MyFonts Free Font Friday

Have any designers derived any benefit from being featured on MyFonts Free Font Friday?

One of my families; Remora Sans, is pretty extensive with 5 Medium Italics which are free. When I produced the family I foolishly thought that giving some fonts away for free would be a good incentive for users to buy the uprights. However, on 1st of February MyFonts featured it on FFF, and I was suddenly inundated with downloads for the freebies; nearly 5.5 thousand so far. I thought this would propel Remora Sans straight to the top of the 50 best sellers, and users might actually start *buying* the fonts, but it doesn't even feature. I have had one buyer who bought one upright. It seems Best sellers are based on sales but not downloads.

I don't know if it's coincidence, but this is the worst month ever for sales of fonts at MF.

I think FFF does more harm than good, as there are people who are just eager to get any free fonts every Friday and fewer users are willing to buy fonts as they have been devalued so much.

Needless to say I won't be giving any away in the future as I can't see any benefit from doing so. What do Monotype gain from pushing freebies and hugely discounted stuff? If type designers find it hard to make a living producing quality fonts which take a huge amount of time for little return I'm sure many will just give up and do something else. I know millennials think it's great to work for peanuts and get everything for free, but that doesn't help any economy long-term. I don't understand the business model of Monotype.

Comments

  • Thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds devastating from a point of sales perspective. I think there are more factors involved: your history in producing popular fonts, your establishment as a brand, etc.
    Then I also think it depends on which font cut you give away for free. If it’s the essentials, say, Roman and Italic, or Regular and Bold – those would be all someone needs to set up a website using your fonts, or using them for their print project. I always found this the tricky part – but it probably makes a difference when you are offering just one Italics cut for free, for an example.
    In any case, have you made better experiences with rebates? I see surges in sales and popularity on MyFonts with 50%, sometimes 70% rebates for a very short time. It seems to me quite a large number of customers are intrigued to buy a $195 font family package if its normal value is $650.
  • "Everything is Free Now" Gillian Welch

  • Ray, thanks for sharing so much about your experiences with MyFonts and other retail issues! It is always enlightening, and you have a lot of history here.
  • Cory MaylettCory Maylett Posts: 152
    edited February 14
    As a graphic designer, I had always assumed that most fonts were purchased by people like me — other graphic designers. During the couple of years I've had fonts for sale on MyFonts and elsewhere, I've found my assumptions about who buys them haven't held up. Instead, a big portion of my sales have been larger, multi-seat sales to agencies and various companies. The total monetary return on these sales has dwarfed the individual sales.
    Reflecting on this, it makes sense. Typical designers aren't wealthy enough to buy fonts on a whim simply because they like them. Downloading a free sample probably won't be enough to convince hardly anyone to shell out money for the rest of the family, no matter how much they might personally like it. Instead, freelancers, agencies (in-house or otherwise) buy fonts for specific projects, then bill them to their clients or their company's budgets. Good, well-built professional fonts are just not typically gotta-have-it, out-of-pocket purchases for most designers and amateurs who download freebies.
    I think Ray Larabie has it right. A freebie needs to be looked at as a longer-term marketing strategy that might pay off down the road when that font that's been in the art director's font list for years suddenly becomes the perfect typeface for the project at hand. I suspect that's when the sale will happen, and you'll likely never know that it originated from that promotional freebie given away two or three years earlier.
  • Nikola KosticNikola Kostic Posts: 29
    edited February 14
    I've noticed in the past couple of years a lot of similar posts and questions on this forum, all regarding the work of Monotype. I believe the answer to all those questions could be one thing. It seems to me that Monotype is in the race to the bottom. In order to maximize the profit for a short-term gain they will do whatever it takes, disregarding the fact that it could destroy the type industry "ecosystem". They will squeeze anyone they can to get more money in one quarter. And with their growing monopoly it is easier to put the pressure on independent designers to do whatever they want. You can see the evidence easily: drop in the quality of the service (it seems no one can get a response from foundry support on MF any more), employee layoffs, devaluing the product in order to make a quick buck... I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow they start pushing for lower royalties to designers.
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 361
    edited February 14
    As I stated in a previous topic, for me the market is absolutely saturated. MF are pushing a final sale before the whole ecosystem burns down, which would explain their behaviour. By now I am certain: it is no omission or some feckless staff. It is a cold, calculated move. Similar to how banksters steal people's money from their bank while pretending everything is A-OK.

    The whole things just screams "learn some other skill set" to me. I put a lot of effort into becoming a type designer but to be repeatedly frustrated by MF, pirates and so on seems like a lesson that will be repeated until it is learned. Maybe it's just a dying industry. Certainly not a pleasing concept for what I think I was born to do, but lotsa things are going away and being devalued, from books and reporters to non-technical design skills. On the other hand, programmers seems to still enjoy the awe cloacking their profession, while designers and artist have pretty much lost it. People think that since talent is god-given, this automatically means everything a talented person does should be free. There is no pushing that claim. 

    I have been thinking a lot about the jobs of the future, recently. Technology will make the future cheaper, we will not starve because there are no good type sales - but perhaps 800 mil people will be raised out of poverty in the next 10 to 15 years due to technology. What will happen when they decide they were always meant to be of a creative profession? With the glass already pretty empty?

    Maybe only engeneering and technical jobs will be the high-paid jobs of the future. I do not see nurses, butchers, translators and "influencers" doing that well (by this I mean many professions have hit their cealing, and from the "new tech" ones, well, everybody's doing a startup, it's always unbelieavble and unbeatable, and then most fail. Crowdpooling translators seems to be a thing, too).

    And one final thing. People do not seem to regard owning and selling as the same process as 20 years ago. Much products are in such abundance and so easily available, via Amazon, drones etc., that everybody got lazy and content. Owning a font seems even more unreasonable to many than it seemed before. What's the use of buying a font if somebody will put out something similar and just that good for half the price or free next week? I don't think designer are the ones who buy fonts the most. In actuallity they are the ones best informed where to get resources for free.
  • I’m sorry, but I don’t see it so dire. The image you’re painting has stark colours, but is it a realistic projection?
    I know comparisons with other businesses are flawed. But look at the wine industry, which has been dominated by big corporations for years, giant wineries which saturate the market in the low to mid tear with wine that has been “equalised”, so you get the same taste from a bottle of Californian Zinfandel whether you buy it in New York or in Florida, and it was often not even made at the same estate.
    Still, we have small wineries, we have small farmers who produce excellent wine that has its own audience. They don’t die because they produce unique items you can’t get in the supermarket. They don’t get rich with it either, of course, but they are surviving.
    The market for fonts is not “one market” and it’s not “one community” either. I count myself to the lowest of all no-name contributors. I am like the unpublished author facing the giant bookstores like Amazon and iBooks. Returning to the subject at hand, what’s the best shot I have? Self-publishing and promoting it, and being happy with connoisseurs who will discover and pick up my boutique fonts. I know I won’t sell a lot of them. That’s not why I made them anyway, and I presume that’s true for a lot of us.
  • edited February 14
    One more thing. It is true that big corporations and lobbies dominate the market. What is the one factor that offers a chance to stand out? Creativity and uniqueness. The fonts we can make are the ones big companies would not dare to publish, because they’d calculate a low success rate.
    It’s just the same as with the movie industry. Creativity and uniqueness have dissolved in Hollywood’s blockbuster Marvel/DC machinery. I live in the countryside and the nearest big theatre doesn’t show anything but those superhero movies at the moment. There are no thrillers, no small comedies, no indie films. And yet, I have a feeling there is a lot to come from that direction, it just won’t be distributed through the big machinery.
  • I may be missing some big parts of the puzzle, but I stand by my comment. A business needs to turn a profit, not merely "survive". If a foundry/winery is at the same place finacialy it was ten years ago, what's the point?? Inertion leads to stop.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,405
    I publish one free font at Myfonts, which is downloaded around 10 times a month.
    It doesn’t appear to generate any sales for the rest of the typeface family of which it is a member.
    However, I do believe its presence is a form of publicity for the Shinntype brand, and my best sellers do keep selling steadily.
    That’s the way Free works on the internet.
    (Chris Anderson’s explanations of “Free” in 2009 were a benchmark for my understanding of the internet and ecommerce, clarifying in writing what I had sensed about the phenomenon.)
  • edited February 15
    I may be missing some big parts of the puzzle, but I stand by my comment. A business needs to turn a profit, not merely "survive". If a foundry/winery is at the same place finacialy it was ten years ago, what's the point?? Inertion leads to stop.
    Sure, many companies are in it for the growth. Some are in it because they love doing what they’re doing and they have a feeling of leaving something meaningful behind. Not that fonts are particularly meaningful to the world, but to me the secret is in the craft, not so much in sales numbers. I agree that this is an opinion, but you can see it in many business areas, not just type foundries.
    Book publishers, even the niche ones, also hope for the best sellers within their portfolio. But they won’t stop publishing the gems they believe in, and the driver for that isn’t to finally have a best seller, although that might always be a hope coming with it.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,044
    I publish one free font at Myfonts, which is downloaded around 10 times a month.
    It doesn’t appear to generate any sales for the rest of the typeface family of which it is a member.
    However, I do believe its presence is a form of publicity for the Shinntype brand, and my best sellers do keep selling steadily.
    That’s the way Free works on the internet.
    (Chris Anderson’s explanations of “Free” in 2009 were a benchmark for my understanding of the internet and ecommerce, clarifying in writing what I had sensed about the phenomenon.)
    Nick, we also published a font on Google Fonts. Do you think that helped or harmed or was neutral?
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,513
    When the trial font was an unusual thing, it drew attention and was a differentiator.

    Once it is commonplace, it doesn’t help so much. I suspect trial fonts probably do not increase the amount being spent on fonts, so if everybody does it, it does not give anyone an advantage.

    Something like Typekit may significantly change the size of the pie (total amount of money being spent on fonts)—although whether larger or smaller is another question. But I don’t expect trial fonts to have that kind of effect.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,405
    Dave, I have no idea whether any of the 15,000 web sites that use Bellefair subsequently paid for a licence for any Beaufort fonts. Or whether they are even aware that the typefaces are related—that’s not mentioned at Google Fonts. 

    I don’t do much to publicize my designs. At any rate, Beaufort keeps on selling—most of my sales are from typefaces that came out in the early days of ecommerce, and became established. Getting your foot in the door is the trick, and that’s a complicated mix of font concept and execution, and foundry and distributor pricing, branding and marketing.
  • At Typographic's last year, Peter Bil'ak mentioned that their statistics suggest that every 6th person that tries one of their fonts on Fontstand ends up either renting or buying it.

    Source: https://youtu.be/E7FMiyXjBYc?list=PLTRdhgOnLqbMKfIATXL3UZp9tuK4s98pY&t=810
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 883
    I'm curious about other people's experiences with personal use licenses. It's a very common free font license being offered so i assume it's profitable for someone. Does anyone find it to be a better fit than free commercial licenses? I dabbled in personal use licenses for a short time and wasn't impressed with the results.
  • Andrew WoodAndrew Wood Posts: 42


    My advice for people who are worried about this oversaturation/devaluation: Learn Chinese. Or at least, gather 10 of your type friends and learn how to make Chinese fonts.

    A good Chinese font typically has characters for 50,000 words, I believe. You'll have to create far more than 50k glyphs though, as you'll need both traditional and simplified versions of the characters.

  • Erin McLaughlinErin McLaughlin Posts: 42
    edited March 4
    @Andrew Wood  Yup, I realize it would be a lot. (From my understanding, a font using the standard Big5 (traditional) and GBK (simplified) encodings would be about 50,000)  That's why I suggested getting 10 type friends together. :) 13 glyphs/day and you'll be done in less than a year!

    If you look at where growth is happening in the world (both population and economic), and figure that English is not widely spoken in China, and the fact that there don't appear to be any US/European-based companies that seem to be specializing in this, seems like a legitimate strategy to me. I was being funny in the delivery, but my assessment is completely serious. Could be a huge opportunity.


    @Matthew Smith Ah yes, I forgot about their font rental trial periods. Those are nice since the font isn't stored locally on someone's computer. I'm really surprised that folks trust their fellow human beings enough to give them actual downloadable "trial" font files.  o:)
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,139
    Thanks for the fortune cookie, Erin ;-)
  • Andrew WoodAndrew Wood Posts: 42
    @Andrew Wood  Yup, I realize it would be a lot. (From my understanding, a font using the standard Big5 (traditional) and GBK (simplified) encodings would be about 50,000)  That's why I suggested getting 10 type friends together. :) 13 glyphs/day and you'll be done in less than a year!

    That's still one glyph every forty minutes. Eek! :-)
  • Rob BarbaRob Barba Posts: 40
    edited March 8
    As a graphic designer, I had always assumed that most fonts were purchased by people like me — other graphic designers.
    I thought that for the most part as well, but I recently had an "experience" on Reddit's font subreddit that made me think otherwise.  Basically the designer in question was trying to give away 2300-plus "vital" system fonts that he'd stated had been passed around from designer to designer.

    As someone who is a designer and a type designer, I was floored by that (not to mention that as someone who knows IT, the fact that this guy advised dumping 2300-plus fonts into the systems font folder made me really wonder about how technically savvy he really was, but that's a different story altogether), as it made it clear that at least from his (and the other designers sharing said zip file) perspective, that free fonts were the way to go, even if it meant essential theft.  Purchasing fonts was (and again, I'm presuming) a foreign concept to them.

    Granted, I've seen other designers purchase fonts (and I still give plenty of business myself to other designers whose work I love), but I honestly have to wonder who the true clientele for font purchases are, if the designer in my example is any indicator.
  • I am a member of a user group of Wordpress developers on Facebook. It’s not just developers, but also marketers, photographers, designers, journalists and self-made businesses – the typical mix of people who use Wordpress.
    The group is specifically about using Oxygen, a web-building UI for Wordpress that allows you to design pages with blocks visually. “Uploading a custom font” is a common request, even though Oxygen has access to all Google Fonts.
    In my experience in this group, I can confirm Rob’s observations. It’s not that they don’t know that commercial fonts exist and people buy them, but it is widely considered legitimate to just copy any font and convert it to any format you’d need. I think this stems from the culture of freemium services and hustling – the idea that “free” gets you everywhere these days, and whoever pays for anything is either stupid or doesn’t get it. So to a certain degree, there’s even pride in this culture, which in itself has also often been criticised.
    In this forum of Wordpress/Oxygen users, I have been advising against the practice of uploading fonts you don’t have the license for, and I have been trying to explain that typefaces are both, a property of thought and (as fonts) also software—they are distributed with a license. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t have much effect on those users. And I am not saying it’s all of them. I’m sure to some it’s a new concept and they try to respect it as much they can. Some I talked to switched to different fonts, “free” alternatives they found through Google, Font Squirrel and The League Of Movable Fonts. But even if this group is just a small sample of the public, it is my impression that it somewhat reflects how the public thinks about fonts and licenses. In short, fonts are generally perceived as something ubiquitous that is available for everyone, just like “free” Gmail accounts.
  • Rob BarbaRob Barba Posts: 40
    I guess we'll just have to start putting ads in fonts. Maybe a contextual alternates feature that displays an ad message whenever you reach a certain number of characters in a line, and then disappears when you type a certain number more.
    Sure.  Popups, auto-playing ads and invasive cookies galore!
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,628
    edited March 9
    Some asshole is going to create color fonts with animated SVG ads and our incomes will crash as adblock starts blocking web fonts.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,122
    I was kidding, I hope.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,044
    Erin, there are some. Black Foundry in Paris developed a cjk font for Renault, and presented it at TypoLabs 2018; Positype does Japanese fonts.
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