As we’re running Icons8 and have been giving away and selling icons for a couple of years, I’ve made a few discoveries. They’ve cost me a lot of time and money.

  1. Initially, I thought it was a way to promote our core business – custom work for clients. Didn’t work. People who look for ready made graphics are not looking for graphic design services.
  2. There are a lot of people who are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for what is usually marketed for tens of dollars or even a few dollars. You just have to make the best quality, the largest, or the most custom tailored. Or a few of these.
  3. I believe we have world-class quality (among the best) and the largest and best tailored sets. Why do they suit the customer needs best of all? Because we crowdsourced the search for ideas for icons. If you get icons out of your head, you end up with what’s easier and more beautiful to draw. When you ask people, you get the real stuff they want. A bee on a helicopter or a fallen angel stealing a baby :-). It’s hard to draw. When you ask people, you’ve got the hard problems to solve. And people appreciate it.
  4. When we started, I set up a WordPress site and UserVoice account in a few hours. However, with time, the more stuff we get the harder is it to manage. Now as we have thousands of icons spread among hundreds of WordPress pages, we have to work a lot to transform them into something manageable. You could start small, but keep the data structured.
  5. A great idea works for bloggers, but people need an end product. For bloggers, it’s interesting that we ask people for icon ideas (I didn’t know anyone who did it before; not only for icons, but for graphics in general). “Crowdsourced icon project” sounds great for the press. But for people, what’s important is what icons we have. For people, what makes sense is “1600 icons for Windows 8“. That’s how we get traffic from Twitter and elsewhere.