This post may contain affiliate links. See our affiliate disclosure for more.
I got my first Graphic Design job straight out of college at a local construction company. It wasn’t the most glamorous design job; fairly simple web design, signage and brochures for properties. I knew this job wasn’t going to build my identity as a designer.
So, I decided to join Dribbble to find freelance opportunities while building out my portfolio. I spent over a year hustling side projects, mostly doing logo design, while keeping my 9 to 5. I quickly found out the pain points of contract work. Terrible clients with bad communication and bad business practices.
I felt like I was running a collections agency.
Burnt out on contract work, I began hunting for a way to do what I love, but without the headache. Now this is where the story gets really good. With my antennas up, I happened across Creative Market, which was becoming popular in my online community.
According to their website, Creative Market is “a platform for handcrafted, mousemade design content from independent creatives around the world.” Designers just like me were making decent money. I thought, “Hmmm, maybe I could too?”
Using recent client work, I took a leap and applied to open up a shop on Creative Market. Good news, I was accepted.
Time to start making products
From day one, I knew I didn’t want to just make products for the sake of making products. I wanted to be as proud of the products in my shop as I was of my client portfolio. So I released my first product, The Vintage Logo Kit in 2013.
[Tweet “I anxiously watched as sales reached $1000 in the first month.”]
I anxiously watched as sales reached $1000 in the first month. My “experiment” was paying off. I knew I had to invest more time to create.
I decided to create one new product every month. After creating five products, each selling at a consistent rate, I realized the snowball effect of the marketplace. Each product sells a little bit each day and if I kept this up, I could actually make a living doing this.
This was a dream for me: I could create what I love, get paid on a consistent basis, and be my own boss.
Living the dream
As my shop grew, so did my creative interests and abilities. By September 2015, I had designed 12 typefaces on Creative Market. Profit charts were up and to the right and I had officially crossed over from making passive income to making a living selling on Creative Market.
Since then, I have launched some of the highest selling typefaces I’ve ever created, allowing me to ramp up a staff to help with marketing and production. We now average one product per week.
You can do it too
So, here’s what I’ve learned from three years of selling on Creative Market.
Lesson 1: Sweat equity
“Sweat Equity” is a valuable concept for those starting out. Time is your biggest investment. Creative Market may seem daunting to a lot of people. Starting a shop, putting out your first product.
Will it sell? Will anybody notice? Is this a giant waste of time? Should I not go “all in” because it’s risking too much time and effort? You need to take it seriously or else you won’t see results.
Lesson 2: Draw from your client work
Look for product inspiration in your client work. I enjoyed creating logos and realized that I could turn this passion into products. There are countless ways you can use old work to generate passive income as a designer.
Lesson 3: Add value, or nothing
It’s not about creating products just to create products. You have to be honest with yourself. Is your product worth the money? Would you buy it?
[Tweet “You don’t need a thousand of something for it to be of value.”]
Give customers value, but don’t overload it for the sake of making your product appear like a deal. My Vintage Logo Bundle includes 30 logo templates and is one of the highest selling products in Creative Market history. You don’t need a thousand of something for it to be of value.
Lesson 4: Get business savvy
Don’t rely solely on Creative Market to market your products. Your shop is your business, so treat it like one. Start social profiles and focus on building a brand.
The community you create for yourself off Creative Market, on Dribbble, Behance, Instagram, Youtube, and through email lists are a must-have if you want to be a successful designer. You need to focus on your marketing as much as you would if you owned a business selling physical goods.
Lesson 5: Stories and products are judged by their covers
Your promotional product images are like a label on a whiskey bottle, it’s what catches the customer’s attention and ignoring this isn’t an option.
Lesson 6: You’ll never stop learning
Continue learning about your craft and passion. Platforms like CreativeLive, Skillshare, and Youtube can get you a long way.
Do you have any other selling tips? Please share with me in the comments.
How I made my first $100k on Creative Market https://t.co/P0hSID1a0R @CreativeMarket #freelancelife #freelancing #solopreneur #entrepreneur
— Millo (@milloteam) May 23, 2016
Keep the conversation going...
Over 10,000 of us are having daily conversations over in our free Facebook group and we'd love to see you there. Join us!
Congratulations! Jeremy, wishing you more sales and success 🙂
Amazing! I want to learn from you, Jeremy. You’re a great designer.
Thank you for your advice. I have just started to create templates, I hope I will create templates good enough for users.
Thank you for your post! I too have a Creative Market shop and have learned a lot from you tips and insights. All the best to you and your shop!
Thanks for writing up this article! I am new to creative market, and looking for any advice on how to get my work in front of more people so I can move to it full time…. I enjoy working with Photoshop more than I like working with actual clients 😛 just sold four sets in my first week and can’t wait to grow! Never thought of YouTube – I will look into that for sure. Anywho – great advice; thanks for sharing!
Hello Jeremy. Thanks for sharing these valuable info. If you don’t mind. Would you share how your portfolio look alike.. I also want to send my product to creative market.
Looks like a good market place. will check it out.
Thanks for sharing your experience with Creative Market. Just a quick question: are there any software titles out there you’d recommend for the creation and publication of typefaces?
Beautiful work, Jeremy, really love your store!
I’m also interested to hear feedback re: Kashif’s question. I’m an artist, but need to learn the best ways of digitizing my art.
I want to start my comment with a disclaimer…I am by no means discrediting your work (which I think is great!) or meaning to criticize Creative Market. I’m throwing this out there to hear what you, and other designers have to say as I’ve been struggling with the decision whether to sell designs in a similar fashion.
$10 for the vintage logo kit seems so cheap for quality work. Do you worry that companies like Creative Market devalue the creative process and work of designers? Are these type of ’stock’ designs going to slowly contribute to the death of the small budget client/designer relationships?
Hi. As a designer, that specific way of making business is not an option. Making bulk production has never been in my whitelist of future tasks.
By the way, I started using crowdsource sites and men, that is designing just to compete for the next cheap client.
I always expected communication from them and only once I got a reply… even if I won the contest, never got in touch with them. I know understand the structure of thise sites, but still sucks.
Creatives are free to create their visions, their pasions, they are free to express themselves as they like, but creating without having a known client on mind? Creating just to make money and not value yourself as designer? Can’t do that. That would be a crime. But I value your entrepreneur’s will.
Keep it up.
Hey there Jo,
This is a great question! Starting on Creative Market, I was experimenting with creating what I loved to make, Type Focused Logos / Labels. I’m still contacted about large budget projects on a regular basis as they find me through Creative Market, Dribbble or Behance. So I wouldn’t say Creative Market negatively impacted my potential client base at all. For over 1 year I’ve been creating almost strictly Typefaces, so I would say the majority of my customers are Graphic Designers. As of 2016, I consider myself a Type Designer.
I love seeing my typefaces used by the Photographers, Web Designers & Graphic Designers who purchase them. In the beginning I created what I knew (Logo Templates) and over a period of time it allowed me to find Type Design, which is my true passion. Creative Market allowed me to experiment and test the waters.
Overall, I wouldn’t equate Creative Market to a Design Contest Site. As Creative Market sells digital products rather than services. Customers range from Designers to creative entrepreneurs who would like to put things together themselves.
Good insights! Awesome different way of looking at creating.
So are you saying you make templates for idiots that don’t want original designs so that they can save a lot of money?
You are the greatest designer of all time! You are dumbing down the design community and are not giving your customers any value at all.
Originally, I created Logo Templates as it was a way of experimenting and building things that I loved to make. For almost 2 years now I’ve created strictly Typefaces and the vast majority of my customers are Designers. I love seeing my Typefaces included in a variety of projects that my customers create. So I would say that I definitely add value to my customers, most of them are returning customers with some designers owning every Typeface I’ve ever made.
A polite and reasoned reply to a post that was rude and ignorant in equal measure.
Thanks for your article. I’ve been thinking about selling on Creative Market or one of the Envato shops, and I’m really glad to see that profits are possible 🙂
Does Creative Market give you good marketing support or do you have to take care of that yourself?
Another interesting article. Wow.
Say- I have been interested in type design for a while and have sought out ways to get started with no avail. I would love to see an article about that! Something like, “Branching Out As a Designer,” something like that that includes how to start into some other branches of design like type design.
All in all, a GREAT article! Can’t wait to check CM out. Thanks!
Sorry. Comments are closed.
Ask questions & keep the conversation going in our free Mastermind group.