TIP 4. Play To Your Strengths: Exploit Your Weaknesses

Posted by Mongo Tuesday, November 24, 2009

For a self proclaimed graphic designer, which I use that term loosely I am a horrible artist. I cannot draw to save my life and using a computer to do it is even worse. Because I haven’t spent an exorbitant amount of time or money on products and training to hone these skills I have mainly stuck to faking it. I use tricks and effects built into paint programs or grab an image from the Internet for reference and then use the line tools and paint buckets to try and recreate it from scratch. My biggest friend is the curved line tool in Paint.Net. It allows me to draw a line and then curve it at certain points to mimic the curves on what I am recreating.

However, Print On Demand sites aren’t just about funny shirts and drawings. Let’s say you are a good photographer. You probably don’t want to focus on creating a lot of shirts in your store. You probably want to focus on prints, cards, posters, and other paper or home products. On CaféPress you could even publish your own book of Photography or Art CD-Rom for companies to use in their marketing. Are you a fledgling writer or musician. You can publish your own books and Music CDs with CaféPress. Explore how you can take your skills and turn them into profit.

My Mother-In-Law has a few paintings up in her home that I absolutely love. I tell my wife that I want them when they get rid of them. What I didn’t know is that her mom actually painted them. Now, this year hasn’t been the best for my in-laws. Besides being a 12 year survivor of Stage IV renal cell cancer, my Mother-in-Law ended up having to have a tumor removed from her brain this Spring and another from her abdomen this Summer. She’s been undergoing chemo the past 18 weeks and on top of all this, she lost her job due redundancy in the workplace and her home was flooded during the heavy rains we had in June. They’ve had to dip into their savings, post retirement, to replace her car and do reclamation on areas of their house as well as pay for treatments and medicines.

I put forth this proposition to her. I can take and convert her artwork into digital format and by using Zazzle and CaféPress, I can turn them into stamps or greeting cards or whatever. I offered her the opportunity to have all profit derived from sales of her work. Instead of creating a whole new site on CaféPress and having to charge another $60 for it I can just carve out a section on my site and host her designs. If there is a huge response maybe she can take up painting again in her retirement and make some extra income. That’s playing to her strengths.

Me, I have a lot of weaknesses, like I said. I can’t draw. But I’ve learned to do a lot of cool things by looking up tips and tricks on the Internet and reading up on how to create effects like gradients and feathering. The more you learn, the better a designer you can be and the more successful your shop can be. And don’t pigeonhole yourself into one program. I know I am a die hard Paint.Net disciple but I only use it for the images and graphics. Nine times out of ten I use good old Microsoft Word for text. Word Art is my favorite go to place in order to create shadow effects, shapes with words, and 3D renderings of words. Using these two programs together has had a definite impact in my sales as my top two selling designs would not have been possible without using Word Art in Microsoft Word.

In summary, start looking at the world around you and see how you can use your Print On Demand business to make money not just with funny shirts. Don’t think you can’t learn new tricks and technology. Go out and be successful.

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