Pay what you want? Doesn't sound like a business model that would work for artists, right?
Yet it's a model that's becoming increasingly popular with creative entrepreneurs looking to make alternative economic ideas a reality in their business lives.
In the first part of this mini-series on Artists and Money, I looked at how, in the search to find economic models more in line with our life values, an increasing number of creatives of all kinds are experimenting with the role the 'Gift Economy' can play in our marketing mix.
Today, I take a look at how the unlikely model of Pay What You Want can work for artists and creatives.
How does Pay What You Want work?
Pay What You Want (PWYW) is a pricing strategy where buyers pay any desired amount for a given commodity, sometimes including zero. A minimum price may be set and/or a suggested price offered as guidance for the buyer. The buyer can also select an amount higher than the standard price.
Pay What You Want pricing schemes are becoming more popular amongst all sorts of businesses - not just creative ones - from bakeries to software companies. Google the term and you will find various economy and entrepreneur sites around the blogosphere with features on PWYW, mostly with positive reviews.
I’m not suggesting that as artists we start pricing all our creative work according to this model but there are certainly lots of areas where it might prove beneficial.
PWYW pricing for online creative courses and tutorials
The most obvious market for the PWYW model that would work for creatives, is online courses or tutorials.
Any type of educational material you offer that doesn’t require your personal interaction could work under this model. Although the unit sale price might be lower, you might just reach a lot more people.
If you are already using PayPal to receive payments, it’s not difficult to configure a button that let buyers choose between different price options.
Take a lesson from Daily Om
A website that has taken this model to heart is the popular, Daily Om who offer hundreds of online courses in creativity, spirituality, wellness and more from authors as illustrious as Deepak Chopra, Sadie Nardini and Eric Maisel.
All the courses I looked at had the price set at $25 with a drop-down menu option to pay as little as a dollar.
Listen to an interview with The Bookwright, Tom Evans,
about putting his Time Management Course on Sacred Om
Fine Artist Randy Gallegos Hits the Gumroad
Of course, Daily Om is not the only option.
Shannon Ganshorn implemented the PWYW idea on her Etsy shop and I first discovered Dorian Iten's drawing tutorials on Gumroad.
Fine artist, Randy Gallegos, is also using Gumroad hosting and payment service to offer his in-depth video painting tutorial on a PWYW basis.
Randy told me how using this alternative economic model took the stress out of trying to price his tutorial:
"I had struggled a lot with pricing models for the video. I know and am confident about how to price my art, for collectors. I know the value of my artwork. But this video was largely meant for other creatives, so I did have to think about it differently. I don't much like the idea of profiteering off fellow creatives, but I do think that quality resources are worth paying for.
Of course, even if you offer a basic product for free, there is always the option of a higher-priced upgraded version.
(Randy offers iPad-retina-sized files of the final painting and drawing done in the video for personal use to anyone who pays the recommended, price of $19.99 or more.)
KickStarter, skills exchange and discounts for social media sharing
With an ever-increasing number of creatives looking to build careers as soloprenuers, new and exciting economic models for getting our work out there are springing up all the time.
I'd love to hear about the ones you've found to be successful in your own business - especially if you'd like to be featured on the blog!
Have you experimented with PWYW?
Have you bought or sold a product under a PWYW scheme? What do you think of the experience? Would you do it again? Share in the comments!