October 4, 2015

How to Develop a Product That Sells in 8 Easy Steps

Do it yourself gifts that you can make into products. Product development usually comes from a place of scarcity. If you can not find it, be inspired to make it yourself! Live to create and to make things!

If you were like me growing up, you always wanted something you could never find. Maybe, you didn’t have the money available to buy what you wanted. I still have that problem today, but it felt more magnified being in a rural town. Growing up I was constantly going against the grain and never felt like I fit in. I would subscribe to 3 or 4 magazines a month, dreaming my way through those magazines. Tearing out images that inspired me, and then go an hour away to the closest shopping center to scour the stores. I would come back empty-handed. After seeing everything I had already seen and didn’t want.

It was in these days that I learned, I can make anything or find anything if I put my mind to it. Which is part of the drive to go to fashion school to learn how to make anything I want. Today it seems so easy for people to go online and order something from anywhere in the world. But, what is the fun in that; Right? If you have everything readily available to you, why make it if someone else does it better? I say wrong to that!

Innovation comes from scarcity. It’s putting yourself into a creative corner and problem solving your way out. I have felt many times that the inspiration I feel when I see something that really catches my eye is more rewarding when you make it yourself. Unless it’s a Chanel purse… and I have tried… it’s not the same.

Find The Inspiration, You Find A Purpose

For me, inspiration strikes usually right around the holidays when I want to make gifts for people. I think about how I want it to look at the end? How would you want it to be used? You could start by doing loose research maybe on YouTube of how your product works if you’re not familiar with it or on Pinterest for inspiration. An example could be you want to crochet fruit. Why wouldn’t you want to crochet fruit?

Step one would be to learn how to crochet. Some really basic things like casting on, increasing or decreasing.  You could also approach this with I can’t crochet but I can sew. Know your limitations and work with it. If you don’t know how to read patterns, that’s ok. Let’s make your own. If you’re not up for making something, get in touch with a creative like myself and we can try to work something out.

Finding The Purpose

Finding inspiration or purpose is one of the biggest key factors in making a product. If you don’t want it, why would someone else want it? Be your number one client and others will be gravitated to how awesome your project is and will want you to make them one too.

crochet turkey hat for a baby

Who are you calling Turkey?

One of my ideas came from having thought to crochet an apple for my niece and nephew. Actually, it started off as a crochet apple hat. As I was making it, I was like “I could just decrease and make a sphere! I could make a little brown stem and a little green leaf and stuff it. Ding ding ding!”

By first trying to make an apple hat, I made an apple, carrots, an eggplant, and the coveted cooked turkey hat. This is how I know I’m on-to something. When I’m making something, and I have more ideas than I can physically make in that instant. It’s good to have a notebook close so you don’t lose those genius ideas.

Do A Practice Run

After the initial idea, try making a mock-up of it. Make some sketches to get a size and idea of what it will look like to have something to reference so you don’t stray from your concept too much. I do this all the time when making patterns.

Second, you would make a rough go at it. Actually, start making it and see what kind of obstacles you will face. Use materials that are inexpensive or that they are close to what you want to make your final project with.  Make small notes about how many stitches you make going around, and how many rows down you increased and then decreased. If you intend on making something large, I recommend trying to make something miniature to understand what’s going to happen. When you feel comfortable with your mock-up, let’s plan the main project.

What did you learn from the mockup that you will carry-over to the real one? For instance, maybe you need to leave a long string at the beginning so that you can tie the stem to the apple. Or the crochet hook you were using is way too small and it will take you years to make a single piece of fruit. It’s a good thing you made that test project. You don’t have to finish it completely, but only enough to really understand how you would finish it.

Set Out Your Materials, And Let’s Make This Happen!

Warning! Once you see how easy it is to make one, once you have it figured out, you may feel like you need to make it many more times in every color possible… It’s contagious! Be careful. But this is also the feeling that will drive how you go about selling and creating a new product.

Designed and made by yours truly. E Cee'S

Designed and made by yours truly.  E Cee’S

While I was making the crochet fruit, I was thinking of some of the limitations it had so I decided to start making felt food as well. I had a lot of success making a French baguette, bow tie pasta, and ravioli. It was so much fun giving it as a gift.

Even if it’s not perfect, you can perfect it over time if you choose. My sister really likes to brag about how crafty I am. It feels pretty great. Have those same rewarding feelings for yourself!

All you need to do is to just try to figure it out as you go. If it’s really quirky, you can play it up and make it work. You just have to own it! There was a running joke in one of my creative pattern classes in college. If you make a mistake you can’t fix, it’s ok. That’s where the bow goes. Everything is cuter with a bow!

Simple Steps For Creating Products

You can apply this process with any tactile product idea. Do it yourself gifts that you can make into products are how a lot of small businesses start. You have an idea that turns into a passion!

Step1: Get inspired. Think of an idea.

Step2: Learn the basic skills to bring your idea to life.

Step3: Make a loose plan, draw-up a rough sketch, make a quick mockup, and see how it feels.

Step four: Identity what you would do differently the next time.

Step five: Dive in and have fun! The first time is the hardest. Every time you make it thereafter it will get faster and faster.

Step six: If you make a mistake or it doesn’t quite work, own it. Make it work, and when all else fails, put a bow on it.

Step seven: If you are really stuck and feeling discouraged, you could submit it to the Fail Blog, or ask people how they would have done it to gain a different perspective, or you could hire a creative like my self to do it for you.

Step eight: Market your product and build more products along the way to build yourself a business and some extra money! Understanding and perfecting one thing will help you be an expert in your niche!

If you decided to try making something, let me know! I want to see it! Do it yourself gifts that you can make into products are how a lot of small businesses start. A small passion project turned into a side hustle!

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