Designing With Intention vs Designing What You Want

Sometimes coming up with design after design is hard. Designing day in and day out, especially if you do this full-time, gets monotonous. So it's no wonder we often gravitate to designing what we WANT to design rather than what we NEED to design. It's easier to design what we want - and more fun, to be honest. I catch myself doing just this. But each time I make this mistake in my own Etsy shop it costs me, and there’s nothing more frustrating than putting all that time and effort into designs that I think will sell, finally publish them live, and then have nothing happen. No sales. All that work and little to no return.

This is one mistake I find among my students when they first start selling the cut files I teach them how to make. They learn how to design professional cut files and put all the time into learning Adobe Illustrator. Even the most amazing designers may still struggle when it comes to selling. Sometimes they design what THEY want rather than what they should be designing.

Designing with Intention

What you want to design and what you NEED to design are not always the same, and are many times different. Don’t get me wrong, you can design what you want and are entitled to this pleasure, but it's still important to design with intention. Just because you like it doesn’t mean it’ll sell. Selling is what pays the bills, folks. This is why it's super important to design with intention. 

Now we know we need to design to intentionally sell, how do we do this? How do we know what will sell?

Find out what your customers want and give it to them.

When I find myself drifting off course, I try to remind myself that first and foremost I need to design for my customers. Not for myself. Not for fun, but for my customers! The better we are able to understand our customers, even on a personal level, the more we become aware of their needs which in the end also decides our design. Focus on the customer, focus on their needs, and your sales will increase.

Instead of designing what sounds fun, design what is needed. Don’t just design parts or elements, design the whole package if that’s what your customers want or need. If your customers need more t-shirt designs, then create more t-shirt designs. The area I chose to focus on was farmhouse style cut files. I found they really like kitchen designs so I focused on this area for a while. Whatever it may be, figure out what they need and give it to them.

How do we find out what our customers need?

Get in tune with them, find out what they’re asking for what they’re looking for. The easiest way to do this is to simply ask them. Get on the phone with your sister who has a vinyl business, ask her what she’s doing, what cut files is she needing? Get on Facebook and ask that crafter friend of yours what she’s busy crafting. These are just examples, but you get the point. Just ask! If you have a social following or email list, get some feedback by sending out a survey or ask in individual social posts.

Something I did for a while that served me was to simply ask my subscribers when they opt into one of my freebies. If you give away free SVG files, people will answer the questions you ask. Just put it as a requirement to receive the freebie, “What style of cut files are you looking for?”, or the one I used “What style of cut file do you wish to see more?”. 

Another way to figure out what your customer needs is to use the Etsy search bar. Do some research using this free tool. Etsy automatically offers suggestions based off of their user data and what is searched most frequently. If you see the phrase “school svg” popping up, look inside this area. Do your research, look in the billion SVG Facebook Groups and see what people are asking, what they are using, and what projects they’re working on.

Another area you can look at are signs and t-shirts. There are several ideas on both Pinterest and Etsy. What do people use to make these? You betcha! SVG files! Think LIKE your customer, it helps. Watch what’s trending and what’s going viral and you’ll be filled with ideas!

In Conclusion...

You may be wondering why in past posts I encourage you to do what you love and focus on the area that makes you thrive and why I’m now all of a sudden encouraging you to do what you customer wants. Let me explain.

It’s important to choose the general broader area you enjoy FIRST, but once you have decided on this area, it's time to make smart decisions that will lead you to success. Not hold you back! That’s the entire point of us even doing this business, right? Even though you focus on your customers’ needs, if you initially decided based off of your interests, then the individual pieces you create for your customers should still fall within this area of interest. You still can put your own flare and style into it, which is more flexible than freelance designers who design on a per need basis. The point here is that it may feel restricting, but you still have flexibility. 

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Be sure to post comments below, I answer each and every one!

Have a great weekend everyone. Cheers!




Rob Tek

Extra income for all


Thank you for the info. It was very formative.

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