Improve Your Workflow: The Three R's - Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

Okay, I know you've heard these terms mentioned before, but I don't think you're going to know them in the way I want to use them today!! While saving the environment is important (and while you should reduce your waste, recycle your scraps, and reuse when you can), that's not the point of today's post. Today's post is about making the most of your time as a laser businessowner by reusing designs in different ways, reducing time spent on new creations, and recycling old elements where they will fit. 

Let's start with the first R - Reuse.

This is a HUGE thing that I mention frequently in my Facebook group, Sam's Little Group. (Quick tangent - If you aren't a member - go ahead and request to join! We do weekly tips, drawing tutorials, regular freebies, and chat about different techniques and trouble shooting options for laser creations!)

As I was saying - I tell our group members that a key to saving time on creating new designs (and money on purchasing them) is to reuse designs where you can. To give you an idea, I offer files that can be used as both keychains OR ornaments depending on the time of the year without needing to edit the file any. For example, these adorable woodland animal designs were just listed this week! 

assortment of wooden keychains with tassels. each keychain is a different animal, including fox, owl, bunny, deer, skunk, and squirrel. They are cut from a light wood, either birch or maple.

In the title of the listing, I'm already giving you two options for what these designs could be used for, but there are so many other possibilities as well! 

Let's see how many I can come up with off the top of my head in sixty seconds....

  • Keychains and Ornaments per listing details
  • Enlarge the design and edit the cut line to remove the hole and you've got 6 new designs for paint your own sign kits
  • Backpack tags with a layered name or initial (that's a big trending item lately!)
  • Stick with keychains or ornaments, but offer as DIY kits for kids to paint or color (markers, crayons, colored pencils all work!) 
  • Delete the cut line and use the scoring elements on bookmarks, magnets, sign backers, etc. 
  • Use the score elements for a matching/memory game 
  • Use the score elements on educational material - pair with letters on tracing boards ("O" is for "Owl", etc.)
  • Shrink the designs and make adorable earrings
  • Add an elongated triangle to the bottom of the cut line and make them into plant stakes!

That's only a handful and I barely gave myself any time to think them up. I can't imagine how many ideas you can come up with if you are actively trying to market something!

And, once you start thinking about it - you can even offer "suites" of products. Offer gift sets for a certain theme - if it's a baby shower, sell a tumbler with "mama" engraved alongside some really cute baby doodles, then sell a keychain, a sign for the nursery in the same theme... on and on. You can really scale up what you can offer by appealing to clients who enjoy matching items. The same thing applies to someone who wants signs or wall art for multiple kids bedrooms - do a suite of woodland animals, or a pair of similar floral designs that aren't exact so each kid get's their own design but feels like part of the group. The more you experiment with expanding off of one design, the more options you can create to bring in revenue! 

Anyway, the point of this "R" is to come up with creative ways to Reuse your designs so you can get the most out of your investment, whether it was time into creating the design or money to purchase it. Be sure you are following the listing terms and conditions (and never resell someone else's design digitally, even if you have altered it!) 

This ties into the second R - Reduce. 

When you come up with multiple ways to use the same element, you can drastically reduce the time you would spend drawing a new design or the amount of money you spend purchasing new files. 

When you've already got the design ready to go, you can spend more time on actually creating the products that are going to bring in higher profit margins! 

Put simply: less design work + more product options ready to go = more money. 

Finally, we've got the third R - Recycle.

If you've got a product that flew off the shelves during a special limited edition launch or a holiday season - consider making a variation of that item and making it a permanent fixture of your collection. 

For example, if you sold Ugly Sweater earrings, and you sold 1,000 pairs during one holiday, that's a design that won't ever stop being relevant because Ugly Sweater parties happen every single year. And if it was a limited edition design and you're worried about stepping on toes of people who wouldn't like it coming back? Don't do the exact same design - you can keep the general theme of a sweater, but change the color scheme and what you've depicted on it!

My point is, if you know your customers like something, continue to build off that idea while still bringing in new and fun elements so that it doesn't get stale. Last year I had a market where my top seller was Slasher movie inspired bloody knife earrings. After getting interest in the original plain pair that were just knives with blood drops, I ended up offering 4 versions of dangles and a pair of studs, and they appealed to a wide variety of people while still building off of the same theme.

The first pair with text said "Slayyy" as a play on words because I love puns and thought it was funny. I then branched off that and created "Slayyy Queen" earrings because that brought in another fun variation. Then after that, I did a pair that said "Scream Queen" for the OG horror movie fans - those were almost an entirely different genre than the puns! Plus, the studs seemed more popular with the younger crowd - and I can't tell you how many people bought them as gifts! 

Recycling something is literally defined as taking waste and making it reusable. In this case, I'm suggesting that you revisit old designs that have done well, and breathe new life into them. Take any leftover pieces you have and pair them with a new finding or a new statement element. Use what you already have to build up and create similar but fresh ideas. 

Honestly, even if you have a design that wasn't a big hit - if you can take your original idea and rework it in a way that really let's it shine, you might have your next top seller on your hands! I've designed so many different frog pairs, and the design I did most recently has been the most well received. It's never too late to look at something you've done before and decide to recycle it into something even better. 

Ultimately, the point of this post is just to tell you to think outside of the box. Sometimes you think you need to start completely over to create something that will be a hit, but it might be as simple as refreshing a design that you loved from a few seasons ago, or giving a new look to an older idea. 

This isn't to say that new designs aren't great - but while you're making those new designs, earn some money off of the ones you've already got ready!! 


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