[388] How much content should you give away for free?

Sharing valuable free content that answers your ideal customers/clients questions can be a great way to generate leads and sales for your business. Publishing regular blogs, podcasts, videos and social media content helps people get to know, like and trust you - so when they do have a need for a product/service like yours, you’ll be the first person they think of. This approach is generally referred to as content marketing. 

But how much content should you give away for free? Is it possible to give away too much free content? And how do you separate the content you give away for free from your paid content e.g. online courses, membership sites and ebooks?

That’s exactly what I cover in this podcast episode. Along with tips on how to ensure your free content is leading to sales. 

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}

There are two broad schools of thought on how much content you should give away for free as part of your marketing. Some people believe you should give away your best content for free. If people find your free content useful, they’ll be far more likely to want to invest in your paid content. It is possible to share tons of information and advice in a blog post or on a podcast. It’s not so easy to provide help with implementation. So people are willing to pay for access to you, so you can give them more personalised feedback on how the information/advice applies to them. The greater the access, the more you can generally charge (which is why 1-2-1 consultancy is more expensive than joining a membership site or buying an online course, for example). 

People will also pay for ease of access. For example, you could find most of the information I share in my Build Your Online Audience programme in my blog posts, podcasts and social media posts. But do you have the time to cruise around my website/social media platforms looking for relevant content and/or figure out what order you should tackle it in? Probably not. 

Others believe you should share what to do but not how to do it. For example, if you teach podcasting, you could share the steps someone might need to take to launch a podcast . But you wouldn’t explain exactly how to do it. So you might give people a list of the podcasting sites their show should be listed on, but the tutorial on how to do that would be inside your paid course.

Personally I believe in giving your best content away for free. This allows you to build authority - which is crucial when people are deciding if they want to do business with you. Anyone can say they are an expert, but can they prove they are an expert? Publishing regular content on your expert topic allows you to do that. 

People often worry that if they give away their best free content, they won’t bother buying the paid content - because they’ve already learned everything they need to learn. They are generally worrying unnecessarily. 

For example, one of my clients - a stylist - was concerned that her free email lead magnet (a ‘what to wear’ guide for different body types) but deter prospective clients from booking a session with her. Would everyone feel like her lead magnet had helped them so much they didn’t need her? But while the guide might be useful that is unlikely to be the case. For example, I would probably be classed as pear-shaped, but although I have a short body and long legs (for a very short person). Which means not all advice for classic pear-shapes would apply to me. And I would consider hiring a professional for advice (and have done in the past). 

Realistically, there is only so much depth you can go into in a blog/vlog, podcast or social media post. Often you can give the first step (and sometimes that’s all people need). But if people need the second, third and fourth step - and they want it tailored/personalised for them - that’s where your paid content comes in. It feels like the natural next step, should they want to take it. 

If your audience feels as if you’re deliberately withholding information from them. As if your attitude is: ‘I’ll only share that if you pay me’ they may start to lose trust in you. Which is why I would encourage you to share your content freely - and focus your energy on turning that interest into sales. 

With that in my mind, here are my tips on turning your free content into sales:

1. Make sure each piece of content you create leads to a paid product or service.

For example, I have a free podcast episode on how to launch a planner for your industry . This is a useful piece of content, but if you need more depth and detail, I have a 90 minute masterclass, which includes templates/checklists for pricing your planner, writing your sales copy and testing whether your planner will sell.

2. Sell visibly and sell often

If you give away tons of free content but only make the occasional sales offer, you may be at risk of what the sales expert Jessica Lorimer refers to as Baby Bird Syndrome. This is when your audience gets addicted to your free content. So when you withdraw the supply - or ask them to pay - they get fretful. Some may even lash out at you in anger. To avoid this, they must see you making regular sales and understand that if they want help with implementation (as opposed to information) they must pay for that.

You may have noticed I sell every podcast episode, and on Insta - every day. 

3. Make sure your free content delivers tangible results 

If people get a tangible result from using your free content, they are much more likely to want to buy your paid products. For example, people often message me to say they have listened to my podcast episode on how to use hashtags to build your audience and seen a significant rise in their engagement on Instagram. While this is a significant and tangible win, it isn’t going to fix all their Instagram problems and/or answer all their questions. If they join my Build Your Online Audience programme, not only do they get access to more in depth content, they also get to ask me questions about how my advice applies to them. 

One of the biggest objections people have about buying an online course/membership programme is ‘will I get results?’. If you’ve given someone a small win through your free content e.g. a lead magnet or paid podcast episode you’ve already overcome that objection - they KNOW you can get them results. So instead of worrying about whether you are giving too much away, you should be focusing on how to offer them the next step. 

Podcast shownotes

  • What is content marketing and how can you use it to attract clients and customers (3:42)
  • How much of your content should you give away for free? (6:45)
  • Why you should give your best content away freely (7:40)
  • Why people will still pay for your products if you give away your really good stuff (10:14)
  • Why you shouldn't hold content back and make it difficult for people to access (14:54)
  • Why giving people great free content will make them want to know more about you (17:30)
  • Why you shouldn’t worry about the people that won’t pay for content (19:37)
  • Why your free content should always link back to your product or service (20:46)
  • Why you need to be seen selling often and visibly to avoid ‘baby bird syndrome’ (23:00)
  • Why your free content needs to deliver tangible results to gain people’s confidence (26:33)
  • Why you should focus on putting great quality content out there (28:15)

Resources

Jess Lorimer Selling to Corporates Podcast

Join my Build Your Audience Programme

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[339] How to build an audience for an online course or membership (podcast)
[343] The three audiences you must build to create a successful online business (podcast)
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[358] 13 Ideas for engaging social media posts for when you're all out of ideas (podcast)
[374] How to create a year's worth of content in one morning (podcast)
[381] How to use awareness days to create content for your business (podcast)
[386] The four types of content to create that will help you make more sales in 2020 (podcast)
[387] How to create more content in less time with Amy Woods (podcast)

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