I’ve been thinking long and hard and I have been struggling over a lot of different aspects around my niche and product, and I have been having strong doubts about every decision I make. It’s been really hard.
Thoughts about my potential product
As the 4 readers of this blog already know, I create digital illustrations and surface pattern designs. Whatever product and niche I land on – I know that at least part of my Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is my illustration style is very much unlike other design styles currently out there. I’ve had a lot of good response to my animal patterns and illustrations specifically, so I was thinking about focusing on mostly animal-based design.
Until I started taking the course on how to market and sell your art-based products, I’d been creating my illustrations and putting them up on various print on demand (POD) sites, mostly Redbubble, and it was mostly for fun. However, now that I’m getting serious about all of this and want to turn this into a real revenue stream, I don’t want to use POD for my product for many reasons:
- Very little control over pricing (this is the biggest con for me)
- No control over sales or discounts (at the mercy of the POD site)
- Long creation and shipping times
- No control over product quality
- Any marketing I do will be, at least partially, for the POD and their products, not my own
Of course, the pros of POD are there, too; someone else is handling customer service, they provide a trusted platform, I get to offer a variety of products I’d never ever be able to produce on my own.)
Since I don’t have the capacity, or knowledge, to be hand creating products at home, this means that my product is digital, which means digital download items, such as digital prints, digital paper, digital stamps, digital clipart, digital greeting cards, digital stationery, etc, etc.
From my market research, here’s what I’ve determined are the people who consume digitals.
People who buy digital goods
- Professional creators making physical products for sale, usually paper products such as cards (I notice most digital creators sell separate commercial licenses for this market and from my research: they sell quite well)
- Amateur makers who are printing and creating at home, such as scrapbooking, decoupage, copper and silver etching, etc.
- Jewelry makers
- Home decorators
- Cricut and/or Silhouette users
- Bullet journalers and other journalers
- People who want to upload to products and/or fabric at print on demand sites
Providing digital products is very attractive for many reasons: no upfront costs, no packaging and shipping from your home, your prices can be quite low which allows for more impulse buying opportunities, and I already provide technical support for a living already in my day job so I’m very comfortable providing that for my potential customers.
Thoughts about my niche
Here’s where I landed with my niche. I have two LGBT+ children. My daughter is in her early 20s and we sat down and had a long talk about this – she loved the idea of me producing LGBT+ designs with animals. This does exactly what my course says to do: intersect two separate markets: animal lovers and LGBT+. I love this idea for many reasons. For one, it’s polarizing (probably in more ways than one!) which the course also says is important. Also, there are a lot of LGBT+ people out there who have been rejected by their families, and I love the message: here is a mom who is accepting and loving and supporting and celebrating her LGBT+ children (like Sara Cunningham who is a stand-in mom at same-sex weddings).
I would also like to donate a set percentage of my profits to The Trevor Project to further my support for the LGBT+ youth and community out there.
This niche feels nice and narrow and creating the illustrations and patterns would be a joy (so many rainbows!). I’m happy here.
My struggles (is there anybody that made it this far?)
I finally got here. The course instructs to start by defining your niche/customer and then develop the product – not the other way around. You don’t want to start with your product and then go looking to see who your customers is. When I do the market research to identify what my potential customer is and what they are buying, NONE of it is digital. They are definitely purchasing cute physical goods, but completely digital goods already feels like a fairly narrow niche in itself!
In fact, if you think about it, I would be intersecting THREE market niches: animal lovers, LGBT+, AND digital-only consumers.
This is very, very uncomfortable for me, and my gut says it is a bad idea. From the research from I’ve done, LGBTQA+ animal designs ON DIGITAL ONLY PRODUCTS does not have market that I could find. When I think about marketing for this, it actually feels more difficult.
My gut says I should be providing physical products for this niche. But it opens up a whole new can of worms for me. Suddenly I’m going from what I am good at, and have time for: digital design, to an area of the complete unknown. And the upfront costs of producing physical goods is daunting. And having to deal with packaging, shipping, ordering stock, etc etc – is so out of my wheelhouse that it very nearly paralyzes me.
But here’s the thing, putting my products on physical products is really attractive to me. So there’s that.
So here are my questions
- Are digital download products a narrow enough niche of it’s own?
- Or perhaps digital download products with a focus on animal-based designs – would that be a narrow enough niche?
- Am I right to be skeptical of the intersection of LGBT+ and digital only products?
- Would any of you advise taking the leap into having my products manufactured?
(Apparently my market for this post is people who like to read overly long diatribes.)
And of course, just writing this all down in a readable way has already helped to clarify my thoughts and I’m leaning in a particular direction, but I’d still love to get thoughts from the community!
Thanks for reading! Thank you even more for commenting!