Should You Give Away Content for Free?

One thing I have run into, mostly working with personal brands, people like myself whos business is built around the person running the business, is the reluctance to offer content for free. Some people are worried about giving away too much. The thought there is that you might be giving away something you could have charged money for. The other concern is the work it takes to create content, and just give it away is wasted time. It is time you could have used to create something that would bring income.

Both of those ideas are wrong. At least in my experience they are wrong. Not giving content away for free will likely have the exact opposite impact you expect it would if you are holding back so you can get paid for your work.

Here are five reasons you should give away content for free;

  1. You have to give a lot of value before you ask someone to spend money with you.
  2. People can sample you before they buy you.
  3. You are playing the long game. As Ray said, over time people come to know, like, and trust you.
  4. You will have a bigger reach. If your reach were only people who bought from you, you would not be getting your message out to many people.
  5. Offering content for free allows you to discover what connects with people and why.

All of five of those reasons funnel into something Ray Edwards told us, Serve First, Profit Later.

Let me tell you one example I have seen of this in action. Sure, you may know some of the names Ray mentioned like Dan Miller, Michael Hyatt, or Jeff Goins. Maybe you don’t know them, but in internet entrepreneurial world, they are well known. But this idea works with the little guys too. Take Todd Smith. I host the Agents in Action podcast with Todd Smith. Todd put out high-quality actionable content twice a month on the Agents in Action for many months before he ever asked the listeners to purchase anything from him. Finally, he put together some live workshops for Realtors in the Dallas area where he is from. Like most of us, Todd had a bit of fear his workshops would be a flop. But as entrepreneurs must do, Todd moved forward anyway. And what happened? His workshops sold out. Why did they sell out? Is it because Todd is a nice guy. No. Todd is a nice guy, but people didn’t show up to give him a hug. Did his workshops sell out because he has 25 years experience as a high performing Realtor? No. That helped, but it is not why people paid money to attend his workshop. The workshops sold out because Todd had been giving away bonafide content on every episode of his podcast. People who listened to the podcast knew how good he was. They had a free sample and knew what he offered was worth paying for. The concept of giving stuff away for free does not just apply to Ray Edwards. It applies to you. And it applies to Todd Smith. And it applies to me, which is one of the reasons I do this show.

So maybe the secret is out. I do this show so I can serve you. So you will know me and like me. And perhaps someday, you may want to learn more from me in a manner that goes beyond listen to me talk on a podcast. But if you don’t, if you just enjoy hearing me talk, that is fine too. If you find value in this podcast, but never pay me a dollar for anything, that will still make me happy. That is how this works. You have to decide to give no matter what you get back.

And how does this work for you if you are not a personal brand or a business driven by a personality? What if you are a physical store? The principle is the same. Find some extra way to give and serve. If you are a chiropractor, offer education in a newsletter, podcast, or a blog. A local example for me comes from one of the hardware stores; they put on classes teaching kids how to build stuff. The class and the materials didn’t cost anything for the kids. And of course a parent came along with the kid, and when the time comes, it is the parent who is going to decide to shop at the hardware store and spend money because their kid learned to build a birdhouse there.

My last word on this, if people find value in your free stuff, what impression will that leave for your paid content?


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Jody Maberry