Martin Peck
Martin Peck I write code, and manage people who write code.

Goodbye, iMessage Stickers. Hello, Real Stickers!

Goodbye, iMessage Stickers. Hello, Real Stickers!

A few years back I decided I’d try and use my (limited) skills drawing cartoons to publish some iMessage Stickers on the Apple AppStore.

Here are a few examples:

Sales Figures

iMessage stickers are essentially images that you can send to people when chatting in Messenger. That’s it.

The AppStore lets you find and download these to your iPhone, and then the Messenger app lets you send them to your contacts in chats. The user experience for this is poorly known by most users, but that’s the idea.

I enjoyed drawing these cartoons, and at the time I was interested to understand the AppStore process of publishing these stickers in more detail. I blogged about this at the time…

Creating iMessage Stickers

… but I can now summarise my experience as follows:

  • creating the sticker artwork was the fun bit
  • creating all the supporting artwork (screenshots, icons) and metadata was way less fun
  • the overall publishing time was 10% “drawing cartoons” and 90% “doing things to keep the AppStore happy”
  • the constant updates that Apple force you to do soon takes any remaining fun out of the process

Too much work, for very little reward.

In my day job I’ve had experience of publishing apps to the Apple AppStore and Google Play Store. I was ready for the overhead required to publish content. However, for iMessage stickers which, as I’ve said, are essentially just image files this overhead felt way too high.

Installing and Using Stickers is Far From Obvious

On top of the cost of publishing the stickers, it turns out that the iMessage sticker features aren’t very well known at all.

In fact…

  • the process of installing these stickers isn’t well know by users
  • even if you tell someone “you can install stickers in Messenger” they are unlikely to work out how without some help
  • once installed, USING the stickers isn’t exactly obvious either
  • the AppStore is never, ever, ever going to promote/feature your stickers unless you spend a LOT of time/money/effort in AppStore SEO

I would have to sit with members of my family, show them the iMesssage AppStore (“Oh….I didn’t know that existed!”), show them how to install and use a sticker (“Wow! That’s news to me!”) and then finally they’d be able to send stickers to other users of iOS Messenger. Or, as I like to call them, “absolutely no one, because everyone uses apps such as WhatsApp!”

Update, or be Unpublished!

The final nail in this coffin is that Apple insist that you spend time updating your iMessage stickers. Every time a new phone/iPad comes out they revise the format of the AppStore screenshots. After a while they start to warn you “if you don’t update your stickers, we’ll pull your content” and so there’s an overhead to all of this.

All I wanted to do was share some image files with people, and let others use them too. I honestly think that Apple should have come up with a much quicker, easier, low-impact way of doing this, but I guess “let’s use the existing AppStore and all the processes involved” was the easier option for them.

It was an interesting experiment

It was interesting to see some of the stats from my stickers. For some reason I saw a spike in downloads of my “Fruitful Fruit Stickers”…

Sales Figures

… of which most of these came from something happening in Asia Pacific in late 2017 that resulted in lots of downloads…

Sales Figures

So…this year, I’m going to prevent my Apple Developer Program subscription from renewing, and my stickers will disappear from the AppStore. It was an interesting experiment. The conclusion from this experiment is “don’t bother”.

Selling Physical Stickers Instead

Instead of trying (and failing) to sell virtual stickers I have decided to try (and fail) to sell REAL stickers, and books, and mugs, and all sorts of things.

I’ve uploaded a number of designs to Redbubble and Zazzle and, so far, I’ve has a lot more luck with this than I ever had with my iMessage stickers.

My Zazzle Store


My RedBubble Store