Take One…It’s Free. The Sustainably of Free.

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So, I’m still working on issue #3 of Joie, but there won’t be a guest blogger today. Instead, I am sending you away. Well, not actually away, but to another blog and specifically to read a series of posts on Crafty Pod.

Sister Diane of Crafty Pod has been blogging about the sustainability of free in the indie/craft community & on the Internet. Why should you care about that? Well, think about all the things you (and me) enjoy on the Internet that are free. This blog for one, but many other things. Other blogs, forums, patterns, tutorials, printables and lots & lots other free content that adds value to your life. What are the realities and the consequences of all that stuff being free? What does it mean to the producers and to the consumers? What are the benefits, monetary and otherwise? How has it and how will it shape our community? Is it sustainable? Is it bad? Is it good? Is it both?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this dilemma of the Internet (and of our indie/craft/creative/blogging community). The question that if content is free, then how do the content makers get compensated for the creation of that content? And should they be?  It’s a timely one for me, as I come up with new projects that add to my workload to create a wonderful world of indie here for you. Honestly, it’s a question I struggle with and I know I am not the only content creator who does. I also struggle with it as a content consumer…

I wish my thoughts around this whole subject of free were more organized and that I’ve had some great epiphany, but alas I fear we are both left wanting in that department. Thank goodness, Sister Diane, who has been around even longer than me in the indie/craft blogging world (since 2005, to my 2006) has done a commendable job of beginning the discussion. Please join her and me in that discussion after reading her posts.

The Sustainably of Free Series at Crafty Pod

Post #1 – How Sustainable is Free? (The start of a series…)

Post #2 – Free and Sustainability and Community and Money

Post #3 –  The Non-Monetary Benefits (and Consequences) of Free

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  1. Re: consumers of free content who are anti-ad. I wouldn’t worry about them. What are they going to do? Keep not paying you? If your content is good people will visit, ads or no ads. Most media is ad supported, so expecting media to be 100% free of ads and premium content is unrealistic and unfair to the content producers. I think most people recognize this and will live with ads and/or pay for premium content.

    Re: ad effectiveness, technically it’s true that it’s changed since the net started. In the old days you’d have those giant animated gifs that would pop up and say “You’re a winner! Click here to claim your prize.” And because that stuff was new, the click-through was through the roof. So the days of that kind of thing working absolutely are over. That said, online advertising can still be very profitable for retailers.

    The key to success is having well-crafted highly targeted ads and having a site that is optimized for conversions. I think a lot of people who complain about effectiveness of online advertising now are failing in one of those 2 ways, it’s not online advertising itself that’s to blame. I’ve personally seen a good amount of success with advertising my online retail shop. People just have to be aware that all the online ads in the world won’t work if you’ve got weak product pics, shoddy site design, poor copy, an annoying checkout process, no USP, etc.

    I think the reason online ads eclipsed print is because they are more effective. You can control spend, you can control targeting, you can measure response rate, you can run tests on different ad copy and landing pages, you can change your ads on the fly. I don’t think online advertising will go away any time soon.

  2. Meredith, the one thing about online advertising (besides some people being against it) is that the effectiveness of internet advertising has decreased since the beginning of the internet. It has leveled off of over the past years and seems to be remaining pretty constant, but many look to what has happened in the print publishing world with a concern. Some of that in the print world is as a result of the internet for sure, but some wonder if they same decline might be possible with internet advertising as the internet continues to grow.

  3. No one solution that is for sure. But thoughtfulness and a spotlight will hopefully bring about more of an understanding by all of us here on planet internet.

    I think thoughtfulness is the key. I know I plan to start being more thoughtful about the free content I enjoy on the internet. I want to think about the time and effort that goes into it all and think about the people behind that content. And think about ways that I can compensate those content creators (monetarily and otherwise) for that content that I value.

  4. Thank you so much, Jen, for sharing the discussion over at CraftyPod with your readers! I’m also grateful to you for participating in this really important discussion. I hope we can all help each other find some new ideas.

    I’m glad Meredith has found success with advertising and ebook sales. One of the strongest themes in the conversation over at CP is that there is no single solution that will work for all content-makers. There’s a fair amount of anti-advertising sentiment cropping up alongside pro-ad comments, and just as much pro and con over various kinds of digital and tangible product sales. We all have to figure this out individually. And just as importantly, we need to figure out just want kinds of expertise crafters are actually willing to pay for in a landscape filled with Free.

  5. Advertising is an obvious choice for a content-maker’s revenue, but it’s not the only one. Premium content is another good option. I sell premium content in the form of ebooks but free content allows me to establish myself as an authority on the things I write about and attract an audience. Selling ebooks and advertising enables me to make money.

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