It is unbelievable how drastically my life has changed over the past year! And it is all thanks to Dribbble. This is the community of great and supportive creative minds who are always willing to help and inspire you to go further and do more, do better, keep improving every single day!
I thought I would share my story how Dribbble turned my hobby into a career to show my gratitude, and also to inspire all of you.
I still vividly remember that time in July a year ago, when I was sitting at the camp with my laptop and checking my Dribbble account. I mean, I am not one of those guys that bring his laptop to the camping trip, but in my defense — I had to make some final adjustments to the project I had been working on (and yet I was procrastinating on Dribbble, right).
I had around 350 followers back then and I desperately wanted to increase that number. Don’t get me wrong, 300+ followers was a great achievement for me, and I was beyond happy that so many people were interested in my work. But you can’t judge me for wanting more, can you? In fact, one of my New Year resolutions (yes, I do make New Year resolutions) was to raise my Dribbble number of followers. I was half-through the year and yet I hadn’t done anything about that.
I created an Excel file where I estimated my chances of increasing the number of followers over the remaining half of the year and eventually ended up with three options:
- Pessimistic – 500 followers;
- Normal – 700 followers;
- Optimistic – 900 followers.
I took into account how many new followers were coming with every shot, how many days were left until the end of the year, etc. Now you probably expect that I started showing up daily following the plan to reach my goals. Nope, this is not one of those stories.
After getting back from that camping trip, I did indeed post my works regularly. It lasted for a few weeks, until I forgot all the calculations and continued with my life. Like we all do with our New Year resolutions.
A few months later I stumbled upon that very same Excel file with my July calculations. That was the moment I knew I couldn’t leave it like that. I hate losing, even if it’s just a competition with myself. It was already late October when I firmly decided to reach at least my pessimistic goal. We’ve all been there, you may think, in fact, we are there every week or month when we decide to change our lives, and yet here we are with zero things accomplished. Well, this time I was serious and enthusiastic as never.
It was a matter of life and death. I bet you all know that feeling of “it’s now or never” when you are in this urgent need of one final push or twist to turn your career upside down. You know it’s somewhere there, but you are yet to figure out how to get there. This was that defining moment for me.
I started creating and posting my works on Dribbble every day with no excuses. I had no other choice, but do that, as I had cooked my own goose by disregarding the plan and wasting so much precious time. To me keeping up the pace was twice as difficult, because I was extremely self-conscious. I wasn’t feeling comfortable with my works, they seemed not good enough, but I kept pushing myself to overcome these doubts and post daily. Of course, some of my works were not good at all, but you only get better with practice, right?
It was a lucky coincidence that I was really keen on icon design at that time, so all of my daily shots on Dribbble were icon related. Soon I noticed the good consequences of sticking to one niche. Little by little people started referring to me as “that icon guy”, and my number of followers kept growing.
In utter disbelief, I had reached 1000 followers by Christmas. Indeed, that was the best Christmas present I could possibly think of! (Sorry, friends and family.) Not only did I manage to reach the optimistic border, I overleaped it, and it took me way less time than I had expected.
But this was just the beginning! Since I had already developed the habit of crafting and publishing icons daily, there was no way I was going to quit in the new year!
I flang myself whole-heartedly into working on my Dribbble profile, putting hours of hard work every single day. With a few exceptions when I took a week or two to go on vacations (my so-called Rest and Recuperation leave).
It’s been a full year since I decided (and sticked to it!) to start working on icons and showing up on Dribbble daily, and I can sincerely say that my life has changed completely. For the better, of course!
About a month ago I quit my 9 to 5 job at a design agency and went on to working as a freelance icon designer full time. Believe it or not, I also managed to triple my income! Thanks to Dribbble — 90% of my clients come from there.
The next big step for me is my blog. I’ve learned so much throughout these few years working with icons, that now I have this overwhelming desire to share my knowledge. Sharing is caring! I’ve been running my own blog for a couple of months already, and it’s bringing me so much joy and the amazing feeling of doing something good and useful.
IconUtopia is getting mentioned by such giants as Iconfinder, Offscreen Magazine, Smashing Magazine, Web Designer News, Web Designer Depot, apart from being noticed by so many great designers of course!
It is not about the number of followers anymore. It’s about growing as a designer, having awesome conversations and collaborations with wonderful clients. There is a whole bunch of talented people out there, and getting to know them is a blessing.
This whole journey is like a Disney movie, and it’s unbelievable how much one’s career can turn upside down in such a short amount of time! I am endlessly grateful to Dribbble founders and the community for this wonderful opportunity.
I encourage everyone to put some hours into showing up on Dribbble. And don’t just do it for a week or so… Do it for at least a whole year! I can guarantee you’ll notice so many positive changes. The best part is that once you see how fast you can grow and how far you can go as a designer, you’ll never want to go back! It’s like an addiction, but beneficial!
IT’S LIFE CHANGING! And I won’t ever be able to express how grateful I am to Dribbble for that. However, I can continue growing and proving it with my work, so stay tuned!