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Interesting thoughts on Free from around the web
This likely comes as no surprise, but I've been reading a lot about Free and related subjects lately. I wanted to share some particularly great posts I've found. If you're interested in this continuing discussion of Free, these links are all very worth your time.
Over on Crafting an MBA, this post about Etsy and the Culture of Cheap has engendered lots of discussion about pricing and value. It's an interesting portrait of the tension between professional crafters (who need to price their work to make their living) and hobby crafters (who tend to underprice their work) - and how these two camps try to co-exist on Etsy.
It might be that Free plays an important role in helping professionals to better communicate the value of their time, talent, and consciously-built skills.
...That discussion made me think of this post on mass-amateruization by Clay Shirky. There are two important points here: first, the barriers to publishing (or starting a crafty business) have never been lower. But the barriers to making a professional living are probably as high as they ever were. Second important point: there probably isn't much income potential in the average blog. Instead, the blog is a labor of love, and may lead to indirect income sources.
I think this is very true of Free. There's no way to expect that it will lead directly to income. You have to be willing to constantly search the community that the Free creates around you, looking for appropriate products and services that address real needs.
That led me to this post on When Free Gets Ugly, by Dave Navarro. That's a rather salacious title for a well-reasoned look at why Free has costs, and why internet-based consumers need to evolve into more actively supporting those who create what they consume.
On my burned-out days, I tend to agree with Dave Navarro's characterization of Free as "The Dark Side of Blogging." But he does go on to talk about how he uses Free himself (freaking well, incidentally), and why he loves it. I think this is good reading for people who approach Free fearfully. Like anything else, you are ultimately in control of the limits of Free.
...Well that leads me to this post about embracing abundance on Scoutiegirl. I love Tara's ideas on "breaking the scarcity mindset."
Free is, in essence, an abundance model. It's easy to get tied up in questions of "how it will pay off," but in reality, it's akin to karma-building. Put good things out there, and see good things come back to you.
In the next few days, I'll have Paul Overton back on the podcast to talk about Free and the mindset of service.