Product Descriptions that Sell: The 2 Reasons People Buy

Welcome to the Product Descriptions that Sell series! Please sign up for my newsletter if you would like instant access to the free printable worksheets that go with these articles and include a fill in the blank template you can use:

Why a series?


Well, product descriptions tend to be overlooked by many makers.


They have a ton of handmade products to list so they quickly upload photos, write down the essential information in the product description box and post.


Here’s the problem with that…..


Product descriptions:

  • Become boring – when they’re rushed, they’re a little basic. We all have short attention spans these days, especially online. Your description needs to grab the shoppers attention and keep it.
  • Repeat what the shopper likely already knows“Green laptop bag. Handmade.” Is something the shopper likely already know since they searched the phrase to find your listing and have already seen the picture.
  • Are written with the vendor in mind – the maker is trying to share the information they think is important. In that process, they completely forget about the shopper and what they care about.
  • DON’T SELL – this is a big one! Descriptions cannot be used to describe your product. They must be used to SELL. In fact, you should stop thinking of your description as a “description” and think of it as a “sales pitch”. You’re putting all the hard work into creating and marketing (hopefully you’re not making these marketing mistakes), so don’t let that traffic go to waste.


If you want to DRIVE your sales and see those website visitors convert into customers, it’s time to do some hardcore selling in your “description”.


By the end of this series, there won’t be a doubt in your shoppers’ minds. They’ll know exactly why they should buy from you after reading your product description.


So let’s get started with the 3 key components of a powerful description.

UPDATE: The 2nd and 3rd parts to the series are now up!


In this first article of the “Product Descriptions that Sell” series, I’m going to cover the 2 main reasons people buy.


I believe every product purchase falls under one of these, whether the item is being bought as a need or a want. But feel free to challenge me!

If you believe there are other reasons people buy that don’t fall under the two reasons I provide, please share in the comment section:)




Every single purchase is for a reason.


No one buys for the sake of buying.


Once all your basic needs are met, you’re buying items that will improve your life.


Even when buying one of life’s basic necessities, such as food, most of us don’t make our grocery list thinking, “What do I need to buy to survive this week?”


We buy to get rid of a negative feeling (e.g. avoiding spending too much money eating out, having nothing to eat when the late night munchies hit or being out of options when the kids ask “what can I have to eeeaaaat?”).


Or we buy to gain a positive feeling (e.g. buying healthy food so our body feels good and we get in shape).


The two reasons we buy are to:

  1. Avoid pain
  2. Gain pleasure


Of course there are other factors that weigh into the decision to buy and most people don’t let their negative or positive emotions completely run the show.


Logic also comes into play (i.e. can I afford this item, will it fit in the space, will it irritate my skin, etc.).


But. Appealing to the emotional side of the purchase is more effective than trying to talk someone into the purchase being logical. Most buyers must make the decision on their own if a purchase is logical or not.


Plus, you don’t want to talk someone into buying something that isn’t logically a fit. They’ll end up regretting the purchase and that’s no good for business!





When talking about handmade products, pain is subtle. It’s more of annoyance, frustration, problem or a nagging task on a to-do list. Don’t take “pain” too literally 😉


A pain might be:

Feeling embarrassed by your dry cracked hands in the winter. Or being frustrated with the lack of selection when it comes to cute handmade earrings that are hypoallergenic.




Most handmade products will fall under this category. A new pair of earrings, great smelling soap or a cute coin purse add a little bit of joy to people’s lives.


Of course you could say “People are frustrated when they don’t have earrings to match an outfit” but realistically, they’re more likely to think about how they want to feel when it comes to buying earrings that match an outfit.


A pleasure might be:

Feeling cheerful when you walk into a room and see a photo of a sunny beach or a custom painting of your cat (yup, I have one of these and yes, it does make me happy every time I look at it;). Or being reminded of your childhood whenever you wash your hands with the handmade soap that smells like 5¢ candies.



Most products that help people get avoid pain will also add pleasure. This can come in handy when writing product descriptions.


You can agitate the customer a bit and point out how annoying, uncomfortable or frustrating a particular situation is, help them imagine how great it will be to solve it and then share how your products can help.



Determine whether your products appeal to the negative emotions, positive emotions or both.


Bring your ideal customer to mind. Imagine them saying:

“I really want to buy a new __________________ (your product) __________________ because _______________ (reason why).”


Is their reason for wanting your product to avoid a pain or gain a pleasure?


For example:

  • I really want to buy a custom piece of name art for Kaley’s nursery to finish off the room. (pleasure – completing a nursery and looking at a beautifully decorated room)
  • I really want a laptop bag so my laptop stops getting banged up. (pain – avoiding the upset of a broken laptop)
  • I really want some new lotion that doesn’t have all those irritating harsh chemicals. Something that will make my skin glow. (pain – avoiding skin irritation and dry skin AND pleasure – feeling confident in their skin)
  • I really want to buy a pottery set for Jane & John’s housewarming. I think they’ll love that. (pleasure – giving a great gift their friends will love)
  • I really want to buy a new pair of earrings to look hot at the wedding. (pleasure – looking and feeling good)
  • I’m so hungry, I’m really craving a cupcake (pain– avoiding the negative feeling of hunger AND pleasure – indulging in a cupcake)




Once you know whether your ideal customer is most likely wanting to avoid a pain, gain a pleasure or both, you can use that knowledge to influence what you write in your product descriptions.


For example, if I make and sell durable laptop bags for students, I may be pointing out the pain they want to avoid of having their laptop damaged.


Instead of simply pointing out that my laptop bags are reinforced and the interior laptop pocket is padded, I can take it one step further.


My product description would be used to help them imagine how frustrating it would be to have their laptop damaged when carrying it back and forth to school and having it banged around when books are taken in and out of their bag. I could paint a picture of what it would be like to be without their laptop or all the files they might lose if it’s damaged. The padded exterior and padded interior laptop pocket points out the added protection their laptop will have and the pleasure they’ll gain knowing their laptop is kept safe.


If my laptop bag was designed based more on style than function, then I would point out how stylish the bag is and how amazing it will look as an alternative to your typical book bag.



I’ll be explaining specifically how this information works into your product descriptions and the other keys to writing product descriptions that sell in the rest of this series.



UPDATE: The 2nd and 3rd parts to the series are now up:


So tell me; do you think there are other emotional reasons people buy other than to avoid pain or evoke pleasure? Share in the comment section!

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  1. I’m not sure that this motive doesn’t fit one of the two categories, but there is also the “pity sale”. Where the shopper feels sorry for the seller, so buys something they neither want nor need. The shopper feels like they’re helping, or encouraging the maker. In reality, it just offers a temporary false hope, which interferes with the seller’s process of learning what buyers want, and what sells.

  2. Chris at 10 Gables says:

    Thank you for this article! I struggle so much with description writing and I think you have hit the nail on the head with the two reasons people buy. Even impulse buys fall into this – like the yummy Reese cups in the checkout lane. Thanks!

  3. Made Urban says:

    Thanks for reading!

    That’s a great point Mel, that definitely does happen and I agree, can skew the sellers perspective on an item. I think from the customer’s vantage, they’re still purchasing for “pleasure”. They feel better believing they helped the seller out. That’s one way to look at it anyways 😉

    Thanks for commenting Chris, so glad you found the article helpful! Hope you enjoy the rest of the series coming up in the following weeks 🙂


  4. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the series, sales pitches are definitely my weak point, in person and in writing. Although going through etsy reading other sellers’ descriptions has improved mine a bit, I still think they’re lacking. Cheers.

  5. Great topic – it never even occurred to me how little thought most of my artisan/maker members put into their product descriptions – myself included. It’s a critical step in the process of engaging your visitors and customers to make that purchase decision. Great post! I look forward to your further thoughts.

  6. This is a great part 1 and I’m looking forward to the rest. I’m going to really think about how to re-write my product descriptions, and also how I can use this information when describing my product in person.

  7. Michelle Moore says:

    Will you be including an example(s)? I’d like to see this pain or pleasure solved In a sample description for a product.
    Thank you for sharing all this valuable info for free!!

  8. I think my customers buy from me because they can’t find feminine vintage styled clothing for there little girls in mainstream stores. Also it can also be for a specific occasion (birthday, holiday, etc.)

  9. Made Urban says:

    Thanks Monika! Let me know if you find these articles helpful or if there are any areas you’d like a little more help in.

    Thanks for reading Miriam! Glad you’re finding the articles helpful so far. Hope you enjoy the others that are to follow 🙂

    That’s so great to hear Alan! Hope the rest of the articles help and be sure to comment with any questions along the way.

    Hey Michelle! You bet, the 3rd article is going to include more examples, layouts and fill in the blank type templates to work from. Let me know if they’re helpful once the article is published and you have a chance to read it 🙂

    Thanks for commenting Samara! Those two reasons could definitely fall under “pleasure” as they likely search for vintage clothing for a specific reason such as their little girls looking cute / wearing items that are unique and not mass produced / doing their part to keep clothes out of the landfill by purchasing used clothing instead of mass produced.

  10. Thanks! The details and examples really teach this concept that I need. Looking forward to next parts.

  11. I struggle with writing my descriptions too and after having months of no sales, I look forward to working my way through this series and creating new descriptions. Thank you!

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