Today I reached a milestone that I thought would never happen when I began my hacker journey. My Adobe Illustrator extension has surpassed $400k in sales since I launched in May of 2019.
It's an interesting feeling to watch the dollars tick up to a goal you never thought possible.
On the one hand, it's incredibly validating and joyous, but on the other hand, it's an accomplishment that you can't share with everyone.
Some people don't want to hear about how much money you have made. Especially in these times when so many people have struggled.
Anyway, I'm glad to have this community to share my wonderful news with!
I owe everything to my affiliates who promote the crap out of my product, to my developers who make my ideas real, and to my customers who put food on my table. THANK YOU!!!
When I started researching ideas for my first product (Logo Package Express) back in the summer of 2018, I uncovered a major problem for designers. The process of handing off final logo files to clients SUCKS! The problem was two-fold. One — It takes forever to export final logo files. There are a ton of files if you’re doing things the right way. Two — clients very often don’t know what to do with all of those files. When should they use a PNG vs. a PDF? A designer can be as organized as they want with their file naming and folder structure. At the end of the day — whether it’s a folder on the client’s local drive or shared with them on Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. — there is just no way to preview all the file types visually.
Problem one is history. Logo Package Express makes exporting, naming, and sorting all the logo files an automated breeze.
Problem two remains to be solved, and I want to be the one who cracks it.
So that’s the back story. Now, how did I validate my solution for problem two — the client-facing side of logo file delivery — without writing any code?
Here’s the outline:
Prototype the solution in Figma. I LOVE Figma, and I’ve used it to demo product ideas in the past. Making something look real and giving it the illusion of being a working tool is far better than making something that works in HTML, but looks like shit — ESPECIALLY when you’re trying to sell the concept to lay-people.
Interview your top customers about the prototype. I get reviews on my Facebook page for Logo Package Express. I also often have friendly correspondences with people who email in support tickets. Anyone who goes out of their way to say something nice about you or who you have interacted with personally is probably going to be willing to give you the time of day.
I interviewed 25 of these core customers. I got them on a zoom call, asked a few primer questions, gave a demo, and asked follow up questions. The questions you ask in this step are obviously important, but the two that mattered most to me in this phase were:
“Would you use this tool?”
“Would you pay for this tool?”
About 70% of my core customers said yes to both of those questions, so I decided to move on to the next step.
Survey your entire audience. Knowing that your core customers are on board is excellent, but I’d like to get a broader sample size for a few reasons.
I have about 4,500 people on my mailing list. The list is composed of customers and newsletter subscribers (people who have downloaded my lead gens). I was honestly expecting to get about 100 responses. I had two audiences, so I took a two-pronged approach. To entice customers to take the survey, I offered up beta access for survey completion. For the non-customers on my list, I offered a 20% discount on my existing product.
After receiving 350 responses, I had to stop the survey. Parsing all the feedback alone was overwhelming.
So how did I set this survey system up?
I created a survey in Typeform. The survey asked the same primer questions as my customer interviews. This time, Zoom demos were not an option, so I created a video walkthrough that I could add to the Typeform. This video was again just me clicking through my Figma prototype, but I had refined the presentation based on feedback from my core customers. After the demo came the qualifying questions.
“Would you use this tool?”
“Would your clients use this tool?”
“Would you pay for this tool?”
I LEARNED A TON from this survey. It helped me establish the core feature set for the new tool, the pricing strategy, and more.
And similarly to my core customers, about 66% of my entire audience said they would pay for the tool.
Test with end-users (i.e., client-types) Ok, so the idea looks solid, I’ve got it refined perfectly for my audience of designers, but here’s the problem. My new tool is ultimately not really for designers. It’s supposed to make things easier for designers’ clients. For this idea to really have legs, I needed to test with clients.
One of the questions at the end of my broad survey was whether the survey taker had any clients willing to help me test. 187 people said yes. I am only going to test around 20 clients, so I think I’m in good shape.
Initially, I wanted to continue down the Figma prototype route for client testing. I found a service called maze.design, which allowed you to make user missions and would give great metrics on how people accomplished things within the app.
There was a problem though…
When testing with my friends and lovers, I found that these non-designer types were getting way too caught up in the specific terms of any given mission to just use the thing. This mission structure and static mockup with only one right solution were narrowing their focus so much that they couldn’t actually experience the tool in any meaningful way.
Bubble.io is a visual app builder, similar to Webflow, but for apps with a database. With Bubble, I’ve been able to build a very realistic prototype of my logo file sharing and management tool. The best part is I can customize the tool with the end user’s own logo files in a matter of minutes. The realism is insane, and the value of these tests will be much higher because it’s so close to the real experience for the clients.
I’ve got the prototype set up. I’ve got clients signing up for testing. I’m hoping to get 20 done.
That’s where things stand right now, and I’ll definitely keep you all posted.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk.
TL;DR — I wrote a guest article for an affiliate with a large audience. It resulted in 300 new signups to my email list in 5 hours.
My email list has been growing steadily since October 2018 when I launched the first version of Logo Package Express. Until now, my only strategy for growing the list has been to offer freebies as lead gens. I decided to try writing a guest post for one of my most prolific affiliates who has a very large mailing list and huge blog following.
I offered my affiliate to write a guest post for him about logo file formats. This is a heavy traffic topic for my blog, so I thought it would be a perfect article for my affiliate to have.
The article discusses what types of file formats designers need to provide to clients for finalized logos. In it, I link to a free download of my logo file format cheat sheet, which is a lead magnet for my list.
I set up an additional link for my affiliate that redirected to my cheat sheet lead gen landing page. If anyone explores my site further and makes a purchase of Logo Package Express within 30 days, my affiliate will get the commission.
The affiliate gets a highly relevant article without doing any work, a value providing cheat sheet for his audience and an additional path to a commission. I get access to a huge audience to join my mailing list.
My affiliate sent out the blog post at 3:30 AM Central time, and by 8:30 AM I had received over 300 new signups to my mailing list — that's a 10% increase in just 5 hours!
I highly recommend this strategy if you have access to quality content and a network of affiliates.
I must admit, given the current global crisis, I am a bit worried about my product sales taking a major dive. It is my only source of income currently, and while I have a good runway established for emergencies, I'd prefer things to be business as usual.
I'm of two different minds about what my customers might be doing with their time and money while everyone is locked up.
One idea is that since most designers will be cooped up at home, they'll probably have more time to look into resources that they've been eyeing for a while. This could boost sales.
The other idea is that people are worried about their finances in general and are probably not prone to non-essential spending.
To walk the line between these two potentialities, I've decided that a sale is the best thing to do. It will run until April — when most folks might start going back to work. If lots of people are cooped up and looking at tools, it's great to have a sale. If people are stressed about money, a sale could alleviate some of that too.
But once I decided to have a sale I had to pick the right tone.
My brand has always been infused with a healthy dose of humor and sarcasm. I rushed through creating emails for my affiliates and mailing list. My first concept was to sort of make satire out of the current situation by claiming that The Logo Package was announcing a stimulus package to invigorate the design economy during the COVID-19 crisis. I showed it to a few affiliates and fellow Indie Hacker @tela.
The reviews were mixed, but ultimately I was convinced not to make light of the crisis. I shifted gears to a more positive message — increasing productivity while working from home.
The sale is live now and sales are coming in. Thanks for reading! I'll keep you all posted.
Today my interview with Indie Hackers goes live. In it I talk about how I went from feeling undervalued in my design career to running my own 6-figure design software biz!
I'm honored and excited to be featured. Please give the interview a read here:
I’ve tried the traditional paid ads channels — Facebook, Google, Youtube, and even Reddit. Believe it or not, my highly niched product for logo designers actually did reasonably well on the r/logodesign and r/Graphic_Design. People were even writing positive things in the comments on my ad, hahaha.
Anyway, spending $5k on paid ads and getting like 4 sales didn’t really seem like a good ROI, what do you think ;)
The sales tactic that had grown my Illustrator Extension into a 5-figure business in 9 months was affiliate marketing. I’d get a design influencer with a great blog on board, and I’d get 30 new sales straight away!
I decided that learning how to be a paid ads guru wasn’t really worth my time. Spinning a strategy that was already working by starting to pay for sponsored blog posts and newsletter mentions seemed a better path to start on.
The submission and feedback process was pretty painless. It’s early days with this promotion, so I’ll be back to let you all know how it turns out.
Who has had success with this type of marketing?
How do you measure the success of a business? Do you measure it in dollars? Is it about how happy your customers are? Is it about setting goals and then achieving them?
It’s probably a mixture of all of these things and more. I’m happy to say that Logo Package Express is regularly receiving wonderful reviews and also constructive feedback from happy customers who want to help improve the product. Happy customers, for me, is priority #1.
When I first conceived Logo Package Express, I did have seemingly impossible goals. I never thought the extension would be as successful as it has been. I thought that if I reached $100k in sales that would be crazy incredible. I can’t believe I have the privilege of sharing with you all that today, in just a little over 8 months since launch, I have reached $100k in sales.
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported this product, introduced me to wonderful designers, written a review, or shared some awesome feedback with me.
I’m going to keep improving, and I’m going to keep smashing goals.
This is a truly major milestone for me. I didn't think I would be able to grow Logo Package Express to 1000 in less than a year. It's been half that amount of time and I am astounded.
One of my affiliates helped me share the news (and get a few sales). Their posts said, "1000 designers can't be wrong." I thought that was so awesome.
I owe 90% of my success to my wonderful affiliates. Their ranks are growing every week. They genuinely believe in my product and do a great job promoting it to their audiences. I've got bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters, and Instagrammers. They all bring something unique to the table.
Thanks to them and my customers, I have left all of my contract work and am running The Logo Package full time. I'm working about 12–20 hours a week and it feels incredible.
I put a lot of time and effort into my customer service. Fortunately, the inbound requests are not so prolific that I can't handle them alone. I find that responding as quickly and nicely as I can has a really positive and reinforcing effect. Don't be greedy, and don't be a jerk I guess.
I've given away a fair number of copies of Logo Package Express for free as well — just to make that extra impact, or make things that much easier for someone.
Where would I be without my first affiliate and now good friend Ian Paget?!
Ian has a very successful podcast about all things logo related. It shares a name with his community and blog, "Logo Geek."
Ian has had huge names in the design industry on his podcast, from branding titan Marty Neumeier to Ruth Kedar, the designer of the Google logo. To be included amongst their ranks was a high honor.
The episode was about logo file types and best practices around providing logo files to clients. Check it out!
Even though I'm starting to feel pretty successful, there are still little moments that humble me all the time to how incredible it is to be running my own business BY MYSELF.
I recorded this podcast from my crappy little office with my wobbly-ass standing desk (that I NEVER stand at) using my friend's microphone haha. The Glamour!
May 6 was the big day. The problems began almost immediately. The extension wasn’t ready to be released. We needed just a few more hours to encrypt and sign the extension. Gumroad, the platform I sell Logo Package Express on, would not let me alter the release time I had originally set. I had to release a glorified IOU. My 170 preorder customers, who I imagined to be waiting at their computers in pajamas like it was Christmas morning, all had to unwrap a digital lump of coal — a .txt file notifying them that the extension would be coming later in the day.
Affiliates were sharing links all over the world wide web, people were flocking to the site and there was no product! We finally got the extension ready for release when we realized it wasn’t working on PC for some reason. I had to release SOMETHING — it was launch day! I quickly modified all of my landing page content to say Mac only — I’d been promising Mac and PC for months. I could feel rage from across the globe violently hurtling across time zones to punch me right in the gut.
Emails from angry PC people began flooding in, “This doesn’t work on my PC,” “You send us a .txt file saying it’s coming and now all of a sudden there’s no PC version! What kind of show are you running?”
My face was melting, but I still held out hope that we’d figure out the PC problem before the day was done. At around 5pm we identified the bug and squashed it, but the worst of the damage had already been done.
In the midst of all the late release shenanigans, I find out, via one strongly worded email after another, that 53 of my preorder customers had been double, triple, or QUADRUPLE charged! Gumroad support was nowhere to be found for hours while I frantically sent emails to each and every angry customer assuring them I would get to the bottom of it. When Gumroad support finally got back to me with a solution, I promptly took screenshots of the entire conversation and blasted it out to all 53 customers who had been overcharged. Apparently, it had the effect of humanizing me because several of the angry customers ended up becoming affiliates.
Despite the catastrophic launch, I managed to get everything sorted out by the end of the day. The extension was available for Mac and PC, and refunds were on their way to those who were overcharged.
And beyond my wildest dreams, Logo Package Express did over $12,000 in sales between preorders and launch!!!
Logo Package Express exists because exporting logo files for clients is mind-numbingly boring and super time-consuming. I want designers to spend their valuable design time creating logos, not exporting them.