A change in attitude towards freemium marketing?

abattis's picture

At http://www.typophile.com/node/51198 Nick Shinn wrote,

"My philosophy of font marketing (and digital ethics) changed considerably when I read Chris Anderson’s essay on “Free” in Wired, although I haven’t got around to incorporating my new attitude into any marketing plans yet."

Is anyone else considering changing (or has already changed) their approach to marketing, having seen the commercial success of Jos and others who have demonstrated the 'freemium' model?

If so, how are you planning to make the 'freemium' version inferior to the 'premium' one? Taking out OpenType features and alternate glyphs? Publish just a single member of a family (as FontFont has been doing for a while)?

:-)

dan_reynolds's picture

It depends on how you define free. In the case of some free downloads of fonts, you are actually just licensing the font without paying the traditional fee. In other words, instead of paying $30 for font X from family Y, you pay $0 for font X from family Y. But in order to download the font, you must still agree to same EULA that you would if you had paid $30 for it.

There are also other foundries that bundle a free version of another font whenever you make a general purchase. So if you license family Z, foundry A will also give you a license for font X of family Y, both to thank you for being their customer, and also in the hope that you might like to someday license the rest of family Y.

I don't know about taking out the OT features or the alternates, and then distributing that as an alternate version. I could be convinced of its benefit, but I tend to think that it might be too much work to go through on the distributor side. Would it recoup its cost? In theory, anything that recoups its costs might be worth a business considering.

abattis's picture

Thanks Dan - didn't know about the freemium bundling. Could you name the foundries? :)

To clarify, I understand "freemium" to mean, "available at zero price as a 'loss leader' for something else that costs money" - I didn't mean "free as in modifiable" etc and so avoided the word 'free' :)

dan_reynolds's picture

Well, freemium does have the word "free" in it. Although I don't think freemium is really a real word.

Linotype has doen this sort of bundling option in the past. I'm pretty sure that Monotype has, too. Maybe just surf around fonts.com a bit.

paragraph's picture

Offering free fonts from a family of other (paid for) fonts is what Jos has done so well. I am sure that the quality of his offering is paramount here: his free fonts are not crippled in any way, they are well crafted and with extensive character sets, and what's more, he gives away the (medium and medium italic) most useful members of the family and charges for the peripheral ones. The other vendors are more likely to give away the least popular cut, say semibold italic.

I tried a similar approach with one of mine and now can see it around, used in the free fonts, while the sales of the paid fonts are minute. Well, it may just be a dud. That said, it worries me a bit. Apart from all the more or less professional fonts bundled with operating systems or applications, the free fonts available on the net are quite abundant, and some of them are not at all bad. There seems to be a lot of talented people out there who will release a free font just to see it used somewhere. What is the longer-term future of fonts for sale?

Si_Daniels's picture

I think it does a disservice to Jos to hang all/most of his success on clever marketing.

I’d break it down Jos success like this…

90% talent
6% marketing
2% having a cool name
2% luck

Nick Shinn's picture

I haven't gotten around to using freemium marketing yet, but will give it a try later this year.

Actually, I did include some Bonus fonts in the CD that came with Indie Fonts 3.

blank's picture

When I finish the family I’m working on I’ll be doing a freemium release.

Stephen Coles's picture

Amen to Si. I think Jos himself said in another discussion that those who download the free stuff rarely end up buying. Free fonts get you blog press and internet traffic, but that's about it.

Jos Buivenga's picture

That's flattering Si, but at least luck and marketing should be swapped. It all lead to the point where I am now because I gave away my free fonts (of higher quality than most other fonts) at that time with no other intention than to share them with the rest world.

Stephen, I can't remember saying that, but I do agree. BTW Traffic is all about sheer numbers —I'm now counting about 6,000 hits a day— and the fact that there are (and always will be) people who really want to make a purchase. They just have to like your fonts and have to know where they can find them.

Nick Shinn's picture

... with no other intention than to share them with the rest world...

Puh-leez.

Jos Buivenga's picture

You don't know me.

bowerbird's picture

jos said:
> It all lead to the point where I am now
> because I gave away my free fonts
> (of higher quality than most other fonts)
> at that time with no other intention
> than to share them with the rest world.

funny how that karma thing operates, ain't it?

-bowerbird

Nick Shinn's picture

You don’t know me.

The Jos I know from the pages of Typophile, Mr "higher quality than most ... 6000 hits a day," is a bit of a showboat.

Nothing wrong with that, promoting the brand of oneself in this age of celebrity.

However, in the book world, self-publishing is known as the "vanity press", not philanthropy.

How does distributing free fonts differ?

We all seek affirmation, and I certainly admit to getting a kick out of seeing my fonts in use.

So, I put it to you, isn't giving fonts away free a short-cut to getting that emotional payback?

Success expressed in number of downloads, number of hits. Popularity, not money.

bowerbird's picture

and the thing about karma is that
the people who don't understand it
_really_ don't understand it _at_all_.

and it's useless to try to explain it to them...

-bowerbird

abattis's picture

The other vendors are more likely to give away the least popular cut, say semibold italic.

Yes, or actively strip out features.

I wonder if doing either of these things increases the success of this sales tactic, or hurts it?

And I wonder what people's impression of the overall stance of font publishers is? It seems that most do offer freemium fonts, when I actually go and look at their sites...

Nick Shinn's picture

and it’s useless to try to explain...

a tactless birdbrain like you

certainly_couldn't_do_it...

Jos Buivenga's picture

The Jos I know from the pages of Typophile, Mr “higher quality than most ... 6000 hits a day,” is a bit of a showboat.

Higher quality than most was meant to be read as how people regarded them a few years back when the quality of free fonts wasn't as high as it is now. I mentioned 6,000 not only for my own pleasure, but also to give typophilers an idea what it takes for me to have a good conversion @ MyFonts.

So, I put it to you, isn’t giving fonts away free a short-cut to getting that emotional payback?

Well... believe it or not, but I gave my fonts away, because I didn't think they were worth selling. The emotional payback thing came later, but it I wasn't waiting for it or expecting it.

bowerbird's picture

it's _easy_ to explain:

if you give something away as a gift,
without any expectation of anything
"in return", karma will reward you...

people who "don't understand karma",
however, won't grok the explanation...

the funniest people, out of everyone,
are those who will "give things away"
with the _expectation_ that "karma"
will then immediately "reward" them
by giving them whatever they wanted.

as if "karma" were some _machinery_
that they could _manipulate_ at will...

the least funniest people are those
who think "reward" means "money".

finally, for those who might not be
able to see how this is _on-topic,_
the takeaway is that "freemiums"
_might_ increase your bottom-line
-- free samples do often "work" --
but you probably shouldn't confuse
a manipulative strategy with "karma"
of the type that jos seemed to enjoy.

-bowerbird

Sye's picture

wasn't jos giving away fonts for over 10 years before museo?

hrant's picture

Simon, Luck is always over 50%, for everybody.

hhp

Si_Daniels's picture

78.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

Sye's picture

;-)

Nachos's picture

Yes, sii but 93% of people believe them whether they're accurate statistics or not.

bowerbird's picture

> Yes, sii but 93% of people believe them

only 47% of the time...

-bowerbird

paragraph's picture

Now it jokes? And makes short posts?

bowerbird's picture

> Now it jokes? And makes short posts?

only 47% of the time...

-bowerbird

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