Guest Post from Michael Essek: Designing for Trends
Here at TeePublic, we've been huge fans of Michael Essek's Print-on-Demand tips for a while and we recently co-hosted a webinar with him on designing for Trends and how to create designs that sell. (See below for a link to the recording, and be sure to check out his previous blog entries here!) Like what you see? There's more where that came from on his website, so check it out! Without further ado...take it away, Michael!
Designing for trends is one of the strategies that’s had a huge impact on my growth.
Not only is this strategy a great way to generate relatively easy sales and quick profits - it’s also a great way to develop some truly valuable, long-term skills (as I’ll explain soon).
Here’s why the trends strategy is worth your time:
- Trends - especially new, novel, never-seen-before trends - represent high demand markets with super-low competition. They don’t stay that way forever - but while they do, it represents an ‘open goal’ for the savvy designer.
- Marketplaces with high organic traffic like Teepublic rank products based on sales - meaning that the products a customer sees after searching are those that have previously sold.
Thus, if you correctly predict a trend and create a design that sells, these sites will continue to ‘push’ that design to the top. This creates a self-perpetuating cycle - more sales move you up the rankings, which leads to more sales - and so on. This is how you can sit atop a trending search term in perpetuity - and it puts you beyond the reach of the late arriving competition or copycats.
- The Trends Strategy costs nothing. Unlike an attempt to break into an already busy market - though sponsored ads or similar - this strategy relies purely on free, naturally occurring traffic. You anticipate people will be searching for a particular term and looking for a particular type of design - and you simply create that design. If you're right - the design sells - and it didn’t cost you anything (except your time).
But the trends strategy also pays long term dividends...
For example - to successfully attack a trend - you must have a solid understanding of both the topic and the context surrounding it.
This often requires deeper-than-surface-level research - asking such questions as; who are the people talking about this trend? what are they saying about it? what are their motivations, talking points and narratives?
If you can successfully gather that information about a brand new trend - then you can apply those same skills to almost any other topic - trending or otherwise.
This ability to do context-focused research is one of the most important skills any designer can develop.
Secondly - Trends are fertile ground for social-media friendly viral content.
It can be difficult to get traction on social media without a huge following - but hopping on a current trend is one way to ‘ride the wave’ - short-cut the system - and benefit from the natural, organic ‘uplift’ that occurs when everyone is talking about a particular topic.
In other words - focusing on trends gives you material much more likely to help you grow your audience - and with the potential to go viral.
Here’s the bad news: the skills required to win at trends are not learned overnight.
The ability to accurately predict a trend AND produce something appropriate for that topic takes time and effort to develop (and plenty of swings and misses along the way).
The good news is that these skills CAN be learned - and once you learn them, the applications are almost endless. Not only can you learn to dominate the competition when it comes to short-term trends, but you can also use those same skills to keep winning in the long-term.
So get out there and tackle some trends!