The story of Common Craft – in Plain English

ReadWriteWeb have re-posted a very interesting account of the Common Craft story. The following is an abstract:

Five years ago Lee LeFever was an online community manager for a B2B healthcare company called Solucient. Today, his voice has been heard by millions of people around the world, making strange new applications feel easy to use and offering some of the clearest explanations of how the Internet is changing.

LeFever is the founder of Common Craft and his story is an inspiring one.

He’s gone from social media consulting to co-producing the wildly popular “…In Plain English” video series. Common Craft’s videos have been translated into scores of other languages and landed the company big jobs making custom videos for companies like Google, LinkedIn and MeetUp. Now Lee and his wife Sachi LeFever are making another major work transition. They’ve stopped producing custom videos for clients and have found an interesting new business model.

What is Common Craft going to do instead of making themselves available for hire making custom videos? Lee says that for the past year they’ve been getting requests three or four times a week for permission to re-use their Plain English videos. The solution they decided on was licensing them for corporate and eductional use.

Common Craft now sells licenses for high-quality, downloadable versions of their explanatory videos. All of their time working is now spent building out the library. Videos are licensed for under $20 for individual use and $350 for site-wide use, like on a company intranet. Commercial licensing, for use on public commercial websites, is the next option the company will be offering.

Of course the video content is available free to anyone online, but Common Craft says that many companies feel far more comfortable paying for official permission to use high quality, unbranded versions. There’s certainly no DRM involved. “People want to do the right thing if they know the rules,” Lee LeFever says. “Our challenge is to educate people about how we expect our videos to be used. We’re lucky to have fans that feel good about supporting us with their purchases. Given limited resources, we would rather spend time educating people on the right thing to do than trying to make the wrong things impossible.”

It’s great to hear that Common Craft have turned what was once an interesting hobby into a  successful business model and I’m sure their back catalogue of ‘PLain English’ videos will continue to help and inspire all of those grappling with the complexities of social computing.

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