How I Supported Some Free in January

28 Jan 2011

Image by Pip R. Lagenta, via Flickr

Today starts a monthly post series. Each month about this time, I'm going to share with you the ways I supported some of the Free I enjoy online.

Now, I'm not doing this to look like some kind of hero. I'm posting it publicly so I'll stay accountable. If I know you're watching, I'll keep this up. And it's important, so I want to keep it up.

I've actually been thinking about this practice for a long time. Originally, I thought I'd share the purchases I made in support of the craft community, but as we saw in this comment discussion, that idea is rather fraught with complications. So I simplified. Each month, depending on my income level, I will spend some amount of money in support of the online Free that's benefited me.

And so, here's what I did in January.

crocheted love hearts

I've enjoyed a lot of June Gilbank's free crochet patterns over the years. She does great designs. And I was excited to see her release this cute heart pattern as donation-ware. You can get it for Free on her blog, or make a small donation to her blog via PayPal, and get a nice PDF version.

I like this model! And I love the pattern. Donating for it felt like a win-win.


Earlier this week, Tammy of Daisy Yellow contacted me and told me she'd been inspired by all the Free and Sustainability discussion to add a tip jar to her blog.

One thing was clear from all that comment discussion, people have mixed feelings about tip jars. But I like them. Sometimes, you just want to give a blogger you like the equivalent of a cup of coffee as a thank you. So I dropped a little in Tammy's tip jar. Good on you for making your desire for support known, Tammy!


And the lion's share of my Supporting Free money this month went outside the craft community. I made a long-overdue donation to Audacity, the free recording and editing software that has helped me create over 300 Free and paid podcasts. All the years I've been using this program, I haven't contributed a dime to its upkeep. I feel ashamed of this now.

If you think about it, how many Free tools does your small business depend upon?


So that's January. I'll see you next month. Please keep watching, and keep me accountable. I think it'll be very educational to look at the ways we really can support Free, and it may lead us to some entirely new ideas. Thank you for taking this journey with me!


That's definitely an idea worth thinking about, Ann - thank you! Maybe it can be combined with an idea others have suggested here, which is raising money for the trip to Maker Faire I hope to take this year.

I have some guilty feelings about some of this as well, including a donation I should make to an art school that gave me free classes when I was in AmeriCorps. Thanks for this!

Thank you, Ashley! I've been feeling guilty about a number of things I haven't supported, but then I decided that the guilty feelings were keeping me from taking action. So now I'm focusing on whatever I can do each month, with the idea that something is better than nothing.

How great, Diane! I'm looking forward to seeing what you've done because it will then give me the incentive to keep passing it on. I donated to June Gilbank’s free heart crochet pattern as well and it felt dang good! I have been trying to be more purposeful when choosing crafters and other sellers to buy from who are trying to make a living with their independent businesses. I likey, I likey a lot. ;-)

Yay, Dorothy - I'm glad you supported June! And thank you for putting effort into stewarding the community!

Kudos to you Diane for sharing with us how you are putting your words into action. I really enjoyed the whole series of posts on the sustainability of free, and it spurred me into action as well. For myself, I went ahead and added a tip jar to my blog, we'll see how it goes. As for reaching out to the blog community I've contributed to a few tip jars on blogs I read regularly, and I've purchased two patterns from people who provide free content. Perhaps you've started a mini-revolution in the world of craft, a revolution whose outcome will be a community of crafters who support each others efforts. Thank you!

Thank you so much for stopping by, Mary Beth!

It is tricky, indeed. Since you work more on the fine art side of things, I'd love to know - has your blogging helped bring you new students and customers for your products?

(I absolutely love the idea of Act Louder!)

That's great that you're having such good results with Adsense, Annette. I did this podcast on craft blog advertising a while back:

Ads are definitely a viable option for some bloggers, though for a number of reasons, not my particular choice.

Hi Diane,
I haven't noticed anywhere in the series yet a mention of selling ads or signing up with ad networks. I make more than enough with Adsense to satisfy my need for compensation...enough that I've cut my outside work schedule to 12 hours a week.
Will you be discussing ads in the future?
I'd love to hear your opionion on them.

HAHA! That's great input. Thank you, Denise! Things have definitely been extra chewy around here lately. Soon, I'll be moving back into a more "normal" blogging routine. Allllllllllmost ready. :-)

What a fun way to stay accountable. I love this! And I love that this month I signed up for an online quilting class. I can't wait. And the fact that you have a category called Crafty Activism? LOVE IT!

This is definitely a wonderful action to take. Doing it monthly is probably going to keep you going, too. It'll be something to look forward to and think about during the month in terms of saving and plotting your good-deed-doing! :)

That's some powerful stuff! My contribution is going to be buying from artisans whose blogs I have been enjoying. They teach me so much great stuff, and if they have taught me something, there's a sure bet they sell something I can use for myself or as a gift! And then (bonus!) I have actually purchased something that holds a lot of meaning! Wow... we could change the world here, one little bit of craftiness at a time! Holding myself accountable, too!

A great way to motivate yourself -- via accountability. Thank you for "moderating" the continuing discussion of Free and for supporting my blog! The Tip Jar is in beta test, curious to see how it works out.

That is a great idea of June's.

I should do this, too. I have Wiki on my list, among others.

Okay, I'll be the vulgar one who asks if any amount is better than no amount. It sounds like a rhetorical question, but I am serious. Are people offended by very small donations? As money is relative, I'll spell it out: is a couple of dollars, meaning $2, for a pattern, for example, insulting? I hold back sometimes because I worry that a sum like that will seem like two cents for the waiter.

I don't see that as vulgar, Elizabeth - it's an honest question. I can only answer from my own perspective (and others are welcome to weigh in). To me, any support is better than no support. I don't consider any particular size donation appropriate. If another crafter did want to set specific limits on donation amounts, it would be up to him or her to state those publicly.

Given that such a small percentage of online audiences (across all interest groups) actually give monetary support to free tools and services, I imagine not too many producers would be upset over a $2 donation.

I thought I'd chime in here, as the designer of the Love Hearts pattern Diane linked to above. I've set the minimum donation for my patterns as $1 (because, if you donate any less than that, it all goes to PayPal fees and I end up with nothing - I learned that the hard way when people used to send me 30c donations...).

I'm really grateful to everyone who chooses to support me as an indie businessperson, no matter whether they choose to donate $1 for a pattern, or $10 or more, or something in between. Even the $1 donations can really add up, and the donations make a noticable difference to my income!

My advice would be to donate an amount dictated by a combination of what you feel you can afford and what you think the pattern is worth - anyone that's offended by a small donation can always choose to refund it (and I seriously doubt you'll see that happen any time soon) :D

That's super-helpful, June - Thanks!

this is awesome in every way. I am so glad that you are not only doing this, but that you are blogging about it and inspiring us to do it too!

I love your post, Ginger - such a well-articulated point from someone who's chosen to step away from money-making and recapture the joy of your hobby. Everyone should go read it!

Thank you, Heather! I've been talking to a few friends about the possibility of a public badge. It's tricky, because we don't want to make anyone feel pressured or guilted into this kind of thing. But at the same time, I really would like to create more public presence for this idea. We'll see how it all plays out...

I loved your post on how you supported Free in January. Everybody take a look!