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My Thoughts on the Recent Controversy over Cricut Design Space

Have you heard the news? Crafters are buzzing, and not in a good way.

If you follow the crafter community online, you may have heard about the recent controversy with Cricut. To summarize, customers are furious about an announcement they made recently—well, not so much an announcement as a major change to their terms of use weakly hidden within a blog post highlighting new “features” to their software, Design Space (the only software you can use to cut with their machines). They decided to start further limiting the free version of DS by capping personal uploads at 20 per month unless you opted into their $10/mo subscription. Due to strong backlash that they received—including negative comments on their social media posts, a flood of calls to their customer service lines, and a few petitions—Cricut has since completely reversed this decision. For now. You can read their statement HERE.

As for myself, I had many thoughts about the situation and wish to outline them here. Even though they reversed course, it's important to understand why a decision like that would adversely affect many different crafters. 

For me as a small business owner and designer, up to now I have had no need for a subscription to Cricut Access. I almost exclusively use my own designs. I have professional design software, so I rarely use most of the advanced functionalities of Design Space or the library of premade projects. For every design I make, I might upload it multiple times as I perfect the template and create new versions, so if I’m working on a number of products, I would hit a 20 upload limit pretty quick. And what if I want to use the machine just for fun? Now I have to think about how many uploads I need to save for my business. Basically, Cricut wanted to make me pay for using my own designs in addition to the expense of the machines themselves (I have an Explore Air 2 and Joy), and the tools and materials I’ve also purchased. Since I don’t do much in DS beyond cutting, I’d get no other real “benefit” from this subscription, just the privilege of using more of my own files. This is equivalent to buying a printer and then being told I can only send 20 pages to it per month unless I opt into a subscription, on top of buying ink and paper. What?! 

This would affect my customers, too, because now they’d be limited on how many outside designs they can use, and may purchase less because of it. So now I’m getting hit from both ends with increased costs and a decrease in sales. And I’m sure there are lots of independent designers like me who would be in the same position. 

To be honest, I’m an avid Cricut crafter. I’ve had my Explore Air for a couple years now, and I’ve loved it. I don’t LOVE Design Space, but I’ve had little issue with it because, like I said before, there’s not a whole lot I need it for besides the basics. It does what I need it to do. I’ve been able to do a lot for my business, as well as personal crafting and have really enjoyed it. A subscription model would really throw a wrench into all of it for no good reason I see other than a company wanting to suck more money out of its customers. 

There are better routes Cricut can still take if they are smart and listen to customers. 

  • For me, the best solution is to give makers like me basic desktop software just for using the machines, unattached from their design library or advanced design features, and that doesn’t require you to be online. This is something customers have been asking for long before this current debacle. This would allow us do what we bought the machine for: to cut! And it would allow designers to use files locally—no need to upload and take up cloud space, which is one of Cricut’s justifications for this change. 
  • Another solution would be to allow third-party software. Cricut has a history of stifling development of open source software for use with Cricut. You can only use Design Space if you want to use a Cricut. 
  • Offer only advanced design functions as a subscription upgrade, or better yet, a one time flat fee (ahem, like Silhouette does). 
  • Leave the design library as it’s own subscription and/or as standalone purchases. 
Bottom line is, customers should not be coerced into a subscription and punished for being more creative by using their own designs and designs they purchased elsewhere. That makes no sense. A subscription should be an added bonus that we would gladly pay for, not a necessity to use the machine. Based on the outcry I have seen so far, Cricut better listen or they will permanently alienate even their most loyal base. 

As for my plans going forward, I am not going to throw my Cricut machines into a bonfire anytime soon. I still enjoy Cricut crafting, and I have hope there will be some positive changes as a response to the loud feedback they must be receiving. However, I am going to start tailoring my designs in such a way that they are more universal to any cutting machine—something I should be doing anyway. So, for example, I’ll probably put a pause on developing Cricut Joy cards for the time being and explore other types of designs. It will be a lot of waiting to see what happens with Cricut and demand for files as well. 

To be clear, all of my cut files are usable on other cutting machines, even my Cricut Joy insert cards. I’ve just been so hyper focused on Cricut in how I format my files, my user instructions, and marketing because that’s what I know. 

Also I may have panic-bought a Silhouette Cameo 4. So soon I’ll be able to become familiar with another machine! 

—Nicole

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