5 Secrets for Selling Surface Print Patterns

business tips Apr 04, 2024

Words by Lyndsay, Creative Lead and Senior Designer

Are you a surface print pattern designer? Want to make money selling your prints one day? Unless your goal is to work as a designer inside an established studio, you'll need some sales skills. Yep, not only do you need to know how to design impactful, impressive, and on-trend designs, but you'll have to convince a customer to buy your design (and not someone else's!).

So what does it take? Well, we'll tell you! We're Longina Phillips Designs and we've learned a thing or two about selling prints over 30 years of being in business. Read on for our top sales secrets and turn your creative mind into money now!

1. Curate an enviable collection with broad appeal.

If you want to create a commercially viable, diverse, and desirable selection of work, you'll need to offer a broad array of styles. Customers have different needs and so the more looks you can supply, the greater your chance of having the right print at the right time.  Surprise and delight your customers by frequently updating your collection with new and unexpected styles.

OUR SALES TEAM SAY: “Buyers and designers get print fatigue - especially when they’re viewing print collections back-to-back in appointments or at trade shows. So if you want to get their attention, keep pushing the envelope and present fresh designs.”

2. Know the fashion landscape.

Keeping up with international runway shows and emerging trends is non-negotiable if you want a saleable collection and to be an authoritative voice for your customer. Most clients subscribe to fashion forecasting services and so if you’re not designing to the predicted trends your work can appear dated.

So how to keep on top of what’s new? You can note the runway show calendar and browse all of the collections as pictures appear on Vogue Runway, as well as following influential accounts on Instagram and Pinterest. However, we recommend subscribing to a trend report service to save yourself time, as researching and analyzing trends drains hours from your week. If you’re looking for inspiration, The Print Pattern Forecast (which many of our clients subscribe to) offers print-specific critical insights and trends.

OUR SALES TEAM SAY: “Many clients like to be told what’s coming up in fashion and/or have their predictions confirmed by an industry insider. If you can express a thorough understanding of where the market is headed, and establish yourself as a reliable source, clients will come back to you again and again.”


 Need help putting your collection together? Module 2: ‘Designing You’ of our business course will help you do just that. Learn:

- Where the Longina Phillips Studio looks for inspiration.

- How to translate that trend into a commercially viable design that the big brands will love.   

- How to develop your Signature style as a designer.  

- How to transform one stunning design into an entire collection of sale-worthy designs.   

- The insider advice that every designer needs in order to know what makes a great design.

- What you should always avoid when creating art for sale.  

3. Customer is King.

Good customer service is extremely important when it comes to selling your work. So keep an open dialogue with your client  before, during, and after your sales appointment. By asking the right questions you will save both your and your client's time and increase your chance of a sale. What is the client looking for? Find out what they need and narrow down your selections based on their search criteria. Sure, some clients will want to see every design you have, but others will want a curated selection and won’t appreciate you taking up their valuable time showing them designs they have no interest in.

During the appointment, monitor the customers’ attention levels. If you are showing them a story that they have no interest in, ask them if they’d like you to move on or keep going. And if you don’t get a sale during the appointment, make sure you follow up. ut don’t worry if you don’t get an answer. Occasionally a client will need to mull over the options and look at how your design could fit in with their collection before pulling the trigger. Give them breathing space.

OUR SALES TEAM SAY: Don’t run out of time for your sales appointment. Account for more time than you think you’ll need when booking a client into your calendar. No one likes to be pushed to make a decision and ushered out the door.”

 4. Confidence inspires confidence.

We get it. Working in the creative industries is hard. Especially if you’ve had a bad sales month, or are feeling uninspired. As a small business owner, you have to fit many roles. Sales might not be your thing but you have to walk the walk if you want to sell your work. Appearing confident when selling is one key way to help persuade your customer to buy - even if you’re faking it. Confidence inspires confidence - and not only in the way you hold yourself. Making sure you are well-prepared for a meeting means you don’t have to perform it.

Do yourself a favor and have a thorough knowledge of your product so that you can confidently and accurately answer any questions the customer has about your work. What is the size of the repeat? Resolution? Is the file in layers? Is it a digital or screen print design? Each client works differently so it’s important to know this information when they ask.

OUR SALES TEAM SAY: Create a positive and fun experience for the client and yourself. Make sure your body language and facial expressions show you’re proud of the designs you’re presenting.”

5. Stay up to date with technology

Technology moves fast. You don’t have to be using Microsoft Paint and a fax machine to be more than a little behind. For early adopters, new apps, new devices, and software updates can represent exciting new sales opportunities. And in times of lockdown, if you don't have a good internet connection then, lets face it, you're at a serious disadvantage.  Zoom and other video streaming services have recently become essential to businesses the world over.

So use technology to your advantage. Remote sales appointments let you connect and sell to clients globally. Online portfolio platforms mean you can showcase your work without taking a step out of the door. Social media accounts give you free and wide-reaching marketing platforms.

OUR SALES TEAM SAY: “The ability to facilitate online sales is a must - be it over Zoom or through a great website. Be well prepared for online sales appointments. Just because you’re not there in person doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put your best foot forward.”

Want to know the exact steps Longina Phillips Designs has taken to sell thousands of designs and keep our customers coming back? Join us at The Print School and sign up to our waitlist for our 2022 class of our one-of-a-kind course: Comprehensive Business Builder for Surface Designers .





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