LINE app sticker market
LINE is more than a piece of string
Today I’m ecstatic with the news that my Little Teo character design has made his way to the LINE app. You can now chat with more fun and excitement using his stickers to express your emotions. OK “more fun and excitement” is a bit of an over hype and I admit it’s a marketing plot to get you guys to buy my stickers. To add to my selling point, Little Teo is probably only a few great looking 3D style art in comparison to the overloaded, yet awesome flat style character stickers available on the LINE store. Bias aside, you also still do get a lot of fun and excitement using LINE’s generic free stickers.
From all the buzz and excitement I though this would be a worth while case study to start this section off. To all you artist, illustrators, creative mind future inspirational genius wanting to jump into the mobile apps market read on.
What is Line, it’s not a piece of string is it?
For those who don’t know, LINE is a chat and message application on the mobile devices and personal computers. You can exchange texts, images, video, audio and also face to face conversation. Similar to other popular apps like Skype, Whats App, Kakao Talk, WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Vibre. Each one of them have their market share in certain location. What’s different about LINE? before the majority of the players had implemented similar features was that LINE had some really cool stickers to express your text messages. They are stylish, quirky in someways and cute if your into that kind of stuff you like. Sometimes I zip my mouth and have more fun bashing those stickers out to express myself without having to say a word. Yes, Line does make my communication more entertaining. As they say a picture means a thousand words.
The birth of LINE and how it stretched?
LINE became one of the fastest growing member registration app on the mobile devices. It was implemented shortly after the March 2011 earthquake caused by a catastrophic tsunami which devastated Japan and shock the international community. The unimaginable aftermath destruction had effected large proportion of the Japanese phone system. This incident initiated employees of NHN Japan, a subsidiary of South Korean internet company Naver, to come up with a solution for the people to contact family and friends during these crises. It was on 23 June 2011, LINE launch it’s free mobile application to the public. Within a year LINE had 50 million users in under a year. In comparison, Facebook took three years to reach 58 million users, according to Reuters. With the rapid climb of subscribers and with it being fundamentally popular, LINE became the key messaging force in the Asian region. While this was all happening above the shores of Australian land, most people here were happily attached to WhatsApp and it seems to still be the case.
So how can I sell Stickers on LINE?
In the early build up, LINE was pretty much closed off to the general artist like myself. They had their eyes open for the bigger players, the likes of Disney, Dreamworks, Sanrio, they were the revenue pullers. I had tried contacting LINE in February 2014, submitting a preliminary business partnership proposal via their online system in the hope to get my Little Teo project onto the sticker market. A month after reviewing my submission, LINE rejected my proposal. I can’t recall the exact reason for the rejection but I don’t blame them as I guess I’m just a little guy trying to venture out in the character market place. My pursuit was done and dusted as I thought. I spent time looking at other avenues and by May 2014, LINE open it’s doors on a sticker market for creators. Artist finally had the chance to submit their work for a reviewing process and if it pass their approval it could go onto the LINE Shop. Off course with the artist authorisation giving the go ahead. It was only around September I stumble on learning more about this initiative since my mind set was somewhere else. Had I not gone in too early with my proposal I would have been in the game much earlier. Anyhow I can’t complain since Little Teo is now in the market place.
As excited I jump onto the LINE Creators Market page and setup my own account. Within the admin page you manage your stickers and account details. There are helpful information like the Sticker Guidelines and also a PDF Sales Manual to get you started. It was relatively a straight forward process. LINE requires 40 stickers, yes big 40 expressive images. So eager to get my Little Teo work up, I spent a fair bit of time looking through my Little Teo image library and hand picked the ones I though would work best for message chatting and also generated new one. So the next step was to set up an action to resize all the images and name them according to LINE’s requirement. Did all that, double check, triple checked and submitted my artwork. You still had the option to make changes after your submission but I was ready as I can be for the next process. I waited and waited and waited, the status was always the same every time I logged into my account. It was until late December 2014 I had the status from “Submitted” shifting to “Being Reviewed”. My wait continued again for the next phase. Waiting and checking to the point where nothing was happen that I seriously thought I would never hear from them. So I ended up trying other alternatives.
My best friend introduced me to using Viber a few months earlier which had some really cool stickers so I gave a shot at contacting them since there was no information about any sticker market like LINE. I dropped an email to their support group from their website and a kind friendly staff responded that they were happy to forward my artwork to their art department for review once I have it ready and if they were interested they would contact me back. I worked on some mock up design base on their particular styles, in actual fact I really like what I had done. Even though it was just preliminary artwork, I keep on looking at it and felt so please about it . Unfortunetly I never heard from Viber and everything kind of went stale. Only until recently in April I jump to logging back onto the LINE Creators admin, excitedly I had my artwork approved. In total it took about 6 months for this process to get through, but it was well worth the hard work putting it together.
The sticker revenue sharing?
LINE sell stickers using their coin system because they also offer other mobile services which mobile calls and games which rely on this method to generate revenue. A virtual currency which confuses people even more. My friend had experience trying to buy my LINE stickers but she felt the process was too complicated, so there goes one of my sales. Oh well at least I had her virtual support and that is what counts. Though when you come to studying the LINE coin concept, it really isn’t that complex, I guess it needs a little bit more effort to educate the buyer.
LINE Creators Stickers are sold for 50 LINE coins which is ¥120, about $1.29 (AUD) with the current exchange rate. I get 50% of the revenue of every sticker sold, which is not bad but that doesn’t include the tax and money transfer fee from LINE’s end. So it works out to be about ¥39 which is about $0.42 (AUD) per sticker set. It’s still not bad in comparison to the new regulation LINE is implementing force from Apple and Google. With the constant policy changes, it’s my turn to find complication. You’ll need a rock solid good reading if you want to get to the bottom of the actual spilt. The two big boys above want their share of the pie of 30% revenue and hence causes a chain reaction of policy updates. At the moment, it doesn’t seems like it’s effecting me because I got my artwork before February.
To add a further note as of 1 May 2015, the pricing regulation will be changing. From LINE’s guideline page it states “LINE Coins are converted into earnings using a conversion rate determined by LINE Corporation. This rate may differ with the time of conversion. LINE Coins will be valued at JPY 1.47 per 1 Coin until April 30, 2015. As of May 1, 2015, 1 LINE Coin will be valued at JPY 1.76. Total earnings may contain fractions of monetary values for overseas earnings due to currency conversion rates.”. A slight increase which is good for the creators. So there looks to be a slight price hike.
To be honest I’m still not entirely clear for the changes. I much prefer to spend my type doing better artwork so I’m not to fuss about it. I’m just happy that Little Teo is up on their app, fans can purchase and use to engage in an emotion text chatting. For me, the true value is using LINE as a marketing tool to build up brand awareness on Little Teo character.
Other niggly bits on the LINE app
After my sticker have gone up, I notice LINE’s search term isn’t as user friendly. For instance, if I type in Little Teo, my character ends up as “No Results” however if I type in “Teo” or “Whale” the search term appears. Odd and strange it doesn’t help if your trying to promote sales of your stickers. Feedback from a friend is told me it was difficult to find Little Teo. I guess adding to the challenge, currently there is a staggering 75560 creators’ stickers on the LINE shop and mine is one of them.
Is it all worth all the hard work?
I personally think if your in it for the money you probably wont make much. However if you have the time and want some fun or use LINE as a marketing platform it is worth giving a shot. It can be fun designing your own character, keep in mind it’s small, so simple form, less details, expressive emotion works best. Give it a shot and see where this takes you. So will you be trying to design your own stickers? Let us know in the comments below.
LINE Creators Market Process:
1. Register to LINE Creators Market ( https://creator.line.me )
2. Set up your details
3. Read all the important notes sticker, creation, review guidelines including their sale manual and anything relevant.
3. If you agree to the terms and conditions upload 40 artwork and thumbnails.
4. Wait for artwork to be review which could take about 1 month.
5. Wait for approval which could take about 5 months.
6. If you are approved, your off to sending your stickers, though you’ll have to purchase your own stickers.
Key things to watch out for:
Design your character to be expressive and different to stand out.
Online system set up isn’t too difficult.
Be prepare to wait for a while for approval. Get it done and let it sit while you work on something else.
The competition market is competitive, so don’t expect to make a lot of money.
Great exposure or cool to share with your friends.
Great for marketing if you plan to promote your character.
LINE App ( http://line.me )
LINE Creators Market ( https://creator.line.me )
Little Teo ( http://littleteo.com )
All reference images use, belong to their respectful owners.