A decline in sales can be due to normal market forces. Icon products, like any other product, have a natural life cycle. Sales will always peak towards the beginning of the product life cycle and decline over time.
This is a checklist of actions you can take to prevent your sales from decreasing over time:
1. Upload the right icons
The stock image industry, of which icons is a subset, is very competitive and, at the moment, very saturated. There is a surplus of supply for the amount of demand. Sales are naturally connected to the number of icons you have on sale. You can boost your sales by adding more icons, but you need to add the right icons. Just adding more of the icons that already exist on the site might not have as big of an impact as you expect.
Recommendation: Read the Designers' Report we published a few months ago. The report is packed with very detailed information that should help you identify some unmet demand. In particular, look at the "Searches with no Search Results" and "Search Refinements". These are very clear indicators of what customers have searched for, but could not find.
2. Review the tags of your icons
The number of tags an icon has directly affects how the icon ranks in the search results and, therefore, it affects sales. It is recommended to have 3-4 tags per icon, as an optimal number.
Recommendation: Review the tags on your icons and make sure all icons have "about 4" tags. More than 4 tags can have a negative impact on your search rank, as can less than 4.
A word of caution: you must, however, always balance whether higher rank is better than ranking on more searches. For instance, if you limit your icons to just 3 tags, then you're only going to show up in searches for those tags. If your icons sell well you can rank very highly for those searches. If you have 8 tags, you'll show up in more searches but lower down, possibly much lower down. It is better to decide on a case-by-case basis depending on what the icon is.
Unfortunately most designers on the site just fill in the tags because it is a requirement, but there is no single thing you can do to your icons that is more important (except have better icons). We strongly encourage putting effort into the tagging. Do not consider your tags "done" simply because you have filled them in. Regularly review your tags to see if tweaking them will help the rank. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, but it's worth the effort.
3. Have a strategy for promoting your icons
You can't rely on Iconfinder alone to promote your icons. It is important to have a marketing and social media strategy for building your own customer base and following on social media. You can never do too much self-promotion.
4. Plan out a release schedule for new icon sets
The Designer's Report also shows when different categories are most popular. Christmas is a perfect example of a category that should be "timed". Obviously, Christmas icons are going to sell best in December. So, you should have new Christmas icons on the site 2-3 months before December, so you can start promoting them. This is just one example. There are dozens of seasonal categories.
Think about it this way: the main people buying icons are going to be web designers and marketing professionals. They are most likely buying them on behalf of clients for whom they are doing promotional materials. Their buying habits are going to follow the trends in major retail, holidays, seasons, etc. You want to think like your consumers and create products they are likely to need when they need them.
5. It is not about uploading icons and sitting back
It is important to recognise that you will not be able to just put up a few thousand icons and relax. Consumption, even of icons, follows a predictable pattern. When you release a new icon set, it will take a few weeks to get traction. Maybe even 2-3 months. But once the customers on the site become aware of your icons - and this is especially true of Pro subscribers - there will be a feeding frenzy of sorts. Your sales will start going up and they will peak shortly thereafter.
But once the majority of Pro subscribers and regular customers have purchased your icons, they don't need to buy them again. So, naturally, demand will start to decline. We are always striving to bring in new customers, but most customers don't buy right away. Most purchasing happens from users who have come to rely on Iconfinder as a trusted source.
Recommendation: In order to keep sales at the level you want, you will need to regularly create new supply and really work hard to stimulate demand by finding your own customers, in addition to relying on the existing customers on Iconfinder. It is a never-ending cycle and it's a lot of work.
Extra recommendation: You can also use your referral code to earn extra money when you bring in your own customers. Your referral code is just your Iconfinder username. You earn 25% of prepayments made by customers you refer (first prepayment only) and 50% of the first subscription fee. This way, you can earn a bit extra revenue.
6. Sell custom icons through the Custom Service
Recommendation: Another way to boost your earnings is by getting hired for designing custom icons through Iconfinder. If a customer likes your design style but cannot find the perfect icons for their project, they can contact you through the Messaging service and ask you to design icons for them. You can easily send invoices and receive payments directly through the Messaging system. Read how the Custom Service works.
For any questions, you can always write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. But remember you can always help yourself first by following the recommendations in this article.