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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.
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?
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.
— Millo (@milloteam) May 23, 2016
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