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

by | Jul 19, 2020

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Coming up with new design ideas can be tough. Sometimes, you’re tired or not feeling particularly creative. We’ve all been there.

But since succeeding with the Low Hanging System largely comes down to a number’s game (i.e. having as many designs up for sale as possible), it’s important to add new inventory at least every once in a while.

To that end, once thing you can do is review the master list of ideas I share in LHS. Or, there’s SpotNiches, which I talk more about below.

But if you want to come up with even more ideas, you can try some of the other strategies I detail below. All of these ideas are really quick and easy to implement and they can help a ton to get your creative juices pumping.

So the next time you’re at a loss for new designs to create, try one of the following ideas…

Look at trending hashtags on social media

This is a super quick and easy way to get new design ideas. Every day (every hour even), you can log into Twitter and click # Explore < Trending to find a list of topics and hashtags that are currently trending.

Here’s a list of this past week’s most popular topics:

  • Goya
  • Notre Dame
  • WayForward
  • Home Depot
  • Big Ten
  • #TiktokBan
  • #TrumpMeltdown
  • Motel 6
  • #tiktokdown
  • #COVID_19
  • Greenwood
  • Wario Land
  • Pogba
  • Gaetz
  • Big 10
  • Tropical Storm Fay
  • Doug Ducey
  • Oklahoma
  • Michael Cohen
  • Not Goya

You may need more context to figure out exactly what these hashtags and topics are referring to. But Twitter often shows examples of articles being shared. Or you can just Google the topics to learn more.

Of course, not everything that’s trending will translate into a good design idea. But at the very least, you can get an idea of what people are talking about and interested in. For example, several of the recent trends had to do with football (e.g. Notre Dame, Big Ten, Big 10). And there are tons of different ideas you could come up with related to playing football.

NOTE: Always be careful with company or brand names when considering designs that take advantage of trending topics, as you could run into copyright or trademark infringement issues.

Check the news for headlines and top stories

If you Google “top news stories,” you’ll get a list of many of the nation’s top news outlets, such as CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR, and USA Today, with links to breaking news and their top stories of the day.

Here’s a recent screenshot:

When I clicked on a few of the links, here are some of the top headlines that came up:

  • Joe Biden’s new plan to help the American worker mirrors parts of Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda
  • Julian Edelman, a Jewish NFL star, responds to DeSean Jackson’s anti-Semitic posts, saying the world needs compassion
  • Coronavirus deaths and infection rates higher in US prisons than general population, analysis finds
  • A Texas officer runs into a burning house and saves an 8-year-old boy
  • Trump Will Sign Three Executive Orders on Lowering Drug Prices: Chief of Staff
  • Trump Tower Gold Doorstep Now Reflects New York’s Black Lives Matter Mural
  • From Burr to Clinton, Supreme Court Takes History Tour in Trump Wealth Case
  • Tesla Appears Poised to Electrify S&P 500
  • Cases of broken heart syndrome have ticked upwards since pandemic began, study finds
  • Tropical Storm Fay forms off East Coast

Again, you won’t always be able to find inspiration for design ideas from reading the news. But sometimes, looking at the headlines can lead you down a path that gets your creative juices flowing.

For example, with the second headline about Julian Edelman responding to anti-semitism, you might draw inspiration from that by creating designs that show support for the Jewish community.

Reading the news can be an anxiety-inducing experience for some, however. So please only engage with the news if you can do so in a way that doesn’t take a toll on your mental health.

And if you do find yourself feeling down after reading the news, I wrote a book a while back called Don’t Get Sucked In To Bad Newswhich details strategies for handling and engaging with the news in a way that doesn’t bring you down.

Explore Etsy’s “Trending Now” Section

Especially if you’re an Etsy seller (but even if you’re not), the Trending Now section can be super useful to come up with new design ideas. To get to this section, click here.

At the top of the page, you’ll see categories like…

  • best selling items
  • best selling items handmade
  • best selling items wood
  • popular right now
  • trending now mug
  • trending t-shirts
  • trending jewelry

You may also see gift guides, such as…

  • Gifts under $30
  • Ready to ship
  • For kids
  • For pets and pet lovers
  • For him
  • For her
  • Personalized gifts
  • For the best birthday
  • For the new home
  • For anniversaries

Below this, you’ll be able to see tons of trending products and designs on Etsy. Here’s a screenshot:

The products the designs are featured on don’t matter as much as the designs themselves. Some are funny puns. Others have to do with politics or the Coronavirus. Many are text-based but some also feature cute images.

Note the content people post the most on social media 

Most people spend a fair amount of time scrolling through social media each day. While you’re doing this, pay attention to the topics people talk about. Look at the articles and memes they share. What is the subject matter?

Chances are if your friends are interested in something, so are your customers.

Scrolling through social media doesn’t have to be a mindless time-suck. It can be a means of gathering intel for your designs. So the next time you find yourself on social media, as you browse, ask yourself, “Could that post, article, image, or meme be turned into a winning product design?”

Keep a notebook

This strategy doesn’t help you to actually come up with new design ideas. But it can help you to better remember your ideas whenever you get inspired.

Inspiration can strike at any moment — when you’re taking a walk, washing the dishes, standing in the checkout line at the grocery store. So you want to be ready. And carrying a notebook around with you is helpful because it gives you the opportunity to quickly jot down your design ideas before you forget what they were.

If you wait until you’re back home in front of your computer, the idea may have escaped your brain. So to prevent that from happening, I recommend carrying a pen and small notebook around with you (or using a note-taking app on your phone) so you can record all of your ideas in real-time.

You can also take a screenshot if it’s something you see on your computer, or a photo with your phone’s camera, if that’s easier and makes sense in the moment.

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, meaning niches with high sales potential and low competition.

This way, you can cater your new design ideas to these untapped, under-serviced niches and get more sales.

You can learn more about SpotNiches here.

Don’t forget to check my “Weird Holiday Guide”

A few years back, I created a “Weird Holiday Guide,” which includes a big list of oddball holidays happening each day of the year.

I’ve updated the guide every year since to reflect the most up-to-date wacky holidays. You can check out the 2020 version here.

You can use this list of holidays to come up with a lot of unique design ideas. For example, July 24th is Cousins Day. You could make a design aimed at expressing cousin love, such as “I have the best cousin in the world!” or “Best. Cousin. Ever.” and then promote your designs accordingly.

Similarly, July 28th is Parents Day. You could create designs celebrating parent love and appreciation, like “Best Mom in the World” or “My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad.”

What do you think of these tips for coming up with new designs when you’re not feeling particularly creative? Leave a comment below to let me know. And if you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers!

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BONUS! Find this helpful? To download this post as a PDF, click here!


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