Do freefonts really work as appetizers?

Andreas Stötzner's picture

I wonder wether freefonts do really perform as appetizers to customers who might eventually buy more or the whole package. The monthly reports are overloaded with hundreds of $00.00-lines (costs a lot of paper when doing accounts).
Also I know that in some cases the give-away helped getting a typeface more polular. But then, does it pay off?
Anyone sharing experience with own freefonts-policy?

k.l.'s picture

This interview gives some hints.

oldnick's picture

No. To all of your questions.

dezcom's picture

Perhaps it is not that the same people who download the freefonts return and buy the paid fonts. It seems to me it is more about how the free fonts may generate traffic to your site and cause a buzz which livens up the marketing ears out in web land. I personally feel that many (if not most?) free font downloaders are only interested in getting things for free.
The point of free font marketing is positioning yourself in the market so that you get brand recognition and can play the hits game better. Resellers like MyFonts use hits and sales to push type vendors work further up the food chain.


blank's picture

The only person I know of who seems to be selling lots of fonts that have appetizers is Jos. Personally I think that this has more to do with his designs being good than with giving away a few free weights. And I don’t see many users clamoring for the giveaways—the people out there asking for free fonts are open-source pundits and web designers who want a lot more than just a free weight here and there. I think that it makes more sense to try and market by offering something people really want. Sell cheap web font licenses on Kernest. Offer heavy discounts to noncommercial users and students who can’t afford or can’t justify an expensive family for a single project with no commercial return.

Garrick Van Buren's picture

Many of the fonts within are free (in all sorts of definitions of the word) - some are not (James' for example). None are available for direct download through Kernest - but they're all cross browser compatible within Kernest. So, it's a different kind of value. Any price above 0 will give you more information about your customers and better customers (if fewer customers).

Founder - Free & Commercial Web Fonts

.00's picture

Most people who gorge themselves on the free appetizers rarely have much of an appetite for the full dinner.

Even less so if they have to pay for it.

"I think I'll just come back when I'm hungry again and see what has been put out for free."

dezcom's picture

I wish the MyFonts guys (Nick?) would chime in and clarify this for me. It appears to me that a free download of a font counts to the database as a transaction in such a way that it counts as a sale in their "Hottest Fonts", "Hot New Fonts", and "Biggest Sellers" algorithm. The point is, if you put a free font as part of a larger family and let the free fonters of the world download it ad nauseam, the zero dollar sale counts as a sale none the less and boosts the type family high up on the lists. Granted, the free fonts net zero dollars but they do push visibility high enough and long enough that the rest of the family shows up as being "Popular" as well.
It is like buying a balloon, you don't pay for the air but nobody sees the balloon very well without it. Out of sight, out of mind.

This does not work for everyone. You still have to have high quality desirable type for sale. The people who pay for type are discerning and won't buy crap just because it is high on some list.


Jackson's picture

Are you basing that theory on anything, Chris?

By my count there are only two foundries with free weights on the 50 best sellers list and only three on the 50 hot new fonts.

dezcom's picture


Just a hunch, I have no facts whatsoever. I was hoping the MyFonts people would step up and straighten me out on this.

Like I said above, it only works when the quality of the type is up to the task. Your average Joe font marketed in this way will go nowhere but the quality and appeal far above average work of a Jos will rise to the task.

The 50 hot new fonts list gives you a 50 day window to move into the longer lasting and more telling "Best Sellers" list. That is a big leap done by only a few. It also depends on who you are marketing to. There are far more hobbyist scrapbookers out there who buy cute illustration fonts from MyFonts than large text superfamilies from MyFonts. The multiuser multi license Superfamily buyers are more likely to buy from a Font Beaureau or a FontShop than at MyFonts.


Jackson's picture

The whole MyFonts scrap bookers thing.

It's not really on topic and I'm not completely disagreeing with you, but 35 of the 50 best sellers there are arguably multi-weight, at-least-some-what traditional sans or serif families.

dezcom's picture

I am not saying that they are not also there, I am just saying I am saying that there marketing strategy is different. They do much more marketing outside of MyFonts and have a multifront attack going. The scrapbooker audience is a different breed than the traditional type audience.


paragraph's picture

My free font downloads do not count towards anything on MyFonts, AFAIK. Definitely not for Starlets, Hot New Fonts or such. Wrong tree, Chris.

dinazina's picture

I'm a self-employed graphic designer, I have mostly small jobs, and therefore limited funds for fonts.

Speaking for myself - any font with a free weight that was obviously a quality font family, I ended up buying other weights - IF each was less than $21. It got my attention. I felt I got a deal.

Otherwise I'd wait til the font was on special at MyFonts. Some never are, of course.

Museo, Museo Sans, Galette, Paragraph, Paracaps, Tenby, Sovba are the ones I'm thinking of.

I like Cora free weight a lot, but I can't spend $35 each for the other weights, so I end up never using it.

Jos Buivenga's picture

For me free fonts means free advertising for me. It's all about awareness. The more people know about my typefaces, the more people are likely to buy one or two. That also means that I can make my fonts affordable for a larger audience (as you can read from Dina's comment above).

Chris, free "sales" are not counted for any of MyFonts lists.

dezcom's picture

Thanks for clarifying that, Jos!


Jos Buivenga's picture

You're welcome, Chris :)

dirtcastle's picture

I would guess it is a function of the demographics of who buys fonts.

If it is savvy designers on a budget, the answer is probably that free fonts have little effect on a purchase at the time of downloading the free font.

But I agree that free fonts on the level of Museo definitely create a buzz within the typography community, which then generates lots of links and promotion on typography sites (which is how designers find fonts).

dinazina's picture

A little OT: I've been using the two Museo fonts frequently, now that I have several weights.

Museo Sans looks so clean and legible as text - I wondered why. I had thought the common wisdom was to never use a geometric for text, cause it'll "look like Swiss cheese" with all those little circles.

I see now, although the "o" is a perfect circle, the other rounded letters are slightly narrower. So, to my eye, Museo Sans text harmonizes well with other geometric display fonts, and doesn't have the "circle problem".

I have learned so much from Typophile and MyFonts. Two years ago I used nothing but the OS and Adobe fonts I had installed, plus a bunch of free ones of limited usefulness. My main interest was illustration and graphics - I was ignorant about the history and proper use of type. I never learned anything about typography from the free sites.

Now I'm slowly building a professional font library.

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