I want to help you build a sustainable, profitable handmade business that makes you consistent income and sales. I only ever teach or recommend marketing, social media, pricing, production and branding tips that I’ve personally used successfully in my own 7-figure handmade businesses.
I'm Mei, from Los Angeles!
starting a business
get more traffic
running a business
make more sales
growing a business
mindset & productivity
pricing & money
selling on etsy
selling on amazon
Are you wondering how you can go from crafty hobby to professional business?
One way to do this is to create a product line that appears cohesive and united as a whole.
The benefit to you is you’ll learn:
You want to wow your customers, right?
You want them to think, “wow, she’s really good. She must be a professional. She probably does this full time.”
You don’t want to be seen as a garage sale shop selling anything and everything you’ve made.
A cohesive product line shows your customers you’ve put a lot of thought into your business. You’re in it for the long haul and they know they can trust you.
It gives your customers a reason to come to your shop.
Think about it: no one ever goes to a garage sale twice.
Document your process by writing down colors used (in my polymer clay sense, I record color mixes in ratios to keep consistent), materials used, size, even time.
This will help streamline your process of making your products.
You might forget exactly which gauge of wire to use for a design, but with documentation, you can easily refer to your design process!
It’s good practice too.
When you become so successful and it’s time to pass off your manufacturing work to hired help, having documentation of your processes will be a huge help!
If you make beaded or gemstone jewelry, you’ll want to find a reputable and dependable supplier that won’t go out of stock of your materials.
If you can’t find your special red bead anymore, you’ll be forced to scratch your product listing and stop selling it, or scramble to find a new supplier.
That is not ideal and the opposite of what creating a cohesive product line is!
I used to buy my silver necklace chains from Etsy suppliers. But when I really needed more chains for a wholesale order, they didn’t have any and I was stumped and couldn’t fulfill my own orders.
Don’t let yourself get cornered in a situation like this.
Think of your products in groups.
I make food jewelry so I would group by food type: Breakfast, Dinner, Asian Cuisine, Drinks, Dessert (subdivided into Cupcakes, Pies, Cakes, Ice-Cream, etc).
If you make jewelry, a good idea would be to group by color, materials, price range, gifts for mom/gifts for cooks/bookworms/yoga enthusiasts/etc. or overall aesthetic design (artists do this a lot with art collections that are typically inspired by the same thing in each).
Aesthetic design could mean: nature inspired (trees, wood, leaves, green), romantic chic (more pinks, reds, lace, ruffles, you get the idea), etc.
Try to avoid categorizing with words like “cute” or “pretty” as they can be very subjective.
The key here is to be specific – and this helps you gain clarity.
How do I know someone’s going to buy my designs?
You can have a really good idea for what will sell and what won’t.
You can do this research without sending surveys to your existing clients (or the lack of them).
As a food jewelry artist, I go to food blogs and recipe blogs. I see what recipes or blog posts have been highly rated or have lots of comments – this gives me a very good general idea that the said food type is well received by foodies.
As a jewelry artist or clothing designer, scout around in places where you can get public feedback like this, such as in:
You can’t go wrong following upcoming trends in your market.
If you have an existing product line, give it a good look.
See how you can group them into specific categories. If you’re having trouble, consider redesigning your shop for a more cohesive line!
If you don’t have an existing product line, then start by brainstorming ideas.
Remember that what you may like is not always what your customers will like.
As always, let me know what your thoughts are with this tutorial/article. I’d appreciate your comments!
Photo credit: David Goehring
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This is very helpful information it seems like the more I create and design the more I know what I want to do and how I want it to look and to all look more cohesive.
Definitely, it always helps that you understand your work and have an idea/plan/vision for how you’d like it all to tie in together eventually.
Great blog! I just noticed this link to my bracelet. Thank you! I’m really honored you chose it for an article that really means something to me! I truly strive for a cohesive shop. In the last couple of years, i’ve really noticed a huge, huge difference in my sales since I’ve worked on becoming more cohesive. I once worked with an expensive PR firm back when I was just making all sorts of random jewelry. They were very reputable and tried their best. But it was not easy for them to find proper magazines for my line at the time. This taught me a lot and now I have my shop much more “pitchable”. It’s been huge for me. Thanks so much for including my bracelet with this article! Looking forward to more posts from you and I’m glad to have found your blog! :)
Just visit your shop. Love your work. The cohesiveness of your shop is amazing from the theme all the way to your product line. I see why your sales are through the roof. Awesome. I’ve got a lot of work to do. Lol
Hi Mei.. I just know that you also have family in Malaysia.. I very surprise and feel like you are amazing person.. I want to become your fan.. And this article is so helpful and I also want to say thank you very much to you to create such a good place for those who just started their handmade business just like me.. Thank you very much!!! :)
Hi, thanks for this. I’m just starting out and need t sort out a cohesive line :)
Hello Mei, thanks for all the advice you give. They help me a lot because I have not yet begun to create my products, I’m still in the design process.
How do you do to have a balance between what you like and what your customers likes, I find that my clients and I have different tastes.
thx for this very helpful information , your blog is now listed in my handmade business directory because i think it is very usefull
This makes me think.
I have many very different items in my shop, the only similarity is that they are all made out of fiber (fabric/yarn). I was already planning to start focusing on using the more exquisite crochet and knitted wool items for the online sales, and use the cheaper acrylic items for craft market sales. Should I take those items of Etsy and of my website?
My main fabric items are bags and purses, with a focus on denim, but they are not all denim. Is that too diverse?
And now I started creating more creative, decorative items, like wall hangings of mixed media. This because it is a great creative outlet and lets me play with different techniques. So I should probably keep those separate, and sell them in a different store under a different name?
This is quite a challenge, and it is only step 2.
Pien, taking a quick look, I agree that your shop does not look very cohesive. It gives me the impression that you’re creating things you love and putting them up all for sale. You’ll need to start putting your ideal customer front and center of your design process and collection creation. I feel “bags and purses” is a great starting point – and then you can branch that out into different materials. But to include baby products with shawls and headbands seem like totally different customers.
Grant help in clearing the process of creating a cohesive product line and ranges. I am currently in the process of narrowing down the current products of my crazy creativity into series and groups based on my market experience and sell record. It is a slow but steady process. This article is my light towel in the mist on my way.
Thank you Mei!
I have been thinking about this article. I sell crochet acessories but I have purses, hats, bookmarks, headbans, scrunchies.. (well.. the truth is that I have one of each…) I don’t know if it’s best to concentrate in only one thing like hair complements or book accessories (as the 75% of what I have sold are bookmarks) or its ok to have all these products together. The thing is that I can see a person liking all that but I can’t see any person thinking “oh yes! that shop that had THAT” because I have different things.. you know what I mean? I would love to know your opinion.
Thank you so much,
I just completed Step 2 of the Challenge. I took a good hard look at my shop on Etsy and you’re right – it just looked like a collection of stuff I had made, a hodge podge of sorts, most of it one-of-a-kind pieces. The reasons I did this are two-fold: 1) Give potential customers more choice 2) I’ve been told by several veteran shop owners on Etsy to strive for 100 items or more in order to get picked up in Etsy’s algorithms and get placed higher on search results.
That being said, I followed your advice and now have 7 items. Items that are not one-of-a-kind, that I enjoy making and for which I know I will always be able to obtain the raw materials to make. Your feedback is appreciated – http://www.ducrae.etsy.com
wonderful advise. thankyou soooo much xoxo
You’re most welcome, and thank YOU, Kylie!
I found this post very helpful. This article opened my eyes to some things I need to really focus on and get more organized about. It also pointed out somethings I was already thinking about and really just confirmed it for me.
I’m on Step 2 of the Challenge.
I took a look at my shop and you’re right, althow I make collections I have some items from old colections, that simply (evenwith discount) don’t sell – I’m taking them off and will take off (for now) some I didn’t manage to take picture with my camera and took with my cell, and are nasty. It looks very bad and not cohesive.
Many times I think if making different collections like I do, does make my brand less cohesive :/
What your thoughts?
So I’ll get my store “empty” to reload. http://www.suspirobyaf.com
Thank you <3
You can certainly make different “collections”, but there should be at least one common thread that ties every collection together. It could be your style of work, like maybe you like more organic style and less geometric shapes. Maybe you do a lot of floral work, so that theme should exist in all your different collections. At least when you’re starting out :) When you establish yourself, it’s a lot easier to just go crazy with creating anything and still sell your work because you already have an existing audience!
Thank you very much Mei.
Big hugs from here!
Great article and gives me things to think about! How narrow do i have to go? I create crochet animals that are also rattles. So i sell finished product as well as a few patterns. My true passion are the goats i create, but honestly they don’t sell because i feel they are too narrow which is why i branched into the other animals/rattles. So should i eliminate the goats or is it still narrow enough for both?
I am in the process of designing a collection made from wooden beads. For my shop would you suggest grouping by piece design with a list of available colours, or group by the colours listing the piece designs?
Hey Megan! I don’t have a lot of info to go off, but it sounds like you can’t go wrong either way!
Hello Mei. Thanks so much for your mails and this article in particular.
I recently started brainstorming ideas on how to create a cohesive product line before seeing this and I can say confidently that it’s made the next step much clearer than it was. Thanks so much.
Some good points here!
Wow! I am on Day 3 and already learning so much. I love to create all types of things, but I have narrowed it down to 3: 1. handmade bleach art leggings, 2. illustration and 3. facepainting/bodypainting. I decided that I can bring them all together under my name Jamie Janett Graden Art, and display all of the art in one beautiful art piece. For example: A photoshoot of a models wearing my leggings, who also has facepaint/bodypaint, with my illustrations in the background. over the years I was always trying to keep them separate, and I just seemed and felt all over the place. Now I feel I have goals and direction. It’s not about posting random things to try and show people the cool stuff I make, now it’s part of a unified goal… the big picture
This post is exactly what I need right now! I’ve followed your blog for awhile now and after hearing your presentation at Midwest Craft Con in Columbus, I signed up for the Sale a Day Challenge. My problem is that I love to make all kinds of things and can’t seem to focus on being cohesive. I started a Shopify store in December with a plan to have a more narrow focus, but by the end of January, I had already started to go off track. I am going to do what you suggest and get back to basics, so I hope to have my shop cleaned up and ready for spring by the end of February..
Thanks for the much needed inspiration!
I am on Day 2 of your 30 day sale a day challenge and have some good ideas for creating product lines. A mental hurdle I have at the moment though is that my shop is split into two. I have a casual jewellery/accessories section and also a wedding jewellery section! Therefore I have two target markets. I have product line ideas for both shop sections but wondering if I should really just be concentrating on one target market for now??
Hi Mei, I design quilt patterns. Should I just design baby quilts, bed size quilts or all of the above. I have about 24 designs that are all over the place including, aprons, bags, key chain etc…. Your suggestions sounds great. I’m not sure what I should do.
Thisis very helpful. Thank you so much for your help!
By the way, i fall in love with Tiny Hands Jewelry ???? Very cute!
Great content ! I’m going through my shop and revamping it. Getting rid of the products that don’t sell and making it more of
a collection. Thanks for all your help and advice!
Great and helpful advice. Thank you so much for sharing! <3
I have a host of products and am looking forward to creating a more cohesive line. I have some questions regarding creating a product line. Should I create product lines based on
1. Grouping products types together ( Eg Neem Soap Bar, Neem Oil, Neem Scrub) _ ie. All products made with coffee together, All products made with Neem together etc. OR
2. Grouping Based on Benefit ( Example: Repairing/ Moisturizing/ Complexion Clearing)
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