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