Flight Academy 102: 5 Steps to Planning the Perfect Swag Project

10 min read
SwagUp HQ
SwagUp HQ
SwagUp HQ

Published: November 18, 2022

Whether you have a swag project in a few months, or you’re in the workshop mode right now, a little planning goes a long way. Here is the SwagUp guide to planning (and launching) a successful swag project.

Step 1. Planning for Budget

We pride ourselves on making swag simple, and our pricing even simpler — no platform fees, no subscription fees, no hidden fees. Just the swag, and what it costs to ship. Cost per pack and item will vary depending upon order volume and number of colors in your artwork.

Total Cost = Swag + Shipping (+ Storage if desired)

What You Pay For:

  • Your Swag
  • Shipping
  • Storage (if needed!)

What You Don’t:

  • Everything Else! Seriously. No Platform Fees, No Hidden Fees, Nada

Note, SwagUp does not charge an assembly fee for items purchased through SwagUp. But if you are shipping us 3rd party items (items not produced by SwagUp), there will be additional charges for packing and storage. You can find more information about pricing on swagup.com/pricing 

🧮 Estimate pricing with our pricing calculator

Step 2. Planning for Deadlines

Remember, we can only send your swag into production when the following conditions are met:

  1. Designs are finalized and approved
  2. Order payment is completed

We know timing is everything. To that end, the SwagUp team behind the scenes continuously works hard to pack and ship out your swag as quickly as possible. If you’re thinking about starting a swag project, and looking to understand what you can expect, here are the stats you’re looking for. This page will report (refreshed daily!) where we stand with turnaround time from QA to mission complete, as well as the recent carrier delivery time performance for both U.S. and international shipments.

Check out our current fulfillment times >

🗺 A Note on Swag and Supply Chains:

As you might expect, global supply chain complications make guaranteed completion or in-hand dates very difficult. We highly recommend erring on the side of caution with your project timelines. For example, having a Plan B for out-of-stock swag items may save the day!

Takeaway: Let your Swag Expert know if you have a mission-critical deadline so we can help you plan for the best swag project within the timeframe.

After your swag is assembled (i.e. available as inventory in your dashboard), you will need to distribute it to your recipients. Standard shipping timelines are:

  • Domestic shipping: 2-5 days
  • International shipping: 5-7 days

In short, there are three distinct phases to account for when planning your swag project:

Phase 1: Design (As fast as 24 hours)

Make your swag picks and get mockups in 24 hours. Make revisions until you like you’re ready to take your mockups to production. Phase 1 can be extended or compressed as your team sees fit — keep in mind the duration of this phase is where your team has the most direct control, and delays here will naturally trickle down to the phases that follow.

To maximize your speed here, we recommend getting your team to help with:

  • Finding and sharing any brand guidelines and assets, including logo files and brand colors (Pantone and Hex codes recommended)
  • Sharing mockups with your key stakeholders, to consolidate team feedback in one go
  • Keeping your Swag Expert looped in on approvals and anything they might be able to help you with to get your swag project to production (e.g. item substitutions, if you will be shipping internationally and what items to avoid as a result of international shipping restrictions)

Phase 2: Production, Quality Assurance, Assembly (As fast as 2-3 weeks)

Stay updated on your swag progress through the Dashboard, where you can see your swag as it makes its way from production to our warehouse. Once your swag passes QA, it is assembled and made available to you in the Dashboard as inventory.

The best way to get an estimate here is to check our current fulfillment times, or ask a Swag Expert!

Phase 3: Distribution (2-5 days for domestic; 5-7 days for international)

Directly send swag to recipients in the SwagUp dashboard. All you’ll need is a shippable address with the relevant contact details (e.g. name, apparel size if applicable). You can ship anywhere in the world with SwagUp, keeping in mind international shipments take a little longer.

Shipping timeline estimates:

  • Domestic shipping: 2-5 days
  • International shipping: 5-7 days

Step 3. Planning Your SWAG Design!

Design files: Getting a Crisp Look for your Brand Logo

If you want to ensure we have the perfect design file reflective of your company’s brand, you’ll want to get a copy of your key assets as vectors.

Vectors are more than just a different file format. While raster images are made of pixels and hence can become distorted with scaling, a vector displays an image through mathematical formulas (read: Total Design Perfection).

The Benefits of Vector Files

  • Art can be scaled up or down infinitely without pixelation (perfect when designing custom swag across a variety of items, from booth banners to high quality apparel to pens and pins)
  • Smaller file size!
  • Completely editable

Vector files typically end in:

  1. .ai — (Adobe Illustrator) This common file type is created in Adobe Illustrator to work with logos, illustrations, and more

  2. .eps — (Encapsulated PostScript) Works with graphics and text vectors. They can be reopened and edited, but they don’t support transparency like .ai files do

  3. .pdf — (Portable Document Format) A PDF file retains some editing capability of vectors and is often used with Adobe Acrobat. Warning: Raster images can also be saved as a PDF. If you can zoom in very close without pixelation, it should be a vector file; if it pixelates, you have a raster file.

  4. .svg — (Scalable Vector Graphic) Web-friendly. SVG files are ideal for ensuring a crispy quality to logos, icons, and other visual elements of your brand’s online presence

🥴 Soooo what if my art isn’t a vector?

Good news! Your marketing/design team probably already have the vector files you need on hand. If you had a professional graphic designer or agency do it for you, they should also be able to give you the vector files.

But most of all, don’t sweat it.

Whether you don’t have a vector file or can’t find yours, we got you. Our team will help you vectorize any logo file you have. So don’t let that stop you from starting a project. As a bonus, you’ll be able to add your newly vectorized brand logos to your assets library forever to make consistent company branding a piece of cake.

Brand Colors: Why Pantone?

Pantone, or the Pantone Matching System (PMS), is a proprietary color system that can take your brand to the next level if brand consistency is important to you — this is because Pantone colors are extremely accurate in creating a specific color, hence the name ‘Pantone Matching System.’ It’s commonly used for screenprints on items such as apparel, water bottles and notebooks. 

While Pantone is also used for printing, it’s fundamentally different than using CYMK. Rather than creating color through a mix of percentages, Pantone colors use thirteen base pigments that produce a catalog of colors under the Pantone brand, indicated by their unique number. 

For example, Pantone’s Color of 2020 is PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue. The unique numbers of predetermined Pantone colors help printers maintain color consistency, although it can be potentially more costly.

Takeaway: If consistent branding and logos are important, use Pantone. If your print job doesn’t require a specific shade of color, then CYMK may be better depending on your budget.

Not sure what your brand’s Pantone colors are? We can help you convert your brand colors between different systems — just ask!

Experience it yourself

The SwagUp sample pack features some of our most popular items with the SwagUp brand. If you need swag pack ideas and think with your hands, request a Sample Pack to kick off your swag project brainstorming!

Pro Swag Hack: Use it as a template for your own swag project

Insert Card Messaging

Arguably the differentiating factor between a great swag pack and a so-so one, the Insert Card is the secret sauce to a great swag unboxing experience. Enjoy quality cards from our partner Moo to pair a thoughtful message with your swag.

💌 Learn more about Insert Cards (and get some templated copy ideas to start with!)

Cheat Sheet: What should I have ready to fast track my swag?

Step 4. Getting the Guest List

Who’s getting the swag? Here’s how you can plan ahead for your swag recipients.

Recipient collection

First, if you plan uploading multiple contacts into your SwagUp Dashboard, you’ll want to make sure to get the following information:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Email
  • Phone Number
  • Shipping Address
  • Shipping City
  • Shipping State
  • Shipping Zip
  • Shipping Country
  • Apparel Size
  • Company Name

If you are manually uploading contacts, the easiest way to avoid potential errors in the upload process is by using our provided Contacts Import CSV template

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that SwagUp Redeem Pages (included with your SwagUp account) handles all of this for you. It’s the SwagUp equivalent of the Easy Button.

Step 5. Check Your Blindspots

International and Domestic shipments

Shipping swag is all done within the SwagUp Platform, ready for you whenever you are. You can ship your swag to multiple addresses, including to addresses in different countries. As long as you have swag in inventory, you can use the SwagUp Platform to ship swag. If you’ve just started a swag project, your swag will show up in your inventory once they are produced and available for shipping.

🚀 Swag Expert Tip: Need to set aside a swag budget? Buy swag shipping credits to fully cover your shipping costs in advance!

💵 Pack rates

For domestic addresses 🇺🇸

  • The cost for shipping is $15.00 per pack ($23.00 if overnight)
  • The cost for shipping an oversized swag pack is $16.00 per pack ($25.00 if overnight)
  • The cost for shipping a mailer bag pack (< 1 lb) is $11.00 per pack

For international addresses 🌏

  • The cost for shipping is $32.00 per pack ($40.00 if express)
  • The cost for shipping an oversized swag pack (+6 lbs) is $45.00 per pack ($55.00 if express)
  • The cost for shipping a mailer bag pack (< 1 lb) is $25.00 per pack

💵 Individual item rates

Bulk (individual items) shipment costs are based on weight. To calculate an estimate, use our bulk shipping calculator

Further resources:

Warehousing, item warnings

Store your swag in our secure warehouse, and ship over time. Inventory is managed via your platform. Storage fees: flat rate of $4/pack; storage fees vary for bulk and 3rd party. See here! Grace period: Once your pack inventory is available, we offer a 5-day window to ship initial packs before charging for storage. Our warehouse is in Piscataway, NJ

What about 3rd Party Swag?

Have existing swag on-hand or want to add a one-of-a-kind item to your next project? We accept 3rd party items every day! 3rd party item inclusion/storage is subject to specific terms, conditions, and pricing. We understand that every project is different, and our Account Executives can share specific program details when you connect with them directly.


You completed Flight Academy 102, and you’re now ready to plan your perfect swag project.

If you still have questions, or feel like you’d prefer a co-pilot to start, reach out to a Swag Expert and book a demo today!

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