What sells best / what to create / why are my sales down? Let's try to answer these questions! :D

Hi everybody!

Hope you’re all healthy and somehow safe during this crazy pepperoni we’re all in. I think i already lost the ability to deal with real humans a few months ago in this self isolation since I actually talk 50% of the day to my dog. And he only answers with farts. Yay. But back to topic.

During the last couple of weeks I recognised the question about “what sells best” popping up here and there. And I thought I’ll offer you some bundled information about this.

So let’s start :smiley: what sells best?

  1. The questions should be „what sells the best in my personal shop“.
    Everyone here has a different shop and a specific target group that follows this particular shop. This target group (or persona) you’re speaking to through your products, is a different one than the other shop owners speak to.
    So let’s say you create romantic watercolour florals. And now you see a trend popping up: „Gothic bold black font.“
    You create the EXACT product that is trending in other shops but no sales at all! What happened? Well, the issue here is your target group.
    Think about it like a club.
    Let’s say your shop is a club for people who enjoy classic and piano music. Everyone is happy and everything is fine. And now your DJ says: „Hey let’s play hardcore metal! The club next doors has massive success with it!“
    What will happen?
    First of all your guests will leave. Well maybe not leave but they will get confused.
    Maybe one or the other metal fan comes in, enjoys the music for a minute or two and decides to leave to the metal club next-door, because the surrounding doesn’t look like he could expect more metal music in the future.
    See where this is going?
    So what you could do is you could interpret the trend to your own audience. Back to the example from the beginning: Gothic bold black font.
    Ask yourself: Why is this trending? Is it maybe because of the season (halloween), is it because of a certain trend like 80s? Or has it maybe a feature that helps people solve a problem you haven’t recognised yet?
    Try to analyse why a product works for a shop and what part you could convert to an own design. And also ask the question: Do I really have to jump on the train instead of working on a new collection that would perfectly fit into my shop?

  2. Don’t compare yourself!
    We see shops on Creative Market and other platforms that seem to have success with every single product they sell. Well, thats on the one side not the full truth and if so, there might be a reason for it.
    It’s not the full truth:
    You see a shop always popping up. It seems to have successful products everywhere. Well, let’s have a look at these shops. How many products are inside? What if they have 100 products and you see 20% of them super successful and 80% not? So if your shop has 10 products and only one or 2 successful, it’s the same ratio. Looks a bit different in such a situation right?
    So let’s pretend the shop has a 90% success. But when you look deeper into it, maybe the community is super strong? Maybe the person offers a ton of tutorials or has a strong bound with the community on social media? Maybe the person spends a fortune on advertising? - There is no one reason for „success“.
    Think about what you could offer your specific target group to make a closer bound! If you sell watercolour florals, why not talking on social media about the watercolour you’ve used and why you decided to use specific colours? Maybe they are organic? Or what about making your own watercolour paint and create florals with it. Show them how you would use the designs in real life or what about creating a music playlist that matches the exact feeling of your designs and your customers could listen to while scrolling through your posts?
    Try to activate more sensory perceptions besides the visual one. How does your design sound? How does the paper feel you painted on? Or maybe you’ve used a brush you got from a special person?

TELL YOUR STORY or the story behind your design!

We not only buy the product, we also buy a story.

  1. Look into the seasons!
    Small businesses plan ahead - it’s hot summer but you need to think about Christmas!
    Here you’ll find seasonal event calendar for Creative Market Shops: https://creativemarket.com/blog/a-seasonal-event-calendar-for-creative-market-shops
    It’s super useful especially if you feel lost or uninspired.

  2. Find other sources for trends!
    Of course some products you see on the very first pages here on Creative Market are selling well. But this doesn’t mean they are super trendy. Maybe the shop sold several extended licenses of it. This causes a higher ranking but says nothing about the product sale amount.
    When researching for trends look into trend forecasts, listen to podcasts, look into interior design trends, color trend institutes and so on.

  3. Advertising?
    There is NO NEED to throw money into advertising as long as you don’t make a massive profit. Use free options first:
    Pinterest, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, Podcasts, Facebook, Blogging. Think about your customers. What do they like? If your floral watercolour is something you want to advertise, don’t simply advertise watercolour panting. This way you will of course find more ambitious watercolour artists but they won’t buy your design because they can create it by themselves. Think about your customer (and no, you’re not your own customer). Does this person maybe work as a wedding invitation designer? Than she or he will look for wedding trends on Pinterest, paper print trends, paper making diy, flower trends, and so on.
    What about giving an interview on a wedding podcast channel? Think outside the box.

  4. Understanding Trends.
    We all see this kind of trippy hippy font popping up. But what if you’re not able to make fonts? Try to understand the trend! Where is this trend coming from? In this case it’s somewhere in the 70s. Go further: What was the aesthetic back than? What kind of colours, elements and designs where trending back than? Psychedelic fonts? What background does this have? Psychedelic trips through magic mushrooms? Maybe illustrated mushrooms will be trending? Convert parts and elements of trends to your personal style and add a bit of yourself to it.

  5. Solve a problem!
    Ask yourself - what problem could my audience have? Is there maybe something you learned after experiencing a problem and now you could share it as a product? Service is what we do.

  6. The golden rule…and I know you will now roll your eyes :wink: but it’s true.
    Have fun! Yes, this is the MOST important one. No matter the trend or the season. If there is sth you simply want to create from the bottom of your crazy creative heart - do it! Do what you’re really passionate about and it will be successful because you’re passionated about it and people will see it.

Creative Market and other design platforms is not a get rich quick option. It takes discipline and a lot of work to build a portfolio. Of course there are some people here and there that have instant success with something, but this is the minority. Most of us has to go through all the ups and downs a small business offers. Me too btw.

and now THE FINAL ENEMY!

  1. “Why are my sales down?”

… this is probably the question I see the most on EVERY platform. It’s a question you will find in the Creative Market Community but also in the eBay or Etsy community.

First: we - all - deal -with - this! There is no one answer but a way to understand whats going on and what you could do about it:

A) what season is it? We have several seasons when sales are down depending on our location. There is tax season, Christmas season, summer season. There are a ton of possibilities why sales could be down on one side. If this is the case: don’t panic! It happens to everyone. This is a normal rule in the physical and digital product seller space.

B) what happens around me? Let’s say you had a super successful shop with Lightroom filters. And out of a sudden - your sales dropped. What happened?
So the one thing that could have happened is there are a huge amount of other shops that sell Lr filters too. Solution - try to learn how to make better ones. Offer fun tutorials on Youtube and try to get known for your super cool filters through different platforms.

But what if out of a sudden an app pops up and offers all the styles for free you’ve sold in your shop? Well, this might be a problem but you can solve it! Who uses an app? Phone users. And who would not use an phone app but still Lightroom filters? Professional photographers.
So try to dig deep into this filter game and offer them very specific, high quality filters with a cherry on top - for example a color palette that works perfect with the filter?
This doesn’t work? So you still have your audience as followers but they don’t need any Lr filters? What could they need instead? What is something a person that works on photos uses besides filters. You could also ask them! Your customers will tell you exactly what they need if you just ask.

Or maybe you could add more personality to it and built a very niche brand? Maybe you have a passion for old movies and you create Lr filters? Combine your knowledge of both and create something unique!

C) Analyse your own work. Try to look into your work like you would do into others. Try to be brutally honest. Is the presentation maybe something you could work on? Have you set up your SEO and your tags correctly? Is there maybe a spelling mistake in the title? Or could you maybe add something to your product today to make it spark again? Stroll though your shop with an critical eye and sculpt on your product with the new insights and knowledge you have today.

D) What critique points can you see in your own products or in the market in general? Do people complain about unorganised files? Work on that! It’s not fun to go through old files - been there - but otherwise your hard work from the past will not be honoured as much as it should be. Also look into others people bad reviews. Where are the critique points? Maybe people are mad about the file format? Could you offer different file formats as an extension to your product? Or could you even offer this demanded product option the other shop couldn’t add?

E) The life span of a product can end.
Ok here is the thing - our products are our babies. I get it. But babies grow up and some day they become dads and mums and sometimes they become uncool dads and uncool mums. And uncool dads and mums say things like: „spicy“ & „funky!“ Whatever.
So what I mean with this is a product - no matter how cool it was in 2015 - can be uncool in 2021. It is what it is. Or would you still buy a case for the very first iPhone just because you don’t want the Etsy shop with old Phone cases go bankrupt? Probably not. The cool thing is, we don’t have any physical products but digital ones. This means we can adjust them! So let’S do it!

Never stop learning. Through your design products you’re selling your skills. Try to evolve and also honour your process! No one starts perfect. If you have a bad day and nothing seems to work, what about sneaking through other shops and looking at their very first products. Super fun to see how people changed through the time. And you will develop your skills too!

(You did it! You just read my whole post and now it’s time for a cookie! :smiley:)

I hope this helps and I hope I could give you some motivation and solution aspects.
Please never forget: no matter how sparkly fancy a business or a shop looks like - we all struggle with self doubt, the fear of not doing enough and other creative typical stuff. And we all have products we put massive work into and they flop. This happens. But the most important thing is to stay on track and to remind yourself WHY you started this journey.

Let’s use this community to exchange experiences and also listen to others. This community is not only made for pointing out the things that might not worked out but also for support. Use the tools we have :slight_smile:

I wish you guys a wonderful Wednesday!
Ana

26 Likes

This was quite helpful. Thank you !

3 Likes

Thanks for this huge post, Ana!
Very inspirational and motivational and a lot of food for thought😌 I love the idea of adding more sensory dimensions to the product! We really need to turn on this ‘outside the box’ thinking to promote our products through social media.

2 Likes

@ana.yvy you are always super helpful. this post is awesome. thanks for being so willing to share.

1 Like

This is such good advice @ana.yvy !!

1 Like

Such an amazing post, Ana! So many good tips, so well explained and the reminder that we all experience sales and traffic lows is just what we need to hear sometimes.

Thank you @ana.yvy

1 Like

Cheers for this.
I’ve also noticed a stereotypical expectation on social media in general that selling on CM or similar is going to suddenly become a passive income and you never have to do anything or just the bare minimum.
As you mentioned, products go in and out of style (lol, imagine if in 10 years we can pull out stuff we did in mid 00’s and call it vintage), trends come and go - and in my experience, selling digital products is a full time job if you really want to get as much as possible out of it :muscle:

2 Likes

Thank you all for the amazing feedback guys! If this could cheer up at least one person it was already worth taking the time :slight_smile:
And yes, totally agree @mysocialboutique - we sometimes really need to hear about the others around us don’t live in cloudy sparkly wonderland the whole time :slight_smile: I found myself so many times in a bad mood after a period of time with bad sales. It can be super frustrating and you really need to set boundaries on how much numbers can affect your mood. So next time you feel down because of this: 1. You’re not alone with this 2. Your sales don’t determine your work quality or your worth as a designer. Sometimes it’s simply just the wrong keyword, not the perfect time or not the season for sth to work well. Good news: some products need time to spark. During the last years I’ve seen so many designs that where made a long time ago jumping to the top out of nothing and trending. One of my bestsellers was made back in 2018, didn’t make it into the handpicked and didn’t sell really well during the first months after release. :woman_shrugging:

And of course - please feel free to add your own thoughts to this whole thread :slight_smile: I’m not trying to be the knows-it-all because I only can rely on my own experiences, so if your thoughts are different or if you’d like to add points, feel free to add it to the conversation :smiley:

Have a lovely start into the new week and keep creating! :v:t2: :orange_heart:

2 Likes

Thank you for posting this! Very helpful and insightful. Hope others get as much out of it as I did.

1 Like

Thank you for creating such an insightful thread, @ana.yvy ! Really well put together!

1 Like

Hey, @ana.yvy I just read your whole text, thank you so much for sharing so many inspiring thoughts. Definitely something to think about!!

1 Like

This was helpful. Thank you!

1 Like

This is an awesome post, @ana.yvy ! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m going to bookmark this for future reference and I’m sure I’ll come back to it again and again for encouragement. :slight_smile:

1 Like