This is a guest article by Sonia Mansfield*.
Last week you learned how to make your own fonts, now you can learn how to make money from them…
Marketing the fonts you create is much like marketing anything on the Internet: you need to create a product that buyers want, you need to create something that is different from anything else on the web, and you need to spread the word about what you have. If you ignore any of these aspects, your creation(s) will be lost amongst the millions of other fonts out there.
Many ordinary people don’t care about fonts and aren’t even aware of the existence of fonts or the subtle influences the typography can have on their attitudes and perceptions. Of course, this all changes when they set out to create a website or other project that uses fonts. An incorrect font choice can doom a website or e-book and the correct choice can help ensure its success.
Some designers seem to think that all they have to do is create any font they can dream up and the buyers will come. Unfortunately, in the computer age it just isn’t that simple, and the most successful designers do their homework and research before picking up any tools of their trade.
Once you’ve used that research, in tandem with those impressive creative skills and have finished your all-new typography, you have three choices to market your font:
- Go to work designing fonts for a type foundry,
- Sign on with a type reseller who will promote and sell your font for you,
- Go it alone as a freelancer and market your font yourself.
These three points are explained below.
1. Type Foundry
A type foundry is a company that distributes typefaces. Long ago, foundries were factories turning out wood and metal typesets for printing newspapers and books. Now almost all type is sold as a digital file. Foundries collect and sell typefaces, and some also offer custom type services. Font Bureau and Linotype are two well known online foundries. While these companies will do a great job of spreading your font, they take a hefty chunk of the sales price, and you lose almost all control over where and how it’s sold.
2. Type Reseller
Type resellers are companies that contract with graphic designers to market their fonts. They are to typography what publishers are to books. Two of the most popular type resellers are MyFont.com and FontShop.com.
When you sign on with a type reseller, they’ll market your designs and pay you a commission – sometimes up to 50 percent of each sale of your design – and offer you a host of other services that will help you popularize your font design.
One good thing about contracting with a reseller is that they are highly concerned about security. Since the fonts are displayed on their website for potential customers to view, everything is stored behind a thick layer of security. Fonts are stolen as often as other digital files such as music and books, and you can remove some of that worry by selling through a reseller.
3. Freelance Typographer
If you want to market your type designs on the Internet, accept the fact that it will take time and will be a fail-try-again-fail process until you have some experience. There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow however : There are designers out there making a living from designing and selling type fonts.
What makes a particular font successful? The truth is, no one knows for sure, but a good place to start is to do some research on currently popular styles. The “why” sometimes seems a little hard to pin down – people have different ideas about what a good font is – and sometimes it can hinge on something as simple as the font’s name. Other important considerations include the size of the font set, ability to work with color (much has been written about the effect of color on emotions), and the actual ease of use of the typeface itself.
Make a Video About Your Font
A recent and very interesting idea for displaying your font is to create a video showing how it will look in action, in much the same way book “trailers” are being used online to promote books. Sites such as HypeForType can display the video to millions of potential customers, or you can go it alone and submit your video to sites such as YouTube. Most computers come with all the necessary software to create a video, and doing so just might convince someone that your font is exactly what they had in mind.
Learning how to market your type designs is a process that takes time and experience, so you’ll get better at it the longer you work at it. It will take just one sale to convince you that both monetary rewards and great satisfaction are waiting to be had. Font design is a business, and just like any other business, it’s all about getting to the final payoff: Getting paid to do something you love.