Free vs. commercial

LexLuengas's picture

Free or commercial? That is the question. Since the beginning of my first font (which I still haven't finished), I have not been able to define my opinion of free vs. commercial licensing.

Therefore I have created this post; I'd really like to boil down the main arguments for selling a font/giving it for free. Does it depend from where you want to license it? Is it better to sell only the "Regular" font and give the rest of the family for free? What is the best option, if there's any?

Surely there are some posts linked with this discussion, but I couldn't find many...

Thanks,
Lex

oldnick's picture

Is it better to sell only the "Regular" font and give the rest of the family for free?

In my experience, people who purchase the Regular version will appreciate the value-added benefit of the free versions, but freeloaders won't buy the Regular version if the freebies are available. And it's not unusual for freeloaders to expect technical support for their non-purchases: recently, I had to walk a newbie through the entire process of downloading, unzipping and installing a freeware font of mine--a total of six emails--and I regularly get requests for added features or expanded families. Freeware fonts are a good way to develop your skills on a (relatively) low-risk basis, but providing goods to the hordes of moochers out there can be more trouble than it's worth.

aluminum's picture

What are your goals/objectives?

LexLuengas's picture

I want advice for each of these two positions:

- You want to grow in popularity as a designer; it is your first face, but want to keep the attention that is produced publishing it for further typefaces. This face intends to introduce the subsequent ones, and to focus that attention. About how much money you make from it, you don't care.
- You just plan to do one single typeface and think your design is good enough to give it a price. You want to find the best strategy for the highest benefit. These strategies vary from setting an overall "optimal" price to selling just a few fonts, and giving the rest for free.

Is there anything that I may be not considering?

@Nick
Thanks, I didn't think of that problem of giving your fonts for free. I'll bear that in mind. But do you really think freeloaders won't buy the Regular version (speaking now about a book typeface, not display)? It's the starting point for the rest of the family, or am I getting it wrong?...

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Do you want to make a living of type design? Do you think type designers in general should be able to make a living of it?

Andreas Stötzner's picture

You’re in no need to spread your fonts while you are still about to learn. Nor is anyone else in need to be graced by such a gift.
Reconsider *why* you are doing this.

I do not know of any eminent typeface designer who gives just away the fruits of his hard labour. Maybe, you’ll become the first?

Offering *some* single fonts (out of larger families) for free can be a sensible means of marketing font products, though.

LexLuengas's picture

The two positions I raised on my last comment were ment to be disjunctive.

I just wanted to know what have been your experiences with selling your fonts and to incite some discussion about why would anyone, like you say, Andreas, be willing to give his/her fonts for free. I have recently noticed people is following more or less that direction.

@frank Do you want to make a living of type design? Do you think type designers in general should be able to make a living of it?
I'm really a hobbyist right now, not an experienced designer, nor am I studying design. Perhaps I do want it, but i'm still in my way to find that out. It's for my lack of experience that I've asked for your advice.
I think your second question is rhetorical.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Both are:) If this profession is to survive, designers must understand that fonts are worth paying for. If type designers don't think so, well what then?

oldnick's picture

do you really think freeloaders won't buy the Regular version

In my experience, somewhere in the vicinity of 99.5% won't; if it ain't free, they ain't interested...

LexLuengas's picture

To what extent do you think Jos Buivenga has made a good decision by giving many of his fonts for free? Do you think this fact is justifiable or is it just an aberration to type designers dedication in general? (Maybe Jos himself could give us an explanation...)

kentlew's picture

Lex — Here are three threads on similar topics in which Jos has commented already:

http://typophile.com/node/63279#comment-376052

http://www.typophile.com/node/55776#comment-334475

http://typophile.com/node/43047

aluminum's picture

Keep in mind that this is a forum mostly of type designers, not so much type consumers.

LexLuengas's picture

Thanks, Kent! Those links were really helpful.

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