20,000 Creative Market Shops Turn Passion into Opportunity Using AWS


Creative Market offers independent creatives a platform where they can open shops to sell their digital creations—fonts, graphics, themes, photos, and software add-ons—to more than three million members. Shop owners set their own prices and keep 70 percent of their sales, leaving payment processing, distribution, and marketing to Creative Market.

Technology concept. 3D render

By using Amazon EFS, we are saving about 95% annually compared to our previous file-storage solution.”

Chris Williams
Chief Technology Officer, Creative Market

Building a Business with Creative Market

Even before topping $1 million in sales in a four-year span, Nicky Laatz had built a business to be proud of. Hard work and careful attention to her clients’ needs had transformed her sideline business in graphic design into a successful, full-time solo enterprise. Eventually, though, working only on client projects lost its appeal. “In client work, everything is rush, rush, rush,” Laatz says. “I wanted to step away from that and into something that would make me happier but still be in the creative field.”

In 2012, Laatz took that step by opening a shop on Creative Market. Creative Market, which was acquired by Autodesk in 2014, is an online marketplace where people can buy digital assets such as website themes, graphic elements, photos, templates, software add-ons, and the fonts that are now one of Laatz’s top-selling product categories.

Laatz and the other 20,000 Creative Market sellers create and operate their own shops, set their own prices, and let Creative Market handle details like payment processing, distribution, and marketing to its three million members. Shop owners have access to up-to-the-minute statistics, and the site’s message boards and other communication tools help the community of Creative Market buyers and sellers answer questions and exchange ideas.

Just one year after opening her Creative Market shop, Laatz stopped taking client work. In 2016, she became the first Creative Market shop owner to hit $1 million in total sales on the site, an amount she had doubled by 2017.

Creative Market uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) to simplify IT operations, reduce costs, speed innovation, and provide the platform Laatz and her fellow shop owners depend on. To store the more than one million image files that shop owners use to market the products they offer for sale, Creative Market uses Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS). Additionally, all seller product files are uploaded and staged on Amazon EFS, indexed in Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), processed and prepared for consumption, and then pushed to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for customer download after purchase.

Managing a ‘Ticking Time Bomb’

The Amazon EFS solution replaced a Red Hat Gluster Storage solution that Chris Williams, chief technology officer at Creative Market, considered “a ticking time bomb.”

“We could not get Gluster to play well with our automated infrastructure,” says Williams. “Minor revisions would break functionality, the documentation seemed inaccurate, and we had to take the whole site down for routine maintenance. Upgrading, adding capacity, and trying to automate around Gluster took roughly 15 hours a month, with one employee dedicated to keeping it running the rest of the time.”

In August 2016, one of the Gluster nodes failed, the replacement replica would not rejoin the cluster, and data could have been lost. “If we had lost that data, we would have had to recreate millions of images, the application would have been in a degraded state for hours, and we would have lost users,” says Williams. “Fortunately, we were mirroring everything in Amazon S3, so the data was protected. But Gluster had to go.”

To move the company’s mission-critical creative assets from Gluster, Williams and his team used AWS CloudFormation to provision and configure the new Amazon EFS solution.

Using AWS to Think Bigger

Williams’s top priority was securing more reliable storage for the files of Creative Market shop owners. Mission accomplished. “With Amazon EFS, we don’t have to worry about the kind of failure we experienced on Gluster,” says Williams. “Using Amazon EFS, we took a nasty, ugly problem and solved it simply and elegantly.”

The new solution is also simpler to manage. “Since we cut over to Amazon EFS, we have spent exactly zero operational time on file storage, and our Gluster specialist has been able to focus on more valuable work,” says Williams. “With Amazon EFS, our engineers can concentrate on building features and bringing value to the company instead of keeping the infrastructure from toppling over. Their work satisfaction has gone through the roof.”

The process of building those new features is much more streamlined. “Amazon EFS simplifies our development and staging environments,” says Williams. “Previously, we had to launch new clusters and add capacity for every new environment, but Amazon EFS changes size automatically as we add or remove data.”

Williams says the AWS solution has also reduced the company’s storage and operational costs. “By using Amazon EFS, we are saving about 95 percent annually compared to our previous file-storage solution,” says Williams.

Finally, the new solution is also helping Creative Market think bigger—literally. “Now that we are using Amazon EFS, we can start to plan for allowing shop owners to upload much larger files,” says Williams, who expects to be able to increase upload limits from 1 GB to 100 GB within about six months. “We wouldn’t have considered trying to do that before.”

Best of all? Laatz and the rest of the site’s users can rest easy, concentrating on the work they love and leaving the IT backbone of their businesses in the competent hands of Williams and his team. This peace of mind is important because, as Laatz points out, reducing worry and stress was one of the main reasons she opened her shop on Creative Market.

“The nice thing about Creative Market is that you work at your own pace,” says Laatz. “It’s just so much more freedom. I can’t think of anything better than being able to do what you want all day long and not having to worry about anything else.”

20,000 Creative Market Shops Turn Passion into Opportunity Using AWS and Amazon EFS

About Creative Market

Creative Market offers independent creatives a platform where they can open shops to sell their digital creations—fonts, graphics, themes, photos, and software add-ons—to more than three million members. 

Benefits of AWS

  • Simplified and strengthened file storage by dumping a troublesome third-party solution
  • Reduced operational demands
  • Reassigned engineer from support to development
  • Cut annual file-storage costs by 95%
  • Increased file-size limit for user uploads from 1 GB to 100 GB


AWS Services Used

Amazon EC2

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.

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Amazon CloudFormation

AWS CloudFormation provides a common language for you to describe and provision all the infrastructure resources in your cloud environment.

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Amazon EFS

Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS) provides a simple, scalable, fully managed elastic NFS file system for use with AWS Cloud services and on-premises resources.

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Amazon RDS

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.

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Amazon S3

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

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