Shapeways makes it easy to take that 3D model you’ve been tinkering with and release it into the world, but turning your side-project into something people want to buy can still feel a little overwhelming. It might be scary, but it’s been done before and you can do it to.
Here are five tips, tricks, and methods that creators have used to make the leap from project to product:
Find your passion and start from there
If you’re searching for a side-project that can transform into a product, the best place to start is to look inward. What are you passionate about? Stony Smith combined his love for drawing and architecture — along with experience in data analytics — to launch a thriving Shapeways store for miniature trains and buildings.
Don’t quit your day job
You’ll need steady money to take the pressure of your side-project, of course, but your career can also be a source of inspiration. Furniture and lighting designer Gustav Rosen takes unused shapes and designs from his main gig and turns them into jewelry for a Shapeways store. Try taking a closer look at your own job and see if anything jumps out at you.
Make a schedule and stick with it
Your side-project can’t take up your entire life, but you still need to set aside time for it on a regular basis. Janet Kim, a product designer at Capital One, managed to record and release her own original music by “finding a structure and routine.” So carve out some time every day (or week) to work on your Shapeways product and stick with it!
Find a personal problem to solve
If a problem is bothering you in your daily life, chances are there are plenty of other people are dealing with the same thing. That’s what led Martin Doring and Kenneth Kamper to develop their hobbies and 3D print RC car parts. Now they have a popular Shapeways shop of their own.
Get help from an expert
If you’re still struggling there’s no shame in asking for help. Reach out to a friend or colleague with experience launching a side-project. You could even try an incubator like Ship Your Side Project, which also offers a free online tool for evaluating your product before you start. Don’t forget to take advantage of Design with Shapeways to receive assistance from 3D design professionals, who will help conceptualize and bring your product idea to life.