Every handmade artist or crafter out there has handed over a piece of their soul as a gift and experienced the less than gratifying response of “Wow, um thanks.” Or even worse, is the “Huh, that’s nice” as they try to hand it back to you. As makers, we want people to want and appreciate what we make. We may be creating to sell, we may be creating to gift, or we may be creating for ourselves. Regardless, we want what we make to be desirable to others. So the question we can ask is “what makes something desirable”? Here are 5 reasons people will purchase what you sell and why it creates a sense of need. When we understand what creates that emotion in people then we can create products people really want.
Why We Want Something
- It’s a necessity
- It makes life better
- It makes life easier
- It makes you smile
- It inspires you
Desire Creates Demand
Many of the considerations are practical (like price point), but what tips them over to become customers? At what point do they decide that your product is worth handing over their money? The simple answer to this question is: when they decide they want it. Give them more than one reason to want it and they start to tip towards the checkout.
Give them More then One Reason to Want it
Look at any product out there and you can usually place it into one of these five categories. But if you look at the things that sell well, you’ll notice they often hit more than one of these categories.
Often, when I design something I like to consider if it can be functional and beautiful. In other words, can it make life better/easier and make me smile/inspire me. An example of this is a lamp I sold on Etsy. The focus of my shop was wire sculpture, and I had lots of products that were aesthetically pleasing, unique, and that made people smile. Lots of the items were also under the magical price point of $10.
The lamp (pictured above) was one of my highest-priced items at $80. It was also my bestseller.
Why? It was functional as well as decorative. People need light, so it hit the necessity category. Because I designed it with a nest and bird, it also hit the makes life better category (it made their home more unique or attractive). But it also made them smile, or inspired them. It was frequently sold to new nesters (new parents or new home buyers), so I knew it was speaking to where they were in life and celebrating that place (they emotionally connected to the piece).
It was a solid seller because it hit so many of the categories. In the end, the customers didn’t care if it cost more (or if I put a two-week wait on it) they wanted it.
Giving Your Handmade Gifts Value
If you don’t plan to sell your handmade items, the question still applies. Only you want to give something that the person receiving it would want. For example, when I was planning projects for my elementary-aged child to make with his class, I still considered the categories.
And because I did, parents would pull me aside in the hallway, even a year or so later, and thank me for creating a holiday product they wanted to display year after year. It made them smile to remember, it made their life better, and was something they could use. That made me happy.
Happiness is Handmade
So as you design or consider a creative project, think about these 5 categories. You are investing your time, your money, and your emotions in crafting something. You want people to want what you make.
For three years I had an Etsy shop, and for six years I was the product development lead and then Creative Director for a nonprofit creativity ministry. I lived product development but was almost entirely self-taught.
One of the reasons I created this blog was to share this knowledge with other small makers who have the desire to make a difference in the world with their handmade products.
More of My Posts on Trends and Product Development
I’d love to have you share what you’re working on, and if it helps to consider these questions.
Also, if you’d like to know more about developing handmade products that sell you’ll love my post, Cheat Sheet for Coming Up with the Best Ideas for Creative Products. Or the post, Identifying and Anticipating Trends: Tips for the Small Maker. Read that one and you’ll discover what Rainbows and Unicorns have in common (clue: it’s not magical wishes). Or just check out my Create with Purpose category for them all!
Thanks for Reading!