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A Most Unusual Job Idea

Tuesday, 11 Oct 2011 | 2:27 PM ET

Here's something the unemployed unhappily camping out at Occupy Wall Street might want to consider.

Cnbc Speakers Corner
Cnbc Speakers Corner

Make some money.

A company is looking to hire four people, and all you have to do is wear a T-shirt six days a week (Saturdays are off), make YouTube videos, Tweet and post on Facebook.

For that, you'll get paid $35,000 a year.

The company is I Wear Your Shirt, which launched in 2009. It's the brainchild of Jason Sadler, a web designer and marketing guy who decided to make a business using social media to advertise. He got the idea in September, 2008, as the economy was collapsing, back in the Neanderthal era of Twitter and Facebook.

"What's the angle I can use?" Sadler says he asked himself at the time. He'd seen sponsorships by celebrities in magazines, but he figured for it to work in social media, "it had to be a real person." Since he didn't care what he wore, he thought T-shirts might be a good advertising venue (better than tattoos on the forehead).

Sadler decided to start a business where he would wear a different sponsor's shirt every day, make a YouTube video about it, and add tweets and Facebook posts promoting the company.

He presold five and a half months worth of business before wearing his first shirt, which was for Ustream.tv.

I Wear Your Shirt's pricing model is interesting. To buy its services on January first, you pay only $5 for five people to wear your shirt, plus they make videos and all the rest. Every day after that, the price goes up $5, until December 31st, which costs $1,825. Customers run the gamut from a mom and pop granola company to Starbucks, which has hired him twice.

In 2009, Sadler says he made $66,795. Back then, prices started at $1 and rose $1 a day. In 2010, they went up $2 a day, and Sadler says he cleared about $200,000. That amount is going to more than double this year.

When I asked him about profit margins--after paying his employees $35,000 each--he figured they're about 20 percent. "I'm trying to get better at cash flow." Still, he's proud that he's been able to make a nice life for himself having fun. "This has literally been my only income for three years."

While Sadler operates out of Jacksonville, Florida, his other four employees live in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Bolivar, MO. The others are working on one-year contracts, and so he is now hiring their replacements. "I want to get fresh faces, it gets repetitive after a while." He's looking for three things in new employees: they have to be good at editing video, they have to be hard working, "and they have to be awesome."

No one younger than 17 can apply, but there's no upper age limit. "I would love to have a video savvy grandmother." One note: this is a fulltime job. Employees are supposed to wear the T-shirt all day. However, "Our sponsors understand if we have a wedding or a funeral, the shirt might not get worn there, though most try to wear it."

With new faces come new changes to the business model in 2012. Instead of all five employees wearing the same shirt all day, each employee will now wear a different shirt, allowing the company to quintuple the number of customers. And if you want Sadler to wear your shirt, you have to pay extra.

Why would a company buy his services? Sadler says they see the low cost value. "They ask, 'Do I spend my $5,000 in marketing on Google AdWords, or do I spend some on the T-shirt guys?' At least with what we do, you get content which will live forever on the web...from a human perspective."

He says I Wear You Shirts posts 150 videos a month, and between Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and their website, they reach about 100,000 people a day. "If you wanna be on social media but don't have the time, we can give it a kick start for you."

So...what's next? Sell the company? Sadler says last year two companies approached him about investing or buying, "but it just didn't feel right." He says he's committed to helping businesses, especially small firms, better use social media, and he felt the potential investors approaching him "just didn't care."

Finally, he won't wear just anyone's brand on his breast. When weighing whether to do business with someone, "I use my grandmother filter." He won't wear anything promoting alcohol or tobacco. No porn. Once he was hired by a chain of strip clubs in Texas, but didn't realize what kind of business they were in until he Googled the company. "I refunded them the money and said, 'Sorry, this is not for us."

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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