Designer’s Stylish iPhone Icons Make Him $100K in a Week

A designer who created a set of stunning icons for popular iPhone apps has made more than $100,000 within just a week of putting them on sale.

San Francisco-based Traf stuck lucky when tech reviewer Marques Brownlee spoke about the stylish, minimalist icons in a recent show on his hugely popular YouTube channel.


Apple’s recent launch of iOS 14 allows for greater customization of the iPhone’s home screen using widgets — something Android users have been able to do for years.

While Apple still doesn’t allow an easy way to change app icons, a new workaround via the Shortcuts app also lets you swap out the regular icons with something more pleasing to the eye.

“I saw some people sharing 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,” Traf wrote in a blog post about his experience creating the app icons. “This was the first time you can really customize iOS, and it was catching on.”

Traf continued: “As soon as I noticed the hype, I put together some icons in my own style, downloaded some widgets, and tried it all out. I thought it looked cool, so I shared a screenshot of it on Twitter. Right away, people started asking about the icons in the screenshot.”

The sudden attention prompted him to set up an online storefront selling the pack of 120 icons for $28.


Sudden sales

Traf said that when he woke up the next day he saw that the tweet had exploded on Twitter, with subsequent media attention helping to push sales to around $6,000 within just 48 hours.

And then, toward the end of September, Marques Brownlee got involved.

“He shared a video about all of this — using my icons for his setup, and linked them in the description. The next thing I knew, I was making $28 what felt like every 28 seconds. My phone turned into the ultimate dopamine dispenser (if it wasn’t already). I had to disable notifications.”

Traf said that the following day, sales jumped from $6 to about $40,000, and when he wrote the blog post late last week, revenue stood at just over $116,000 from 4,188 customers.

The designer pointed out how the stunning uptick in fortunes had all come from “one single tweet.”

Icon limitations

It’s worth noting, however, that while the many of the new app collections from different creators look pretty amazing, the workaround has some limitations that may cause you to think twice before dropping cash on a collection for your own iPhone.

First, when you open an app by tapping on the icon, it takes a little longer than usual as it briefly opens the Shortcuts app first. Also, the icons won’t display notification badges. Finally, you have to install the icons manually one by one, so it’ll take time to set up.

Traf said in a tweet that the limitations have prompted some of his customers to request a refund, as they weren’t aware about them when they made the purchase. He’s since posted a tweet highlighting the issue.

The designer added that had he set out with the sole aim of making money, he’s convinced “it wouldn’t have worked nearly as well as it did,” adding that he decided to share his experience as he wanted to inspire others “to keep working at the things you enjoy, share them with the world, and letting the internet do the rest.”

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