Not feeling especially creative? Here’s a list of strategies to come up with new design ideas (updated)

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Sometimes you may feel on fire coming up with fresh design ideas for your Low Hanging System business. Most of the time, people use words like “fun” and “addicting” when it comes to this business.

That said, sometimes you may *also* feel like your creative juices aren’t flowing.

Since LHS is largely a numbers game, and the more designs you make, the more opportunity to make sales, I figured I’d try and support you with those “stuck” times.

I’ve written about this topic in the past but thought an update could be in order as Michaela and Kimberly helped me think of some very fresh, new strategies. You can check out my original post here, and you can review the new ideas below.

Let’s take a look…

Browse the gifts and decor sections of major retailers 

A lot of big-name retailers, like Hallmark, Papyrus, and Target, have gift and decor sections on their websites, which you can browse for design ideas.

You’ll usually find a variety of products in these sections, which obviously won’t all be relevant to your search. But if you keep scrolling, you’ll find items like mugs, coasters, and wall art with sayings and designs on them that you can use as inspiration.

Hallmark

Since Hallmark is basically nothing but gifts and cards, you can find a lot of inspiration here.

The website has the following useful sections for you to browse:

  • Occasions
  • Cards
  • Gifts
  • Home Decor

I don’t necessarily recommend creating too many designs that are occasion- or holiday-specific, as you want as many of your items as possible to be sellable year-round, but you can still find inspiration in the Occasions section.

Personally, I like the Cards and Gifts sections, as they allow you to browse by recipient. I think this is a great search feature because you can take a design like the following…

Here are some new ways to come up with design ideas for your ecommerce business

…and you can modify it to fit a whole bunch of niches. As always, you don’t want to copy any design exactly. These techniques are intended as a means of gathering inspiration only. But with this particular design, you might say…

Life is great. But cookie-baking grandmas make it better. 

Then, you can swap the words “grandma” and “cookie-baking” and replace them with other family members and hobbies, such as…

Life is great. But dirt-biking uncles make it better. 

And while you don’t need to add images to your designs, if you wanted to, instead of the vase of flowers shown in the Hallmark design, you could include a jar of cookies for the grandma example and a dirt bike for the uncle example.

Here are a few more design examples riffing on this Hallmark design:

Life is great, but fishing with your grandpa makes it better
Life is great, but shopping with your favorite aunt makes it even better
Life is great, but having inside jokes with your sister makes it better

You can probably find the most inspiration in Hallmark’s Cards section. But if you scroll through the gifts, you’ll find mugs and other items with text and images that may inspire you.

The same thing goes for Hallmark’s Gifts section. In the “For the home” subsection, I like to look at the Plaques & Signs, Tokens & Trinkets, and Trays & Boxes categories. And in “For the kitchen,” you can find some great stuff under Mugs & Teacups, Tumblers, and Wine Glasses.

Papyrus

Papyrus is a similar company to Hallmark. It also sells a lot of cards and stationery so it offers lots of design inspiration.

As a greeting card manufacturer, you’ll obviously find a lot of occasion- and holiday-specific designs, which,  again, I don’t recommend doing a lot of. But as you scroll through the various categories, you can also find a lot of inspiration that isn’t necessarily occasion- or holiday-specific.

Here are a few examples:

Here are some new ways to come up with design ideas for your ecommerce business

Always believe something wonderful is about to happen – Found in the Friendship section of Greeting cards & Stationary.

Here are some new ways to come up with design ideas for your ecommerce business

Every day I fall more in love with you! (Except on those days you really piss me off) – Found in the Anniversary section of Greeting cards & Stationary.

Here are some new ways to come up with design ideas for your ecommerce business

You’re never too old to need your mom – Found in the Mother’s Day section of Greeting cards & Stationary.

Target

As I’m sure you’re aware, Target sells a ton of different products, not just cards, stationery, and gifts. But the company’s website does have a Gift Ideas section that can come in handy for design inspiration.

To use the Gift Ideas section on Target…

  • Go to Target.com
  • Click where it says More on the right-hand side
  • Choose Gift Ideas from the drop-down menu

Here are some new ways to come up with design ideas for your ecommerce business

As you scroll, you’ll find a lot of different items, including candy, toys, and electronic gadgets. You’ll also find household items, like coffee mugs and artwork, with fun sayings and designs. These are the items you want to keep your eyes peeled for.

Here’s an example:

Here are some new ways to come up with design ideas for your ecommerce business

You could take this design and riff on it to come up with something like…

Mom is my favorite

Then, you could take that idea and swap out the word “mom” for all different family members (e.g. “Dad is my favorite,” “My aunt is my favorite,” etc.). You could also use different professions (e.g. “My teacher is my favorite”) or animals (e.g. “My long-haired chihuahua is my favorite”).

Target also allows you to further refine your search for gift ideas by letting you specify who you’re shopping for…

  • Anyone
  • Her
  • Him
  • Teens
  • Kids
  • Baby

…what’s the occasion…

  • Kids’ birthday
  • Housewarming
  • Baby shower
  • Wedding

…what’s your budget…

  • Under $25
  • $25-$50
  • $50+

…and more.

Check party websites for event-related designs

There are some events, like birthdays, anniversaries, showers, and retirements, that are relevant all year long. You can check party websites, like PartyCity.com and PartyDepot.com, and look at the types of supplies they offer for design ideas.

Most of the designs you find on party websites are image-based, however. But you can still find plenty of theme ideas that you can work with as the foundation for your easier-to-make text-based designs.

For example, on Party City’s website, you’ll find the following party theme suggestions:

  • Unicorn
  • Mermaid
  • Princess
  • Butterfly
  • Dinosaur
  • Construction
  • Sports

And on Party Depot’s website, you’ll see a few more theme ideas, including…

  • Casino
  • Decades
  • Viral internet famous
  • Fiesta
  • Hollywood
  • International
  • Luau
  • Medieval
  • Nautical
  • Pirate

Look through gift guides

Checking out articles or websites that already have curated gift guides can be a great way to find ideas that already are popular or soon to be trending. You can search for gift guides by typing “gift guide 2021” into Google.

Here are a few examples:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/giftguide

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/gift-ideas/g29535545/best-godfather-gifts/

https://www.zenlifeandtravel.com/the-most-unique-and-funny-gift-ideas/

Also, if you’d like to get your own items featured on gift guides, I wrote a blog post a while back detailing how you can do that. Check it out here.

Search hashtags on Instagram 

As an image-based social media platform, Instagram offers a wealth of design ideas for your Low Hanging System products.

If you don’t already have Instagram, just download the app to your smartphone and create an account. Or, you can access the platform by going to Instagram.com on your computer.

Then, in the search bar, type in hashtag phrases like #coffemug, #funnymugs, #funnyshotglass, #giftideas, et cetera.

When you do this, Instagram tells you the number of results for your search in the dropdown. For example, when you type in #funnymugs, there are 46,795 posts. Check out some of the results below:

Here are some new ways to come up with design ideas for your ecommerce business

From this point, all you have to do is scroll until you see a design that piques your interest. You can find a ton of inspiration this way.

Plus, if you want, you can follow specific hashtags so new content automatically shows up in your Instagram feed. To do this, after searching for a specific hashtag phrase, just click the blue Follow button that appears at the top.

In addition to choosing phrases/niches that pique your interest, you should also double-check the social proof on Instagram. You can do this by looking at the likes (hearts) and the engagement (comments) on the posts, both of which are key to creating designs inspired by  items that already have proof of interest.
You can also look at the other hashtags the photo includes (if you decide to go down a specific niche rabbit hole).

Search hashtags on TikTok

Similar to Instagram, the video-based social media platform TikTok lets users search for content by hashtags.

Just download the TikTok app and create an account. Then, click where it says Discover at the bottom of the screen, and in the search bar, type in the same types of phrases that you typed into Instagram (e.g. funny mugs). Hit enter then click Hashtags on the right. Select the hashtag #funnymugs from the list of options (or whichever related hashtag has the highest number of views).

From here, you’ll be able to scroll through all of the results, looking for design inspiration. You can also add your searches to your Favorites if they provide a lot of good results.

Here are some examples you’ll find when you search for funny mugs:

Here are some new ways to come up with design ideas for your ecommerce business

Use SpotNiches

SpotNiches is a super useful tool that’s helped me make a lot of sales.

SpotNiches provides you with specific phrases that people are searching for and it tells you the number of search results that each phrase has on Amazon, Etsy, and eBay.

SpotNiches also lets you sort by “opportunity” so you can discover the niches with the most searches and the fewest number of product results — in other words, niches with high sales potential and low competition.

This way, you can cater your new design ideas to these untapped, under-serviced niches and hopefully get more sales. To learn more about SpotNiches, click here.

Check my “Weird Holiday Guide”

A few years ago, I started creating an annual “Weird Holiday Guide,” which includes a big list of unusual holidays happening every single day of the year.

You can use this list of holidays to come up with a lot of unique design ideas. For example, June 4th is Hug Your Cat Day. You could make a design aimed at expressing love for cats, such as “My cat is better than your cat” or “My cat is my best friend” and then promote your designs accordingly.

Similarly, June 8th is National Best Friend Day. You could create designs celebrating friendship, like “I’d be lost without my best friend” or “Nobody has a better best friend than I do.” This type of holiday also lends itself to a lot of personalization opportunities, which people love. You could let customers customize either of these best-friend design examples by adding their best friends’ names to the product.

You can review my 2021 Weird Holiday Guide here.

I hope you found this post useful! What do you think of these strategies for coming up with new design ideas? If you have any other suggestions, please leave a comment below and let me know. And if you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers!

Here are some new ways to come up with design ideas for your ecommerce business

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