From this case, you will learn how to become a successful vendor at TemplateMonster in one month and start earning.
How did she do it?
Bii Laira agreed to share her interesting and personal story with us.
- How It All Started
- Choosing a Niche
- Growth as a Vendor
My name is Bii Laira. I’m from Malay, Indonesia.
In my country, it is not easy for a woman to have a good career and be paid equally. Still, I always knew I wanted to work hard and be appreciated for what I do. My products serve students and businesses all over the world, and I am proud of them.
Right now, I’m getting my degree in marketing, so I and need a stable income to support my education. I am fortunate to have a deep passion for visual arts and design. While making and selling PowerPoint presentations and infographic sets, I’m on my way to a career as a digital designer where I will use both my marketing skills and creative talents.
Wish me luck!
1. How It All Started
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember myself. In high school, though, I never tried to make my creative projects and presentations unique. I thought about studying art at a university but chose marketing because it seemed like a more stable career then.
My attitude towards design changed when I understood that I needed a side job. I knew guys who were studying IT in a university. Even in their first year, they started programming and working on freelance projects part-time. I saw that they could earn good money by working from home, alone or with a team located all over the world.
Though I never wished to become a web developer, I too wanted to be creating digital products and selling them online. That was my only chance to do something worthwhile, not waste my time on some dull and low-paid student job. That’s when I understood that my love for art and design should be revived.
As a marketing student, I knew that all good things start with research.
My first big aim was to choose a product that I would enjoy creating and could be sold profitably online. I was reading everything I could find about digital design, followed bloggers who were successful in their niches, looked through hundreds of threads on Quora and Reddit, and asked people questions.
I thought I could start creating icons and backgrounds and sell them on Graphicriver. My knowledge of Photoshop was not enough at that time, so I spent several months taking online courses and following YouTube tutorials. Luckily, I found friends who were also learning graphic design, so we made our first set of icons and backgrounds as a team and uploaded it to Graphicriver.
Long story short, we had to wait 1.5 months for our first sale and were disappointed. Even in 6 months, we didn’t earn much on Graphicriver.
Freelance projects on Upwork
Though I was sure that our first product on GraphicRiver failed, I didn’t want to give up. I tried to find clients as a freelance designer on Upwork.
Though I wanted to work with companies because they paid more, I ended up doing projects for tiny startups and charging little. Working with clients directly looked more like “real designer thing” to me than selling products on web marketplaces.
I signed up to Upwork and did a few logos and business card designs. To be honest, making logos for clients was tough, I spent much time improving the designs and responding to comments but hardly earned anything. These projects made me very anxious and didn’t pay off as I expected.
On Upwork, I also took a few cheap orders for custom presentation design. Now I see that it was a beneficial experience because I learned how people and businesses use PowerPoint and what their needs are. But at that time, I was far from pleased with my progress.
These projects on Upwork taught me that working with strict deadlines is hard. I’m still studying, so I need to be more free and flexible with my schedule.
Moreover, I couldn’t let go the idea of passive income that allows focusing on one’s designer skills. So, I decided to stop running around and sign up as a vendor to major online marketplaces. Of course, having one sale in 1.5 months (like we had with our team project on GraphicRiver) was devastating, but I didn’t want to lose hope.
2. Choosing a Niche
I did some hard thinking about which niche to choose as a vendor. I remembered that I had enjoyed making business cards, and working with corporate esthetic was much fun for me. The problem was that the prices for business cards on all marketplaces were low, and one had to make very many of them to earn something. I knew I needed to specialize in more complex (and expensive) products.
With icons, backgrounds, and graphic illustrations the problem is precisely the same - the work is subtle and takes much time, but the products have low perceived value and sell too cheap. I also loved making social media bundles, but they didn’t seem very profitable either.
Finally, I figured out that I wanted to create and sell graphic elements for businesses and sell them in sets and bundles. That’s how my Infographic Pack came to be.
I also decided that making PowerPoint presentations is also a good niche for me. Designing PowerPoint themes allows me to combine my passion for design and business. Moreover, I have some experience of working with startups, so I know what an excellent presentation should look like.
Inspired by education and my university, I made my Education PowerPoint template.
From my research, I found out that newbie designers like me couldn’t compete with online marketplaces for clients. I know that even my graphic design heroes, as well as popular authors with massive portfolios, continue submitting their products to online marketplaces.
Comparing online marketplaces
First, I thought I would sign up for all three major marketplaces - GraphicRiver, CreativeMarket and TemplateMonster. I didn’t exactly know the difference between these platforms, and my sad experience with GraphicRiver taught me that one shouldn’t put all eggs in one basket.
I did a small research on the three marketplaces, and here’s what I came up with.
|Review time||25-40 days||0||1-5 days|
|% earned from every sale||45%+||70%||40-70%|
|Time to wait for the first sale||1 - 3 months||1 week, or 3 months, depends on your luck.||1-2 weeks|
|Vendor support||OK||OK||Very good|
I already knew that I was not the only designer who had to wait forever for a product to be approved and then had no sales. Another common thread in all vendor reviews was that on most marketplaces (except for TemplateMonster) support teams do not help young authors very much. I knew I needed assistance, so TemplateMonster.com moved to the top of my rating.
Submitting the products
As I already said, I wanted to submit the same product to all three marketplaces and see what happens. I started with TemplateMonster because it had better support for vendors and I needed someone to help me through the first steps. I contacted the managers: they turned out very smart and friendly guys.
I spent some time reading quality guidelines, but creating an account and submitting my first product, Education PowerPoint template was easy.
I contacted the vendor support team several times because I needed to adapt my first product to the quality requirements at TemplateMonster. With their help, I managed to get my product approved on the first attempt.
To be honest, I was impressed with the care TemplateMonster team shows towards vendors. I realized that I wanted to stay here and sell my products exclusively. I was tired of complex freelance projects that were no paying off, and of not getting any support or revenue from other marketplaces.
By the time my second product, Infographic Pack, was approved by the quality control team (I submitted it a week later and got a positive response in 4 days), my first Education theme already started selling. So far, I’m quite sure that my decision to stay at TemplateMonster marketplace was an excellent one.
Not all my products got approved at once though, a few times a had to modify and resubmit themes. I’m not saying that I’m happy to see my templates declined, but I think about it as an opportunity to grow as a designer.
Honestly, I was not going to spend time marketing my products. I got my first sales in a week after submitting a theme, so I wanted to focus on making more of them and leave all the marketing to Templatemonster. In three weeks after becoming a vendor, I got five sales for my Powerpoint theme and three for my Infographic Pack. People left excellent reviews, so I was sure that money would keep on coming.
But then I decided to do something different. I thought to myself “I wonder how far low-budget promotion will take me?”
So, I designed my very first campaign.
I decided that I will not do anything extra, use the full functionality of my vendor profile on TemplateMonster.com. Of course, the thought of getting a personal website for my works crossed my mind a couple of times, but I wanted to make best of resources I already had at hand.
I also decided that I won’t spend more than 10% of my working hours on marketing, though I know that many designers dedicate half of their time to promoting their products. One has to set priorities, and I value growing as designer more than revenues now.
Anyway, I love what TemplateMonster has been doing recently to help vendors with their promotions.
- First, I connected my TemplateMonster vendor profile to my Facebook, Twitter, Github, and Dribble accounts. From there, I can share news about my newest products and other work updates with my friends and followers.
- I also ran ads on Facebook to promote my Infographic Pack. It’s so cool that I could add Facebook Pixel IDs functionality to my vendor account and retarget the people who viewed my products on Facebook. I invested $50 and got 27 new sales (about $500) in two weeks.
- I posted about my newest products in several designer communities on social media and participated in discussions there. I like getting many reviews from peers because I use this information to make my every next product better.
- I also promote my vendor profile on Quora by answering questions on graphic design and PowerPoint. I love Quora because it gets you connected with the people you would wish to target - those who are already interested in your topic and need professional help or advice.
- I share some of the visuals I create on Pinterest and Instagram, adding links to my product pages on templatemonster.com
5. Growth as a vendor
I enjoy working with TemplateMonster because they too put clients first and try to do everything is for his/her convenience. I too believe that all products should be beautiful and skillfully made.
We share the same philosophy: that users should have no problem understanding the product and making best of it.
As a vendor, I want to be earning $1-2k per month. And of course, I have a plan for that. Every day, I do small things that help me reach my goals.
What I do to become a successful digital designer
- I’m improving my skills in iconography and typography.
- I’m learning to think like a product manager: I keep an eye on the market for PowerPoints and graphics, learn about newest trends and changes in customer needs. I love communicating with other digital designers, we sometimes share our ideas and inspire one another. Without peer support and competition, my work would be tedious.
- Though I work with Photoshop and Sketch every day, there’s still much I can learn about their functions. I take courses online and watch tutorials from experienced designers on YouTube.
- I am learning how to write most compelling descriptions for my products. As a marketing student, I understand that it is my responsibility to convince clients that they should spend money on my products.
- I’m working on improving my English to make the descriptions look natural and be entirely error-free.
- Since I started working for TemplateMonster, I learned a lot about SEO and how to use it for creating products and product descriptions. I am digging into that now.
- I’m practicing smart time-management to make sure I create and submit products regularly and reach my financial goals. I use a productivity app and keep a task list.
- I’m improving my soft skills to be able to communicate better with customers. When they ask me questions about my products, I’m learning how to respond most efficiently and leave a good impression.
- I might start blogging about my experience in graphic design and learning to be a successful vendor. I’ve already created a video tutorial about how to make a perfect PowerPoint presentation. I’m going to make a few of them and set up a channel on YouTube.
- I’m also planning to do some influencer marketing for my products, I’ve already contacted several popular bloggers asking them to write what they think about my Infographic Pack and PowerPoint presentations.
- I’m thinking to try Google AdWords with my next big bundle of infographics. I’ve already added Google Analytics to my vendor profile, and I’m also very curious how many sales Google AdWords will bring compared to Facebook ads.
Did you like the case study? Can you relate yourself to G’s story?
Write a comment and let Bii Laira and us know what you think!
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