I'm a designer starting out. So let's say I work hard on a font - I nail down the concept and hammer at it for a long time to make it into a worthwhile product both aesthetically and technically. After that, the time comes to release the font, and it becomes available on MyFonts.
How will anyone ever find it and buy it? I myself am an unknown designer/foundry, with no real channels of marketing my design. MyFonts wouldn't put it on the front page as I'm unknown. And people wouldn't search for the font by name (which is meaningless in itself) if they don't know it exists.
What am I missing here, how can small guys avoid their work sinking in the infinite sea of fonts either new or established?
For example, could a new type designer ever realistically get on something like MyFonts' "Hot New Fonts"?
Thank you all
This means you gotta get the word out in other channels (social, press, give fonts to talented designers to use and ask them to share their work). Once you’ve decided how much of that effort you want to make, you may find it’s no longer worth giving MyFonts a large percentage of your sale for essentially providing e-commerce and customer support services. In which case you should sell directly from your own site.
A better option would be to contact some foundries or start your own and put some time and money into promotion.
If you don't have connections to foundries this may be impossible but it's certainly an option that's still a kind of "independent" since the foundry would itself be "indie." There are also options like Village (really good incubator and has launched a lot of careers but their licensing is a major blind spot).
The other strategy is to learn basics and then look for an internship at some type studio. After that, you can apply for a job in some studio, work there for some time, and then open your foundry/studio eventually.
I am not sure that working hard for a long time with the idea that your first typeface should be top-notch, is the best strategy. Besides other reasons, there are mistakes you simply have to make in order to realize they are mistakes. This especially applies to cognitive things, where taste slowly builds.
Making typeface is a tiring job, and your motivation should be fed from time to time with the results. If you are at the start of career it's better to make versions of a typeface, where you can sell the current state of the font. For example just the regular weight with the basic set. Then expand the set, add weights, italics, scripts etc. If not already, you should check FutureFonts, they offer that kind of selling policy. (since the font is a software, I think it makes sense to start from MVP and then upgrade like any other software product). There are also other font stores convenient for selling smaller "type products".
Other than that, classic web marketing knowledge applies to anybody how wants to sell online. Building social network presence, share knowledge, offering something for free, meeting people at conferences, at type design workshops (first type people I ever met was at TypeClinic workshop in Slovenia, and then met x5 people via them).
All in all, I think it's a better strategy to be present on the web in various forms, and gradually build name and knowledge than to sit in an isolated room and work on the first great typeface for years. The internet is a field where you plant a lot of seed hoping that a small amount of it will grow eventually. I am not very experienced neither, but messing with fonts for some time I can tell that some of my fonts started to sell after a year or two since they are released.
The bad news is that even so, my total MyFonts earnings over the past seven years or so are of the order of magnitude of a month‘s full-time salary at my day job. It‘s really more of a well-paying hobby than a job. Of course, I‘m not pursuing type design extensively enough to expect to get rich from it, but still.
Not only that, but everything concerning visuals has been so much transformed by the media and the internet that the public can get impressed by hardly anything anymore. At one time a simple b&w type specimen was sufficient, than type presentations had to get a lot better to get the edge and now more and more one has to use 3D and animation to get more eyes, prostitute his art on Instagram, Dribble and whatever new thing comes along (for everyone to snatch for their project), and that's how the game goes. I am not even mentioning piracy.
Not only that, but also the intrinsic disrespect for the professions associated with imagery has increased. People think that because they can see something creating it is no big deal, something not typical for, say, programming, which seems untouchable voodoo to the masses. Once it was hard to learn the craft, you had to buy books and study at a higher learning institution. Now everybody can learn it from the Internet. Of course most results are subpar (and this feeds Zipf's law), but this does not concern the majority of people - they think images and fonts are generated automatically by "tHe Camputar", are freely available on the web, imformations should be free bla bla bla, and of course they can do it themsleves. I let them do it themsleves.
I think in this context the programming side of font production will gain even more ground. Companies will want a certain font to work good in a maximum cases and enviroments, and this is where there will allways be work, especially if it is some font from the overcrowded pool the guys at the company picked but that the designer(s) did not pay much attention to the coding.
Of course, you need enough people to care about your fonts, understand the market trends, have big companies purchasing bigger licenses on a regular-ish basis and stuff like that. That requires a “name” – either develop yours (hard but possible) or join an existing one (more realistic).
In other words, to really announce there's a new foundry worth attention, one would need to have more than a few families ready for release right out of the gate as a foundation for their identity and go on from there, which is not realistic for an independent designer. More akin to what @Igor Petrovic said earlier, I feel that (as a "small designer" as the thread title suggests), it's much more viable to progress and build up both the quality and resulting image bit by bit. My point is that this process being gradual is hardly avoidable, and you've followed it through very well - so don't worry about those regrets.