Are you giving away too much (or not enough) content for free?
Most entrepreneurs have had this thought at least once in their careers. It’s the fear that you’ve giving away too much free content when you should charge for sharing such wisdom and insight.
What many people fail to realise is that sharing valuable content for free is an effective way to help you break through the noise, increase your credibility, and yes, generate leads and sales for your business.
But how much content should you give away for free? And how much free content is too much? Here are my thoughts on the ultimate battle between free content vs paid content:
Storytime with Tamer
Let me paint you a picture of my younger self…looking devilishly handsome, filled with hope and plans to build the house of my dreams. Since I knew very little about, you know, actually building a house, I attended a helpful workshop on the subject. It covered everything from how to create your designs to getting it approved and so on.
An expert in the planning side of things took the stage and gave a fantastic presentation about the process and how to navigate different obstacles that might arise. She had a slide show on display too, but she was only leaving each slide up for a very short amount of time. Now, I consider myself to be a pretty fast reader, but it was almost impossible to actually read anything that was on the slides because they were flashing by so quickly.
Afterward, I considered hiring her as a consultant because I knew I needed someone with experience to walk me through the process. However, I needed to know that she was as good as she made herself out to be. When the talk ended, I greeted her and told her I loved it and was intrigued to find out more. I asked if I could take a look at her slides again and that I would get in touch with her about my plans to build a house.
To my surprise, she turned to me, with a shocked expression on her face and said, “Absolutely not! This is my livelihood and I’ll guard it with my life. Here is my business card if you want to call me and pay me money. Only then will I be able to walk you through it.”
I took a step back from her and made up my mind there and then that I would never hire her because she wouldn’t provide me with enough information to make an informed hiring decision. Without having enough information to confirm that she was an expert and could provide me with the service I needed, I was left with no other choice but to pass.
Don’t let this happen to you! I’m not saying you should give away all of your secrets for free. But you need to provide enough value that people can make an informed decision about whether or not they want to hire or buy from you.
Why you should give away free, valuable content
Again, I’m not saying you should give away your expertise for free. You need to charge your worth and if you do something that creates ROI for somebody else, you should never do it for free.
With that being said, giving valuable content away for free shows that you are an expert within your field. People are more likely to pay for a higher level of expertise (or content, additional benefits, professional service, etc.) when they are certain that what they will get in return for their money will be worth it.
If you can give people confidence and clarity that you are who you say you are and you do so by providing free, valuable content, you will have a much easier time generating sales than someone who refuses to share anything for free.
People are busy and they don’t want to become experts at whatever it is that you can do for them. They would rather pay you to do it for them than learn all of the years’ worth of experience that you already have under your belt.
Think about it this way. It’s a Friday night, you’ve had a long week and you’re craving a delicious pepperoni pizza. You could look up the ingredients and follow the instructions to make a pizza from scratch, but who could be bothered doing all of that? It’s so much easier to just pick up your phone and order a pizza or eat out at a restaurant, etc. You pay for the pizza because it is convenient.
It’s the same with your audience of potential customers. They don’t want to do it all on their own. They want to pay to have it done for them. Your free content should essentially show off your best bits but if they want the detail and the personalisation, you cannot do that for free. They need to pay for that.
Don’t worry – people WILL pay for your expertise
A lot of people worry that if they give away too much for free, nobody will pay for their actual service or product, etc. This is not the case. Giving away free content is just the highlight reel of what you have to offer. It helps to establish your authority in your field and again, it gives people the confidence to make an informed decision.
In the book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” by Robert Cialdini, he states that when you provide something for free to somebody, they feel subconsciously obliged to replicate your generosity in some way or another. So, when you start selling a product or service down the line, those people will want to help you out and are more likely to buy from you.
Of course, there are people who will happily take your free content and never actually buy from you. Don’t worry about those people because they are not your target clients anyway. There will be people who understand how much value you have given them for free and how much you still have left to offer. Those are the people who will pay for your expertise.
Remember that knowing isn’t the same as doing. We all know what we need to do to have a healthy life but waking up earlier to exercise and swapping takeout for a healthy meal is a different story. In the same way, not everybody will go through your free content and then convert. Those that do will be the type of people that you want to help and who truly value your expertise and are willing to pay for it.
Free content vs paid content
You should provide both free content and paid content. Providing free content regularly (such as weekly podcast episodes, YouTube videos, or blog posts, etc.), helps you to stay on top of people’s minds, which is very important.
So, what should you give away as free content and what should you keep as paid content?
Here’s what I think…
Free content should be the why’s and the what’s. You should use free content to establish the need for a problem and the solution. You can establish the steps needed to resolve the problem. This makes people aware of what they need to know about but doesn’t necessarily teach them exactly what they need to do to achieve the personalised results they are after.
Be generous with the information you provide but do not overdo it. Don’t help every person that reaches out to you looking for some free advice or a coaching call. This is when it turns into paid content. If people want more information and in-depth guidance and access to the meat of your expertise, they should pay for it. The in-depth step-by-step journey that’s going to help them get to where they want to go is what you should be charging for. This also includes personalised advice that goes beyond your free content.
I hope you come away from this post with a better understanding of the difference between free and paid content and I hope that you have a better idea of how much content you should give away for free.
Speaking of free content, I post new videos about how to scale a business from literally nothing over on my YouTube channel and yes, all of my videos are free to watch.
You can subscribe to my YouTube channel and start binge-watching now!