How to get into Creative Market and start making money from your creativity

By October 18, 2018 September 6th, 2019 Design, Inspiration

Do you love drawing, painting or just simply doodling?

Have you ever thought that it’s just a hobby and it won’t ever help you make money? I sure did. I always loved drawing but I thought that I could only make money from it if I become a big name artist with an agent and art gallery or if I sell all my ideas to a big corporation and let them gain the big bucks from my creativity. None of these options sounded desiring for me.

Well, my friend, I have good news for you: you can make money from your part-time (or even full time) creations without selling out or having an agent.

As with so many other things, the internet brought a solution: online marketplaces. And to be more specific, Creative Market.

In this post, I show you how to get into Creative Market and what advantages you can gain from having your shop on their site.

WHY CREATIVE MARKET?

Creative Market was founded in 2012. Since then, more than 5 million members joined to buy beautiful and high-quality fonts, graphics, templates and stock photos. There’s 28,000 shops and almost 2.7 million products to browse.

So Creative Market is massive with lots of visibility and opportunities to build up followership, like on Etsy or Shutterstock. But there’s a few important differences that makes this online marketplace better than others.

EVALUATION

You have to go through an evaluation process to be able to open up a shop. This means that only those with real talent, motivation, plans and original ideas can get in, so mediocre content won’t risk the reputation of the marketplace.

Mediocre content is a big problem on Etsy, because customers have to scroll through a truck-load of crap before getting to something that they really love. This makes the shopping experience much more cumbersome.

SET YOUR PRICE

Most older digital marketplaces, like Shutterstock has a universal pricing strategy and a complicated, not so seller-friendly payout method. You have to put out thousands of cliparts or photos to make a few dollars.

On Creative Market, you set your own price and receive 70% of it every time you make a sale. Payouts are easy, you receive your money at the beginning of each month via PayPal or wire transfer (or even on mailed cheque). Sure, Creative Market keeps 30% but I’ll tell you a bit later why this doesn’t bothered me.

OTHER ADVANTAGES

Some other advantages of Creative Market:

  • No per-product approval: After being approved to open a shop, you don’t need to wait for approval for each products. You’re all set to start selling and every change you make on your products go live instantly.
  • No exclusivity lock-in: you can sell the same products elsewhere without any problem.
  • Helpful forums: I found immense value on the Creative Market seller forums from invitations to Pinterest group boards to tips on the most searched keywords.
  • Track shop statistics: you get an easy to review dashboard with the most important sales data.
  • Direct messages with customers: it’s really easy to answer their questions, keep in touch or even offer them freebies if they opt-in on your website (new email subscribers, who already bought your products? Gimme them!)
  • Free marketing: Creative Market does a lot of marketing work for you. They have a huge mailing list, an active forum and a high traffic blog. If your products are on trend, useful and well presented, you can gain lots of visibility.

IS 30% TOO MUCH?

Creative Market keeps 30% of the sales price which is much higher than what Etsy takes. It’s totally understandable if you ask: what do I get for this 30%?

Well, you can gain a lot if you’re new to selling digital graphic products online. Creative Market is a great place for newbies because:

  • They provide the technology: no need to spend weeks figuring out WooCommerce or other complicated webshop plugins. Also, no need to spend big bucks on developers.

  • You get visibility: with the right products you can get into the Hand Picked section of the Creative Market home page, or their weekly email that goes out to thousands of subscribers. As a newbie you don’t have near as much traffic and as big list to connect with.

  • You can see the trends: by checking the most popular products on Creative Market, you’ll be able to develop products that the current market needs, not something that you assume they would need.

  • Less advertisement required: Creative Market has a huge affiliate program so other users have profit in promoting your or other shop owners’ products. For your first couple hundred dollar / month income, you likely won’t need to spend on ads.

If you add this up, you’ll see that as a beginner the 30% loss on the sales price totally worth it.

Of course, your ultimate goal should always be to move your products to your own webshop and sell exclusively there. But at the beginning, start simple, start on Creative Market.

Move to your own shop when you mastered the basics: customer relationships, consistent product development, click-worthy preview images and sales copy.

HOW TO GET INTO CREATIVE MARKET

Now that you know all the advantages, you ask: “OK, how do I get in?”

So far I’ve opened 2 shops on Creative Market, both times being approved in the first round. So below I share my process of presenting my shop goals and plans to pass the approval process.

YOUR MOTIVATION & GOALS

First and most important, you must be clear on your motivation and goals. Why do you want to open a shop - other than making money? What type of products do you want to sell and why? Why do you choose Creative Market and not something else?

This is what I wrote:

“My plan is to create affordable branding tools for starting fempreneurs. I’ve met lots of small business owners on networking events who couldn’t afford my branding services because they had just started their business. But I think their business still deserve a look that authentically and beautifully presents their vision.
This is why I want to offer brand builder collections in my shop. These include: social media templates, premade logos, presentation templates and cliparts that starting fempreneurs can customize to their own needs.”

I also added:

“I think Creative Market is the best place for me to start selling these brand builder collections because this marketplace is aimed for small business entrepreneurs. I myself found useful tools here when creating my own website and visual identity. Creative Market provides me the best platform to reach my ideal clients and help them grow.”

Here’s a little help for you to phrase your motivational letter for your Creative Market Shop Owner application.

I show you the key steps to get approved to open your Creative Market shop

YOUR PORTFOLIO

Next up, you have to include in your application your previous work, either your portfolio or a shop on another site (Etsy, Shutterstock, Envato Marketplace, etc).

I had a portfolio on my own site and a few printable illustrations on Etsy.

Keep in mind to:

  • Showcase portfolio items and products that are similar to what you want to sell on Creative Market. So if you want to sell handmade fonts, don’t show only stock photography work. The projects you show here must align with your motivation and goals.
  • Consider quality over quantity: instead of showing 100 average, rushed projects, show 3-5 of your best work. Even if it was something you created for fun and not for a real client. Show your skills, show your creative ideas.
Presentation is key: the presentation of your portfolio items is really important. You can only become successful on Creative Market if you can create attractive, exciting looking screenshot images that make readers click and buy. Here’s a really useful article on Creative Market that helps you create high-quality, aspirational preview images of your products or portfolio items.

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A SHOP / PORTFOLIO?

I know many people who want to open a Creative Market shop but do not have an existing portfolio or other shop. If you are in the same shoes, does that mean you have no chance?

No. But you might have to work a bit harder to get into Creative Market.

Here’s a few ways to put up your work online in a short time:

  • Use Behance: it has a very easy to navigate interface and you can upload portfolio items in no time. 
  • Create a few items to share for free. Yes, for free! This will show Creative Market that you really want to give value to your followers and you’ll more likely take part in their bundles or free product segments. You can link to free downloads on Behance or share them through your own website.
Do not use Society6 or similar on demand shops to present your work: the problem is that they auto-generate preview images and screenshots of your products (to put your design on mugs, t-shirts, etc) and these generated images are very average looking, repetitive and boring. Use free or affordable photoshop mockups instead and put your work up to Etsy or Behance. My favorite place to find high quality, free Photoshop mockups is Pixeden.

DON’T WAIT! YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH!

A few last words: I waited 2 years before I had enough courage to hand in my work to Creative Market. I wish I would have had more courage! This marketspace grows every day, new and new artists joins and help customers who might be looking for YOUR products.

Don’t wait. Give yourself a few weeks to set up your portfolio and hand in your application.

Sure, you might be able to perfect it even more but that’s not the point.

If you keep your ideas for yourself because you’re afraid that they are not 1000% perfect, you won’t be able to post products in your shop on a regular basis. Aim for high quality but also define a deadline, then you’ll deserve to get into Creative Market.

WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU LOVE TO KNOW?

I’m getting close to my third year as a Creative Market shop owner, so there’s a lot I can teach you. Would you like to learn more about opening and running a shop? And if yes, what would you like to learn about the most?

Let me know in the comments or email me at contact@andimaginary.com

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Thank you so much for this excellent post on Creative Market. I took some notes, and I’ll begin organizing my portfolio ASAP!
    You rock !

    • Sharon says:

      You forgot to mention the HUGE amount of piracy that occurs with CM. Which CM does not help sellers with, at all. You will not even know that the piracy has occurred until you do a reverse google search. You can place 5 new digital items into your store, and the next day they will be on all the pirate sites. Without a single sale. Because CM doesn’t let you know about the reverse charges. I sell on both etsy and CM. I make 90% of my income from etsy, and 10 % from hungry Jpeg, CM and my shopify store. Important to be informed about this too.

      • andimaginary says:

        That’s true and unfortunately piracy happened to me too. The fact that CM deletes the reported website names from their forum discussions is also annoying. But you gave me a good idea for a future blog post. We, creators can still list these harmful sellers on our blogs.
        No matter what we do, digital products are easy to steal and sell. BUT, you can provide additional values with your product. One thing I’m thinking about is a Facebook group for customers where you can share tutorials, extra tips, news and inspiration. Those who want to be part of these Facebook groups must provide their CM user name and date of purchase. This can be easily checked and this way those who buy the pirate version won’t get the same value as those who purchase legally.

      • andimaginary says:

        In your opinion is Etsy better than building your own store (Shopify or WooCommerce) if someone decides to move away from CM? I only used Etsy for a short period of time with completely different products so I don’t have much experience.

  • Theresia says:

    Hi there!
    Thank you for your post.
    I have a question though, what if CM doesn’t approve our request to open a shop?
    What is your suggestion to do?

    • andimaginary says:

      Hi Theresia, sorry for the late reply, I was away with limited internet access.
      If you send me a link to your existing portfolio/webshop to contact@andimaginary.com I can help you better. In general, CM likes to see already existing products and artwork that are in high demand and sellable on their platform.

      First, decide on the category you want to sell products in (fonts, illustrations, templates, etc). Then, make sure that you have at least 5 artwork/product in this category that has beautiful, eye-catching cover images. Check the CM popular items in your chosen category to see what style of presentation is in trend right now. Also, having a well-branded site helps a lot.

      Mine wasn’t extraordinary when I applied 2 and a half years ago. At that time I sold pre-made, customizable logos on Etsy, and I knew that these templated products would sell well on CM (lots of CM customers are starting entrepreneurs who need templates for their site, social media and brand).

      I hope this helped but if you shoot me an email I can help you in more detail.

  • Krystle says:

    Thanks for all the useful insight and tips. I am late to the game and it feels a bit saturated now, but going to go ahead and try opening a shop anyway. I was wondering, is your only chance at getting hand picked when you first apply? Since you can just add products whenever you want after they approve you, do they even see your new products then? Trying to be strategic and maximize any opportunities for exposure. 🙂 Thanks again for the excellent info!!

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