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How To Make Your Free Content Worth Paying For

With over 152 million blogs online, how can you make your content and services stand out? Make your free stuff better than everyone else's paid stuff, of course! Click through for 5 tips for doing just that.

One of the glorious benefits of the internet is the access it affords us to learning opportunities on just about any subject we could imagine, and much of it is free. So how can you make your free content worth paying for?

The legitimacy of that free content, however, sometimes leaves a lot to be desired.

Anyone who’s spent hours combing through YouTube for a tutorial that isn’t blurry or doesn’t have muddled audio can attest to this.  And then there’s the free stuff people offer you as an incentive to opt in to their mailing list.  Again, some of these resources are incredibly helpful, but I think we’ve all exhaled a long, tired sigh when the thing we were so excited about, the thing we willingly traded our email address for, turns out to be a piddly, generic, one-page worksheet.

(AKA why our Resource Library is jam-packed with spreadsheets, ebooks, workbooks, and deep thought worksheets ?)

As I’ve been building the foundations of my own business, it’s become more and more important to me to ensure that my free content is worth paying for.  I don’t want to offer something that leaves you feeling lackluster.  I want to make you feel like I’m crazy for giving it away for free.

Why is it so important to create this kind of value?

Because you won’t necessarily get a second chance.  People are busy, and the internet has so much to offer that if you lose their trust once by failing to deliver, they might be loath to try again.

Because first impressions matter.  Even if people do stick around after a less-than-awesome offering, they may be less likely to open your emails, and far less likely to collaborate or work with you in future.

Because your time and efforts matter.  Don’t short shrift what you have to offer by putting something out there that’s mediocre.  Even if it takes a little more time and energy to create in the short run, creating quality content, even for free, is going to pay off big-time in the long run.

Knowing the “why” for this is important, but so is knowing the “how.”  I’d hate for you to walk away feeling lost on how to go about this.

Here are 5 action steps you can take:

  1. Research what high quality free content looks like. Check into entrepreneurs like Mariah CozRegina Anaejionu and Ramit Sethi, who pride themselves on creating webinars, workshops, and blog posts for free that other people would absolutely charge for. Look at what people in your niche are offering.  Sign up for a few free e-courses and webinars, and see whether it feels like one big sales pitch or if you actually come away having learned something valuable.  Check into volunteer efforts in your community and see what people who are getting paid absolutely nothing are pulling together for causes dear to their hearts.
  1. Assess (honestly) the content you’ve been offering. Do this yourself and, if you’re feeling brave, ask a few trusted friends or business besties to look over it, too. Does the content you’re offering have substance?  Does it give your reader something they can act on right away?  Does it inspire them to take action?  Is it more about them than it is about you?  Look at your content with these things in mind, and find out where you’ve been succeeding and where you could stand to improve.
  1. Brainstorm ten things you could provide for free in the immediate future (set yourself a deadline). If ten sounds like a lot, remember the content you provide doesn’t necessarily have to be long or lengthy to be valuable, so long as it’s actionable and on-point. A 15 minute Periscope broadcast can change someone’s day, setting off a domino effect for the next couple weeks.  A blog post that takes you five hours to write could change someone’s outlook on a key aspect of their life.  A week-long email course might revolutionize how they tackle their next big project.
  1. Create one resource for free that’s absolutely EPIC. It might take you as long to create as it would to make something you’d charge for, but people will remember you for it. It will help establish you as being a go-to person in your niche, as someone who goes the distance, and as someone who truly cares about the people you’re trying to help.  Sure, there will occasionally be someone who takes advantage of this, who will download your free resource and never take another step in your direction, but that’s okay.  They probably weren’t a good fit for you anyway.  You haven’t lost anything, and it’s so much more important to focus on the people you do connect with.  Besides, who knows?  Maybe you helped that person without even realizing it.  One thing is for sure: making something epic for free will make you truly memorable.[clickToTweet tweet=”Making something epic for free will make you truly memorable. ” quote=”Making something epic for free will make you truly memorable. “]
  1. Take this attitude into the rest of your life. Creating amazing content for free doesn’t just have to apply to your business or your work. Next time you’re volunteering, make sure you’re putting your all into your hours; don’t just pay it lip service.  When you’re helping your elderly relative do their grocery shopping for the week, stay for a cup of tea afterwards and pour through a photo album with them, or putter in the garden together.  Make sure that you’re putting as much effort into the things you’re doing for free as the things you earn a salary for.

It can be a little nerve-wracking to think of putting some of your most valuable content out there for free.  You might worry that you’ll get taken advantage of, or that you’ll run out of things to say, or that people won’t value your time.  I could offer all sorts of platitudes to worries like this, but, honestly, you just need to give it a go.  Create something amazing, amp up your blog posts, go the extra mile.  Do this for a month and see how you feel, see how people respond.  I guarantee it’s worth every penny of your valuable time.

About the Author

Victoria Fry

Victoria is a writing coach who's a creative catalyst for burnt-out writers, helping them tell the stories jostling for room in their heart and mind. She also writes, devours books, loves to dance, and takes part in a weekly Star Wars tabletop game.