Should I give away free patterns or products or services or tutorials?

This is a question many people (those who have been steeped in the crafty community but yet to open a crafty business) ask me.

My answer is different for everybody, but this great post and Free + Sustainability + Community by Diane at CraftyPod reminded me that I've wanted to talk about it for a while.

The short answer:

Free is fine. But what do you hope to accomplish with Free?

Is there another way to reach that goal, one that's more sustainable for you and that sets up the right relationship between you and your people?

(Right Relationship = the relationship you hope to have with them long-term. For my yarny people, it's a yarn-buying relationship. For my craftybiz people, it's a more personal relationship: we work together to craft their businesses.)

The long answer

Free is fine.

But before you start giving stuff away, think about your Right People, think about your Right Relationship.

How can you build that sustainably over time?

What can you give them that will build the Right Relationship?

Realize this: if you give it away now, you won't be able to charge for it later.

When free is great:

  • When  it's a prize for getting the interaction of your Right People (ex. 50% off when I spin a yarn that you suggested).
  • When it's in exchange for information you need (ex. a survey, or a sign-up to your list).
  • When it's building the relationship through building your expertise, your cleverness or whatever it is that highlights your YOUNESS.
  • When it's a taste of your awesomeness (ex. I send mini-skeins (5 yards) to regular customers if they want to try a new yarn) that entices them to pay for the full awesomeness.

When does free work for your CraftyBiz?

PS. We'll be talking a LOT more about baking Right Relationships in the Starship.

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