Earning money with typography

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Joel Santos's picture
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Joined: 25 Nov 2007 - 8:00am
Earning money with typography
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Hi guys,

I'm getting back to typography and wondering: "How to make money with typography"
Kind of a silly question I know but still... Isn't it worth answering?

I had three (bad) fonts on the MyFonts for some years. They've been selling for like 50$ a year but now... I want to do something that is worth of my time.
There are a lot (really a lot) of good fonts for sell. So the question is once again, how to make money with typography?

(It seemed to me a fun topic to start)

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Be special.

hhp

Nick Curtis's picture
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Joined: 21 Apr 2005 - 8:16am
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Do it for love, and the money will follow…eventually.

Fábio Santos's picture
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Joined: 4 Aug 2011 - 7:44am
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Work…hard!

Joel Santos's picture
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Joined: 25 Nov 2007 - 8:00am
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Ok. I see here three statements: special, love, hard work. The three are, as always on these matters, fine. I've been a web and graphic designer for some time already (10 years) so I know that those statements are really a need.

I was although trying to get a more defined answer.
What do I mean by this? Something like which sells more? Script, sans-serif? Where do you get inspiration for fonts? Do people (the ones that earn money) still do revivals? Is a revival a good profit? Isn't just one more of the same?
I guess my overall question is where to explore on type? Isn't everything (usable) more a less explored? Or there is still plenty of space for more fonts (there is always space but...)? In which categories?
What do you have to say to this matter?

Simon Daniels's picture
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Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
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>I had three

Create more than three fonts.

>(bad) fonts

Make (good) fonts

>Something like which sells more?

Look at the best sellers list on MyFonts

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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You mean font production, not typography.

Joel Santos's picture
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Joined: 25 Nov 2007 - 8:00am
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Well... i guess Nick

Thanks Si_Daniels

Joel Santos's picture
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Joined: 25 Nov 2007 - 8:00am
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@Si_Daniels... Well... after really checking the best sellers it seems to me kind of misleading since most of the fonts there are kind of "standards".

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Why is that misleading?

There's a difference between short-term and long-term success.

hhp

Frode Bo Helland's picture
Joined: 26 Feb 2007 - 1:03pm
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I don’t know what you mean by “standards”, and I don’t know yet what it takes to earn a living designing type, but I suspect you have to invest a lot of time into making something that is better than what’s already out there.

Joel Santos's picture
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Joined: 25 Nov 2007 - 8:00am
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@hrant & frode frank: it's misleading because their "standard" fonts. What do I mean by standard? Well... Helvetica is like... "When you don't know what to use, use helvetica". Museo, Futura, DIN, Univers, Frutiger became quite "standard" also. So standard, I guess I'm using the word to explain that most of people use those fonts. Fonts that here for a long journey already and became standard, they may not be the best fonts but since they're here for a while already...

There really is a difference between short-term and long-term success but still... If I could see a bigger bestseller list like... 200 fonts I guess it would be less misleading.

Anyhow, trying to get some info from the 50 top list, it seems to me that people really like these "modern" sans-serif (I don't know how to call these straight lines and stuff eheh). When It comes to script and calligraphy seems to me that people goes for the "strange" category. There are exceptions of course like Almibar which by the way seems to me a really good font.

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
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Joel, you can look at the list you made: “Helvetica, Museo, Futura, DIN, Univers, Frutiger” and find the odd one. Then try to figure out why and how it achieved success.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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And it's rarely just a matter of style: Museo for example succeeded partly because one weight was given away for free.

hhp

Joel Santos's picture
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Joined: 25 Nov 2007 - 8:00am
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@riccard0: I see what you did there but still... hard to see "how it achieved success" I guess I will only see it with experience.

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
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What I meant, other than what Hrant already said, is that you can compete with “standard fonts”.
It’s a matter of offering something different or something fresh or something more (not necessarily design-wise). H&FJ do it in a way, Jos Buivenga do it in a different way, just as Christian Schwartz do in yet another.
But my advice would be starting with something you like or, better yet, with something you want to make better. And remind that success isn’t always tied to money making. Just ask Pablo Impallari or James Edmondson.

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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To amplify on “special”: while it is possible to make something special in an established genre, it is more special to create something original by visually addressing (exploiting) some new or emergent quality of technology in an imaginative way. The issue you identify may be a quality of font production tools, or of font rendering tools, or of font marketing methods.

David Byrne’s new book sounds interesting, especially the chapter where he goes into the economics of music making in detail. Perhaps someone will do that for the font business.

Tim Daly's picture
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Joined: 11 Sep 2003 - 9:04am
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Museo gave away three weights at one time, 300, 500 and 700.

I spot a trend for slabs.

Tim

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Isn't that wrapping up?

hhp

James Michaels's picture
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Joined: 6 Mar 2010 - 12:54am
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Some other approaches to making some money could include writing a book on typography, or teaching, or creating a good typography-related website that makes money from ads, or selling products (posters, t-shirts, mugs or whatever) that have typographic themes, etc.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Two other things I do for $ (but not just for $): write articles and book reviews, and translate (just once so far though*).

* http://www.adverbum.fr/roger-excoffon-rault-david-atelier-perrousseaux_o...

hhp

Andreas Stötzner's picture
Joined: 12 Mar 2007 - 10:21am
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Selling fonts is a business based on creativity, skill and hard work. If you happen to lack just one of it, don’t waste your time, venture for something else.
Financial success in this business is mostly unpredictable.

Joel Santos's picture
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Joined: 25 Nov 2007 - 8:00am
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Well, for now, I've bought Parallel pens (waiting for the arrival) and I'll re-do the fonts I have selling, finish the one I have to finish and... time will tell if i have "creativity, skill and hard work" :)