You've got practice software, unfinished (or not that great) stories, unused art. Even if you're a progeek career-wise, you've probably got a lot of assets that . . . well aren't that professional. You're not sure you'd want to release that first Flash game, that fantasy story isn't that hot . . . let's face it some of your practice work may be decent or even good, but it's not your best.
Or maybe you're in practice phase right now, creating new stories or games or what have you. You'd like to make money at it, but at the same time, well . . .
The thing is, in an age of print on demand, downloadable games, and eBooks you can easily monetize your practice efforts. IN fact, I'm wondering if it's a good idea or an idea that may be normal in the future.
Consider the fact that, with little effort, you can get out an eBook, release an ad-supported smartphone game, and so on. You certainly have the tools to get almost any media form you create out in some form of distribution, from a Print-On-Demand book to a full game download. The fact that it might not be your best work doesn't stop you from getting it out there.
Now if you can get your work out there for everyone, and it may be worth their time if not your best work, the real question is more how much do you charge? Charging a pittance for something, charging a reasonable fee for work that is good-but-not-best, can be entirely reasonable. Yes that giant novel you probably won't publish professionally may not be your best, but someone may get a great entertainment value out of it for 99 cents.
Why do this? Why monetize what is essentially practice?
1) It starts getting your name out there and getting attention. Just make sure it's good.
2) It starts raising money for you and your other efforts.
3) It helps you get used to setting prices, charging, and determining value.
4) People may actually enjoy your work.
5) It teaches you to determine when something is release-worthy.
6) It may actually get more attention as people see you put some financial value on it.
7) It starts building a community for feedback.
Note I'm talking actual charging – not free releases. The virtues of such things have been discussed many times – I'm talking charging for what is essentially prototype or practice work that still has definite quality.
A few thoughts then for you, artists, programmers, and writers. Is it time to charge for some of your work after all?
(Trust me, considering some things I've seen being charged for, you're probably going to do better than many . . .)