Yet Another Freebie Post

I was about to comment on another blog, but I’m way past due posting here. And well… I can write more now. So live with it.

The problem isn’t the existence of freebies – high quality or not-, it’s the sheer amount of them. The daily freebies. The endless amount of hunts. Large amount of items inside 1 lucky chair. And all of this apparently needs to be advertised as much as normal releases.

Never ending one-upmanship is what caused it. Designer 1 sees designer 2 put out new freebies once a month, so designer 1 does 2 a month. Designer 3 sees this and steps it up to once a week. Every hunt has to better/larger/more important than all the previous ones. And of course everyone has to be in as many hunts as possible.

What people failed to realize in this mess is what the point of freebies are and what happens in the long run.

1. Freebies are an advertising tool. A lot of people complain that the issue is the high quality of the freebies, but throwing your worst work around the grid isn’t really going to get new customers. This is to target potential paying customers to come buy something, so what is the bloody point of updating them so often?

2. Lucky chairs drive traffic without resorting to bots. If it didn’t work, people wouldn’t do it. But with the increase in hunts, freebie releases, group gifts and picks rewards few will even bother standing around waiting for that item.

3. Demos. How many times have you seen something on the feed or in the store and thought it looked awesome, but once you put it on there were massive quality issues? Many times it’ll look great in the picture, but like ass on the avie. Photoshoping the ads (never understood why taking extra time to fix it in the ad instead of fixing the item in the first place), lighting issues, no side shots to show the seams and probably other shit I can’t think of right now. A quality freebie can give potential paying customers who somehow found your store an idea of how good your stuff for sale is.

4. Customer appreciation. Loyal customers should be given something, but what that is depends on the creator. I hear a lot of talk about going through your transaction histories and I stop reading. I’ve got almost 5 years of them. No thanks. Personally I think this is where it’s getting out of hand at. The idea that giving away more than your competitors do is going to take their paying customers. Might be true in some cases, but people buy what they want and it’s not just for the perks. If you want to steal their customers, do better work. Or ya know *gasp* something different.

5. It keeps noobs around long enough to be invested enough to start buying stuff.

Freebies have their place, obviously. But it’s gotten out of control on both sides of the fence.

If you put out constant freebies, where is the incentive for people to buy anything from you? In this economy, fewer and fewer have the ability to care about the specifics. That free skin you sent out doesn’t have the stigma it used to and if it’s not the exact make-up someone was looking for, there just isn’t as much of a need to go buy the one that they wanted.

The Entitlement Mindset
This isn’t a new thing or just a SL thing. It’s why we are in this economic fuckup. The idea that we are entitled to something when we did nothing to get it. And honestly, it goes both ways.

Buying and selling is a symbiosis. Customers want new stuff to buy and creators want compensation for the time spent. Neither is more important than the other. If there wasn’t any decent crap to buy, people would rather quickly trickle out into the real world or a better virtual one. We can tout how creating is this amazing process and we only do it for the love of it, but without some type of compensation that really only lasts about a year. It’s not easy work by any means and keeping the stamina needed is rather difficult.

We as creators are partly to blame for this issue. Look at the blogs, the amount of fuss for a freebie release is about the same – and generally more often than – a new release. Putting something out for free and treating it the same way you would something you charge for is only encouraging a mindset of everything should be free.

Complaining about prices being too high on an item that rarely costs $1 or lack of freebies isn’t really any different than complaining that not everyone who picks up a freebie buys something. Just because you put something out for free, doesn’t entitle you to get a sale. Just because you make something, doesn’t mean people have to pay for it. And just because one person puts out their hard work for free doesn’t mean everyone else should too.

Why a boycott/ban/whatever won’t work
Because those who did the most creating the problem, aren’t going to join. People who use overly aggressive business tactics generally aren’t joiners. You can scare them all you want to about being banished from the cliques, but most don’t care about them. Not to mention they probably aren’t all reading your plurk/blog/whatever.

It’s going to seriously anger the customers who like freebies and feel your annoyance to the percentage of people playing the freebie game is directed at them.

People who only stopped by your store to pick up the freebies, just aren’t going to stop by anymore.

People will still complain to you about something, it’s just in their nature. It has nothing to do with freebies or your high prices or whatever else you may think. They are having a bad day and feel the need to take it out on someone. Get over it.

Solution?
There really isn’t one to the overall problem of saturation. It’s just going to get worse unless everyone changes. Everything is oversaturated. Blogs, fashion shows, sales, freebies, releases, and other stuff I can’t think of right now. At one point in time they really meant something, but it’s seriously diminished now.

But it doesn’t mean freebies should stop all together. They have their place. Thing is that it’s only a piece of the puzzle that is the current SL economic state. It’s one of the many factors including: huge increase of creators, rapid releases, fucked real world economy, inflated traffic, inflated classifieds, recycling ideas, copybot, copyright/trademark infringement, shady biz practices and the seemingly impossible task of reaching that 95% of the residents who just don’t read the blogs.

If you really want to take action, seriously take a look at how many freebies you are giving out and what you are using it for. Once a day is overkill. Sorry. Weekly? Still a bit of overkill. Strike a balance between what is fair for both sides and that makes sense with what you are selling. Skins are typically not a bulk item, so sending out a freebie with every update is probably hurting you.

While freebies are a good marketing tool, you don’t have to use it and it’s not the only one out there.

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18 Responses to “Yet Another Freebie Post”

  1. ♥JellyBean♥ Says:

    Oh my gosh – Welcome back Luscious Luth! ❤ Great post!

  2. i personally think that freebies like any other thing one does in their business should be part of a well thought out plan. i have given “gifts” to my customers since my FIRST sale, i used to send EVERY customer a thank you and a gift, i was so appreciative as i just was brand new and was really happy! i made something to give as a gift, but it was part of wanting to “thank people” and give them something they couldn’t buy.

    i’ve change how i give gifts over the last 3 years, sometimes not giving out “gifts” at all but discounting things, i just sorta “read” where my customers are at and try to make it fun, different, and sometimes there is a “gift” (like last night) sometimes not, i personally don’t hunt for free things, but a lot of people do. i’m sure maybe if i didn’t create i would.

    in some ways, so many freebies make me think more people will buy as who wants to wear the same free stuff everyone has?

    i don’t know how it effects the SL economy… but anyway, some good points in your post.

    it will be interesting to see what happens as we keep growing as a world.

  3. “in some ways, so many freebies make me think more people will buy as who wants to wear the same free stuff everyone has?”

    That used to be true, but not anymore. So many freebies = not everyone has them. Constant new freebies = not everyone has every freebie.

  4. Freebie finds are now almost a badge of honor. Being able to put a look together with free and bought items will just garner you compliments from your buddies. They may ask you where you got it and go pick it up themselves.

    This is a totally different mentality than years ago, when you were “slumming it” if you wore freebies. Today’s freebies are often mistaken for full price items. You could literally get a new freebie every day of the week, or mix and match them enough, that you wouldn’t ever have to wear the same look twice.

    That’s the problem right there. Not the freebies themselves, but the quantity of them.

  5. I agree with moo. I never really thought of it that way, but she’s right. Freebies used to be for boobs and we could always spot them a mile away. I occasionally give out freebies for big holidays mainly because that’s the only time I have to spend on stuff I’m not going to make money off of. I have a full time rl job, so sl is more of a hobby for me, but I still need to pay for my sim and would rather not do it out of my paycheck…I got off topic. Freebies aren’t evil, there just needs to be less of them. And will someone please come up with an alternative to a hunt? I liked the locos pocos one and I don’t even remember what I found. It was just a fun game to play. I got really off topic, chalk it up to lack of sleep and inability to stop typing……………………

  6. um…boobs=noobs *facepalms*

  7. I was wondering where you got freebie boobs, Colleen… 😀

  8. Actually, it would be quite easy to figure out who your best customers are from your transactions, at least on Linux and OSX. The transaction history is available as xml which is marked up text and easily manipulated by the standard tools, like “uniq” in a terminal

    cat SL-transactions04_06-05_06.xml | grep resident | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr | head -n 30

    As for freebies, they’re fine in moderation but what we’re seeing in SL these days is no moderation. Personally I think “everday low prices” and discounted items via sales/coupons/frequent buyer programs would be better marketing tools.

  9. Well said, Luth.
    It shouldn’t be Christmas every day but you don’t banish Christmas altogether.

  10. Aderyn Verwood Says:

    I really don’t get this ho-hum about too many freebies and too many freebie releases. If content creators want to give out something for free, it’s their business and they have to deal with the consequences of it, and all other creators *should* care less about it.
    If creator A decides to give out a daily freebie, they are either going to put a damn lot of work into it, or they give out poorer quality, because in the long run you cannot keep tossing out high quality items at such frequency without putting some effort into it. In either case, it is ultimately their loss and their decision, and content creator B and C neither have to follow this nor to even care about what they do.

    Maybe -*gasp*- there is a mentality problem not only on the side of freebie hunters, but also on the side of creators, because it looks as if some people (not all, not even most) have a huge problem with the fact that someone did indeed get a gift, got something really nice without paying for it. Oh no, that can’t be, it’s surely going to be the end of it all… I’m sorry to say it, but that strikes me as the same mentality as that of well-off people who complain about medical aid for those on wellfare. They cannot stand it if people get something they haven’t “earned.”

    I do take a look at the freebie blogs and if I see something I like, I get it. There are a couple of shops I’d never have heard of if not for the freebies they gave away, and if I like the freebie and what they have in the shop, I usually come back and buy something. I treat freebies both as a nice gesture and as a free demo in regards to content quality, because you can be certain that if I buy something of questionable quality for a lot of money, that was the last time I have been your customer.
    There certainly are idiots with a sense of entitlement, but guess what? They do exist everywhere, RL or SL. I work at a library in RL and some of the customers start complaining the moment they take their coats off; they don’t even take the trouble to try themselves or to ask for help if they can’t find something, but just march up to the service desk and let out a tirade. And the same way it is with freebies – there are people who appreciate them, and people who will always find something to complain about, no matter what. And the latter will not change their attitude just because you stop offering certain services.
    Nobody forces a creator to give out freebies or to participate in hunts, and in fact there are creators who do neither (nor do they have lucky chairs/ boards or anything like that) and still have not gone out of business, so don’t give me the “we are forced to do so in order to keep up with our competitors” argument. Nor does anyone force any individual to participate in hunts. If it is not your thing to do, please be so kind and ignore it instead of spoiling the fun for those who would like to hunt by bitching and starting yet another debate about the oh-so-spoiled freebie gatherers.

    What I don’t really get is this sense of unfair treatment on the side of those who complain about people who like and use freebies. Almost every week you can read a comment about it somewhere which gets published to the feeds, and every few months it spawns a huge discussion about the topic, as if this was the single cause and reason for what is perceived as the decline of the SL fashion industry.
    There already are plutocratic tendencies in this scene, at least as far as blogs are concerned. Again, not everyone is that way, but some bloggers and creators seem to like the idea of turning SL fashion as elitist and exclusive as its RL pendant; it has long morphed into an enterprise of it-items and exclusive limited editions. Sometimes when reading the feed I cannot fight the impression that some members of the fashion industry exhibit a behaviour akin to the antics of a spoilt celebrity, their blogs being windows into an online existence which happily mingles the ingredients of reality TV, lifestyle magazines and gossip sites. And of course it is something completely different if creator A drops a free review copy on them this week or creator B offers them an advance sneak peek of their soon-to-be-released items, because apparently personal relations with said creators earn you the right to receive and enjoy gifts, while gifts given out to the general public are to be shunned. It seems a gift is only a good gift if you can have it for yourself alone only and don’t have to share it with others.
    I can only stress that none of this is written out of bitterness or jealousy – it is only SL, after all. But all these people who wouldn’t be caught dead wearing an ordinary freebie or who condemn the people who appreciate a freebie because they don’t have the financial means to pump as much money into their avatars’ appearance as others, all these people just should shut the fuck up (pardon my language), take a deep breath and think for a moment about what they are complaining about and if they aren’t guilty of doing doing the same on a different level.

    Other than that, I happen to agree with CronoCloud Creegan. My first venturing out into this online world called Second Life was in 2007, but eventually I quit and only came back very recently. During hat time, the average price for hair has gone up by about a third or even half of what was customary then, and it’s not the only section of the fashion industry where you get to pay more. In some cases, I have bought the same item both in spring 2008 and spring 2009, except that in 2009 the price had gone up by 20%, with no changes made to it at all. No new texture, no altered shape, no additional time spent on it – the exact same thing it was.
    I understand that designers need to pay for land or rent, for vendors and advertisements and all of that stuff, and that they want a compensation for RL time put into it. I’m more than willing to invest money into well-made objects. Yet, and that also plays into my comment about trying to become an exclusive and elitist brand in SL, if you think you can get away with charging high prices, fine, but in the end your financial survival does not depend on the number of “elite” blogs your items appears on, but on the number of ordinary customers like me, without blogs and with a budget, who come and purchase your goods. And I simply have limits financially and am much less willing to put my money down where I am seen as an “unworthy” target group. Maybe a discussion about price politics in SL would be rather called for than a freebie discussion.

  11. Aderyn Verwood Says:

    Oh, and just to clarify: I have nothing against review copies. Some of the blogs I like very much do use them – they just do not happen to complain about freebies for the general public.

  12. colleen Criss Says:

    Aderyn Verwood Says:
    “Yet, and that also plays into my comment about trying to become an exclusive and elitist brand in SL, if you think you can get away with charging high prices, fine, but in the end your financial survival does not depend on the number of “elite” blogs your items appears on, but on the number of ordinary customers like me, without blogs and with a budget, who come and purchase your goods. And I simply have limits financially and am much less willing to put my money down where I am seen as an “unworthy” target group.
    Maybe a discussion about price politics in SL would be rather called for than a freebie discussion.”

    Well said actually in todays RL economy we have people who can not afford luxuary , some are losing thier job so eventually they will also lose….thier homes, internet connections , some already have friends drop off the radar daily….and where does that leave SL economy?

    Do I think a desginer should be paid well for a creation, of course I do. Do I think a designer should offer a *gift*? I think thats up to them thier personal choice, does not mean I won’t shop there if they do or they don’t.

    Remember this though, we all came in a noob, many did not hit the grid running , they learned to create and I’d venture a guess had a few freebies in the inventory and were glad to have anything other then LL’s look. I see also in my inventory that quite a few designers tossed in nice avatars as LL’s free inventory.

    Its wise to never forget where you came from I think.

  13. I have a friend in Austin who has just joined SL. We have spent the last couple days “freebie hunting” simply because she is not ready to invest real world money in a game she has yet decided to stay a part of. What would we do without the option of freebies.

  14. silver milneaux Says:

    “who wants to be caught wearing the same freebie as everyone else”

    I (guilty) DO hunt for freebies, the ones I like. but it is SO DISGUSTING to be caught in the exact same dress/hoorenbeek some nylon trainers as other random freebie hunter in a store giving out freebies!!! omg.i have never worn the hoorenbeek nylon trainers, and i never ever wear free clothes when i’m going around to get the freebies. and I ALWAYS see some girl who changed into the freebie clothes, standing next to the box she got the freebie from. and i saw some girl wearing the poofy azul free dress with random socks and trainers. wat.

    yes the whole thing has made me spend way more money in SL because I DON’T WANT TO LOOK LIKE EVERYONE ELSE/ have whatever’s on my body recognized as something 2983127821367 other people have in their inventories and got free. it’s also made me appreciate designers so much more and i’ve found amazing stores i bought huge quantities of retail priced items from just because I appreciated the quality of their freebie.

    the whole system is just being abused by disgusting inconsiderate noobs but i believe it is somewhat boosting traffic and sales for designers. somewhat. if the freebie is good people like me definitely go back to buy more non-free gorgeous items.

  15. colleen Criss Says:

    silver milneaux Says:
    “the whole system is just being abused by disgusting inconsiderate noobs ”

    Taps on the screen…..are you serious ! Did you hit the grid looking like America’s Next Top Model? None of us did. But its you money convert you’re lindens as you wish but serioulsy disgusting inconsiderate noobs is a bit over the top.

    • silver milneaux Says:

      oh lol sorry no, I just meant the “disgusting” ones who complain about the freebies and are really rude in local chat in the store and give freebies a bad name. I should have phrased my comment better, I remember being angry because I met one of them in a store who was complaining in local chat about the freebie.

      wow that was a really incoherent comment I wrote back in May haha. and I definitely do agree that we are all noobs/were once noobs!

  16. >>Lucky chairs drive traffic without resorting to bots. If it didn’t work, people wouldn’t do it. But with the increase in hunts, freebie releases, group gifts and picks rewards few will even bother standing around waiting for that item<<

    I don’t know about that one – have you ever been to the lucky chair at Crimson Shadow? Katatonik? Black Canary? Belle Belle? It gets crazy in there, people standing for HOURS waiting for their letter, even with the calling in of friends and/or alts. And some people don’t actually want to spend the time and just go buy the prize, if it is available for purchase. Lucky chairs are still very much in demand, and so are midnight mania boards.

  17. I love freebies. I pick them up whenever I find them, although I don’t go hunting for them (often).

    Of course, 90% of them I will never wear. Some because there turned out to be a very good reason why they were given away free (and a lot of high-price outfits are not worth more than those), some because they simply don’t fit my style, and some because they have sunk without a trace in the big compost heap that was my inventory.

    In a way I think I must be the ideal freebie-hunter: If I like the freebies, I am far more likely to buy full-price stuff from that designer. If the freebies aren’t to my taste, I will look somewhere else.

    I also prefer freebies to demos – the freebie might not be exactly what I was after, but at least i can wear it for a while and find out how I like it over time. I can’t do that with a big “DEMO” sign over my head – or stamped on my forehead for that matter.

    As to “disgusting inconsiderate noobs” – yes, some noobs are disgusting, some are inconsiderate, some are both, and some are neither. Just like everyone else, really.

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