Random Awesomeness – Tricks for Your Shop – an assortment of cool ideas you should try.

Here are a few that I think you should read as I know they can make a big impact on your shop:

Stepping Over a Duffel Bag of Money – want to make more money in your shop this year?  Here’s how to increase your margin.

Treat People Right – got employees?  You should read this…

Know Like Trust Buy – The Sales Funnel – breaking it down for you.

The Critical Need for (Boring) Procedures – your rules define your excellence.

Race to the Bottom: Pricing Wars – is the low price idea the number one way you are obtaining sales?  There is a better way!

Blueprint for Success: Your Work Order – it all starts here.

So, to close…thanks for your support and best wishes.  I appreciate everyone that’s shared or liked my articles online on their social media channels.  Please keep it up!

The one thing that I’ve always enjoyed about the decorated industry is that we band together to solve problems, share information and improve.  It’s a huge industry, but segmented into so many different facets, there isn’t too much jealousy and in fighting.

Best wishes for a prosperous New Year!  Please let me know if I can help you with anything.



  • Thank you and congrats on all the success this year!

  • I’d love to read an article about pricing and why print brokers / asi clients tend to boss printers around and low ball them. We print a decent amount of contract work now and I can count on one hand the amazing clients we serve and never question our price. Of course we treat them like gold and have developed great relationships. Then there is the other 50 “brokers” who want you to print 12-48 pieces in 2 days and of course send you a price list in the e-mail. If you can’t match this or beat it I’ll take my business elsewhere. What is the deal?! They are the ones making all of the big bucks, right? I always say people are coming to us for a reason at least I’d like to think that is true. We started printing for a big outfit that is a promotional products company and decided it wasn’t a good fit due to the low print pricing we agreed to. I received an e-mail back a few months later asking if we are still interested in printing for them as they aren’t getting the quality they wanted… Was ours good? I assume so if they are asking us to print for them again. We sent them our price list and stated this is what we’d charge for us to print for you and can’t agree to your old pricing as that was already stated when we ended the relationship of 2 months. (ours was fair and not out of the ballpark by any means) They responded sorry management won’t let us budge and we have 7 other printers already printing at our prices or LOWER?! Alright then, why are you contacting us again? I’d like to have the business but I won’t print for super low price and if they want quality they can cough up a few extra cents per print. This industry sometimes amazes me. I’m sure there are shops who can print for .40 cents a print but not us at the moment.

    • GK – good contract clients are out there that appreciate quality and great customer service. It’s ok to say no. Why lose money on a job? Keep up the good work!

  • I am one of those who discovered the blog this past year. So count me up for one of those from 150 countries, Portugal.

    Reading your blog has helped our shop immensely this past year and has given me motivation to work harder and make changes in the way we work.
    Just recently I was on holidays and instead of reading a book or watching a movie on my 12 hour flight, I downloaded a bunch of your blog posts and spent the entire flight reading. Needless to say I came back with a bunch of notes and implemented a lot of changes. We are now working as smooth as ever!

    Thank you so much and congratulations of the success of the blog and Visual Impressions, it’s well deserved.

    • Jorge, thanks for reading and this comment post. I love that my articles have helped your shop overcome some challenges and improve! Keep it up! -M

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