Let’s cut to the chase: I have been casually selling on Creative Market for about a year and made $9,471.45. Not anywhere near something you could live off, I know. But let me explain why you should sign up for a shop anyway.
The Basics of Creating a Shop
First off, what I mean by “casually” selling is I add files to Creative Market only when I have a spare moment—the marketplace is a very relaxed side hobby for me, not a full-time job. Depending on how much time you’re willing to contribute, your results will vary from mine.
To become a seller on Creative Market, you need to be invited (or apply through their partner page). While this barrier may deter some, it helps keep the overall market quality high and that benefits everyone, shop owners included. Now here’s the best part: once you’re accepted into the marketplace, you’re free to upload files for sale immediately and there is no review process to wait for, ever.
Another advantage to selling on Creative Market is there are no exclusivity limitations. Want to sell your files elsewhere at the same time? Go for it, that’s not a problem. You also get a 70% commission on your sales, which is a very good rate compared to other marketplaces. To top it off, you set the prices on your own files (trust me, that’s a big deal).
The Cold Hard Truth About Selling
Before you get too excited thinking you have complete freedom to sell whatever you want, let me be clear: you will not make money unless you cater to the trends. For example, vintage logos, hand-drawn fonts, and all the other typical front-page Dribbble shots are likely to sell best right now. As time goes on, trends change and so should your Creative Market files.
Another bubble-bursting truth is you will not generate a decent amount of sales until 1) you get featured or 2) your files are included in a Creative Market bundle sale. Without exposure from either of these, your files quickly get buried and forgotten.
To shed some light on the significance of being featured, I made a little over $7k in one week by being included in one of Creative Market’s bundles. Had I not made that exciting boost of income, I probably would not be recommending you join the marketplace at all.
Now, the good news is it’s fairly easy to gain the attention of the Creative Market staff, assuming your designs are good. The single best thing you can do as a seller is be involved with the community discussions. To date, I have been featured on the homepage and included in one bundle sale, both of which only happened because I found discussion threads asking for volunteers.
Providing customer support for my shop was something I expected to take more time but, frankly, it hasn’t been an issue at all. I do occasionally get the “does this file work in Microsoft Word” email questions but not nearly as often as I did on other marketplaces (GraphicRiver, I’m looking at you). My hunch is that Creative Market tends to attract higher-level designers who are familiar with the tools of the trade and therefore need less support.
Selling Your Design Soul to the Devil
Without question, my greatest reservation with selling on any marketplace is it can sometimes be viewed as lowering your design standards. True design solves a problem; it involves recognizing a need and then crafting a solution to fix the issue. Without this process, all you’re doing is creating art.
As an example, say you have a client who does computer repair and they need a website. Your goal might be to create a design that specifically reflects that client’s unique brand and solves the problem of spreading their message. Conversely, if you fire up Photoshop and start designing a website without reason or constraints, it’s really just a pretty picture in the end—it didn’t solve a problem.
If you can get past the idea that selling on a marketplace is not always seen as “real work”, there are still valid reasons for doing so. For me, it’s been a great way to practice and get paid for it. Up until this year, I have been a Photoshop-man all my life and only used Illustrator when needed. That changed when I started making logos for Creative Market. It gave me an excuse to hone my vector skills with the benefit of making a few bucks at the same time.
Perhaps the best approach to selling files on a marketplace is to create resources rather than finished products. If a designer is the carpenter, be the lumber mill that provides tools and materials. A few examples are Photoshop brushes and actions, product mockups, and fonts, all of which are very useful assets.
Despite some important considerations, I wholeheartedly recommend selling on Creative Market, especially if you could use some extra passive income (everyone self-employed should be nodding “yes” right now). The site is a pleasure to use, the community has a tight-knit feel, and the staff has been fantastic to work with.