Interesting thoughts on Free from around the web

25 Mar 2010


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.

Flowery Felt Ponytail Holder

...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.


These sound like great resources- can't wait to read them. This is such an interesting discussion- and I think, relevant to all crafters regardless if you want to make a living off your hand crafts or not.

Thanks for the great links!

And here I thought I was going to get some work done today. Now I've got reading (and maybe, some blogging of my own) to do!

I tend to think of "free" as giving back to the community, which gives so much to me. After all, I can potentially sell my work (or otherwise profit) only because the online crafty community exists and supports me- so in a way, I owe it to the community to contribute in such a way that helps it grow and thrive, whether it directly increases my profit or not.

Off to read!

Thanks for the links...and looking forward to the podcast!

Thanks for the links! I enjoyed your most recent podcast about your own experience with free, and am looking forward to reading these articles (and listening to the podcast w/Paul - I will turn it on this afternoon when I'm crafting). Then, maybe I can work up my own post about free.

I agree w/you that a lot of it is karma. I never feel bad about giving something away because I know it's gonna come back in one form or another.

It can be a tough transition for sure, Kristin - and I've totally been
there. (In some ways, still AM there!) Luckily, these are wide-open
times, and creative people will always find solutions. I am pulling
for you!

Thank you for your perspectives, Fae. It's wonderful to meet members
of our community who seek to support fellow crafters!

I have to admit I've really been influenced by your blog and podcast. It used to be that I got all my crafting information from my mom, the internet, or the library, all generally free sources. But I've been discovering lately, the more free information I find, the more I want to buy well designed and comprehensive books and ebooks.

I think part of this realization came from getting my degree in Graphic Design and discovering the amount of time and energy it takes to create a really good publication. Anybody can open up Word and create a document, but it takes someone really dedicated and creative to make a really comprehensive and unique craft book.

So, my point is that I really find it worthwhile to support those people who are creating useful and well put together publications. Thanks a lot for the great resources you have provided for us on your site.

Thanks so much for these links, Diane. I'm gonna visit all of them right now, and I look fwd to expanding my already blown mind about Free.

Can I have all the stuff in these photos?

Thanks so much for your comment, Silvi - it is a paradox indeed,
balancing charging a fair price for your work with participating in
the Free landscape. All the best with your new endeavors!

Thank you for this article. I will check out Free now... haven't heard of it before.

I'm entering into becoming a professional artist, and definitely at that point of figuring out what I want to charge for my time and work. Half the time I feel like charging exorbitant amounts, while the other half I don't want any money at all for what I do. So it's also about living in that artistic paradox.

Thanks for sparking the articulation. ^.^

I have given much away and continue to. Does it all come back? Who knows? *laughing* But I do think that as a society we have to give credit to where credit is due and if that means that we pay a fair price for the product we want then we give dignity to the seller and ourselves through that process.

Wow, great post.. This is very thought provoking. Thank you so much for sharing. Looks like I have some more research to do!

Diane, thanks for posting about this and linking to these great posts. It's really made me chew over what I'm doing and how I need to make some "free" guidelines for myself. It's a lot of Karma, but there are some real life set backs if your whole business is free based (cough, like mine is). I'm transitioning, but it's tough. Thanks for the inspiration to get back on working it all out.

Looking forward to the podcast!