This Designer Made $25,000 by Posting His iPhone Screen on Twitter

Sah Kilic home screen by Traf

On September 21st, a designer named Traf decided to post a few screenshots on Twitter. The screenshots were his new iOS 14 home screen; nothing special, right? Well, what you might not know is that every neophiliac right now is over-the-moon about a feature that lets you get custom icons for apps.

You can create a Siri Shortcut to open an app, add an image as the icon, and put the shortcut on your home screen. It’s more of a workaround than a feature, and we’ll get to the “how” soon, but what you should know is that our designer friend went full-creative-ninja with this.

iOS 14 Icon Set by Traf

Traf posted the images on Twitter in a thread that ended up with over 22K likes. Just for the uninitiated, I once got 54 likes on a tweet, and that equated to 90,000 impressions — you can do the math.

He saw the crazy interest and being the savvy Entrepreneur ready to capitalize on the value he’s created, he needed to move fast — and this is where the fun began.

Traf is a product designer, and you can see his work on his site. It’s sleek, it’s functional and bespoke, but I’m sure it took some time, something he didn’t have right now. Many people would cave into “creation mode” at this point.

You know what I mean, right?

  • Designing a website over a whole two days, maybe a week?
  • Emming and ahhing over a domain name.
  • Trying to figure out the best payment gateway, the best hosting.

All the while, this opportunity would be slipping, but it didn’t, not for Traf. He did precisely the opposite of what others would. This was a great case study in being an anti-perfectionist.

The Art of Not Over-Engineering

Traf spent 2 hours putting together an icon pack of the most popular apps. He then created a Gumroad page and used that as the payment gateway. He could have shared the page and stopped right there, but he went further.

Any good product needs a landing page, and this is where being an anti-perfectionist helps.

He made a whole site using Notion. Yes, the notetaking app, not WordPress, or a hand-coded site, I repeat — he used a notetaking app. He then made this publically available and linked to a subdomain using Super, a service to make Notion notes/pages have custom domains.

And here’s the kicker, he made Super as well. He got a double whammy by creating a landing page using his own product and tweeted about this process for extra promotion on that product — pure gold. from Traf’s first day.

He woke up to 188 purchases and $5264. The next day he had 330 customers and $9,240. Then $14,232, and he kept posting the updates until the $25k mark. And you might be wondering why he stopped with the updates. Let's talk about it.

The Ball Keeps Rolling

Well, the Twitter gods were on Traf’s side during the blowing up of his post. And who could be a better person to notice than Marques Brownlee (MKBHD)? He posted a tutorial (see I promised I’d link you) on how to get the custom icons working on iOS 14.

And whos icons made their debut? You guessed it. With MKBHD’s following of 12 Millon+ YouTube Subscribers and rising searches on how to do this workaround, the video hit over 2.8 Million views in a day.

Queue the “Trending” page. from MKBHD’s video.

After the feature, a user replied, “that must driving sales.” To which Traf responded:

Enough that it feels weird to keep sharing revenue numbers passed this point. What do you think?

After a few people were still interested, he mentioned that he’d continue with his transparency, but we haven’t got a new figure yet.

[UPDATE] — Traf has posted the updated numbers, and it looks like he got $116,147 in total revenue and 4,188 sales over 6 days — what a champion!

3 Essential Lessons for Creatives and Entrepreneurs

Over the past week, I watched all of what Traf did and how it played in his favor. These lessons are for you as much as they’re for me — I think they’re fantastic lessons at that.

1. Interest is an opportunity to sell.

Traf made something interesting; we all have, the difference was that he was aware of the interest and wasn’t afraid of charging for it. He could have released it for free, but he didn’t, and that’s well within his rights. To quote him:

Money is proof of value.

He put a price tag of $28 on the product and tested if the interest translated to cash, and it did. Likes, views, reads, and internet points feel great, but entrepreneurs should use them as a cue for a price tag. That feels even better.

2. “Published” is better than “under construction.”

We touched on the perfect timing of the designer, but it’s worth re-iterating. This is 2020; you can spin up any content, learning, commerce, or media system in a few clicks.

We get overwhelmed by the options and small design tidbits that we omit the fact that it doesn’t matter.

Focusing on the core product is all that matters. People didn’t care about how the site looked, or what stack it was made with — they cared about downloading the icon pack and knowing how to install it.

And that’s all that Traf did.

As long as people can get what you’re selling quickly and without a headache, you’re in the clear — hit the publish button; it doesn’t have to be perfect.

3. Leave no stone unturned.

Transparency of the process got Traf deeper engagement for his other endeavors. He could have stopped with his initial promotion but decided to continue tweeting.

Every tweet was an opportunity, and not just for his icon set. He would leave a trail of breadcrumbs for people to find the Notion publishing layer that he built, — any new customer there was an extra $4 minimum a month.

I hope this story inspires you to hit publish on that next project! Don’t wait for perfection; your customers care about the product, not the packaging.

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