Should it be free content or should I sell it? What should I give away for free? Should I really be giving anything away for free?
If you’re just starting out, in the beginning phases of entrepreneurship, or even adding a new revenue stream, then these thoughts are tumbling through your mind.
These are questions that we have all asked at some point or another. Yes, you can and should give away some of your content or services for free.
There are some great advantages to offering free content:
- You can showcase your expertise, especially if you are a coach, consultant, or sell informational products.
- Free content can be used as inbound marketing to increase awareness about your company and what you offer.
- It is a great starting point for an online sales funnel.
- You can showcase some of the features and utility of your service if you are offering a saas (software as a service) product.
- You get to help more of your target audience with a common challenge or problem.
Okay, now it’s just about figuring out what you should provide for free versus sell. Here’s an easy way to determine what should be free and what needs to be purchased.
1) Create an outline of the challenges for your audience.
You have to be knowledgeable about what your target audience needs or in other words what the common and largest challenges are. Once you are aware of the challenges, create an outline that puts these challenges in order. Start with the challenges that they should solve first or most desire to solve first.
2) Add your offers.
Next to each challenge write down which of your products or services solves that challenge. Also write down the benefits of your solution, not the features of the product or service. You should be very clear on how you can help or assist potential customers.
If you are struggling to assign a solution or write the benefits, then trust your audience is also confused. They will not buy if they cannot determine how you can help them.
3) What do they need to know first?
Ask yourself: what is the information or background they need to know before they can use my product? This background information about the problem as well as potential solutions is great for free content.
Your free content is an opportunity for educational marketing. Teach a little about the topic so that your solution is the next logical step. How can you prepare them to get the best use out of your product or service? This is in your free content.
4) What is the first major challenge?
Look at the list you created in step one. You should also have content that teaches about or assists them in solving that first major challenge. This allows you to show that you understand their problem and you know how to help them. You can prove that you are a trusted and knowledgeable source. Now as they want to progress further with that challenge or address their other challenges, they can purchase your other solutions.
“But if I give this solution in the free content that I don’t have anything to sell.” Did that thought just enter your mind?
There should be a higher level of content or service you can provide that is paid. If you don’t have that, then you haven’t dug deep enough. You need to go deeper for your paid content or you need to add some features to your service.
Two Types of Free Content
Free content is readily and widely available online. Since you’re reading one now, you’re familiar with blogs. There are also podcasts and vlogs. These are the most common and do not require an opt in to be consumed. Just because they are completely free does not mean they shouldn’t be great. You still want to put out great information and solutions. Or else you destroy your credibility and brand.
Once you have attracted a visitor using freely available content, you should have an option that takes them even deeper a.k.a. helps them even more. It’s still free content, but now they need to exchange an email address in order to obtain. This is an opt-in.
The type of opt-in you should offer depends on your business and what works best for your audience. Some common and proven formats are offering:
- The first chapter of your book free. They can then buy the entire book.
- A free webinar or short video series. They can then buy your online course.
- A free level of your SAAS with limited features. They can buy the premium level with more features.
Get started learning about your audience and determining what content you can and should offer for free. Remember to create both types of free content so that you have people entering your sales funnel. If they trust you with their email address, then you have more opportunity to show that you can indeed help them solve their challenges.
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