It’s true that most of us will be in family mode during the coming holiday, but there’s no reason to not keep an extra piece of our brains focused on cool things we could model (or if you’re a customer, request an artist to model for you).
Every day life is a good inspiration, my best sellers were initially created for my own needs, I started modeling iPhone 4 cases a few weeks before I went to get mine, since I’m a bit clumsy and knew I would drop it at some point. I think my record at the moment is once a week, often on a hard surface and so far no cracks!
One other example of finding inspiration to make something is when I received a credit card reader in the mail. It’s this little thing called a Square reader that you plug into your phone (it works on iPhones, the iPad and a few Android phones) and after downloading the app and doing a couple bank account verification things you can swipe credit cards with your phone. Right now it’s only in the US, but I do believe they’re trying to expand to a few other countries. Anyhow, it’s really freaking small and I immediately thought that it was inevitable that I’d lose it. After a couple days my synapses fired and I realized, hey, I make stuff, I could make a case for this thing so I don’t lose it. After I made one for myself with lovely 3D printed hinge action and took some pictures and a short video, then I started selling it to others.
If you hear your Mom mention how it would be great to have a stylish Kindle or iPad stand that she could put on her desk so she wouldn’t have to hunch over while reading, well then maybe you should make one. In my opinion there’s nothing more useful and motivational than having your prototype also be a gift. Be original and creative and instead of competing against the other awesome products that are on Shapeways (including the neat Love Seat for iPad) you can have your own niche and appeal to a different crowd. It also doesn’t hurt to have a kick butt video like the Love Seat does that shows the product in action.
This also applies to jewelry and trinkets. My Aunt said she could never find a panda bear cell phone charm, so for her (belated) Christmas present I’m going to make her one. If it turns out well then I will take some pictures and start selling it, and perhaps all the panda fans will come my way.
There are a lot of shoppers out there, and millions (or more) of niche markets. For example there’s the much publicized puzzle guy (M.Oskar van Deventer) on Shapeways, I’m really bad at puzzles so personally I probably won’t buy many of his products, but there are a lot of people out there that like puzzles, and those people also have credit cards and Paypal accounts.
So keep that ear, eye and brain open for mention of functional objects people want or decorative ideas that people wish existed and you can start growing your Shapeways store virtually immediately.