How to create designs that sell

Think of creating a design as a three-step process. Find your audience, decide on the message, and create the design. Once you’ve found a winning design you can scale it by researching new messages that appeal to your audience, or adapting the message for new audiences.

Step 1: Find your audience

If you’ve read through Finding Buyers you’ll understand just how important audience research is for creating designs that sell. Once you’ve found your niche, or a group of specific people who you want to create a design for, it’s time to start thinking about your message, i.e., what does this group want to say about itself?

Step 2: Decide on the message through research

Many sellers say the message is more important than the design…given these two options, which do you think will sell more?

  1. A beautiful design with a message no one relates to
  2. An “okay” design with a powerful message that resonates with a certain group

It is much more likely option 2 will be a more successful design. Why? Because if people can connect with your message, they’re more inclined to purchase your design and wear it! When you are brainstorming messages your audience can relate to ask yourself if the message can incite any type of emotional reaction; does it make your audience laugh, angry, nostalgic, etc. Is it a message they would be proud to wear? Ensuring your design triggers an emotional reaction or connection with your audience should be your top priority at this stage.

Scaling successful designs 

If you really want to pinpoint people’s emotions try to make messages as specific as possible. Many sellers use a “layering” technique which can be used with all audiences; the technique involves adding particular interests to the message so that it will resonate with a very specific audience (niche). This is also a great way to scale successful designs or tweak them to appeal to new niches. Let’s look at the “mechanic” niche for example:

Layer 1 (career): All men are created equal, but only a few become mechanics!

Layer 2 (career & family): Some people call me a mechanic, the most important people call me daddy.

Layer 3 (career, family, hobbies): This mechanic lives by 4 rules; don’t touch my tools, my bike, my beer & my wife!

You can search on Teespring and Google to find similar messages and see what designs have been done already; it’s important to check if the “message” has been used before because if you’re noticing a lot of listings with the same message you should consider using something else. If the message has already been sold to your audience then they will be less inclined to purchase a similar design again. 

Step 3: Create the design

Now it’s time to create your design. Get inspiration from fonts and other design elements that appeal to your audience and make sure to create something original and unique. Many sellers create their own designs using design programs like Illustrator or Photoshop or they purchase designs from freelance designers

Teespring also offers design support for creators who already have a following online such as Youtubers, Podcasters and Bloggers. Check out the Creator Design Support Page to see if you qualify for design support.

Looking for more insight?

Check out the video below from TeeCon Barcelona; top-selling duo Dan and Luuk discuss their process for developing winning designs for their Teespring listings.

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