Since I started this whole font design + crafting resources thing, I’ve been asked a few times where I sell my items and what my experiences have been. It’s also a question that pops up pretty frequently in the groups that I’m in. People seem to have mixed responses about where to sell, how the experience is, and so on. I thought it might be helpful to anyone else following the same path — or considering opening up shop — to have a little bit of info as far as selling commercial use fonts!
I do think it’s worth noting that your experiences may be totally different than mine, or the next guy’s. My experiences are totally my own, so you’ll have to make your own decision as it relates to whether or not you want to sell with any given marketplace.
Full Disclosure: I am affiliated with the entities listed below, but no one asked me to write about their platform. This post is entirely informational for any other designers that are looking to sell their products and want firsthand, honest experiences from someone who has listed their items with these companies/selling platforms.
My Own Website
Process to Open Shop: Um, well, I built a website. With a little bit of my hubby’s help. No, really, I did most of it on my own and called on him to fix the things I couldn’t figure out how to fix.
Cost: Aside from domain registration, hosting, and the percentage that is taken by your payment processors, that’s about it. It’s typically around $0.25 + 3% per transaction.
Positives: FULL & COMPLETE CONTROL. This is my favorite.
Negatives: You actually have to drive traffic to your website for there to even be the possibility of a sale. My website sales are not consistent (yet) but I hope that over the next few years, this little side gig of mine will be a full time gig.
Other Random Info: One of the things I totally dig about my own website is that my hubby helped me with some pretty cool stuff. My All-Inclusive Bundle, for example — he’s got it set up so that whenever I replace my downloadable file, I can push out an e-mail to everyone that has purchased my bundle to let them know that there’s a new addition! He’s also figured out how to make it so that people can preview my fonts by typing into a box. We’re working on how to best integrate this feature.
Process to Open Shop: For Creative Market, you need to apply to have a shop. Currently, the process is that you need to provide somewhat of a portfolio — whether it’s your Insta account where you show your artwork / items you design, your website, or another platform you sell on. When I opened my shop a few years back, it didn’t take long for them to approve my shop, but it does seem like they require more than just a few images as a portfolio. They may be more selective these days — I’ve seen some extremely talented individuals quite dejected because they didn’t get accepted.
Cost: There’s no cost to open a shop on CM, and you make 70% of each sale you make.
Positives: You set your own prices on CM, and you also maintain control over your products, so you can go in any time to make adjustments, or remove a product all together.
Negatives: Just my opinion here — I think that CM tends to feature individuals more readily that have shown they will continually make money. It’s a business thing — CM needs to make bucks, too, so I get it. It’s just frustrating sometimes to know that you have a badass product, and it gets passed over in favor of someone a little more popular. It can be discouraging, but I’m choosing to use this as motivation to better myself and my offerings.
In addition, competition is pretty stiff. There are a ton of cursive fonts, rustic fonts…anything you can imagine! But, it’s also motivating and inspiring, so it’s not a total negative.
Other Random Info: CM offers a pretty cool affiliate program, which I participate in and (I think) get paid decently for, with minimal effort. I like to pin fonts + design resources, so when I do, I make sure I use my affiliate link. In short, if someone clicks your affiliate link, and then opens an account with CM, you get paid 10% of anything they purchase for an entire year.
All I do is pin whenever I see something that catches my eye and I think other folks will like it, or use my affiliate link any time I mention Creative Market — I’ve been an affiliate for about a year and a half and have made almost $2k … yes, just from pinning or using my affiliate link.
CM also recently opened up Creative Market Pro, which is geared a little more toward graphic design companies with more employees. It includes a lot of the most popular design resources from really talented artists. Maybe one day, I’ll get my invite there. 😉
September 2019 Addition: Can we take a moment to address the really poor decisions Creative Market has made as of late?
For starters, the licensing snafus have abounded from CM. For many products (like graphics), people are now forced to choose personal or commercial licensing, and CM has forced shop owners to increase pricing on commercial licensing by a specific percentage.
CM has also changed font licensing. Thankfully, I do think they listened to us font designers just a smidge and backed away from the personal/commercial differentiation. Now, purchasers are forced to choose between desktop and webfont licensing. (For me, personally, I’ve always included webfont usage for the license holder or for one client they’re serving.) There are also other larger licensing options that CM previously told purchasers to contact the individual shop owner about.
No one seems to be happy with the licensing changes when it used to be so.freaking.simple before. Some shop owners have jumped ship and refuse to list new products there, and others are clenching pretty hard because these changes have really messed with their livelihoods.
THEN, CM sent out an e-mail to shop owners letting them know that they’re pushing out auto-pricing so that we don’t have stress over how to price our items. (I’m sorry, is that actually a thing????) This roll-out was basically forced unless you went in to your settings and clicked “opt out.” In short, they want to auto-price your items based on availability, trends, demand, etc. so that you can make the most money (read: so that CM can make the most off of you). Your pricing could vary day to day, or even by the time of day. It seems dishonest and shady, and it doesn’t make your customers trust you if they see your pricing always going up and down.
Me? I opted out. I might be using CM’s platform, but there’s only so much control I’m willing to give over what I’ve created.
Process to Open Shop: All you need to do is click the button to open a shop! Easy peasy.
Cost: Etsy charges $.20 per listing that you add, and each listing is active for four months. At the end of the four months, you can renew your listing for another two dimes. Any time your item sells, you have the option to renew for another $.20, as well. If you have it set to auto-renew, it’ll take care of that for you. For digital products, this is probably a good idea so that you can continually sell, rather than having to renew something after someone purchases.
Etsy also charges a commission (a 5% transaction fee), and uses standard payment processing fees (3% + $.025.)
It sounds complicated, but at the end of the day, it’s not really all that much. It’s the cost of doing business, and having your product in a marketplace that sees quite a bit of traffic.
Positives: Etsy is a super well-known platform, and they see a lot of traffic, like I just mentioned. For a font designer, or someone that makes design resources or items for crafters (like SVGs), it’s a really great place to be. I don’t see millions of dollars in sales (if only!!) but I do see at least a few sales a day, whether it’s a $2 SVG or a $18 font bundle. It’s relatively hands-off once the item is listed, and I set my items to auto renew.
I’ve heard that unless you have an existing shop, selling fonts is difficult on Etsy because you spend more time trying to make it happen than actually making sales, but I think it’s not entirely accurate. I’ve had a pretty good experience with Etsy, but my expectations weren’t super high, either. For me, it was just another place to put my stuff. With the emergence of so many crafty hobbies — I’m looking at you, Cricut-ers — people are keen to spend a little on SVGs or fonts that match what their vision is. Fonts for Cricut and fonts for Silhouette are some of my best-sellers on Etsy.
Negatives: Not a negative about the platform, but rather about who purchases what. In my experiences, I get A LOT of questions about what I offer. I find that a lot of customers don’t do their reading and research ahead of time, and purchase things that they don’t know how to use. I’ll put it bluntly: if you don’t know how to access OpenType features, or you don’t have software to do so, you shouldn’t buy my fonts. Because it’s not readily apparent to individuals that don’t know, they approach it from a “You did me wrong!” angle or a “You sold me a faulty product, gimme a refund!”
Typically, a little explaining does the trick, and people wind up happy with what they purchased. Fair warning, though, you will need to answer more questions on Etsy because a lot of the folks that purchase here are not professional designers, and are more hobbyists or crafters that don’t necessarily spend all day in Illustrator looking at a glyphs panel. If you’re happy to answer their questions in order to gain their positive feedback, you’re golden! If you’d rather not answer the questions, Etsy might not be for you.
Other Random Info: Etsy recently released their first paid account option this past summer. I am not currently utilizing this option on my BeckMcCormick.etsy.com shop, but I am over on Autumn Lane, because I was curious about it. I don’t have any negatives to report, nor do I have any positives. The changes for us — digital product sellers — weren’t anything to write home about. I am, however, very curious about their next level of account being released next year, which should include more analytics.
Process to Open Shop: All you need to do is go here: https://thehungryjpeg.com/open-a-store/
Cost: There’s no cost to start a shop; The Hungry JPEG will keep 30% of your sale.
Positives: I initially decided to open up a shop with THJ after being approached to participate in a bundle. I probably have a different view of bundles than a lot of other designers do, and that’s ok.
My thought? I started designing fonts, first because I wanted to, and second, because I had a need/wish to earn passive income. Don’t get me wrong — I love the work I do at Autumn Lane Paperie, but who doesn’t want to have income that they do something ONCE for, and get paid continually?
Once the font is done, I list it, and I make money without having to do anything else with the font. Basically, do the legwork once, list it, share it, and see sales. I know that bundles mean my font is “sold” for a super tiny fraction of what I’m charging for it, but it also puts my font in front of users that might otherwise not use my font. If they like it, maybe they’ll search me out.
In addition to that, places like THJ and Font Bundles (below) tend to do a lot of social media and sponsoring of posts for the bundles — that means they’re basically pushing my stuff out to a bunch of people… In other words, I don’t have to. For me, bundles have always paid off well. The few that didn’t…eh, I didn’t lose much except for a few minutes of my time packaging my items up for the bundle. I mean, I’m not going to say no to someone PayPaling me $200 here & there. Would you??
Anyway, I like the interface on THJ, and it’s easy to set up shop there.
Negatives: BUT…I barely see any sales here. I’m lucky to see 1-2 a week. I haven’t listed anything new here at THJ in months because I feel like it’s pointless — the only sales I see are from my older fonts, and not the newer ones, so I figure that the direction I’m heading in with my designs isn’t really what the folks frequenting THJ want. That’s cool with me.
The other gripe I have with THJ is that their site is really slow to load. So much to the point that I’ve stopped trying to check in on my sales, because it takes for-ev-er to load. *shrug*
I’m not saying not to open up shop with THJ. I imagine it’s probably different based on the shop and the designs that are being sold. I just haven’t had stellar luck with them, or enough to warrant continuing to list items with them.
Other Random Info: The bundle sales I participated in did moderately well. If approached again, I’d totally participate.
September 2019 Addition: I shut down my THJ shop a few months back. I decided to do that because I wasn’t seeing more than $20 in sales every month, and the issues with the website made it so that it was cumbersome to get a product uploaded. I also noticed over time that the payouts weren’t super predictable, sometimes varying by more than a week from their projected payout date. It didn’t feel very good or professional, even if it was over less than $20. The nail in the coffin for me was when I ran a deal with a THJ sister site that e-mailed multiple times asking me to send my payout back because they made a slew of mistakes on their end. Disorganized, mismanaged? I don’t know. Perhaps my experience is unique – either way, I hope that the folks that continue to sell with them have a much better experience than I!
October 2019 Addition: As of 28 October, I have three active THJ listings. I had a brief moment of, “What if I’m missing out?!” and opted to bring back a font bundle, and two SVG bundles. They’ve been active for about 2 weeks, with zero interest. I can’t say whether THJ has a traffic issue (as in, not a lot of traffic, and therefore, not many transactions, and therefore, I don’t see sales) or if it’s simply an interest issue. My guess would be traffic, as the items I have listed seem to do quite well elsewhere. I’ll be leaving those items listed for a bit more time, and will report back on whether any sales occur!
Process to Open Shop: You can go here to open up shop: https://fontbundles.net/store-register
Cost: There is no cost to open up the shop; sellers receive between 50-75% commission, with Font Bundles keeping the rest.
Positives: Font Bundles does really well for bundles and quick sales — like their $1 font deal, or seasonal sales that they host. I see the bulk of my income from FB through the bundles and sales. I see individual sales here & there — a bit more consistently than on The Hungry JPEG.
The interface for listing products is easy to use and fairly intuitive.
Negatives: Customer service is a little lacking for shop owners. Long story short, my fonts were (still are) being purchased and then offered for free on a few different websites. This is something I’ve come to accept as expected, and I’ve got a takedown notice ready to go on the fly in case I need it. I’d been trying to figure out where the fonts were being taken from, so I did some detective work of my own, and found out that the fonts (as I suspected) were being purchased through Font Bundles, and the buyers were turning around and offering the products up for free on a few different website platforms.
How do I know it came from Font Bundles? Because I listed a test font there & there only. It was the only place the font was made available, and within 1-2 days of being released, it had been purchased, and showed up where I expected it would.
I contacted Font Bundles about this after I’d submitted takedown notices to the websites offering my product for free without my consent, hoping that we could get to the bottom of this. I know Font Bundles can’t control what their customers do, but what I was hoping for was some type of recourse or information on who may have been doing this. Instead, it got turned back around on me and *MY* integrity was questioned — how could *I* be sure that the buyer(s) from Font Bundles were the guilty parties, even though I’d already informed them that the font was available nowhere else.
Font Bundles doesn’t offer much in the way of security for the shop owners, I guess. They refuse to divulge the names of buyers, which makes every sale virtually anonymous. If the sale can’t be attributed, people are going to continue to act dishonestly. I made the suggestion that shop owners should have access to this information — I was told the suggestion would be passed up the chain, which I believe is code for, “lolz no.”
Other Random Info: I’ve been a little more selective about what I list here, and am still on the fence about whether or not it’s worth it to continue doing business with Font Bundles. The sales I make are right on the border of being enough to justify it, so I guess the jury’s out on this one. I would suggest to anyone opening up shop here that they make sure they stay on top of known pirating websites, and then weigh out whether or not it’s worth it to chase down the bad guys when it happens…because it will. (I should note that it will happen no matter where you list your fonts or design resources. It won’t be exclusive to the platform. I only bring it up in this case because I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the response I received.)
September 2019 Addition: I’ve continued to upload my products through FontBundles, and I’m pleased to report that my experience as of late has been quite positive. Sales have been small, but worth my time, and I’ve been included in a few deals recently that have given me a nice little boost. I suspect that piracy continues to happen, but for my own mental health, I try to not become a super spy. I really want to keep my focus on creating, which has been the case for some months now. I can’t say that I’ve completely changed my view of FontBundles based on my feedback above, but I am gaining more positive views based on my experiences recently.
Process to Open Shop: Melissa, one of of the gals at So Fontsy, reached out to me via Etsy with an invite to join. After checking it out, I decided I didn’t have anything to lose! You can apply by going to this link — https://sofontsy.com/open-shop/ — where your portfolio will be reviewed!
Cost: There is no actual cost associated with opening up a shop on So Fontsy, and your compensation might vary. My agreement with So Fontsy says that the payment agreement is confidential so I’m not gonna blow that up. I will say, though, that I wouldn’t sell anywhere that I felt like I wasn’t being paid well. One of the things about design marketplaces like this is that I feel like the trade-off is really great. So Fontsy sees traffic and has pre-qualified individuals that may be interested in what I have to offer — in turn for not having to go out and seek these people out myself, they keep a percentage of my sale. It’s people that I wouldn’t otherwise reach, so I think it’s entirely fair.
Positives: I sell both SVGs and fonts on So Fontsy — I see a lot more font sales here than I do SVG files, which makes me totally happy! I get asked to participate in bundles for both SVGs and fonts, so I see a little extra traffic, and I get a bump up in sales, too! Crafting fonts are HUGE here, so if that’s your style, this will be a great place to sell.
Negatives: I haven’t had a negative experience with selling here, but I will note that you ought to have patience — sometimes the back end of the website is a little slow, but the folks at So Fontsy have been taking huge steps to make the experience a lot better for sellers. I really appreciate the transparency as it relates to the admin communicating with shop owners about what steps are being taken.
Other Random Info: So Fontsy is pretty young, just having celebrated its six-month anniversary over the summer. One thing that I enjoy about selling here is the Facebook group that is exclusive to the designers that sell there. Everyone is super helpful and friendly. I’m always a little on the fence about the “community over competition” mentality, because we all want to make money, feed our families, etc. BUT, the folks at So Fontsy — the admins and the sellers — have been super sweet, and I feel like we all actually DO look out for one another.
Process to Open Shop: Easy peasy! Follow this link — https://www.creativefabrica.com/open-store/ — and open up shop!
Cost: There is no cost, Creative Fabrica takes a portion of your sale. Your portion could range between 50-75%. Additionally, you can receive recurring revenue if you allow your product to be a part of their subscription service, which allows users to pay a flat fee monthly for access to thousands of fonts.
Positives: I love me some Creative Fabrica! The folks running Creative Fabrica are super responsive to the shop owner’s needs and questions, and are always a pleasure to e-mail with. In addition to being a shop owner, I’m also a subscriber — I love having access to so many fonts for any project that I need them for, and I also quite enjoy being paid daily for participating in the subscription offerings.
Negatives: I don’t have many negative things to say about Creative Fabrica. The interface is easy to use, you can keep tabs on how much your payout is. Perhaps my only suggestion or gripe would be that I’d like to see more in the way of stats so that I know what the buyers on Creative Fabrica are looking for!
Other Random Info: Creative Fabrica has partnered with the Silhouette Design Store, and has also recently partnered with Templett. If your products make the cut, you may be asked to participate. You can accept or reject the deals — when you accept it, it means your product can be offered up on Templett or the Silhouette Design Store. Creative Fabrica basically acts as an intermediary, and they will compensate you for it based on the number of purchases through SDS or Templett. This is in addition to being paid by Creative Fabrica for sales or subscriptions, too! In other words, crafting fonts are great for CF, as well as other font styles.
Process to Open Shop: With a super clean website, big names in the font design community, and some awesome big-name logos at the top of their site…You Work For Them seems like an amazing place to be. There’s no “open shop” link readily available — you need to e-mail submissions in, along with links to your portfolio. They’ll review the submission, and if it seems like a good fit, they’ll invite you to open up shop.
Cost: If you’re invited to open up shop with YWFT, there is no cost to do so… but the commission rate is 50/50 — that means if you make a sale, you get 50% of your asking price, and they keep the other 50%. You get paid once a quarter with YWFT, heads up!
Positives: I mentioned those big names — the likes of Apple and Starbucks are named as users of YWFT. It’s pretty neat to think that the folks there could license and use your resources. YWFT’s website is super clean and uniform.
Negatives: Their requirements seem to have you jumping through hoops with regard to how they need their items packaged up so they can be listed. For all other shops, I use the same images and same .zip file to list my items. For YWFT, I have to prepare a totally different set of images (different sizes), and use their system to package my product up. Let’s be honest. It’s a drag. I know this is how they keep their website looking awesome, products uniform in their presentation, etc. but I spent more time than I wanted to getting my items ready with the hope they’d do well.
I abandoned the YWFT ship a while back, and haven’t listed any new products there. I didn’t see enough sales (like literally less than $50 a quarter) to warrant spending the time on it.
Other Random Info: YWFT just wasn’t for me, y’all.
Crella – Added September 2019
Process to Open Shop: You can follow this link – https://crella.net/sell-digital-products/ – to learn a bit more about opening a Crella shop and apply to open a shop! I received approval to set up shop nearly instantly.
Cost: There is no cost to set up shop with Crella. Crella’s designer commission is 75% less a $.50 fee for each transaction. This commission rate is a ton better than a lot of marketplaces out there.
Positives: The commission rate is a definite positive, and the site is put together well – it’s WordPress, and it’s super clean on the front end, and really easy to upload products on the back end. A font designer, Mats-Peter, is the Crella founder, and I have to imagine that a large part of why he put this marketplace together was so that designers get a better cut. Way to go, Mats!
One cool thing that I think will work out to Crella’s advantage is that they do offer a subscription service. You can choose to contribute to this service with your products, and it appears you may opt out at any time. Your payout depends on the number of signups and downloads.
Negatives: There seems to be a bit of a traffic problem here…as in, it doesn’t seem like there’s a ton of activity as far as purchasers go. I believe this to be because Crella is totally the new kid on the block, and there are still plenty of growing pains, advertising, etc. to work with in order to have sustainable growth. At the time of writing (September 2019), my Crella shop has been open since April 2019, and I’ve made one single sale and received one very meager payout for the subscription service offered. That said, I’m not bailing on Crella. It takes mere minutes to list your product completely painlessly, and I truly believe that the best is yet to come. All good things take time, and I think that Crella has a good thing going.
Other Random Info: Crella also offers an Affiliate Program – if you’re looking to earn a little extra by sharing cool stuff, you should definitely check that out.
Do you sell in other marketplaces? Let me know what your experiences were with them — feel free to drop a comment for others to read, too!