Obox Signature Series - $50 for pure quality

Why is the Blogging World so Nice?
Posted on 24 March, 2009 at 16:55 PM There are already 20 Comments

About the Show

David and Marc ask you, the viewers, why everyone in the blogging world is always willing to share and give away products.

Why aren't we tougher? Why do we just keep giving ourselves away?

We would love to hear your thoughts.

User Comments

Aaron Irizarry's Gravatar

Aaron Irizarry    24 Mar, 2009 17:13:55 PM

I think that you have to find balance, if you spend a lot of time creating a theme, or a texture, you definitely have the right to charge for it.

When it comes to knowledge ( like "css tips", or "how to's") I think that it is awesome when people share their knowledge for free, it helps other get better at what they do.

I have realized that it is not so much the quantity of visits but the quality of visits( at least for me) that make spending the time on my blog worth it. I think that the more giving I am it will come back to me, and the more I help others... more than likely i will get a nice return on that investment ( helping others, and myself at the same time).

Keep doin what your doin guys... we definitely appreciate our contributions.

~ Aaron I


Mark Forrester's Gravatar

Mark Forrester    24 Mar, 2009 17:17:30 PM

Great vid guys.

Don't be afraid of charging for your theme!

How are you guys going to deal with all the support queries you'll get? And trust me you'll get! People can't expect to be getting a free theme with free support. At least charge for a support package.

I'll happily pay for a service/product that brings value to me. I have a Flickr Pro account, Lastfm account, Skype Pro account, etc.


Dan's Gravatar

Dan    24 Mar, 2009 17:20:33 PM

This comment will cost ya a couple of beers... and the possible float I'll give you on twitter!


Aaron Irizarry's Gravatar

Aaron Irizarry    24 Mar, 2009 17:23:24 PM

@Mark Forrester I definitely agree about paying for a service that brings value.


David Perel's Gravatar

David Perel    24 Mar, 2009 17:46:09 PM

@Aaron - Don't worry mate. We aren't going anywhere anytime soon!!

I sought of agree with regards to free knowledge but I must be honest that when I entered the blogging world last year I was amazed at how freely everyone 'gave' it away. In racing knowledge is lap time is money. Which is the same case here but we still tend to give it away, sometimes too easily and FtC is just as guilty for that.

That is not to say it is a bad thing, infact it is a good quality that I believe is quite unique to our world. But its still strange in some ways.

@Mark - Thanks dude, the first theme is free... the next five are going to be quite expensive. We will be setting up support forums soon and the lucky 40 people who will win the first theme will probably get free support as well. After that... it's charge time (which was always the plan I suppose).

@Dan - Lol! Send me your address so we can send the beer... although I think it may be a bit warm by the time it gets to your side!!!


John Loudon's Gravatar

John Loudon    24 Mar, 2009 17:57:49 PM

I think that the reason we are all so nice is because many of the web designers fear asking for money. There is so many mixed experience levels out there that when people say anything there's always 40 guys that will jump in with the better answer.

So people don't charge, Example:

The other day my friend and I where chatting about a blog, a guy wanting to charge for adobe Photoshop tutorials and effects. First thing that came to his mind was why not just do a tutorial then post I'll show you how to do this for free so all the traffic filters out of that site into his own. We all compete for want of a better word we can't really add value to a lot of stuff.

On another note; about traffic

I think the best thing about having the traffic is people knowing you before you get there, if for example you have 45,000 hits on Deviantart and it was favourited 5000 times, then to a client or employer you are valuable, we all seek the hits as it drive our name forward. This industry works on two things who you know and what you know.

Traffic is important to the modern web designer. Without all the back links and social networking we are lost among the countless web designers out there not getting picked up on Google best simply they don't know how...

Anyhow rant over :P sorry for the super long post. John


Sam's Gravatar

Sam    24 Mar, 2009 22:57:51 PM

I think a lot of the "giving stuff away for free" comes back to the open source community. We get Wordpress for free, so a lot of people don't feel quite right charging for additions to it (themes, plugins, etc).

Also, I think when people first start, it's a case of "well, this is my first theme, it might not be up to scratch with other pay themes, so I'll give it away for free to judge the reaction to it".


Rob MacKay's Gravatar

Rob MacKay    25 Mar, 2009 01:31:45 AM

Nice vid - there are times when I think I'm so lucky to be getting certain items free - like Wordpress for example...

I dunno why we are like this, I suppose if we have the time, we enjoy it and its not effecting the fact that we are living off beans on toast everyday, the question should be why not?

It's great promotion for yourself - it shows of your abilities, its almost like a living portfolio I suppose... I think there is a definite balance, as was mentioned above - and I would hope that most people wouldn't expect to keep getting things for free... mans gotta eat... :)

I see no harm in it, as long as you arnt killing yourselves to just give something away for the hope that more people will visit your site and give you bigger revenue on your site adds. For professional exposure, its almost like a sample, a tactile way of exploring your abilities - instilling more confidence in your clients in your capabilities to get the job done.


Colorburned's Gravatar

Colorburned    25 Mar, 2009 08:59:39 AM

Very compelling webisode guys. I don't know why everyone is so nice. You'd think that everyone would be tearing eachother's hair out competing for traffic and ad revenue but for whatever reason this isn't the case. Blogging seems to be unique in that the quality of content seems to be better when everyone cooperates with each other. The more cooperation, the better the content. The better the content, the more visitors. The more visitors, the more ad dollars that come in. You do bring up some good points; that more traffic ultimately leads to more bandwidth and higher costs but I think that if you're doing a good job with your site and running it effectively that you should be able to make a small profit, while gaining some exposure and contributing to the design community at the same time.


Rich97's Gravatar

Rich97    25 Mar, 2009 14:42:33 PM

Not just the bogging community.

What about all of the free help in forums, people that help you rewrite your scripts. Or the peeps on twitter that spend hours tweeting interesting articles they found that bloggers posted so their peers can learn. Or even IRC for you mega geeks out there. :P

It's a symbiotic relationship. The reason the web is such fast moving and ever changing medium is because we help each other, the whole point of the web is to share information freely. Contacts you build will also share work when they have too much. It's not like there is a shortage of work either, it's effectively advertising and branding and business will always need work on that.

It's not like we don't get anything back from what we give. This is why I like this business. I feel like it has a soul and is not full of people who only care about money and don't give a crap about anyone else. :)


Rich97's Gravatar

Rich97    25 Mar, 2009 14:49:11 PM

Or we are all just losers with no friends and have turned to the internet to make us feel loved...

(sobbing)

...not me though...**snif**...yeah, I have loads of friends...see them all the time...**snif, snif**


liam's Gravatar

liam    25 Mar, 2009 15:00:32 PM

Quick point on the topic. Imagine you're running a restaurant, and to promote the place you give away free food for the first week. It's great, everyone is happy you are fully booked and you get nothing but great comments.

A week later you're free promotion ends, and nobody is in your restaurant, because in actual fact your food is awful. But when someone is given it free they have nothing but nice things to say and will gladly visit day after day to take your freebies.

The only way for you to gain more customers is to improve your overall quality and convince people that your food is worth paying for.

- I guess the point I'm trying to make is, don't be fooled into thinking that your product is good, or people are willing to pay for anything you throw at them just because they enjoy your free stuff. Success from premium resources is something that I think takes time, and is a very unfair environment, but I think you can build your products and your reputation to a point where people are more at ease to spend money (WooThemes & Envato Marketplaces for example) - Their success has a lot to do with the reputation for quality & support they have built up.


Marc Perel's Gravatar

Marc Perel    25 Mar, 2009 15:12:13 PM

@Rich97 - Don't worry we'll br your friends, oh hang on we're on the internet... :P (lol at your comment, nice one)

@Liam - I hear you on that point, when something is given free it's great because it's taken for what it is a "freebie" if you may. As soon as someone's money is on the line... Well then it can be another story.


David Perel's Gravatar

David Perel    25 Mar, 2009 15:23:53 PM

@Rich97 - Hahahahahaha!!

@Colorburned - Welcome to our comments section dude! I fully agree with you on the points you make.

We are all trying to gain exposure and the only way to do that is to start being a bit 'nicer'. I have realized that as people get more comfortable with their surroundings, their hits and their community that there can be a tendency to ignore the cool peeps around us.

@Liam - Spot on mate, just coz you giving stuff away for free does not mean it rocks the house. I always believe that the stuff you give away for free must be some of your best work. Otherwise you are shooting yourself in the foot.


Brad C's Gravatar

Brad C    25 Mar, 2009 16:31:10 PM

Speaking from personal experience I find that giving out something for free (in my case I'm giving out content) it brings in more traffic and more people who are looking for web design or illustration work.

Because of the traffic from my blog and comic strip I get more project work then any one person can do. That lets me pick and choose the best projects and charge a higher hourly rate for my work. To me giving something away for free is smart marketing. If I bought an ad on a popular site I wouldn't get nearly the return I do just writing a quality blog post for that same site.


tmth's Gravatar

tmth    26 Mar, 2009 02:32:45 AM

I think OpenSource type of thinking is the drive. I think the return is greater when given something away for free than charging. For example, big projects like WordPress are good because they are freely available so more people get to play around with it and contribute back. Why would i want to work on a code and contribute back while having to pay for it?

I would not mind at all paying for some of the things that are free today. In fact, i am often feel ashamed of not giving something back after using the resources. But where i live i have no opportunity to send money. I can't get a credit card, there are no CC alternatives here etc etc etc. If the information out there would not be free i would not be able to learn web development myself. But because information was available i am now able to contribute back, for example at Experts-Exchange PHP zone. I answer questions and share code that i spent long time working on with nothing in return. I am able to help others because "they" helped me. So by giving away whatever it may be (knowledge, work, etc) you are broadening yourself with help from others (may be its not immediate overnight return but its definitely there)


David Perel's Gravatar

David Perel    27 Mar, 2009 15:12:48 PM

@Brad C - Wow! Stoked to have you commenting on From the Couch. Your cartoons are awesome dude. I am totally on your wave length with regards to clients coming through the site. Without our 'very nice' From the Couch we would be out of business.

Speaking of paying for advertising... I agree too. We have personal experience with that. It is better to give a little something away instead of paying for ad space. Ad space has a shelf life on websites.

@Tmth - Excellent points. But If wordpress was a paid item then they would definitely have the money to invest in more clever people to make wordpress better. So its a catch 22 and I suppose it depends on the what the aims of your niceness are. For us its about branding, for others its about community. And if you achieve those objectives then it wasn't for free, it was worth the effort and the 'pay-back' was worth it.


Ricardo's Gravatar

Ricardo    29 Mar, 2009 23:15:25 PM

I don't know about the rest of you guys here, but whatever i know about php, css, javascript, html, xml.... you name it, I owe it to the kindness of strangers.

Why did they do it? Why did they made this content available for free for us to learn and know better? I know why I share my knowledge though, I pay it forward.

I cannot thank enough those who devised all the hacks and the techniques, all the libraries and the frameworks, the reset pages, the design and programming patterns... I don't know much, but what little I know I share, hoping that maybe they will teach someone else and even me.

I leave you with a quote: "Docendo disco, scribendo cogito" (I learn by teaching, think by writting).


Tracey Grady's Gravatar

Tracey Grady    31 Mar, 2009 04:10:20 AM

FREE!!! It's one of the most compelling words around (with or without the exclamation marks after it). With the massive growth of websites offering free content, it's now very easy to get something for nothing.

What the site owner gets in return is lots of traffic, buzz, backlinks, and hopefully a big boost in search engine rankings. Brad is right, it's a smart marketing move, and it's very encouraging to hear how well it's worked for him. He's not alone. The model of offering free content in order to promote paid services is one I've seen work very effectively for many designers, developers and other providers online.

Liam also makes an excellent point about the model of offering free content to promote premium content (e.g. Wordpress themes). If the free content is below par, there's no reason for prospective buyers to feel good about your premium content, either.

I think that the abundance of free, good quality advice and download material online these days raises the bar for everyone: do your best work because if you don't, you'll be quickly overlooked in favour of the hundreds of others who are putting out their best.


Tom Ross's Gravatar

Tom Ross    01 Apr, 2009 03:08:05 AM

Hey guys, really good episode, and I'm loving your overall site.

I agree with most of the comments here, but personally for me I've found giving stuff away for free is a great way to earn cash. At PSDFAN I've managed to build up a relatively large amount of traffic which wouldn't have happened if I'd been selling my content. I've just integrated a freemium model, so this acts as further reward for my time/effort. To be honest, my main reason for giving content away for free is that I prefer success to money. I know that many people judge success by purely financial means, but obviously not everyone does otherwise we'd all be plugging affiliate links for crap we didn't like and trying to earn a quick buck. I'd rather have the million fans than 1000 paying subscribers, so long as I was financially comfortable.

My second reason is that it is easier to be nice, than to not be. I try to act online as I would offline, and helping others out, doing favors etc... is easier and more rewarding than trying to hustle everyone. People will respect you more if you genuinely care about them.

A web app I've got in development is aimed at taking this middle ground between people helping each other, and people benefitting themselves. I think this middle ground is important, as if you're all help and no reward, you'll just end up being poor and feeling used.