Type Business Strategy

Hi all, does anyone want to share examples of good business strategy in the type industry. Any times you turned a weakness into a strength? Its for a type Business workshop I'm running - DM if you want to keep it anonymous :)


  • MrEchs said:
    Hi there, Dominic.

    It's a timely question. Some of the best advice I've ever heard on this subject in my memory came from James Edmondson from Ohno Type Co at Typecon last week.

    I told him after the talk that I think his leadership in so welcome, and that he can be a much better mentor for many in the industry than I can. 

    I certainly find myself comparing my own efforts to his, and not always coming away feeling super great about my own work. I tried to express this in the Q&A but it didn't come out too well!

    In his very gracious answer, he reminded us that anyone can find ways to communicate with customers that works for them. It doesn't come naturally to anybody at first, but everybody can learn to be great at it. 

    Marketing on social media is something that some designers enjoy, and others find that it makes them feel really terrible. I advise clients that they should as many different things as they can for long enough to see if it works for them. 

    In the long run most will probably be most successful at creating content that they enjoy making, and that they themselves would want to receive. The ILoveTypography Twitter account is a great example of this. 

    The two questions I'm asked most frequently are 1) should designers should sell their own type, or leave it to distributors, and 2) should designers focus on custom work or their type library?

    I think these are great topics for a workshop, although I haven't found easy answers yet. 

    James advice was to do whatever you have to do to enable you to do the kind of work you want! My clients with commercially successful libraries often want to do more custom work, and the ones with great custom portfolios want their libraries to do better.  

    I hope that's helpful. If I can be of any assistance, please do get in touch. 


    Thank you Matthew, that's very helpful of you and there is certainly some good advice there. James has been kind enough to contribute to my workshops in the past
  • There's really only one sound rule - Have and use a great EULA.

    Grant uses fairly but restrict larger uses where the font adds value which needs to be captured. We've fine-tuned ours since the launch of our foundry - https://fontdiner.com/eula/

    Desktop sales have a predictable sales cycle but license upgrades over time will enable income throughout the life of the foundry (or IP owner)
    Interesting, thank you Stuart!
  • My 2 cents: The strategy depends on whether you are a self-taught web outsider or you have some real-life contacts (academic, personal, business, from related industry, institutional, etc.)

    For those who fall in the former group, I advise developing a primary marketing channel (strong social network) in parallel with knowledge. So not to become more professional in type design than in marketing.

    Without contacts, it's hard to get big-shot customers even with the ultra-professional font. Also, it takes much time to establish a decent library (let's say five font families) if you spend a year per typeface, not to mention the learning curve on top of that.

    So it's better to focus on a broad customer base on social networks and produce smaller products (visually appealing, with reasonable quality but not too ambitious in that sense) that can be made relatively quickly and published on a regular basis. A reasonable balance between quality and quantity with a subtle accent on quantity.

    Then, when the solid cash flow is established, you might want to develop a first flagship project and see from there.
    Thank you for the 2 cents Igor!
  • Thank you Miles!
  • That was excellent, @Miles Newlyn, thank you.

  • I'm sure everyone is expecting me to reply to this.  I feel the pressure.  But the question is so broad that I'm struggling to give a useful answer.  Here are my personal principals I run my business by:

    1.  Try to find a way to say yes. Be creative.  Be flexible but firm
    2.  Don't be an asshole
    3. Make sure you are selling the license to the end licensee, not a contractor or agency
    4.  The definition of boutique is responding graciously to obnoxious requests

    James Edmondson is fantastic at marketing, I'm bad at it. It's ok to have a strengths and also weaknesses.

    Thanks Joyce, no pressure from me!
  • Not you @Dominic Stanley, all the people who privately tell me they are "fans of my type drawers posts". mostly lurkers, some who don't even have an account.  I hear it a couple times a month, actually
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