Traf - how to make $280k within a month selling icons (7 min read) 

Traf -  graphic designer, that made over $280k within a month, piggybacking a "custom icons for iOS 14" trend 

?Strategy & Tools


  • Sep 20, 2020 - Traf noticed people sharing their homescreens of their iPhones with customized icons

  • Sep 20, 2020 - Traf uploaded to Twitter a photo(1) of his custom set of icons for IOS 14 -  The picture instantly went viral

  • Sep 20, 2020 - Demand for Traf's icons exploded. Within the next 2 hours, Traf assembled them in a package for sell
  • Sep 21, 2020 - Traf earned $6k the first night

  • Sep 21, 2020 - Traf's icons got published on such tech sites as Cult of Mac(2), iMore(3), AllThingsTech(4), and Gridfiti(5)

  • Sep 21-24, 2020 - Traf surfed the viral wave by creating more content

  • Sep 24, 2020 - MKBHD(6) created a video featuring Traf's icons

  • Sep 25, 2020 - Sales jumped from $6k to $40k

  • Sep 27, 2020 - Icon sales reached $116,147

  • Oct 20, 2020 - Within a span of 30 days Traf earned $280k and gained 13k Twitter followers 

Audience First
Before Traf went viral he already had over 4k Twitter followers.
It's wasn't much, but it was enough to get traction.

Traf is a designer by passion. For the last 7 years he's been consistently designing, selling, and tweeting about his customized versions of themes.

People were already accustomed to his style and brand. 

Traf saw a few people tweeting screenshots of their iPhones after discovering that iOS 14 now allows you to add custom icons to your home screen using the Siri Shortcuts app. 

This was the first time you could really customize iOS, and it was catching on.

Immediate Actions
Traf could have easily ignored the trend and later the requests for the icons. He would have easily missed the opportunity. But he didn't.

He was ready for it. He used the icons he's already created sometime before.

2 hours later his product was ready for sale. 

Great Quality Icons
His icons were spotless, elegant, stylish, in a Black & White theme. 
Apple lovers loved them!

$28 for a set of icons is a lot. Someone could argue, even overpriced.

But the quality has its price. The same goes for iPhones.  

HOW TO Instructions
Traf provided instructions that helped people to understand the process of setting the icons. Thus, even the normal, no-techy folks could easily do it themselves. 

Sharing Results
As soon as sales started pouring in, Traf shared a screenshot of the revenue generated within 24 hours.

This brought peoples' attention. More people wanted to give it a try.

Influencer Marketing
MKBHD created a video featuring Traf's icons. He also linked them in the video description.

Marques Brownlee has over 13M youtube subscribers. This video has almost 7M views. You do the rest of the math.



First-Mover Advantage
A first-mover is a service or product that gains a competitive advantage by being the first to market with a product or service.

This was the first time you could really customize iOS. When something like that happened, it opened up possibilities for almost a billion people.
The first people to react to this opportunity won the most.

Icons were pricey, stylish, and the possibility to customize your iOS icons just arrived. This was a very rare situation. 

Apple devotees got used to exclusivity. The expensive price for icons didn't seem like much for this feeling. 

Traf used a "build in public" strategy.

He shared his earning details, his Twitter impressions, and his journey through the hype.

The numbers brought even bigger attention. It added fuel to an already growing fire.

Share what works, and share what doesn't. Transparency is visibility.

?Window of Opportunity

Traf's example is a typical story proving that Real-Time Marketing can be extremely powerful.

What is Real-Time Marketing (RTM)?

RTM is marketing done in real-time.
It occurs when brands react quickly to local, national, or global events happening online or offline.

Its main purpose is to boost brand recognition utilizing social media or other marketing platforms.

"How to RTM?"

  1. Always be listening to what's going on in the world.
  2. Have space to freely act "on-the-fly".
  3. Act quickly. RTM opportunities are short-lived.
  4. Be creative. Play with the theme. Change the context.
  5. Know where your audience is and join the conversation.
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