Form and Function
Purpose: Take a look at your items, why you’re creating them, and how you can improve them, whether through a better description or expanding available options.
In order for me to spend my money, most of the time it absolutely has to meet the form and function test. I have the worst wardrobe, because I will select items, carry them around the store for an hour, then put them all back on the rack. I just can’t justify buying clothes when I have a closet full of them. Seriously, for all you people that see me under-dressed in winter, it’s because winter in East Texas is like two weeks. I don’t need to spend money on a new sweater. That could go toward something I really need, like the aforementioned brow wax. Goodwill is my go-to for spending my mad money, but there is no way I am paying $5 for a used shirt, when I can get them on clearance at Wal-Mart. That is, if I actually make it to the checkout counter with them.
In this economy, don’t be surprised if your potential buyers are asking themselves, “Can I justify spending this dollar on ________?” The good news is people need very little help justifying their actions.
Does your product line up with either form or function? If at all possible, both? Is there more than one function that your item could be involved with? Make sure to include all good ideas in your description. Sometimes people need help envisioning. For instance, I point out that my sheer cord covers could be used for soft accent lighting. Just run a strand of lights through there, and you have yourself a beautiful effect.
There are basically two styles of decorating: to blend or to be bold. I make sure to cater to both sets of customers. My neutral shades do sell more, but I still want to offer the cord covers in a color selection to those who aren’t afraid to stand out, like myself. (After all, my grill say MamaMelly.) I personally use my goldenrod cord cover on my computer cables, because my walls are that color. I grew up in a home with wood-paneling, brown furniture, brown carpet, and dead animals on the wall. It did strange things to me.
As you may have guessed, I’m a girl who loves options. And since most of the people who buy my cord covers are women, then I make sure to give them options, too. The customer has the choice of what style of end closure they want: ribbon or elastic. They also get to select the ribbon color. The woman who sees herself as a decorator extraordinaire loves the flair of the ribbon. This allows the customer to maximize her function and her form! I have got such tremendous customer response to this one little thing. Even though I clearly state in my description that the customer has this option, 90% of the time they overlook it. Looks like we’ve got some description skimmers out there.
Recently, I began offering custom lengths/widths and cord covers with Velcro seam closures instead of just seams that are sewn closed. This appeals to two types of customers: a) the customer that can not take down that chandelier or b) the customer that just simply doesn’t want to. Whatever floats their boat. I just want to make sure to supply the need for their demand. Also, there are people who need to cover pipes that are larger than the average chandelier chain. Again, even though this market is small, I still want to make my services available.
Are you selling a quality item? I’m just going to let that marinate, because this is a whole separate article. In the mean time, check out Starting an Etsy Shop from the Bottom Up, another great handmadeology.com article.
Do you enjoy what you are (potentially) creating to sell? Since I was roughly 17, I have worked not only on a computer as an end-user, but I have worked installing and maintaining entire networks. Large networks. Look behind or under your desk. See all those cables? Now, imagine that times 250. In a business, all of those cables lead to somewhere, whether electrical or network. I was the girl running the network cables, binding the cables, caressing the cables. Okay, so I wasn’t caressing them, but I was involved with cables. If only I had been selling cord covers back then….
Bottom line, I enjoy doing what I do, because I know there are other people out there that shrink away at the sight of messy cables. I know there are names for people like us, and I’m sure there is a self-help blog out there somewhere. For now, though, I’ll focus on helping you instead of myself. I like to help people, hence all of this advice I’m going to be giving you for free right here on handmadeology.com!