With over 100 million downloads, a series of creative emojis featuring a cartoon figure called "Lovable Baby" has recently taken Chinese media by storm – its widespread popularity proved to be a boon for its 24-year-old creator who has raked in nearly 500,000 yuan (around 76,000 U.S. dollars) so far.
What began as a hobby is slowly turning into a career. Zhong Chaoneng started drawing emojis out of interest in 2015. His very first emoji series on popular Chinese messaging app WeChat received an unexpected number of downloads, encouraging the young man to keep going.
With its sweet smile and chubby rosy cheeks, Zhong's most well-known emoji – "Lovable Baby" or "Guaiqiao Baobao" in Chinese – has been "rewarded" over 90,000 times on WeChat.
A reward is a voluntary donation of a sum of money to emoji creators by WeChat users.
Meanwhile, the series was used five billion times among users.
"The emoji business brought me my first pot of gold," Zhong said on a TV show called City Hunt.
However, the young man is thinking big. Cashing in on the business potential of "Lovable Baby" emojis, Zhong decided to authorize its copyright to an agency, so as to cultivate it as a recognizable "IP (Intellectual Property)" brand.
WeChat first launched its emoji developers' platform in 2015, which became this year China's largest emoji contributor. The messaging app features over 15,000 emoji series with WeChat users sending 600 million emojis every day.