Special Edition Designer Interviews Part 2 – Missy Meyer
Posted on 29th June 2018
We had the honor of interviewing Missy Meyer this week, asking her some of the burning questions our Designer Commuity and Customers have been wanting the answers to for a long time! Let's see what she said in our Special Edition Designer Interview Series Part 2 below....
What have you found particularly difficult on your journey?
Learning how to say “no” has been my biggest problem in every job I’ve ever had, and this is no different! If my time would be better spent working on a new font, I need to not take on a friend’s logo design project or a commission request. I have to turn off the people-pleaser part of me, and analyze the numbers to see what will be better for me and my business in the long run. Especially when I’m asked to do a thing that isn’t what I normally do; I have to remind myself it’s going to take longer than expected. If a logo for a friend gets me $100 but takes 10 hours, or I could spend that 10 hours making a font that will sell copies for years, I have to say no to the logo.
(Points at self) Seriously, Missy. You have to say no to the logo. Be strong!
How do you promote/advertise your products?
My primary promotion channel is my Facebook business page. I do have Instagram and Pinterest accounts, but I don’t do very much with them. On my Facebook page, I try to post more interesting content than sales links – if I can do two or three behind-the-scenes posts or general amusing content posts for every post with a link to a new bundle or product, I think that’s a good balance. Often I can get enough sales from posting new things to Facebook to bump my new items up in search results and on the new products page, which then results in more exposure and sales.
I also have a mailing list that I’ve used … twice? Yeah, I think I’ve sent out two newsletters. I am the WORST at marketing my work! I know I should be sending newsletters, and putting more things on Instagram, and on Pinterest, and learning how to use these “stories” things that all of these sites are doing. (That makes me sound even older and crustier than I am. These kids today and their stories and their Snapchats and their videos! Get off my lawn!)
What fuels your creativity?
Plus, I’m always looking for things to spark inspiration, no matter where I am. One time I saw a soup can label, and loved a hand-drawn letter Y on it, so I made a whole font based on my impression of that letter Y. You never know where you’re going to see a thing that makes your brain explode with ideas, so always be looking. I’m so glad for camera phones, so I can take pictures of things instead of having to make notes in a notebook. (Though I still carry a notebook, too. Old dogs and new tricks, y’know?)
How many hours per week would you say you spend designing?
This can vary widely, from a big fat zero to 40 or more. I like to take breaks between fonts when I can, so some weeks will be spent catching up on other stuff and recharging. On the flip side, one of the perils of working for yourself is the danger of working TOO much—it’s so easy to sit down and get sucked into constructing letters, then look up at the clock and four or five hours have gone by. I try to take regular breaks; my cats help with that, since they won’t let too much time go by without jumping up on my desk and insisting on attention.
I’ve found having a time tracker app is a big help; I use a free one called Toggl. I can get reports on how much time I’m working on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, and see how long a particular font takes to create.
What are the biggest problems you face in your design field?
I think piracy is the biggest problem for all digital sellers, whether it’s font makers and cut file designers, or musicians selling songs, or authors selling e-books. The internet makes it wonderfully easy to reach customers, but it also makes it terribly easy for pirates to get your work and give it away for free. This isn’t a new issue, or one restricted to digital products (There are people who steal library books and then sell them!) but it’s only going to grow.
If someone wanted to do what you do, how can they start?
Anyone can jump right into font creation—you don’t even need to pay for any programs! I did a blog post a couple of years ago that showed how you could make a font using all free programs. Paid programs will always be easier to use, but if you’re determined to learn, you don’t need them.
I do think a baseline of design education would be a great help for all new font designers. Not just typography know-how, like knowing what serifs, counters, and ligatures are; but a lot of design basics like balance, unity, and contrast.
Your work may not be the best when you start, and that’s totally OK. I created a dozen fonts while I was learning my software, and I give those all away for free. (You can find some of those freebies, like Ludicrous and Hot Deals here on Font Bundles.) By the time I was ready to start selling, I already had a following from the freebies, which was a huge boost right out of the gate!
Which is your favorite product you have created, and why?
If I had to pick an absolute personal favorite font, it would be Chaotic Neutral. It’s weird and blobby and a mishmash of line weights, but it delights me every time I see it.
I also really fell hard in love with my most recent, Breakfast Pastry. Sometimes, you work on a font for long enough, and you’re just ready to release it and move on to something new. But with Breakfast Pastry, I kept adding more and more alternates and extras, just because I wanted to spend more time with those letters.
What do you think you get right that a lot of other people get wrong?
I participate heavily in the design community, and I share information all the time. I firmly believe in that old saying, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” I’ve mentored a few new font designers, and I’m always willing to answer questions and share information and techniques with anyone who asks, because the stronger we can all make our products, the more confidence customers will have in knowing that if they buy fonts they’ll get a certain quality, and then the more fonts they’ll buy.
I’m not afraid to share the recipe for my design “secret sauce,” because even if I tell you exactly how I do things, others will do them differently. They’ll put their own spice mix in that secret sauce recipe! This industry isn’t a zero-sum game, where if a customer buys your font, that means they won’t buy mine because they’ve already bought a font. If we’re all putting out quality work, happy customers will want to get more items from all of us.
Conversely, what do you know you do wrong, but can’t give up?
I over-value my work. I tend to not want to put things on sale, because gosh darn it, people who want my work should be OK with paying full price, right?
I’m not saying we should all slash prices and give away products for pennies. But if I have a $15 font and sell 10 copies, that’s $150 in my pocket. If I put it on sale for $10, and that sale price entices 20 people to buy it, I have $200 in my pocket instead. It’s a fine line—customers love a bargain, but they don’t want to buy something that feels too cheap. I put a bunch of my fonts at 25% or 30% off for most of the month of June, and I’ve had a pretty good month of sales, especially since this is the slower time of year. But I think it can be taken too far—I wouldn’t put items on a permanent 50% off sale, because to me that feels like the designer is saying “this is more in line with what my work is always worth,” instead of a feeling of “here’s a great short-term bargain.”
What’s a fact about you that you think would surprise people?
I was fairly public about it when it happened last year, but some may not know – I played on the American game show Jeopardy! in 2017. It was the top item on my bucket list, so now I have to come up with new things for the bucket. I’ve also published two chick-lit novels. Oh, and I used to host a game show about Velcro products at Walt Disney World!
Where do you think your industry will be in a year? 5 years? 10 years?
I think it’s going to keep growing at a surprising rate. It’s easy to have the negative thought, “At this point, surely everyone who wants a copy of my font X has bought it already.” But my husband likes to make the joke, “Every day, thousands of babies are born who don’t have Pinsetter yet.” So in a similar vein: every day, thousands of crafters are buying Cricut and Silhouette and Brother machines, and don’t have our fonts or SVGs yet.
How will the products themselves grow in that 5-10 years? I love the new trend in SVG fonts, but until they’re usable for crafters, and not just Photoshop and Illustrator folks, I don’t think they’ll get huge. I think more and more designers will enter the marketplace, but I’m not worried about oversaturation. Look at books—millions of self-published writers sell books now, but the big-name authors still sell as well as ever.
What are your favorite tools to use for designing/creating?
I love my current font creation software, which is conveniently named Font Creator! I started out using a different program called Type 3.2, which was a great entry-level option, but Font Creator just suits my needs perfectly. I also use an iPad for a lot of my lettering, using the Procreate app or the Adobe Draw app. Illustrator is my vector program of choice, and I use Photoshop for all of my promo images.
Which other FB/DB designers inspire you, and why?
When it comes to presentation, I’m always jealous of Clean Cut Creative. Not only are her products clean and crisp and well-made, but her consistency in branding and promo images blows me away; it’s the epitome of simple and effective.
As for fonts: every time Denise Chandler puts out a new font, I’m always all, “That one is amazing, whyyy didn’t I think of that?” (Plus, she consistently nails it with her cool promo images.) Also, On the Spot Studio does magical things with script fonts that I can’t even imagine doing.
What do you think is most important factor which has made your products popular?
Making a clear promise about the quality that customers can expect, and following through. Fairly early on, I learned about cutting machines, and decided to specialize in smooth and easy-to-cut fonts for those machines. I call those features out in my descriptions, and have been able to build a reputation. But the reputation would never have built if I hadn’t had the smooth and easy products I was advertising.
I also ask what people are looking for. I could make a thousand fonts for myself that don’t sell, or I can ask the customers what they want more of, and find a way to make those kind of things in a way that also pleases me. I still do have a number of fonts that I love, but don’t sell huge numbers (see Chaotic Neutral above), but I at least try to make products that I think have a chance of selling well.
Don't forget to follow Missy Meyer on Social Media for more inspiration
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