Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What I Thought Would Happen and What Actually Did – New Products

I’ve been working on making improvements to my small handmade business, and yesterday I wrote about what I though would happen with changes in my “social media game” – what actually happened – and how I’m changing up my tactics.

Today is more of the same, but today I’m going to focus on another major area of improvement I’ve been focusing on: coming up with new products to sell in my shop.

What I Thought Would Happen

My cup cozies sell the most in November and early December, for a number of reasons (that I have deduced). First, even though cup cozies work just as well on cold drinks, they’re thought of as a hot drink accessory . . . and people drink hot drinks more in the colder seasons than in the warmer seasons. Additionally, my items are cute and great as gifts, which are obviously good to purchase in the gift-giving holiday season. Because my item aren’t too expensive, they’re also very popular with small gift exchanges. I’ve been told a number of times that they’re used as stocking stuffers and as office “Secret Santa” gifts.

I have ideas for increasing my sales during the cold months, but I really hoped to find a way to greatly increase sales during the other 10 ½ months of the year. I did intend to work on new ways of marketing my cup cozies, but I decided coming up with new products that weren’t tied to the cold months as the best way to increase sales. I also was excited to put my creative hat on and see what new products I could come up with. “I’m not going to just be the cup cozy lady anymore!!!!”

What Actually Happened

Well, I have come up with some new products, but I still haven’t put them in my shop. This is for a few reasons. My first new product idea was well-received in theory, but my guinea pigs (friends who agreed to test them for me) all reported problems with the item functioning the way it was supposed to. They were cute and well-made (universal ageement on that, phew!) but they’re not ready to be sold.

Another product I’ve developed is a little intimidting because it requires more labor and materials. Plus, I’ll likely have to pay more attention to customization because everyone will need a different size.

A third product is easier to make, but I don’t feel it’s the most original thing in the world. I think it will be popular, but I’ve been bitten by the “I must make something UUUUUUUUNIQUE” bug and that sucker has buried his head deep. I am still struggling with this – create and sell something that is great, cute, well-received . . . but not that different from what others are making?

What I’m Changing

I’m going to keep working on it all. I’m going to try to figure out how to make my first new item functional. This will involve more test pieces being given out. I’m going to have to decide if I can commit the time to making the more customizable second product . . . and honestly I just don’t know what my final decision will be on that one. And for my most recent product that I think will go over well but isn’t one-of-a-kind? I’m moving forward with it. Some of them may have to settle for being “just” super cute and well made. But some are going to be taken a step up into uniqueland. I’m working on some ideas that can add a little “flavor” to these items.

What I need to do with all of them, though, is buckle-down. I’ve been going through a period of very little motivation to actually create. Lots of reading and talking about handmade business strategies, but very little time spent on actually making the things that the business centers on.

What about you? Are you working on new products for your business? Am I the only one finding that it’s not as easy as I thought it would be to come up with good ideas? How do you feel about being unique? Are you ok with selling something that someone, somewhere (or a few someones . . . or many someones) is making too?

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