Why 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.