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All The Times I Failed At Creative Market

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

Have you ever failed at something and thought 'God, I can never tell anyone about this'? Because I have, countless times - and now I've decided to share all of these so you don't feel embarrassed when you get there (you're welcome).


1) I thought I'd automatically be accepted. Because y'know - I'm an actual TRAINED designer with a BA and MA in design, so I'll surely stand out compared to all of the amateurs trying to get in? Wrong. CM gets hundreds of shop applications every day and I ended up being rejected four times before I was allowed in. Every time I got rejected, I got more determined and the key to success ended up being a proposal that included the first products I would have uploaded, should I be successful in my application. So CM doesn't want to look at your entire portfolio - they want to see what you'd sell and how.

2) I resented everyone on the top. I thought all of these people who are making a 'passive income' uploaded their products and then they fucked off to their beach house or whatever, whilst the money rakes in. So wrong. These guys are super involved in their products, they update them all the time, reply to messages and check in with their customers, etc. I learnt from my mistake as well as from how these guys work!

3) I tried to make fonts. Oh dear. So I've known Creative Market for years before I joined it as a seller and most of my purchases included mock ups and fonts. So naturally, I thought - I'll make fonts too! Wroooong. Surface designers and illustrator differ from your traditional graphic designer so much and where this shows the most is our complete inability to work with fonts like they do. Graphic designers see things in perfect composition, ratios, they appreciate the symmetry of things like it's their second nature. Meanwhile, we usually like things a little bit more wonky than perfect, and more otherworldy than clinical.

4) I underestimated all of my skills and talent. Continuing on the above tangent - I kept looking at how other people make money (which, whilst I'm at it, you don't see on Creative Market anyway, so it was all assumption at that point) and thought 'oh, I should do/change that', inclusive of my horrific let's-make-fonts escapade. For example, I noticed a lack of human touch in seamless patterns if the product came from a graphic designer that does mostly fonts or templates - and it seemed so obvious to me (example 'oh, just offset this little layer to give it some depth' or 'just redraw that circle a bit wonky so it's more organic') but they seemed oblivious. It's because they didn't go through what I did (and I didn't go through what they did) so they couldn't possibly have my skills in some of these products.

5) I thought everything would sell equally. Oh, sweet Jesus. The difference between my best seller to my lowest selling product is a literal monetary canyon. There is a lot of factors that you cannot possibly account for when making a product, amongst them being a season, trend, current average spending, relatability, usability, if you get featured or not. It's okay if something sells incredibly and something doesn't sell at all - we all experience that!

6) I thought having a freebie in the newsletter will get me a lot of $$$. Er, no. I had the chance of having a freebie in the lot for Free Goods Monday newsletter and the difference between these two experiences was stark. In the first, I was on CM all of 2 weeks and had about 5 products. My freebie was downloaded 42,000 times, but I made less that 100 USD in the whole week that the promotion was running.

Second time around, I had 16 products with a wide variety of price and category. My freebie was downloaded 27,000 times, but I made just under 400 USD in 48h that it went live. Ironically, a lot of those sales came from my product Autumn Inks, which was a freebie first time round!

7) I didn't take in account the statistics. So, in true designer form, I kept trucking along with my 'I'm a designer and I know better', all the while ignoring a really important part of the CM seller interface that gives you info on where your customers come from. Once I started taking this into account (e.g. most of my views comes from people clicking 'more from this shop' and search within my shop page, so I realised the key to sales will be diversity and number of products to browse).

I hope this helped a little bit to show you what it's like to be a seller on CM - and remember, fucking up isn't a bad thing. I also wrote up a similar post, but based on my fails of selling on Etsy, which you can find here!

As always, if you want more helpful posts on how to make $$$ doodling and drawing, subscribe to my email list below! I routinely send out tips, tools, trends and other helpful bits!

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