Sometimes it fuels me, and other times less so. To be honest, it can be tough to fill your work week with one-on-one clients. Though our clients are often the loveliest people, with brand stories that make my heart pump, we are humans and need a little rest.
Enter: the idea to create another revenue stream.
We’ve all been there. Whether it was a particularly tricky project, or time away from friends/family, there’s a desire in us to strategize an alternate route. One that will allow us to continue our bread and butter client work, while also supplementing our income through a different revenue stream.
I’m so pumped for this series “Services + ______,” all about how to diversify your income streams. My goal is to help you generate ideas to expand your business and gain clarity for your next steps.
The focus of the series is to support your services through another income stream. Continue marketing to the same audience (your clients), while expanding your offerings. This way you won’t be creating separate audiences with different marketing plans, and instead will continue to have clear messaging and focus for your brand (something I’ve learned along the years!).
Let’s kick off the series with Services + Products. Here we go!
As a designer, you can’t help but swoon over stellar tactile design. You, like me, probably have an Evernote file full of physical product ideas that you’d one day love to create.
Physical products are a great way to showcase your design skill-set, attention to detail and can we even talk about the packaging design?! Hello dream project!
So, what types of physical products can you create that will appeal to your service-based clients? Here’s a few ideas to get the ball rolling:
Branding or marketing book — This would be great to sell to a potential client to create a sound brand foundation prior to working with you. It’s also great for current clients to strengthen their brand.
Marketing planner — A great resource for your clients to stay on top of their marketing. It also helps to gently remind them that you can help execute their marketing ;).
Brand publication — A quarterly/annual/semi-annual publication that showcases your client’s work, as well as guides them through maintaining their brand.
The possibilities are endless, these are just a few ideas that came to mind!
If you’re not ready to handle inventory, overhead, shipping, or don’t have a physical product in mind, digital products are a great way to add another stream of income to compliment your services.
If you aren’t familiar, digital products are items in your shop that customers can purchase and instantly download. Think of printable PDFs, Photoshop actions, fonts, etc. These types of products have become wildly popular… and for good reason. There is little overhead (other than the time to create), don’t require inventory, and are simple to deliver to your customers.
If you’re looking for a starting place of digital products to sell, I’ve got some ideas for you:
Surface patterns — If you’re a designer who can’t get enough of pattern design, you can sell your seamless patterns. It could be as easy as selling a small collection, or heading to Surtex and licensing your artwork (that’s a whole other ball game).
Stationery — Simply design the note cards, postcards, business cards, etc. and sell the PDFs. You could offer a service to customize for each business, which is a great way to incentivize working with you directly.
Website themes — Everyone needs a website, but not every business has the budget. Offering themes (WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, etc.) is a great way to meet lower-budget clients. You could also offer to install or customize, which leads to working directly with you.
Subscription — Whether you sell printables, stock photos, or graphic assets, you could offer a subscription service. Social Squares comes to mind as a great reference for how to offer your digital products a la carte, or as a subscription-based model.
These are just a few ways to supplement your services through selling digital graphic products. There are infinite ways to sell digital design goods.
While dreaming of selling products is lovely, I’m the girl that instantly goes in research mode to figure out HOW this will shake down. What platform should I sell my products through? Should I sell through my own site, or a third party?
While each of these questions could be its own book, I’ve narrowed in on which platforms I recommend, and how to sell your products most effectively.
Here’s a few platforms to consider when selling physical or digital products:
ShipStation: A great resource to manage shipping for physical products.
Printful: On-demand printing + shipping
Gumroad: Sell digital, physical or subscription products (I’ve used them for years!). Integrates with all website platforms.
Shopify: E-commerce website platform (if products are a big part of your biz, you’ll want a Shopify site eventually)
Let’s get to the juicy debate — should you sell your products through your own site, or through a third party platform?
Here’s my take on it...
Selling through a third party
Sites like Minted, Etsy, Creative Market, etc. are incredible resources to sell your products. They take care of customers, transactions, marketing and all the day-to-day that can bog down us entrepreneurs. How it works is you create a storefront on their website, post a few products, and then (hopefully) watch the $$$ roll in. Easy peasy.
If you’re interested in this method, here’s a few platforms to sell your work through:
Creative Market: Great for selling photos, fonts, graphic assets, patterns, etc.
Minted: Stationery, art prints, etc. from independent artists who participate in creative challenges. A little more tough to break into, but a great resource!
Etsy: Independent sellers from around the world. Etsy has a loyal audience that can expand your reach.
Society6: Sells, prints + ships your artwork.
Artfully Walls: A collection of independent artists who sell artwork, prints + illustrations.
As you consider a third party platform, take notice of their exclusive rights. Are you allowed to sell your artwork elsewhere (through another platform or your own site)? This is important!
While selling through a third party site certainly has its advantages of removing the hassle of customer service + fulfillment from your hands, and introducing your work to a larger audience, it can sometimes be tough to stand out. There could be millions of products available, and ranking high in the search results can be tough to crack! Just something to be aware of if you put all your eggs in this basket, I wouldn’t expect immediate results unless you’re intentionally marketing your third party shop as well.
Selling through your own platform
I’m a fan of selling through your own site. Period. You have more control over the customer experience, how your product is marketed, pricing, discounts and the kicker… you get to keep all but the transaction/hosting fees for yourself. Bingo!
Not to mention, your products won’t be compared directly to a competitor selling a similar product. You are in charge of what you’re selling through your site, so of course your work will stand out ;).
Though third party platforms have their place, you’ll have much more control and ability to scale your earnings through selling through your own website. I know this can ruffle some feathers sometimes, but it’s been my experience! I’ve compared the exact same product selling on my own site (with almost zero marketing) and a third party platform. The results? I literally sold zero on the third party site, and was successful selling on my site. Boom.
The downside to selling through your own site is up-keeping the shop, customer emails, refunds, etc. It can get overwhelming if you let it, so it’s definitely something to consider!
Overall, to increase product sales you’ll need to market your brand. So why not spend the time marketing the platform that has the highest ROI — your own site? Just my experience.
Hope this was helpful to you as you consider supplementing your services with products!