Your opinion on super heavy discounts on MyFonts.

I would like to know your opinion on the heavy 80% discounts that are becoming so popular on MyFonts nowadays.
Did you ever do it? How did it affect the sales *after* the end of such a huge early promotion? Was it worth it? Would you do it again?
Cheers
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Comments

  • I never do it. I think my prices are already reasonable and I don't want customers wondering if they are about to miss a better deal when they purchase a license. The only problem is, because others are offering discounts, potential customers may not realize that I don't and may hold off and wait for a sale that will never come.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 793
    edited March 2013
    The only time I tried a big discount, offering a font for one dollar, nobody bought the discounted font. They bought full-price fonts from the same family, but not the discounted font.

    I don’t expect this trend to last long. Offering huge discounts leads customers to expect heavy discounts, and some simply stop buying anything at full price. Type design takes too much work to support without recurrent income. I also think that this trend has a lot to do with current type styles. It’s easy to poop out one more riff on Alternate Gothic or a bad geometric sans. But it’s hard to poop out something original and well-drawn.
  • I took someone out of my Facebook account for selling large type families for $49. Some discount I think is OK and I do it from time to time, considering my fonts aren't cheap. But I think "super heavy discounts" rather harming for our activity, so people who offer them don't have my sympathy.
  • Seems like a lot of the ones with the big discounts are bundles of fonts that are essentially parts; like a shadow or outline version. Sometimes it seems like their goal is more about being popular than making a living at it. They get a lot of sales, but maybe not so much money. Their customers would likely balk at their prices if they ever raise them on a more serious endeavor.

    The biggest discount that I have ever offered was 50% off. I sold as much after the sale at full price as I did with the sale.
  • Launch a font with a bonkers 80% off sales price because if it sells enough those first six weeks they will put you in the newsletter […]
    Huh. I thought bestsellers were based on revenue, not number of downloads.
  • I once, a few years back set one style of the family free. There where thousands of downloads but nobody bought anything later. So I never bothered trying discounts again.
  • Seems like a lot of the ones with the big discounts are bundles of fonts that are essentially parts; like a shadow or outline version.
    This used to be the case, but now big sans and serif text families are going for $25–50, too. Jackson is correct: it’s a strategy for capitalizing on the MyFonts system. More discussion about this on (gasp) Typophile.
  • I agree with you all. Jackson, I think your point is right on. I think there is an inherent flaw in the way MyFonts evaluate top fonts and rankings which has created this trend which I really think will hurt sales for everybody in the end. I wonder if this has crossed their mind yet.
  • I did this with my first release (50% off). For me, it was an incentive for (and a thank you to) anyone willing to use something from a new foundry.

    I didn’t really expect my typeface to break in to the top 5 Hot New Fonts because it was somewhat specialized (and I didn’t offer it with a smaller character set), not to mention serif text faces don’t seem to sell as well. I could have discounted it to 80-90% and watched it soar to number 2 or 3 but I’d rather sell a few licenses to people that really liked the design and appreciated it than feed my ego.
  • When it's 80% off does the designer get the other 20%?
  • Come on, MyFonts clearly loves these flash-in-the-pan, dirt cheap releases. Sure it hurts long term sales but they don't seem to care about those. Newer. Faster. Cheaper. It's a business model that favors those with a large catalog who can make it up on volume (they have the largest) and is unsustainable for boutique type designers.
  • Nope, always half and half, I believe. So 10% in this case.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 409
    My understanding is that the first font family released on MyFonts in this way -- really deep, time-limited discount -- was Hannes von Döhren's Pluto, and it seems to have been a very successful strategy in that case, hence inspiring a lot of copycat discounts. By successful, I mean that it generated a higher amount of upfront revenue than comparable full-price releases, it generated a good deal of attention, and Pluto appears to have continued to do well on MyFonts at the full retail price. I discussed the actual figures involved with someone at MyFonts last year, but won't divulge them here.

    So I don't think this strategy is necessarily a business model that favours companies with a large catalogue over boutique type designers, as Jackson suggests. I do think it might be an unsustainable model in the long term, though, because the more people who choose to launch their fonts in this way the lower the impact of such discounts in terms of marketing that leads to ongoing sales at the full price.
    _____

    David,
    When it's 80% off does the designer get the other 20%?
    In the case of MyFonts, the price is set by the designer/foundry. I believe MyFonts has rules about sale pricing, in terms of how often and for low long sales may be in effect -- preventing what I think of as Persian carpet pricing after a shop in Vancouver that had 'Going Out of Business Sale' signs in its windows for twenty years --, but otherwise doesn't dictate these things. So I believe a standard MyFonts designer agreement would split the discounted price 50/50, just as it would the full retail price.
  • I would like to know your opinion on the heavy 80% discounts that are becoming so popular on MyFonts nowadays.
    What’s always perplexed me is why these type designers would prefer to incur a marketing cost in the form of ludicrously large discounts, rather than incurring that same cost by making a beautiful type specimen. A specimen encourages customers to judge the font on what makes it special. A discount encourages customers to judge it merely on price. Isn’t the choice obvious?

    Though I’m assuming the font has something special to offer. If it doesn’t, then price IS the only possible differentiation, and the other choice becomes equally obvious. Q.E.D.

    More broadly, I hate to think that the type specimen is a dying art. Aside from MyFonts, even some foundries that sell a lot of product have gotten increasingly perfunctory with their specimens. I've always liked that the Reading type-design program insists that its students make a quality type specimen. It can't be the worst thing in the world for type designers to know how to use their own product well.
  • So I don't think this strategy is necessarily a business model that favours companies with a large catalogue over boutique type designers, as Jackson suggests. I do think it might be an unsustainable model in the long term, though, because the more people who choose to launch their fonts in this way the lower the impact of such discounts in terms of marketing that leads to ongoing sales at the full price.
    This effect is more likely to hurt the foundries way before it hurts MyFonts or FontShop (worth mentioning in this since they arguably started this whole thing with Axel launching at something like 88% off).
  • What’s always perplexed me is why these type designers would prefer to incur a marketing cost in the form of ludicrously large discounts, rather than incurring that same cost by making a beautiful type specimen.
    PDF specimens rarely get downloaded. On the off chance anybody even sees it a great slideshow might entice a viewer to watch two or three transitions. So to really get a specimen noticed one must pay for print. But print is expensive. Junior design jobs often don’t pay well and young designers supplement their income with freelance work, which they can’t do if they’re designing fonts. So I think it’s likely that these young designers haven’t got the money to do much marketing.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 104
    When they first added Hot New Fonts (maybe a decade ago?), I did some of those heavy discounts to see if it would make a difference. It really worked. Like, wow. Even if a font wasn't particularly interesting, I could launch it up near the top of the charts with one of those quick, heavy discount sales. I did it a few times after that but I kind of felt like it was cheating so I stopped.

    While many of the fonts on the Hot New Fonts page certainly deserve to be there, I think the majority are just gaming the system and pushing full price fonts off the bottom of the chart. When I sell a few fonts at $30 a shot, I still can't manage to graze the bottom of the chart. Lucky for me, I don't give a flying fuck, but I don't know if a chart that can be gamed so easily has any value other than raking in cash.

    There are so many beautiful fonts on the chart being sold for full price, it makes me wonder how many other beautiful fonts are hiding beneath the surface.



  • PDF specimens rarely get downloaded.
    Is this your personal experience w/ DTF, James, or have you heard this from other designers as well?

    Jan, thanks for sharing those numbers; it's really helpful.
  • The hot new trend are webpage specimens. They take work and need to be designed well, but there are no printing costs, are more accessible than pdfs, and super appealing to the twitter trendsetters.

    I've had a good response from at: www.theharrietseries.com

    HVD, who did try that 80% thing with Pluto, made a fancy website for their latest release: http://www.hvdfonts.com/brandontext/

    Also worth mentioning the Neue Haas Grotesk site, which is awesome: http://www.fontbureau.com/nhg/
  • Is this your personal experience w/ DTF, James, or have you heard this from other designers as well?
    I noticed it early on and other designers and font vendors confirmed it when I asked around.
    The hot new trend are webpage specimens.
    Web specimens are definitely the way to go. The problem with a PDF specimen is that unless you have a link sitting on a home page it is always at least the second link a user has to click to get to it. If you’ve ever looked at diagrams of users moving through web sites you know that most users don’t hang around for two clicks. And of course you have to get the user to even notice that a link to a PDF exists, which isn’t easy when that link is hierarchically below menus, the BUY THIS FONT button, etc..
  • Shit, I have four sub-pages for both of my typefaces and 90% of visitors never make it past the first. People simply don't click.
  • For what it’s worth, I appreciate and download PDF specimens a lot as they often are the only way to get an idea of a typeface in print, or hand them over to clients. But I agree that they should be as visible and easy to reach as possible (top level of typeface page).
  • Don't mean to sound argumentative, but if you can't get people to click thru to a PDF download, how do you get them to click thru to a dedicated specimen site? How are you getting traffic for your Harriet site, Jackson?
  • how do you get them to click thru to a dedicated specimen site?
    Actually, I think I've neglected to mention the microsite on foundry site. I think of it more as a point of entry from the wilds of the internet.
  • I think most who want to "play" a file not of the web standard, go through two clicks to do so. Don't they?
    The users who show up wanting to go beyond just HTML probably do. But if you want the attention of everybody else a PDF isn’t a great way to do it.
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 191
    edited March 2013
    how do you get them to click thru to a dedicated specimen site?
    Jackson, what do your analytics say? My guess is that Twitter is high on the referrer list. Over time, Google might take its place, with intermittent spikes caused by mentions on popular sites.
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