Sunday, May 3, 2009


There is always so much controversy about PIFs on Etsy.
Some say the item should be completely free, no shipping or anything. Some think the item should be largely discounted. Some think they should charge the listing fee and minimal shipping.. Their are so many opinions on this.

But there are no set rules, so that's okay.

My opinion is that they are more of a promotional tool than anything. I know that a lot of 'newbies' are told to use these to drive traffic into their shops. Which works, of course.
But aren't PIFs really just going to people who want a freebie? Is it really going to make the world a better place to give out a free pair of earrings? I don't know..
But I do think it would be more worthwhile to spend time out in the 'real world' doing something meaningful. If you want to Pay It Forward, go do some charity work, help an elderly neighbor, pick up trash in a nearby park, etc...

Something more meaningful can be done using the same time it takes to make the freebie PIF on Etsy, right?

MyPoody says": I often have things I am happy to give away free but can't afford to pay for fees and shipping to someone else. I was excited to see I could offer PIF for fees and shipping on Etsy. I've been following this thread and thinking about it for a few days now. At first it felt like a whiney thread from rich or greedy people - either have lots of money and can afford to pay other peoples shipping or greedy and only wanted things for free. I'm learning alot of the community 'rules' on Etsy are through peer pressure and 'tribal knowledge' more than written hard and fast rules. If PIF is truly thought of by this community as $0 - Free and clear then I'd like to know that and abide by that 'rule'. However, I'd still like to be able to offer things to people for only the cost of fees and shipping. I even created a spreadsheet that told me what the minimum to charge to cover Etsy and Paypal fees! So in light of the earlier comments on this thread and my wish to still offer things free but for fees and shipping, I've come up with a solution that I hope will catch on just like PIF. I will put FSO in my items. Fees & Shipping Only. I will explain it in the details of the item and put it in tags for searches. Hopefully it will catch on and there will be an acceptable middle ground for those of us who truly just want to give something away but can't afford to foot the cost of giving it away. I'm switching my items from PIF to FSO today. Please help get the word out if you are truly concerned with PIFs for fees and shipping!"

And MyPoody did put it in her announcement, I love this idea and also hope it catches on. Its more true than a PIF, IMHO.

The MyPoody announcement

"FSO - Fees and Shipping Cost Only - Price reflects Etsy and Paypal fees. It is my understanding that the "tribal knowledge" of the Etsy Community is that PIF means Free - no shipping or fee costs, just $0. Unfortunately, I can't afford to list that many things and pay fees and shipping costs out of pocket. However, I still want to 'give things away' to people that can use them on Etsy. So I've come up with an alternative. I will list many of my things as FSO. FSO means I will only charge the minimum price to cover Etsy and Paypal fees, plus shipping. If you like this idea, please use it and spread it around so others like me feel comfortable being charitable within their means!"

Whats your opinion on PIF and the new FSO?


  1. MyPoody's FSO sounds like a good alternative!

  2. A lot of people like myself do good in real life but also give PIFs away on Etsy as a way of doing good but also clearing out - I make a lot of things and eventually want to clear out (I also give stuff away to good causes). But - I do like the sound of FSO and think it is a great idea!

  3. FSO makes more sense to me too.

  4. Well I've done both...people have paid for the listing and postage...and i've done it for absolutely free...but found I was getting the same people wanting free stuff and they were even getting titchy about not being able to have more than one of what they wanted...soooo...I don't do it happier to trade if another seller wants to....

  5. I agree about the pifs - it seems this term is abused a lot on etsy! i think many just tag things pif cause they know people will look for it, when its not a pif at all. i have done a few pif's in the past, only to find out the buyer has only ever bought pifs, and never anything else. kind of ruined it for me. i try to Pif in real life, help those that i can, do what i can, and hope they will pay it forward as well. I think the term FSO is so much more appropriate!

  6. I like the FSO idea, isn't it enough that you are 'giving' something away? Why shouldn't the person receiving the item offer to pay the shipping fees and listing fees? And who is to say what is right or wrong? I think it should be up to the individual that is posting the pif to decide, if they can afford to do it totally free, by all means do it, if not, you're still doing something nice by offering up your wares for a minimal amount of money.

  7. I'm struggling with how to write down my thoughts on the matter. Personally I find it hard to agree with giving something away for free in a PIF or FSO format, simply because the time and creativity that goes into our work is largely undervalued. To give something away for nothing allows some people to believe that our work is worth nothing.

    Trading for like valued items is a much preferred option in my opinion. Value is traded for value and the possibility of abuse when trading a limited as opposed to with PIF.

  8. I agree TMC, I wouldn't want to give any of my items away for free, but love trades.
    Though I think some people give items away as a PIF because that item didn't come out as they wanted it to. Maybe it has imperfections, etc.. I've seen this as the cause for a PIF fairly often.
    Which means the item is still not being given just as a random act of kindnes, but rather, just to get rid of an unsellable item.
    Or Clearing out stock, as was mentioned above.

  9. All good things get abused; seems to be a part of human nature that is stronger is some than in others. I think the FSO idea is a solid one. You are still pif'ing and yet forcing an abuser to at least ante up a bit!

    I also like the love trade idea!

  10. I guess, because I am in photography the idea of getting rid of an unsellable item is a moot point. I edit down pictures that are imperfect and list the strongest in my shop. All my images are sent to a lab for printing when they are ordered so I don't have a major stock problem. In this way PIF wouldn't work for me.

    I guess when it gets right down to it, if I want something from your shop I'm going to want something that really strikes me, and 9 times out of ten I'm going to want it to be perfect.

    In the one time out of ten I'm going to be in love with it enough that the imperfections just don't make a difference to me. A discounted price in these situations is good enough for me, especially if, as I said above I love the item enough that the imperfections don't matter to me.

    I've never come across a PIF item that grabbed me enough to take it.

  11. the idea of fso is perfect! PIF should be solely for Paying It Forward... nothing else. If you want to drive traffic to your shop or give an opportunity to try something new, the FSO is a great alternative! I'll have to try that.

  12. Our Happy Family, that's exactly right :)
    I hope that lots of people will hear about this.