Growth October 15, 2020

No one is downloading our free iOS 14 icons. What are we doing wrong?

Paul Jansen @PeeJay

So the whole world is apparently going nuts over the fact that you can now change the icons on your iPhone homescreen. One guy even made over $100K by selling a fairly simple icon set (

I thought, let's create a cool set as well and give it away for free to get some traffic to our website. Took one of our designers a couple of days to get it designed.

I've posted on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Dribbble (even boosted the post with some $$)...but so far, crickets.

I know we can do more to push this, but I'm very discouraged by the interest so far and not sure whether it's worth the effort to promote more.

Would love to get your feedback and see if we're doing anything wrong. Maybe you think there's a catch or just don't like the design?

This is the freebie:

  1. 15

    There's a funny quote by Seth Godin were he talks about Marcel Duchamp, who installed a urinal in a museum as an art installation. Seth says, "The first person to install a urinal in museum was an artist. The second person to install a urinal in a museum was a plumber."

    Basically, the guy that made 100K was at the right place at the right time with the right skillset. You'll never be able to recreate that moment doing the same things. To continue the metaphor, you can still make good money as a plumber but plumbers don't make money building art installations.

    1. 3

      Wow never heard of that quote before from Godin but it seems to nail internet success.

  2. 3

    “...I'm very discouraged by the interest so far and not sure whether it's worth the effort to promote more.”

    I'd say one of two things is happening here:

    1/ folks are voting with their lack of interest that they just don't like, need, or want those icons.


    2/ The wave of interest in this trend has dissipated already. (You missed it, maybe?)

    A simple Google Trends search agrees with me on both fronts.

    Google Trends Chart showing ios 14 icons trend being waaaaaay over

    Yep. I'd say you missed it.

    Props to @traf for being poised to pounce on this right when the time was perfect.

    As I wrote in my newsletter a few weeks ago, I don't think it's worth your time to keep pushing this.

    Count yourself lucky for having not wasted a bunch of time on this, and move on to other things.

    1. 2

      I don't think we entirely missed it but fair point. I did know that we were late of course, but to our point, I didn't see any other freebies yet.

      In the meantime, our freebie got some traction and was featured on the Dribbble blog: and we were contacted by Iconfinder, they will feature us on their blog.

      1. 1

        Congrats on being featured! :)

  3. 3

    There's always first mover's advantage. Also, even Satya nadella, Bill gates, Elon Musk loves Marques - he's that influential. Initial sales came from retweets I guess.

  4. 3

    Perhaps we can ask that 'One guy' itself, @traf.

  5. 2

    I would argue that the designer you mention (@traf) is not selling icons. He is selling "being new and cutting edge". That is something people will pay $28 for.

    So you can't replicate his success by just trying to sell icons.

  6. 2

    These look cool but my first impression was these are way too light for an iPhone screen. Have you done research into user preferences on mobile screens for icons?

    1. 1

      We wanted to push this out quickly, so didn't do any research.

  7. 2

    You might be able to get some more traction and drive users to your site by listing with something akin to Icon Finder. Good luck!

    1. 1

      Yeah good one. We're one of the top sellers there, haven't thought of uploading it there as a freebie. Cheers!

  8. 1

    First of all, your icons are great and awesome.

    Sometimes you don't get sales not only because you were late but also how you build your audiences.

    @traf spent years to get into the stage where he launched many successful projects before that icon pack. It's not an overnight success.

    I am sure you can do it in one day if you start building your audience, launch new projects consistently. @PeeJay

    1. 1

      Thanks for your input Felix. I agree with you and we are building our audience.

      1. 1

        Go for it! Launch again and it will be a success :) Keep me posted! @PeeJay

        1. 1

          Thanks and will do!

  9. 1

    For what it's worth, I love the icon pack!!

  10. 1

    They look great, love the asthetic. So that’s not your issue.

  11. 1

    From what I see, you are missing the a picture of the iPhone home screen showing your icons in action. @traf shows a white minimalist and black minimalist themes screen shots of his icons in action. Also, the identity of @traf icons is minimalism. People who identify as minimalist loved his workThey are the one who are buying it.

    As for your icons, I don’t see a screen shot showing how it looks on the screen. Also, the theme I sense from the icons you show in the post look colorful and more “child happy”. Have you considered marketing it as “icons for your child’s iPad/iPhone”?

    Icons and themes design are aspirational, people who identify with them buy them.

    1. 1

      Great comment. We went for a quick launch here and should have paid more attention to the previews.

      The child angle is very interesting! I'll discuss this with the team.

  12. 1

    Shameless plug here: you can check out for some case studies to learn from :)

  13. 1

    Try to sell them instead of giving away!
    Another question is how easy is to install and use your icons? Can people do it right from their devices?

    1. 1

      Yeah, works just like the other custom icons for iOS 14.

      We could indeed sell them, but wanted to do something different and get attention for our paid products.

  14. 1

    Looks cool to me! If I used iOS I'd download them lol but I'm on Android

    1. 1

      Haha thanks! You can customize Android icons too I believe?

  15. 1

    imo they look nice but not very shareable as they are a bit generic.
    Since you were giving this away it would have been better if you could piggy back on something trendy like a movie, video game, etc...

    1. 1

      That would have been better indeed. Saw a nice example of your point with the Michael Jordan inspired icon pack:

  16. 1

    It sounds like the designer had some important influencers and sites share his design at the crucial moment when it first became possible to change the icon sets. He wrote more about it here:

    He had actually designed this several years prior to this and saw no real sales, until it was tweeted and shared by someone who used his set showcasing the new iOS feature this year. He also had an existing audience with these icons before they could be used too.

    I'm sure there's more that can be done to market your icons because they look good! But that $100k (and in this case 100k downloads also) really should not be a benchmark - even a tenth or hundredth of that could be too optimistic without comparable virality (which the designer didn't plan for).

    Also love the Among Us icon : )

    1. 2

      To be clear, we didn't aim for these numbers. Just had expected more :-)

      Anyways, it's picking up now so pretty happy about that!

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        Nice, that's awesome! A lot of this is just a waiting game, and you're set up nicely since the icons look good.

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      Much appreciated. Returned the favor and followed you on Twitter and retweeted your Tailwind template (looks cool!). Great work on btw.

      1. 1

        Thank you Paul! How kind.

        Your work is awesome too, and thanks for Dribbble's shout out!

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          Sure thing, and in the future just let me know when you need some extra upvote/share/anything for one of your projects!

  17. 1

    Love the icons, Paul. Just got them downloaded.

    BTW, I would like to suggest few sub reddits, /r/ios/ & /r/ios14/ - These is where I would go looking for cool icon sets for iOS 14

    Try sharing your freebie over there, I'm sure redditors will love it considering it's free.

    1. 1

      Awesome, great tip.. will do :)

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