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:
- how to make decisions when planning your product line – why this color instead of that, why this design instead of that
- how to create your products in a streamlined and efficient manner
Why this matters:
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.
How a cohesive product line will transform your business
- You're more media/PR friendly – when you pitch your products to magazines, blogs and other media, you can sell the featured item over and over again
- Pitching is easier for you – a cohesive product line gives you a very clear picture of how to pitch, what to pitch and when to pitch. Rather than thinking of a “story” for all and every one of a kind item you have, you have clarity on great pitch stories when you have a cohesive line
- You'll have streamlined systems – you save on time when you have streamlined processes for making your products
- You reduce costs and save money – creating a cohesive product line allows you to buy wholesale and make in bulk
- You create a memorable shopping experience for your customers – a well put together product line makes it easy for your customers to shop. You help eliminate indecision and increase appeal!
Here are four ways to create a cohesive product line (and transform your business)
1. Document your process
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!
2. Find dependable suppliers
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.
3. Group your designs
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.
4. Do your research
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:
- national magazines
- fashion blogs (see what popular fashion bloggers are wearing)
- celebrity fashion (the stuff celebrities wear is always in high demand by their fans)
- competitor's Facebook pages (look for high count in comments and likes
You can't go wrong following upcoming trends in your market.
What you need to do next
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