This article is directed to icon designers contributing to Iconfinder who are willing to take action to improve their icon sales.
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.
We gathered a list of tips below of what designers can do to boost their sales. The list comes in no particular order - all tips are equally important.
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 Icon designer reports we publish quarterly. The reports are packed with very detailed information that should help you identify some unmet demand. In particular, look at the "Searches with no results". These are very clear indicators of what customers have searched for, but could not find.
2. More is more
There is a direct correlation between the number of icons a designer has on the site and total sales. Quality is also very important, but the ideal scenario is to have a lot of high quality, unique icons.
3. New styles
Line and Filled-line icons are very popular right now. Icon design trends can change rapidly (every time Google or Apple changes styles). It is important to keep up with the trends which translate into customer demand.
4. Post new icon sets regularly
Keeping a good pace at uploading new icon sets will give you more visibility. You can be featured on our front page and also on your Iconfinder followers’ front pages.
5. Plan out a release schedule for new icon sets
The Icon designer reports also show 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.
6. Distinguish yourself
Icon design seems to be self-influencing in that when a particular style or color scheme becomes popular, everyone copies it . Try branching out into some completely new styles to make your icons stand out. This is risky, of course, so start small and create an SEO set that is completely different to see how it goes.
7. Choose appealing colors
Garish, overly contrasting, loud colors can hurt sales. When in doubt, use a color combination chart such as Google’s Material Design color chart or any of the tools listed on http://www.creativebloq.com/colour/tools-colour-schemes-12121430
Read more about Colors.
8. Tell stories
We have observed that icon sales are trending towards more complex icons that tell stories or depict actions. Whereas "noun" icons used to be popular, "verb" icons (showing actions) seem to be selling more.
9. It is not about uploading icons and sitting back
It is important to recognize 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 our Referral program 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 (the first prepayment only) and 50% of the first subscription fee. This way, you can earn extra revenue. Read more about How the referral program works.
10. 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.
Incorporate as many channels as possible in promoting your work from Dribbble to Pinterest, FB, Twitter, etc. The more people who know you sell icons, the more customers you will have. It takes a while but building your following up on social media, specifically with potential customers (designers, app developers, etc) will have a positive impact.
11. 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. Read more about Tags and Optimal number of tags per icon.
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.
12. Focus on sales to Pro users
Creating cohesive sets around themes that will appeal to Pro subscribers. A Pro user is probably looking for icons for a project so theme-focused icons for common types of projects will be appealing to Pro users. They are usually looking for large families of icons of the same style from where they can choose all different icons without worrying about the consistency of the final result. Having the same icons in several styles helps too as it also increases the number of icons you have for sale (remember, more is more).
Also, make sure that the icon sets that you put together have business value to customers. Learn what we mean by Business value.
Also check out the demand trends in our Icon designer reports.
13. Listen to your users
Keep an eye on the comment section under your icon sets. It is not uncommon for users to ask for some additions to the already existing icon sets. Since this is direct feedback from the users, this is one of the best insights you can get on what might be missing. Offering a consistent icon set with a complete set of icons that users need will distinguish you from the rest of the icon sets in that category. Also, your customers can contact you for specific projects they need your design skills for. It is a good source of opportunities, so keep your ears open.
14. Create large icon families: Consistency across style
Families are a grouping of sets from the same designer that share the same appearance and design style. This way, they do not need to worry about visual consistency when adding these icons to their project. Families allow customers to find all the matching icons in the same place. The larger the family, the better.
Having large icon families offers a broad supply of icons that are consistent between each other. This way, even the pickiest customers will be able to find a bunch of icons that they can use on the same website without worrying about them not matching.
Read more about Consistency.
Example of a good practice of organising matching sets in families.
A family containing icons in outline style. Customers have a broad range of icons to choose from.
15. Do variations
Have the same icon sets in different styles can be helpful. This has to do with the #1 above. Having a variation of the same icon in several style also increases the total number of icons you offer and the chances a user will like any of the different styles you offer. However, it is important to be mindful about this one, as too many variations can clutter the marketplace with too similar content and may be a reason for rejection of the icon set. Read more about Variations.
16. 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 feature on Iconfinder. Read about How the Custom Service works.
17. Do some guest blog posts
If you have an idea for an article for our blog that you think will be interesting to potential customers, write up a summary and email it to [email protected] This is a great way to get exposure.