How I monetized the design. 15 insights on creating a digital product that is sold

    The results of the year for the UI designer, who did not have a single interesting project in the portfolio and he decided to create his own product for the now popular Figma design platform .

    Previously, I was always skeptical of such posts. But after exactly one year passed, which gave me 10 years of experience and wisdom, I understood everything: I simply had nothing to say.

    I did not work in large companies, did not arrange sprints and did not sit side by side with cool guys in coworkings. I have been in design for at least 16 years, I am self-taught, and once I didn’t have a single interesting project in my portfolio that would work cool and look modern. All my last years of stable freelancing are customers with regular orders. They come and go. And 80% of them later throw into the furnace all your creativity. Because according to the laws of the market, this number fails after the launch of the project.

    So I really wanted my product. That would benefit people who will face similar challenges in the future and save their time. Which could quickly give the desired shape and optimize it over time.

    I almost did not notice how the year flew. The year for which I released several design systems for Figma , received a lot of positive feedback, collected useful tips and suggestions, planned where my product could be sent further, and eventually fell into the resource category of this design tool.

    And that's what I finally realized ...

    Watch what is happening in the industry.

    New tools, frameworks and web applications appear daily. And with them there is a demand for something that will help people to be even more effective. The design market is developing enormously and today it is even more interesting than, for example, two years ago. Investments come and giants fight for large stakes with serious technologies. And if you follow the market in which you work and understand it well enough - sooner or later you will find an idea that you can check for validity and you will be well enough charged enough for the motivation to go far. I constantly monitor key western design resources to make my own forecasts: DN , Webdesignernews , Reddit , Producthunt. What do people discuss in the comments? What posts get the most upvotes? It all matters.

    By the way, if you use Figma , I recommend paying attention to our ready-made design systems . They help freelancers to complete more orders per month, programmers can create beautiful applications on their own, and the Timlids “run through” sprints faster using ready-made design systems for teamwork.

    And if you have a serious project, our team is ready to deploy a design system within the organization on the basis of our developments and tailor it to specific tasks using Figma. Web / desktop, and any mobile. We are also familiar with React / React Native. Write to T: @kamushken

    You don't have to be a team.

    We live in an amazing time, when anyone, being in any remote part of the world with a laptop, creates something necessary, for which people are ready to pay money. He does it alone, using ready-made solutions that are available to everyone. Now there is a global trend for side-projects, which are launched by individual designers and developers. People create projects that excite them, gather an audience that becomes loyal, and then gradually introduce premium services for a $ subscription. And so successful projects are born. And only then they turn into teams, moving to the next level. But alone now a lot can be done thanks to cool tools, many of which are made by just one person.

    Zaprygivayte on the bandwagon leaving

    If a new product appears in the market for which there is interest in the communities, it may be possible to make money with it. For small teams or solo-preneurs like me, this is the most inclusive path to a product that makes a profit. This is just my case with Figma: I just understood that it was convenient for me to work in it and I became more efficient. I assumed that most designers would also think and they would need ready-made components in order not to waste time on pixels. And this idea turned out to be valid. Vorkflou designer has evolved greatly, thanks to a new approach. You simply build your own library of components and templates, and for each next client quickly and effectively create new templates, just adding a new style and color. Over time, all the elements of the world will appear in your database and you can work with a cup of coffee in the second hand:

    You will need all your previous experience.

    If you ever ask me, this is the first thing I will say. You must be good at your job. To create a product, you need to understand the tasks that people will use to solve it. You will be able to better understand them if you yourself solved such problems once in large quantities. This is your experience. And without it, it will be difficult to create a universal design asset (or paste here what is closer to your activity). Over the past 5 years, I have done quite a few production interfaces and various mobile concepts in my permanent job. Unfortunately, no project has fired, but without this experience I would not be able to do this kind of work in a year.

    If the product is not for sale, you need even more experience.

    One day my boss said “It's not enough to make a good product. It needs to be sold somehow ... ”. This is a harsh reality. Even if you drew the best whale design in this galaxy - now only you know about it. And it will take a lot of analytics, experiments and attempts to explain this to people. During this year, I sold several thousand licenses, updated and modified my site 10 times and still do not stop experimenting with content delivery. If one day you say “Oh! Now it looks cool ”and then after a month or two you don’t think“ O God, who wrote / painted this nonsense, ”most likely you are stumbling around and need to change something. And if your cool product is not for sale, you need even more experience to get past this dead center.

    Sell ​​in your own space

    The market of digital design products is developing rapidly and today more and more designers are trying to create something useful for their colleagues in the shop. Most of them are trying to sell their products using only popular sites, but this is not enough. Almost all known UI marketplaces are inundated with a ton of monotonous color screens inserted into identical phone mockups and in 80% of cases your odd job is lost among them. Designers are copying each other and looking for ideas not where they should be. If you plan to go far, think about the main source of sales in advance to make your own resource. This will at least eliminate the difficulty of choosing for visitors, because inside your space, they will choose exclusively among your products.

    Sometimes it's easier to make the next product.

    To this you may come if your patience does not end ahead of time. 20% of products give 80% of profit. If you have already made several products, then most likely a small part of them will generate the lion's share of the profits. All the others are the products after which you made the following attempts, since there is no point in trying to revive a dead man. If, after several attempts, you do not see the numbers that suit you, then this direction should be paused and explore a new one. Perhaps you and one in front of the monitor, but no one forbids doing business, as if you are a large company.

    Do everything as if you were an organization.

    Plan tasks, manage them in the tracker, explore hepatitis, collect analytics and optimize. For a solo developer, self-management should probably be in the first place, because it is very easy to go astray or dig into a routine just because you chose the wrong sequence of actions before starting development. For example, I managed only after several months of practice to understand that the reuse of my own ideas gives an increase in efficiency. And now when creating the next shot in Dribbble, I will use this picture in other social networks, or as an advertising banner, or even make it the title of the site, because I see a positive reaction from the audience.

    Immediately set the bar high

    You can not create something other than a quality product, otherwise there is no point in trying. Once you have released one, people will start watching you and this will be the beginning of your good reputation. High bar is not the lot of perfectionists; it is the approach of a developer who knows the areas of application of his product and can test it in these directions before release. For example, the search for bugs was difficult for me, but everything fell into place when I began to use my products for their intended purpose. And I didn’t immediately learn how to create design kits, with components thought out three steps ahead. Users acquired them, I began to receive positive reviews, and I soon realized that this is the reputation that moves the shadow behind the high-quality product.

    There is always something to improve.

    The main advantage of working on your product or child is a constant evolution. As yours and the entity on which you are working. Therefore, there is no stage “Well, that's enough!”. This is not enough, because tomorrow another team of designers will do it faster, with higher quality and even release it for free. In my case, I could always optimize typography, colors, workflow, and the product itself, after all, especially when I tried to look at the results of my work objectively. Therefore, I am sure that there is always something to improve.

    Your customers will tell you what to do next

    I think this is one of the most important insights of the year. Although he has been known to everyone for a long time and many echo this, but you understand all the importance of this only from your own experience. Listen to your customers! It often happened to me that after the release and a short break I asked myself the question “Okay, what to do next?”. And then the next day I received a couple of letters from satisfied customers with some wishes and all the questions fell away by themselves. Now I have extensive plans for next year, and only because in December I received several important messages and did not hesitate to pull out more information. Your clients will tell you what to do next ...

    Start posting and create a loyal audience.

    One of my mistakes was that I started doing it too late. I should have asked for an invite to Dribbble much earlier .or start exploring the specifics of creating cool presentations at Behance. However, at that time I did not have a product and I would hardly understand the importance of creating an audience. Again this notorious "better late than never." But now I am fully aware of the fact for which I generate content on social networks almost every day, write articles and create videos. Indeed, nowadays the competition is high, gaining subscribers is not easy. But this is exactly what motivates more experimenting with graphics and text in order to possibly come up with a new direction and get people interested in their content. And if you analyze information correctly - the number of likes or comments to your posts will become an indicator of interest in your ideas.

    Find your specialty or niche

    Today the design is very versatile and has many directions. You can be a specialist only in mobile applications, or in illustrations. Or maybe you are more a systems architect than an artist. Or prefer to create animations in interfaces. Understanding their specialization and deepening into it helps to stand out from the crowd and create niche products, because You begin to better understand the niche problems of your customers. For example, I am very inspired now by the fact that enterprising illustrators are starting to think in components. They draw in advance the characters in different angles and states, and you yourself are assembling a scene for yourself, like a puzzle. Consider whether this approach can be applied to your specialization in design? Perhaps this is the next good product ...

    Surround yourself with busy people.

    Let it sound like a quote from the classic Western business literature, but it turns out it works! In such a company, you can always get feedback and many points of view. And no matter what industry these people are engaged in. Anyone self-employed solves problems every day. And someone's algorithm for solving a difficult situation may well suit you, you just have to adapt it to your problem. Surprisingly, over the past few years, 3 such people have appeared next to me. One has his own online store of cool dishes , the second, together with his wife, is developing a network of nail salons , and a third recently shot having issued a state project. And I am glad that I had the opportunity to ask them questions, show the results of their activities and receive feedback.

    Realize your advantage

    Design sphere is the same competitive environment as many. The tip of the iceberg has long been captured by strong teams and 20% of top designers at Dribbble receive 80% of all orders. We share the rest between ourselves - those who started much later. But no one has the right to tell you that it is impossible to climb higher. If you are aware of your advantage, it will help maintain motivation at a high level. Once, not so long ago, I strongly feared that someone might take and repeat my workings out. But after I realized that I declared myself in my brain what exactly I was good at, it became much more comfortable for me to work and less to be afraid of. I just see that at least designers are digging at every pixel so deeply :) And I just like it ...

    Thanks for reading. I would be glad to hear in the comments your personal insights over the past year. If they are more about life than about work, it is even more interesting. By the way, it was a cross-post of my post with So it happened, Habr ...

    It was written and made with love for my family.

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