Jessica Johnson: Marble Photoshop Brushes: Multicolor & Painterly

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How To Build a Successful Digital Assets Business

How To Build a Successful Digital Assets Business
Published March 26, 2024 by the Behance Team

Designer Jessica Johnson started creating and selling digital assets during a rough patch of her life. “My steady freelance work was drying up, and my beloved dog was in the end stages of heart failure. I was so chronically stressed that I broke out in terrible itchy hives all over my body,” she recalls. “At the time, I felt like a big fat failure. However, some of the best things come out of the most desperate times.” 

Despite facing both emotional and financial hardships, Jessica was determined not to return to the conventional 9 to 5 life. “New digital marketplaces were emerging, so I thought I would give it a try.” 

The gamble paid off — Jessica has now been selling assets full time for 10 years. She’s observed and overcome changes and challenges in the marketplace to establish not only a successful business, but also nurtured a thriving community along the way. 

“Behance has been an amazing tool for connecting to my creative community via livestreams, which I hadn't been taking advantage of before. It's also allowed me to attract new customers, because the people are already here for creative inspiration.”

Here, Jessica passes on the lessons she’s learned over a decade in the digital marketplace. 

1. Create assets with value 

“Resources and digital assets are essentially creative problem-solving,” says Jessica. “Find and solve a pain point for other creators. You are either saving them time, saving them having to hire someone, or helping them with something they can't do themselves.”

2. Put your own spin on it

Digital assets are a competitive marketplace and Jessica emphasizes creating assets that are unique in some way. “Even if you are creating an asset in a trending category or one where there are many options, there's always a way to find your own unique spin,” she explains.

In addition to foundational Photoshop brushes, Jessica has also created distinctive brush packs including embroidery thread brushes, metallic textured brushes, holographic brushes, and more.  “If you are venturing into a trending theme, look around and see what might be missing, where there might be a gap in the market.”

3. Sell the benefits

When it comes to selling an asset, Jessica’s recommendation is to focus on the features and benefits, and the problem it solves. “While you want to be crystal clear about your asset for sale, avoid stuffing the page with tons of unnecessary details or instructions. If you add any video to show it in action, make sure it's short and enticing to the buyer.” 

“For more complex assets, you can always link to a tutorial video or instructions in a PDF included in the download."

4. Make it “pop”

Jessica creates custom images to use as her cover images on Behance to make sure that her assets will catch the eyes of potential buyers. “We judge a book by its cover. In the Assets page of Behance, the project cover image is all we can see at first. Make sure it's abundantly clear what your product is at a quick glance,” she explains. 

5. Make it easy to find

Keywords are critical to the discoverability of your assets. “Take advantage and fill out all of the options available on the Behance project settings page such as Title, Tags, Tools, Category, etc,” says Jessica. “You could be missing out on potential sales by leaving these items blank.”

6. Share as You Go

“Speaking of easy to find, it never hurts to share your work, both on and off Behance,” Jessica adds. “Share on social media - you might even pick up an audience for your style of assets.”

Jessica has started creating quick TikTok videos to give her community a preview of what she’s preparing for her livestream later in the day. “I don't worry about getting fancy with it. I record right within the app, and have had success in attracting new customers.” 

7. Test early and often

One of the mistakes Jessica made early in her assets career is spending too much time on developing a product, only to find that there was no market for it. “If you have an idea, make a small collection or a small test product and see how it does. You can always add on and enlarge a product that is doing well, or make a second version,” says Jessica. “It's so much better than spending days, weeks, or even months on something that doesn't have a market, or feeling that you have to price a product higher because it is very large and miss out on potential sales.”

8. Run your own race

Jessica cautions against comparing yourself to other successful sellers or copying popular products as a playbook for your own shop. “It's much better to carve your own unique path in selling digital assets. Even if many people are creating the same type of asset, no one can do it exactly like you, through your own unique lens.”  

By focusing on her craft, being adaptable, and nurturing her community, Jessica has built a lasting creative business. “I kept my head down, kept creating, and kept focusing on my own path, and I am still here getting to create and share assets everyday!”

9. Don't get discouraged

“Creative assets are not a 'get rich quick' scheme,” reminds Jessica. It takes time, dedication, and patience. “Assets are a new feature on Behance, but as more and more creators become aware, there is plenty of potential. Having digital assets on Behance is naturally a good fit, because creators are already here looking for inspiration.”

10. Have fun 

One of the greatest advantages of selling digital assets is the freedom and flexibility of being in charge of your creative output. “You can do as much or as little as you like, you can branch into something new, or capitalize on your unique expertise in your own particular niche. You don't have a boss or a schedule, so you can really just do it your way,” says Jessica. 

“Even if you are not creating resources full time, I highly encourage you to try it out — you have nothing to lose. You may have some fun, you may make some side income, or you may end up on a big creative venture as I did!”

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