Ever since comissioning my face as the site’s logo, I’ve incorporated my face into many things. Things I’ve designed like the cooling duct for the Silverstone DS380B (Thingiverse), stickers on my recent DIY NAS builds, or anything else I feel emboldened to put my face upon.
When an intrepid promotional company reached out to me and offered customized USB flash drives, I was immediately tempted and gave in to my urges by buying quite a few of them. Hopefully with a little bit of good fortune, I’ll wind up buying these regularly on into the future as more people use my NAS builds as templates for their own.
Introducing Brian’s USB Drive
I think its specifications are ideal for many of the USB-related things that I talk about on my site: you can use it to load FreeNAS on your own DIY NAS, you can use it (or a pair!) to function as the FreeNAS OS drive on your own DIY NAS, you can use it to run Memtest and test the RAM in your new gaming rig, or you can use it for any of the other things you might use a 16GB USB flash drive for.
I plan to sell two variations of this USB drive on my store at Tindie:
In an effort to keep shipping inexpensive and simple, I’ll be using USPS First Class postage for shipping. I’ll be shipping anywhere in the United States for $2.50 per USB drive. I learned from last year’s FreeNASGiveaway that shipping internationally is expensive and aggravating, so for those of you reading my blog from outside of America—I apologize that this won’t be available to you yet. Please use the blog’s comments if you’d like to see it available outside the United States—maybe you can change my mind!
This is an excellent question! Unless stated otherwise, everything I talk about in my DIY NAS builds comes out of my own pocket. Early on, I found that my own blogs talking about hardware which I didn’t even put my hands on seemed artificial and lacked the authenticity of my other blogs I’d written about actually building my own NAS. This led me to the conclusion that if I was going to write a blog about something, that I’d at the very least have my hands on the hardware. Naturally this has made some of my blogs, especially the DIY NAS builds, a more costly topic to write about. Hopefully, the sale of these USB drives helps offset that expense.
In the past, I’ve tinkered with trying to find enough spare cash to stock up on some of the hardware that I recommended and take a stab at reselling it myself on Amazon, instead of linking to others’ products out there on Amazon. This has been tempting, but I simply couldn’t be competitive with the prices that are already out there. Reselling the hardware myself at the quantities that I could afford to buy it would’ve resulted in a huge competitive disadvantage for me.
But with USB drives, I found that wasn’t quite the case, or at least USB drives were inexpensive enough that my own markup only wound up amounting to what seems like a more palatable price premium. I am also gambling that there’d be enough people out there willing to support my blog by buying a slightly more expensive USB drive and that might make this a profitable endeavor—or at least not a tremendously expensive failure.
What about the Quality?
This is a question that gets asked about USB flash drives as the FreeNAS boot device all the time, even before I was buying and reselling my own. The cheaper the memory, the lower the quality. The quality of the memory used in flash drives is less than that of the memory used in RAM or SSDs. It’s a logical conclusion to think that the memory used in inexpensive promotional drives like mine is among the least expensive and therefore lowest quality.
While I believe this is a valid concern, I don’t think it is a significant one. Personally, I didn’t let that concern stop me from using two on my own NAS! However, for the people concerned about the quality, I’d urge them to make sure they mirror their FreeNAS USB Boot Device, to stick with my favorite SanDisk Cruzer Ultra Fit, or even better yet—do both!
What do you think? Was there a better way to try and generate some revenue for my site in my DIY NAS blogs? Do you wish there were other sizes of the Brian’s Face USB drive? Or are there other images other than FreeNAS that you’d like to see as an option to choose from? Let me know what you think. Assuming this experiment goes well, I’d love to work in your good ideas!