Why I’m Giving My Book Away for Free

Values: the common beliefs of a segment of people about what is good and rightWhy am I giving my book away instead of charging for it?

The answer to that question  lies in the answer to another.

Who is Kirsten McCulloch?

And why does she run this website?

Well, dear reader, I do it for you, and for me. For the planet; and for my kids.

Last year I took a voluntary redundancy from my job, so I could focus on what I really care about:

helping people create a safer, healthier world.

What I have to give

When I sat down early in 2013 and looked at my site and who reads it, and where my own expertise lies, I realised that the people I can help are people who already care about some of the same issues as me, but are struggling with some aspects of living a less toxic or more sustainable life.

People who, just like me, may be struggling to make ends meet, without adding the cost of organic produce to their grocery bill.

People who are working or spending their days looking after children (which is working, by the way), and who sometimes struggle to find the time and energy to go the extra mile towards whichever aspect of healthy or sustainable living most interests them. That may be growing their own veggies, making their own cosmetics or non-toxic cleaning products, or something else.

They’d like to go the extra distance, but they could use a little help sometimes. They need someone else to do the research.

I want to make it easier for those people to make the changes they want to make.

Where I’m at

I want to be up-front with you about two things, dear reader.

The first is my own level of “crunchiness” (as the healthy, DIY, green home-economy is often called). We are not perfect in my little home, if perfect means completely toxic-free, organic buying, non-consuming, totally ethically shopping, growing all our own food and always cooking from scratch.

Not even close.

We do what we can, we prioritise, and we make compromises.

This past Spring, for instance, one of my compromises was to plant almost no vegetables (except a couple of tomatoes we were given, and which I had some pots handy for), in order to finish my book by my deadline. Ironically, since I quit my paid job I have been working more hours than ever, and making plenty of compromises in my home and garden to manage it.

What I need

Secondly, let me be upfront about my own need to make a living.

While I care about you and the planet and the children whose island homes will be washed away as the climate changes, I also have my own three children to feed and my own mortgage to pay. So I do intend to derive an income from this website or related services or products at some point.

So why, you might ask (and many people have), am I giving away the PDF version of my book, Less Toxic Living, for free?

Chris Anderson coined the term “freemium” in his book “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” (which I admit I haven’t read, I’ve only seen it quoted). This is a business model in which you give away free services to about 90% of your audience, charging for the remaining 10% of premium content.

That’s a business model I would like to emulate. If I can give away 90% of what I write, figure out, and do, then I have an opportunity to make a difference, not only to people committed enough to pay for some help (in the form of a book or otherwise), but also to those who are just thinking about making changes, or who simply can’t afford to “buy the book”.

But, I also need to produce a further 10% of material, services, or information, great enough to make a difference in the world, and of real value to the people who purchase it.

An example is giving away the PDF version of my book, but also making a print version available for those who want it. (A kindle version will also available soon at a small price, because people have asked for it. The format conversion will take a little time though. It’s a big learning curve for me.)

I don’t know how I will make a living yet, but I trust that through doing what I do, and engaging with you and this wonderful community, I’ll figure it out.

I want to make a difference with my life. I want to help people, and I want to help the planet. At the same time, I need to make a living to support my family. When we had kids, my husband and I decided to both work part-time, and be home with them part-time. At the moment, he is doing more than his share of the paid work, supporting me in my bid for a career change. Eventually, I aim to get our balance back.

In the meantime, I hope I can add value to your life.

Do you have a job that you love and that fulfills you? Have you ever quit your job without knowing what you would do next? Do you have any tips for me? Let me know in the comments.

Linking up with the inimitable Jess for IBOT.

  18 comments for “Why I’m Giving My Book Away for Free

  1. Jenny
    January 21, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Hi Kirsten, thanks for your post-nice to know we are not alone in our endeavour to live a simpler and more sustainable life. There is certainly a challenge in cutting back work-a journey I am starting only this year. We only have one child left at school and another at college. Our house is paid off but still requires ‘work’… Our yard is tiny and in need of attention-there are quite a few veggie plots in the planning….Have started making laundry liquid and there are so many more home made recipes to try….Love the local organic store and am trying to be responsible and shop wisely and thriftily…..There is a wariness in cutting back and believing that the journey will be fulfilling and all dreams achievable under the ‘new way’, but an excitement also. Congratulations on your decision to follow your passions, will follow with enthusiasm ….thanks.

    • Kirsten
      January 22, 2014 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks Jenny, I appreciate that. And yes, a wariness and and excitement at the same time – well put.

  2. Me
    January 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I am very interested in living less toxically (is that even a word ??? It is now !) I totally get your 90/10 – while I don’t use % as such in my business (hobby ?) – I do give away treatments to people who need them but can’t afford them because the aim of my business is to help people more than to make money – I have my day job to make money.
    Thank you for sharing your book and good luck in the future !
    Me
    Me recently posted..I Know, It’s A ProcessMy Profile

    • Kirsten
      January 22, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      Thank you Me.

      And yes toxically is a word, although my web browser doesn’t seem to think so!

      To be honest, I am not the type to actually measure things to make a 90/10 split exact either – but the principle is one I can embrace.

  3. January 21, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Thank you so much for providing your book for free, I’ve downloaded it. I am a stay at home mum but to allow me to do that, we made a huge downsizing move into a much smaller house so life was more comfortable. We’re on rather tight budget, but it’s OK. I guess I quit my job when I was pregnant and I was treated poorly so did not return not really knowing what I’d do. I started my own business from home, but post natal depression got the best of me and I had to put it on the backburner. Luckily our move meant that i had no stresses and could stay at home and I love it. One thing that really keeps me going and my mind turning is blogging, I just love it and I don’t know what I’d be without it. Perhaps some day I’ll end up writing for others ( I do know but it’s unpaid) that would be what I’d love to do, it would fit in with our lifestyle so well. Good luck!
    Eva @ The Multitasking Mummy recently posted..Why I’m No Longer Banking My Brownie PointsMy Profile

    • Kirsten
      January 22, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Hi Eva, thanks for your comment. I think blogging – or other kinds of writing – can really be a Godsend for the SAHM who isn’t used to the isolation and yeah, to keep ones mind turning!

      As for downsizing – good for you! i do find it hard, sometimes, to think about the opportunity costs of doing things the way we are – but I think it is so totally worth it, I really wouldn’t change anything.

  4. January 21, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    I haven’t ‘worked’ for around 15 years or more now. But I have worked harder in the last 10 then I ever had before that. (now with 4 sons and another on the way) I wont be needing a ‘job’ anytime soon. When I do, it will involve photography, it is my passion. Good luck with your book, and also the kindle version. #teamIBOT

    • Kirsten
      January 22, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      Thanks for your comment iSophie. I hope you do get to work with your passion! But I do know what you mean about working hard now than ever!!

  5. January 21, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    I have faced uncertain futures many times – like many in my generation all I’ve ever had is contract work. And again, I’m facing only a few more weeks of knowing where my rent money is coming from. I have plans to make the transition less painful, but that doesn’t mean it’s not stressful at times.
    Vanessa recently posted..Insert Headline HereMy Profile

    • Kirsten
      January 22, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      It is so hard living on contract work! I am very lucky that my husband has a stable job that he is highly unlikely to lose (even with the current Government’s attitude to public servants), which is what made it possible for me to leave mine, really without any worries. All the best with this next transition for you.

  6. January 21, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    I love your plan and wish you success in your endeavours in creating an income from your blog and what you share. I’ve loved what I’ve learned from your blog and I wish I lived more sustainably too. That’ why reading your blog inspires me and motivates me to at least try and do one thing to make a difference. :)
    Bec @ The Plumbette recently posted..When life throws a curve ball or twoMy Profile

    • Kirsten
      January 22, 2014 at 3:14 pm

      Thank you so much Bec, that is so lovely of you to say and EXACTLY what I want to do here. If you can be inspired to try one new thing to make a difference, then I feel like I am doing something to make a difference too. Yay for team work!! :)

  7. January 22, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    I love this idea Kirsten, and I’m so glad you are giving it away, because there is so much everyone can learn from it. It’s really changed my thinking (and today my shopping) in so many ways, so thank you xx
    EssentiallyJess recently posted..Thinking About Quilting #IBOTMy Profile

    • Kirsten
      January 24, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      Hi Jess,
      thanks for your lovely words – it is so awesome to know that it has made a difference to you!

  8. January 22, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Love your posts and I think you will find success in whatever you set out to do with this website. In the meantime, have you ever considered being a rep for a home-based business? I can think of a few that may match up with your passion for educating others about healthy lifestyles (Juice Plus+, Young Living, Norwex, etc). I myself have had really good success with Norwex, so I could tell you all about that. I have other friends who have been successful with the other two companies as well.

    • Kirsten
      January 24, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      Hi Laura, thanks for your ideas. As a matter of fact, I have been seriously thinking about Norwex – I have a good friend who got me using it last year and (as per my December microfibre post) I am a true convert :)

  9. Kim
    January 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    I enjoy receiving all your emails full of wonderful and helpful information. I quit a job I was at for 13 years, because I wasn’t happy and I really had no idea where I was going or what I was doing. Like you, my husband is employed and said we would manage till I got back on my feet. It only took a month and I found the job of my dreams. I’d like to say I now am so happy in my new job, but unfortunately I got very sick, bad autoimmune disorders and I have now been on disability for 6 years. No pitty party here though. I am reading and getting extremely knowledgable about living toxic free in every aspect of my life. I have made MANY changes to my environment, and although I am still struggling, I see every day as an opportunity to heal!! I believe we attract what we want, so keep doing what you are doing and I see great success coming your way:-)!! Cheers!!

    • Kirsten
      January 24, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      Hi Kim, thanks so much for your comment. Even though things didn’t end up working out with your new job, it’s a great story about quitting a job to find something you really love. And, great that you are finding ways to go toxic free. I hope the healing keeps happening, and the changes make a real difference.

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