Three great questions from my Typography Dojo webcast

In February, I did a webcast with TypeEd as a part of their Typography Dojo series. (You can watch the whole thing here.) We had a great discussion and I got a ton of great questions. Here are three questions I wanted to answer in more detail.

How can someone can stay viable over a long period of time in the type industry? — Diane Gibbs

That’s the dream, isn’t it? There are a few important things to keep in mind:

  1. Release products frequently. Try not to let a lot of time pass between releases so you don’t lose momentum and relevance. You want to stay on potential customers’ radar… the more people recognize your brand, the higher chance they will end up finding one of your products that they like and buy. The same goes for Twitter and other social media. If you go for a long time without posting, the algorithms do their job and you won’t be as visible to some people.
  2. Tune in. Staying on top of font trends is fun, but keeping up with graphic design trends is even more important. Why? Today, selling fonts is a lot about branding. You want to brand your fonts in an attractive and relevant way. Right now, this means designing images to show off your fonts that are aspirational, showing fonts in use on products, in every-day settings. Ascribing tangibility to the digital product, so that any designer can imagine the amazingly cool things they can make with your fonts. Even old fonts can look new and relevant with the appropriate design implemented in promotional panels.
  3. Make friends. Not a graphic designer? No worries. Have a network of graphic designer friends to help with this. Designers love to talk about design. Make connections with people who actually buy and use fonts. What do they use them for?
  4. Keep your prices relevant. This doesn’t mean that you should charge lower prices; it means that you need to be aware of your competition. Step into the shoes of a customer who may be deciding between your font and some else’s product that is visually similar. If you think that your font would be good for wedding invitations, pretend that you are a customer who needs a wedding invitation font. What key words would you search for? What other products would show up in a search? How are those products priced? Are they a better value than your font? Or does your product have a feature that makes it worth more money? Do you show off that feature prominently enough in your marketing to justify the price you want to charge? Don’t set prices arbitrarily. Justify them from a customer perspective.
  5. Stay objective. Fonts are products, not children. Don’t get attached and let it obscure your judgement. If you want to make money from fonts, you must view them objectively. It’s hard — I understand, I make fonts — because so much time, effort, and emotion goes into them. But the most functional and nicely designed fonts can be retail failures if they are priced too high or have marketing that doesn’t appeal to customers.
  6. Or don’t. You don’t have to take any of this advice and you can absolutely do whatever you want!

How are Font Bundles and the growing number of companies who offer them affecting the font world in regards to price and quality and the expectations of the font buyers? — Debi Sementelli

Font bundles are one of the many new vehicles in which people can buy or get access to fonts. Bundles, font family packs, font subscriptions, font rentals… you name it. And I think all of it is great, because all these new methods mean that more and more people are becoming font consumers. Each of these product types appeal to different people. When more people can buy fonts, the general population becomes more educated and aware of fonts. This is good for all font sellers, because it is expanding the number of people who may consider your products viable options.

Pricing Bundles
When it comes to something like bundles, there are a few different price points that are common. If you’re not in the ballpark of these standard prices, then people will pass over your products, even if they’re technically a great deal. This varies by site and can change over time. So, if you want to offer a bundle, do your research so you’ll make the most of it.

According to your survey, glyph count rates high with buyers. But language support, you said, not so much. Doesn’t one thing correlate to the other to some extent? — Richard Fink

Glyph count is a really simple and easy-to-find fact about a font. It’s tangible. Short and sweet. More glyphs = more stuff in the font = better font/likely to have what I need. Whether or not this is true is another matter, but this is an easy logic customers use. Currently, in many distributors, it is hard to quickly compare products or see what is exactly in each font without a concerted effort by the customer. So, this is one way to get around that, or guesstimate quality or completeness.

Also, if someone doesn’t know much about how a font is made, they may not correlate high glyph count with language support. Making that connection requires knowing that language support is created by adding many glyphs to the font… many copies of the same base letter with different diacritics implemented in their design. Ligatures and alternates also contribute to glyph count.

Thanks for all the great questions! To read more about the font data discussed here, see the results of the Font Purchasing Habits Survey.

The information, opinions, and content contained in this article is solely that of the author, Mary Catherine Pflug, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of her employer, Monotype.