2012 was a big year for Day of the Shirt: it moved from being one of a constellation of hobby projects to becoming the main focus of my spare development time and a largely self-sustaining business.

As a project

As a technology project, Day of the Shirt went through a lot of changes in 2012. Including:

  • It started off the year featuring just 10 t-shirt vendors. By the end of the year, that number had grown to 21 vendors, including some that featured multiple shirt sales.

  • The technology stack morphed a lot. Originally built in PHP, I first rewrote the backend in Node.JS (though I was still using PHP for HTML templating). Then, as the year closed out, I began the task of rewriting it for Ruby on Rails.

  • In moving Day of the Shirt from PHP to Node (and towards Rails), I improved the instrumentation and error logging a lot. This meant I’m much more quickly able to respond to changes in t-shirt vendors websites and ensure that designs on Day of the Shirt are up-to-date.

  • Added a daily RSS Feed

  • Started pushing daily updates to Facebook (in addition to Twitter) with about 1,500 likes on the Facebook Page by year’s end.

As a business

2012 marked the first time that Day of the Shirt ever earned any money. Like:

  • After 1.5 years of having Google Adsense advertisements on Day of the Shirt, I finally received my first payout in February.

  • In addition to showing advertisements, I also started adding affiliate links to shirts. The majority of t-shirt vendors I list don’t have affiliate programs, but I went ahead and signed up as an affiliate for those that do.

  • Because I was actually earning some revenue for the first time, in November I completed the process of registering Day of the Shirt as a Sole Proprietorship in the City of San Francisco.

  • The income has allowed me to pay a designer to help with the visual and interaction design and a developer to help migrate the t-shirt collection scripts to Ruby: having already migrated a lot of automated scripts from PHP to Javascript, I was happy to lighten my load and focus on building out the website itself.

As a passion

I’ve always juggled several web projects (like Brompt and Panlexicon… and all of this), but 2012 really cemented my commitment and interest in Day of the Shirt:

  • Traffic went up, way up. Over the course of the year Day of the Shirt went from having 200 daily visitors in January to more than 8,000 by December.

  • People started writing about Day of the Shirt on Reddit and online forums. And tweeting about it. And in November Day of the Shirt was featured on Lifehacker.

  • People started emailing me (and we don’t feature our email address very prominently): thanking me for the website and suggesting new daily t-shirt vendors to add to the website.

2012 was a really important year for Day of the Shirt and has set a lot of the foundation for improvements and new features I’m adding in 2013.