Why Your Business Should Have an iMessage Sticker Pack

Branding, Business, Design, Hustle, Uncategorized

I’ve sold thousands of iMessage sticker packs with little to no advertising. The only form of advertisement that I’ve done is to share free codes on Reddit. Somehow users just find their way to my stickers or the stickers find their way to my users. It’s amazing! The thought of people around the world using my sticker packs is awesome!

I started creating stickers on the side to practice design and potentially make some money. After almost a year of pumping out stickers, I learned a lot and made decent profit. Every now and then I would share those learnings and experiences with some friends and other entrepreneurs. One piece of advice that I would usually get is to scale my side hustle by reaching out to businesses – and so I did (but that’s for another story). In the emails that I sent out, I had to explain the benefits of having a sticker pack which I will share below.

The Value of iMessage Sticker Packs for Your Business

  • Your brand can be a part of day to day conversation. Six billion emojis and stickers were sent per day in 2016. That’s already a staggering number and it is still growing everyday!
  • Content sharing through messaging is like word of mouth advertising. According to Nielsen, “92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.” By using your sticker pack, a user becomes an “agent” of your brand – becoming a way for people to discover your brand, products, services, and much more!
  • iMessage stickers dominate the US market in branded stickers sharing. Bare Tree Media analyzed 8 million branded stickers shared over the last six months. Based on their findings: over 50% or 4 million were shared on iMessage, the next closest was Facebook Messenger with 20% of the shared branded sticker market.

What Should Be the Content of Your Sticker Pack

There’s almost no limit as to what you could put in your pack – logos, products, branded emojis, subtle announcements, seasonal messages, pictures, etc. Below are some examples.

sumo-imessage-emoji

Sumo Emoji I made for Noah Kagan of sumo.com

coca-cola-emoji-imessage

Coke Stickers based on their logo. © Snaps Media

dunkin-donut-stickers-imessage

Dunkin Donut stickers show their products. © Snaps Media

Start Creating Your Sticker Pack

Do it yourself. There are tons of tutorials on how to create iMessage sticker packs. If you are bootstrapping and have extra time, I recommend you do it yourself as the learning curve is not that steep. If you already have designers and developers in your team, there’s really no need to hire a firm for it. Once you have an Apple Developer account (99USD), you’re almost good to go!

Work with me. Having been in the sticker business for a year with thousands of sales, I’d like to think I know a thing or two about stickers. Let’s start promoting your brand! Let’s talk about your ideas!

The Perks of Being Featured in the App Store

Business, Design, Hustle, Passive Income

A couple of weeks ago, my Avocado Emoji sticker pack got featured in the App Store for a week. This post is a documentation of its effect on my sales and steps that I would personally take to increase my chances of getting featured again.

avocado-emoji-in-the-appstore

Avocado Emoji!

Honestly, I’m not sure whether this is the first time I have been featured. I never really looked through the App Store or iMessage Store before, simply because I didn’t own an iPhone or iPad then. For nine months, I had been creating stickers that I personally have never used nor tested on a physical device. I knew that testing on an actual device was best, but not having an iPhone didn’t hinder me from starting — the device is not cheap after all.

Getting featured alongside other well-known brands and global creatives sure felt amazing, but is it replicable?

The Numbers

avocado-emoji-appstore-feature

I got a total of 257 USD in sales during that week. 104 USD of which came from my featured sticker pack, Avocado Emoji. This was something big and new for me. No other sticker pack I made previously was ever able to beat my best seller Schwifty Catchphrases on a weekly basis. This was intriguing considering that I only made the Avocado Emoji two weeks earlier and had almost no sale prior to getting featured.

The Avocado Emoji gained 3,983,137 Impressions. Even my other sticker packs increased in their weekly sales. The figures may not look big but they add up in the long run. Like currency, drawing attention is something that I extremely value in business – especially if it is organic or requires no payment.

How to Get Featured in the App Store

I wish I knew the answer to getting featured. I’ve googled a bit and read several articles, most of which were app-centric, non-sticker related, and were more like general guidelines instead of definitive answers. I also tried going directly to the source: App Store on Discoverability and it said,

There is no paid placement or checklist of requirements for apps we write about or feature.

Go ahead and read the article if you haven’t yet.

The following guidelines have been made for apps and games but I believe are also helpful when applied to making iMessage sticker packs.

Localizations: high-quality and relevant

App Store product page: compelling screenshots, app previews, and descriptions

Uniqueness

The Case of Avocado Emoji

Relevance

When I created Avocado Emoji, I didn’t come up with idea randomly. I first checked whether there were a lot of people on social media sharing avocado related things. You would actually be amazed at how many people like to wear avocado pun tees and how often they like to take pictures of their avocado meals. Because there seemed to be so much interest in the avocado, I thought people would find it usable.

Stickers are not necessarily a need. They do not solve a problem. They can enhance a conversation, but people will not buy it because they need it. They buy it because it is related to something they are passionate about. If you love cute items, you would probably buy kawaii stickers. If you are vegan, you might want a set of vegetable emojis. If you are a gym rat, you might fancy a fitness or motivational sticker pack.

In short, we should create stickers that align with what people are passionate about. Funny, my wife randomly suggested “Placemat Emoji.” I love my wife so much but couldn’t use that suggestion. We both just ended up laughing about it!

App Store Product Page

In my last post, I talked about my personal strategy in creating effective app previews and screenshots. It is disappointing when a sticker pack or app is designed beautifully but presented poorly.

One thing I should personally be doing with my next sticker pack would be to have a well thought out and clearly written description. I neglected this thinking that most people would simply stick to checking the screenshots. That isn’t wrong, but I failed to consider the fact that others (like the editors) enjoy reading the story behind the app. People would appreciate your product more if they knew the process of how you made it.

In the case of Avocado Emoji, the description during the time of release was:

Holy guacamole! Avocado Emoji!

New emojis will be added by batch! Want to add more? Email us at pixeptional@gmail.com!

Definitely not the best example of a good description. If the editors ended up liking my sticker pack, I’m sure it wasn’t because of this.

Uniqueness

There are literally thousands of sticker packs in the store and more are being added by the hour. You would think that uniqueness is becoming hard to achieve and that is true. In a sense though, anything you come up with is unique – built according to your taste, crafted with your own style, and designed with your own creative voice.

The idea of using avocado as an emoji was not unique. Many others have already used the same concept. But my version looked a little different from the avocado stickers already available in the App Store. They stood out for some reason. And somehow, editors felt like featuring the pack. Maybe it was relevant to them? Maybe an editor was an avocado lover and the sticker pack somehow embodied his interest? I don’t really know for sure.

Focus on the quality and keep doing designs in your own unique way. Don’t let the saturation of the App Store scare you and stop you from executing your ideas. Remember that users, like you, have different tastes and preferences. They might actually prefer your wonky emoji over some mainstream sticker pack offered by a bigger brand.

My Process of Creating a Sticker Pack

Design, Hustle, Passive Income

A lot of people read my recent post of how I made 1K USD selling iMessage sticker packs. I enjoyed answering questions on Reddit and had fun interacting through direct messages. One recurring topic that I have been asked to share more of is my process in creating these sticker packs. That is what I will be sharing in this article.

Note that the process might vary slightly per sticker pack but the general framework is the same.

Generating Ideas

Since I started, I developed a habit of writing down all my ideas regardless of the size or effort I think it would take to create it. I now have a bank of ideas and it would take quite a while for me to consume all of it.

One way I generate ideas is by “generalizing or specializing”. I’m not sure exactly what I should call the technique but basically it is just about expounding on or narrowing down a subject. For example, I thought of creating a food sticker pack. I’d imagine it would have all kinds of food – fruits, vegetables, fast foods, etc. I’d narrow it down to fruits which can already be a sticker pack. If I narrowed it down even further, I would end up with specific fruits, like avocado, which can also become another sticker pack. So from this thought process, I would have come up with at least three ideas – food, fruits, and avocado.

Holy Guacamole! Avocado Emoji!

Holy Guacamole! Avocado Emoji!

If you can’t come up with an idea, create something that you would use personally. Create something that relates to your hobby, passion, the shows you’ve watched, or anything you wished existed as a sticker pack.

For Cacti and Succulents Lovers!

Cactusmoji! For Cacti and Succulents Lovers!

Designing the Sticker Pack

Once I have the idea locked down, I start by sketching. It doesn’t have to look good. It just gives me a feel of what I want as an output.

Rough sketches.

Rough sketches.

As I have noted in my previous post, I try to reuse as much as possible and I keep that in mind while sketching or conceptualizing.

reuse-your-art

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Meowji, Tedmoji, Narwhal Emoji and other “mojis” coming soon!

I take a picture of my sketch using my phone and trace them manually through Illustrator. Once digitized, I can color, resize, reuse, and combine them to my liking – no limits aside from time.

By the way, If you’d like to use Illustrator but don’t know where to start, Adobe has an introductory tutorial available for free. There are other good alternatives such as Sketch, Inkscape (free), Gimp, and Affinity. I’ve heard that other people outsource the graphic design which I believe is a good idea. I would probably do it too if I had insufficient time and extra financial resources.

Going back to designing, I suggest you focus on text-heavy stickers if you are not a designer or you are a beginner. This will force you to focus on the content rather than the graphics. You will be able to get away with not having a fancy sticker pack. Remember, you can release different stickers with the same text content but having different designs. Create “Hello!” in five styles and put each in their own sticker pack – no problem!

Most of my better selling stickers were text-based and were easy to create.

Breaking Bad Catchphrases Sticker Pack. I made this even before I watched the series.

Breaking Bad Catchphrases Sticker Pack. I made this pack even before I watched the series.

There are also animated sticker packs which I have not tried producing yet. When I make one in the future, I will update this post. In the meantime, I figured it would take a considerable time to create and so, decided to focus on quantity instead.

In summary, the “sticker types” (my personal categories) you can create are:

  • Static Emojis – Allows rapid creation because of its reusability
  • Text-based – Only requires minimal design skills and can also be reused
  • Animated Stickers – More possibilities of expression but takes significant time to create

Designing Promos

Apple requires each sticker pack to have promotional app preview and screenshots. A lot of iMessage Sticker pack designers basically ignore this and upload a generic screenshot of their stickers. This is a mistake. Promotional app previews are what the users see when they search for a sticker pack. If the presentation is attractive, it is more likely, but not guaranteed, that users will purchase that particular sticker pack.

I design the app preview by highlighting the best stickers in the pack. I mix and lay them out in such a way that it shows that they are part of a single set and that they look good together. Sometimes, I even design them like they are physical stickers laid on top of one another.

Some of my sticker packs' App Preview. Iterate to see what works.

Some of my sticker packs’ App Preview. Iterate to see what works.

You don’t need to put all your stickers in the app preview. You also don’t need to include all your stickers in the screenshot. If the users see that you only have 8 stickers in the pack, they might think that it’s too little for their dollar. You can be creative in presenting the 8 stickers in such a way that it doesn’t look like there’s only 8.

Putting “more stickers will be added” and similar statements can also have a positive effect. It shows that you are committed in maintaining the sticker pack. Make sure you actually carry out what you say you will do and your users might just reward you with positive reviews.

pixeptional-customer-review

Warms the heart!

In my case, simply updating the app preview produced an increase in sales.

Conclusion

Generating sticker pack ideas is not that complicated and there are multiple ways to create them. In fact, you can eliminate the design part altogether by outsourcing it. It is always a good idea to reuse your design elements to get more value out of your design and save plenty of time. Don’t neglect creating an effective app preview and be mindful of your screenshots. It can definitely impact your sales.