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How a Student Made $15,000 in His Spare Time

Lesley Yarbrough March 31, 2021 · 5 min read

**Update: As of September 2013, Tom has made over $50,000 in sales with his Creative Market shop. Great job Tom!
There are some out there that would tell you confidence is the key to success. Well, we can say we’ve witnessed it first hand with one of our shop owners, Tom Watkins. From the moment he joined the marketplace, Tom immediately stood out as someone to watch as he offered limited time sales on his products, killer bundle deals, and touted himself and his goods as “top sellers” in the marketplace. Not only that, but his product packaging is as bold as his personality and it’s this ability to stand out that has helped make his shop very successful on Creative Market. The kicker? He’s done it all in his spare time.
You see, while a lot of college students may spend their free time at parties, or as far as mom and dad know…”studying,” Tom often spends his nights and weekends working on new design products. So far his products have earned him $15,000 and counting — not too bad for doing something you enjoy in your free time. We were curious how Tom was able to reach this awesome milestone and he was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about how he manages it all.
First off, congratulations on your first $15k with us! How does it feel to earn that kind of money with some of the most popular items in the marketplace?
Thanks! It feels fantastic to be part of such a great international design community, knowing that people also enjoy using my items only makes my smile broader. The money will certainly help push me through my education and overwhelming food bill.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started with design?
I’m half Finnish half English, quite tall, a football fanatic with a passion for all things creative. I’ve been blessed with a creative environment since I was very young, but I guess my design ‘career’ really started with my eyes lighting up as I played with Photoshop for the first time at my dads work. I then moved onto dozens of bits and bobs like YouTube and contest websites such as 99Designs which helped consolidate my skills. Then on one of my random web browsing sessions (I hope I’m not the only one who does this) I stumbled across Creative Market, and the rest is history.
TomAnders CM Shop
How much time do you spend making your products? How do you manage it on top of your school work load?
It depends on the product, although most will take me at least a week to complete. Yes, school workload does restrict how frequently I can release new products, and It means to find time I need to ‘work’ weekends and afternoons, although doing something so exciting hardly feels like work in my eyes.
Designers and Artists2
Where do you get the ideas for your products?
The shower is my hub of creativity where I mastermind all new products and ideas.
What do you do to market your products once they’re for sale? Has any one tactic proven more effective at driving sales than others?
I’m a strong believer in the quote ‘Cream rises to the top’, a well designed product should sell itself. I do however try to promote my products through websites such as Behance, Twitter and my own website.
How important do you think product presentation is? What kind of steps do you go through when packaging up a new product for sale?
Product presentation is very important, sometimes I’ll often spend hours just showing how the item can be used. It obviously differs from product to product, but the steps I take when packaging up a product is generally to head over to Flickr’s creative commons library and deliberate over why I would personally buy the product, then think of how I can showcase this in the best way possible.
Where do you go for inspiration? Are there any designers in particular you look up to these days?
Twitter is my no.1 source for inspiration, I click on hundreds of links to design blogs and inspirational stories which help fuel my creativity. As far as designers are concerned there are too many to list, although I must say I adore the items by ‘Lil squid‘ here on Creative Market.
Lil Buildings Lil Silhouettes Lil UI Kit
If there was one thing you wish you knew when you started out, what would it be?
It would be to come up with your own creative style or theme which makes you unique. Something to get your products stand out from the crowd.
What’s next for Tom Watkins? Any new items in the works?
After I’ve finished my studies I’d love to break into the Advertising industry, although i’ll take any job where my creative juices can flow. Regarding new items, even I don’t know whats next, you’ll have to follow me here on Creative Market to see what I get up to!
One more, just for fun: Flat or Skeuomorphic?
Thanks so much to Tom for taking the time to answer our questions! Don’t forget to check out all of the great items in his shop, and if there’s any other questions you’d like to ask, please feel free to leave them in the comments.
Vintage Bundle  Light Actions Set
B&W PRO Actions Set  Crisp & Clean Photo Actions

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About the Author
Lesley Yarbrough

Tinkerer. Maker of quirky fonts with a sprouty disposition.

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  • I can vouch for how awesome Tom's products are. It's no wonder they are all top sellers :) 9 years ago
  • @Tom Anders Watkins Congrats on your success on Creative Market so far. Keep up the good work! 9 years ago
  • Congratulations, @Tom Anders Watkins! Way to use your time wisely! :) Keep up the great work, and best of success in school, too. 9 years ago
  • @Gerren Lamson @John Shaver @Beth Rufener - I really appreciate your nice comments guys, thanks ever so much! 9 years ago
  • Congrats tom, be nice if I could bundle up my products, but I can't do that with the 500 megabyte upload limit. I made $1,200 on a graphic design bundle deals site in 3 days, I could see these bundles of mine bringing in more revenue, just not possible with the upload limit :*( 9 years ago
  • Yes @Tom Anders Watkins Congrats!!! Your products are amazing and very usefull :) 9 years ago
  • Woah! Impressive. Good going! 9 years ago
  • CONGRATS !!! 9 years ago
  • Congratulations Tom! 9 years ago
  • Congrats Tom! 9 years ago
  • Great write up. Very inspiring, even for us folks that are way out of school. Congratulations Tom! 9 years ago
  • Congrats, Tom, your work is lovely and your story is inspiring :) 9 years ago
  • Nice interview. Enjoyed every bit of it :) Congrats Tom! 9 years ago
  • Tom! Congratulations! Recently I see your files almost everywhere :). Great job! 9 years ago
  • Extremely inspiring @Tom Anders Watkins, all the hard work you put in just shows and we're very honoured and privileged you enjoy our work. The enjoyment is mutual, and we're excited for your next upcoming item! 9 years ago
  • Wow your story is very inspiring :) Congrats @Tom Anders Watkins! 9 years ago
  • Congrats Tom! 9 years ago
  • Congratulations @Tom Anders Watkins ! Oy do a very good job and you're an inspiration for us. Thanks! 9 years ago
  • Congrats! Cool work and interview 9 years ago
  • Congrats Tom! 9 years ago
  • nice work Tom! 9 years ago
  • You're one of my inspirations. I'm just actually in Highschool but I have to design/make products (currently working on my first!) because I want to earn enough money to get to art school! Congrats Tom! You're products are amazing! 9 years ago
  • Thanks to everyone for their inspirational comments, It's wonderful to hear and definitely will drive me to produce even better products! 9 years ago
  • Congrats! Awesome work. 9 years ago
  • Great story, congrats! 9 years ago
  • very inspiring and encouraging story :) great work! 9 years ago
  • nice! Congratulations 9 years ago
  • very inspiring! congratz Tom 9 years ago
  • Congrats, great job :) 9 years ago
  • Impressive. You have done the great job. Many many congrats. 9 years ago
  • Congrats Tom, great work! We are new to CM and your story is very inspiring! 8 years ago
  • very impressive work tom! 8 years ago
  • Awesome. Tom, can you answer please, what design/creative blogs you follow ? 8 years ago
  • Congratulations Tom, Great Job! 8 years ago
  • Awesome story, I'm a student (Communication & Multimedia design) myself and my invite is pending at the moment for opening my own shop. This story really inspires me to do the best I possibly can, IF I'm allowed to have my own shop! Thanks for sharing and a big aplaus to you Tom, congrats! 8 years ago
  • fantastic !! you inspiring me 8 years ago
  • I wish i had a great ming like YOU :) 7 years ago
  • Great story! 7 years ago
  • Little late in the discussion but I came acros this article and I just wanted to say that 'Anders' means 'Different' in Dutch! Cool last name :). 7 years ago
  • This is so inspiring! Would be great if you checkout mine,i'm beginner in this @creativemarket Thanks. 7 years ago