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Saturday, 24 September 2016

PAY WHAT YOU WANT Update

My Bundled Up Bindle Bag PWYW experiment...
Back in mid-May, I released my latest pattern in a markedly different way than usual. The Bundled Up Bindle Bag did not have a conventional price, nor was it meant to be given away as a freebie. The pattern listing on Craftsy clearly indicated that it was being offered on a "pay what you want" arrangement.

If you were aware of this offering, you may be curious as to how it played out. Well, on July 31 — tired of the lack of any variable data — I deleted the PWYW option and put up a conventional version of the pattern for two bucks.

After the first fifty or so purchases, I had it in mind to pull the plug on the experiment if it did not pay anything after ten weeks; it was ultimately eleven weeks and a few days.

So there you go. But before anyone jumps to the conclusion that the experiment was a failure, I can say that the numerical data (such as it is) is still informative in and of itself. With just under 300 "sales", the numbers reveal that a whopping 71% did not even download the pattern at all. This leaves only 29% who may actually have opened up the PDF at any point in time.

Intriguing, isn't it? Unexpected? Not so much.


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I already knew that a lot of purchasers of free patterns on Craftsy do not in fact download the patterns. These crafters put a lot of faith in Craftsy — and individual designers — to keep safe their access to these patterns in a way that I would never be. (I download all of my Craftsy patterns as soon as I "buy" them, whether they are free or not.)

Case in point, before I pulled the PWYW version, I uploaded a stripped down version of the PDF stating that the pattern was no longer available as a free item and that the purchaser will have to go to my payment page to make a "donation" of some sort (after which, I would send them the full PDF), or they could purchase the newly available pattern for $2. I believe the way it works is that — even though I deleted the PWYW pattern — previous purchasers will still have the option to download it from their individual accounts, only now they will be downloading the most recent version, which doesn't include instructions.

To hazard a guess, I'd say that most people won't even be affected by this change; as in, if they've never downloaded it, they likely never will. You and I both know that there are so many free patterns out there, it's easy for them to get lost in the pile.


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I found an interesting blog post at ConversionXL.com that outlines a bunch of pricing strategies and provides some historical data on them. With regards to the PWYW idea, it had this to say (which is actually taken from a book called Smart Pricing by Jagmohan Raju and Z. John Zhang)...

This screenshot is from a blog post at ConversionXL.com...

The first bullet point is a given: the PDF is a product with a low marginal cost.

The second bullet is less of a given. Not to say that Craftsy customers are not fair-minded, but in this same blog post, the writer states the following:
"Of course, the anonymity of the Internet removes the social pressure one feels after being served personally by a human being. It’s one thing to have the amount you choose observed and another thing to download stuff without being seen."
Simply put, customers do not see me standing at the checkout counter watching them leave without paying anything. (I knew that from the get-go.) But I had hopes that perhaps a few people — or maybe just one?? — might see the opportunity to drop a token "thank you" for the perceived freebie.

I'm not positive about the third bullet point, but in the world of PDF patterns, I think it's safe to say that this pattern could have been sold at a range of prices (if not a particularly wide range), given what I've said in the past about the varying prices for zippered pouch patterns.


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The fourth bullet speaks to a condition that is hard to find in this arena. For buyers and sellers to have a strong relationship, designers would have to have sold many, many patterns to many of the same people over a period of time. That's certainly not where I sit.

Finally, I believe the fifth bullet is true, but in this marketplace, it works in reverse. What I mean is that unlike how restaurants have paid competition, my competition is in the abundance of free patterns.

[Actually, if you'll permit me an aside here, there is still an overwhelming belief that most things offered online should be free or cheap. Over the past couple of years, I have been solicited several times online for my consulting services and in all cases — even though my quoted prices are well below the rates that I would work for in the "real world" — there are no responses once I put out my price. It would be an aggravating situation if I were actually trying to make a living, but instead I'm aggravated by the time I waste in responding to these people. I would take down my info were it not for the fact that my "real world" clients need to be able to see samples of my work.]

Anyway, to bring this update to a close, by the end of the week in which I put an actual price on the Bundled Up Bindle Bag, I had sold two of them.

So goes my pricing experiment. Was the result more or less what you had expected?


1 comment:

  1. Interesting to hear how your experiment went, Rochelle. I really didn't know how you would go, but I did expect some of your sales would be actual sales. Too many people now expect something for nothing. I'm sure, as you say, it's due to the anonymity.

    ReplyDelete

You have the power to brighten my day. Leave me a comment; I'd love to hear your thoughts... you can even remain ANONYMOUS! And rest assured that I acknowledge all comments, either here or via email. (That is, if you don't see a response from me here, I would have responded privately to the person. Spam, however, is promptly removed.) Thanks for reading! (✿◠‿◠)