One of the main (many) purposes for PaddlingLight has been to store a number of canoe plans and kayak plans. Most of the plans are free, but a few, my designs, are for sale. The revenue that I get from sales doesn’t add up to much. Last year, it was just enough to pay off old prototypes and make a new canoe prototype that I’ll test in 2012. The hardest part for me is figuring out how to make money or, at least, continue to make enough money to fund building more of these boats in the future and make it feel like my time isn’t wasted modeling these boats (because I can do other things that do make me money in the same amount of time).
Currently, I ask for donations if you use the plans to build a boat, and many people send me those donations, but when I look at the number of downloads compared to the number of donations, it’s like 250:1. I know lots of these boats don’t get built after people look at the free plans, but some do. I also like giving these away. So, I’m torn. I’m trying to evaluate my options going forward with the plans as I get ready to release several of Chestnut Canoe Company’s models. The Chum with a modified sheerline and extra tumblehome for solo paddling appears above.
I feel that there are a few approaches:
- Continue what I’m doing: giving the canoe and kayak plans away for free while asking for a $30 donation, offering electronic files with all the stations drawn separately for $30 or printed plans for $100 to $110.
- Switching to a pay-what-you-can model similar to what I use on my solo canoe yoke plans. I ask for varying levels of support based on what you can afford. If you can’t afford even the lowest level, I ask that you write to me to receive the plans for free.
- Use a new payment system. I’ll give away 1/4- to 1/3-sized, low-quality plans for free, charge $30 for electronic full-sized plans, charge $50 for electronic individual stations and $100 to $110 for printed plans.
I’m leaning towards the last two. What I’m doing now doesn’t feel that fulfilling for me, which I think is important. The middle option makes sure that I get something out of the arrangement. At the very least, I know who wants to build one. The third option still gets the plans out for free and people could probably pretty easily enlarge the plans, but they might step up to the larger sizes if they really want to build. Obviously, someone could just ignore my plans go back to the original source and spend around 10 hours per boat modeling and drafting to get around the last two options, but I guess that’s not the point.
At any rate, I’m not sure if this post will receive many, if any, comments, but I’d like your opinion about this.