Marketing Speak: What Should You Offer for Free?

July 27, 2020

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This is Part 3 of a 4-Part Series

In this part, I'll answer the top question for content creators: 

"Just how much do you give away for FREE?"

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The Content Creator's #1 Debate

Just how much 'content' do I provide for free?

Honestly...this is the #1 challenge for every content marketer, from novice to seasoned veteran. I think this is because there is no clear-cut formula that anyone can give you... and the answer is SO dependent on many factors.

I'm certainly not making excuses here -- or <gasp!> copping out and resorting to "clickbait tactics" in my headline above! I will give you my best process for figuring this out for yourself...so let's dive in to this crucially important question!

It's also important to be asking the right question and knowing your own website & business goals. To that end, it's important to review the foundations of Content Marketing...

Content Marketing 101: A Quick Primer

Content Marketing Benefits, in principle & in practice

  • You establish yourself as an expert...in a non-threatening, on demand, and easy-to-consume presentation
  • You solve readers' biggest challenges while establishing your brand & reputation
  • Readers get to know you & how to approach solutions to their problems and challenges
  • You attract targeted readers organically by answering what?... why?... and how?
  • It's FREE 'marketing' -- except for your time to create the content

Which brings me back to my suggestion above about "asking the right question" -- Can you afford NOT to use Content Marketing? With all these benefits -- especially for solopreneurs with no marketing team or budget -- the answer is a resounding "NO!" Content Marketing is your most efficient marketing strategy & best considered as "a cost of doing business!"

Best Content "Formats" for Content Marketing

  • Articles
  • Tutorials
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Courses

These formats are ideally suited to solving common problems of your readers. You can "go wide" -- as in a survey of resources or tools, or you can "go deep" -- as in providing a recommended process or series of steps. They are equally suited for any niche and and business, whether you are service-based or sell your own products.

But, that still leaves us with the Free vs. Paid problem...

My Recommended Process...

CAVEAT: Guidelines... not rules!

Please consider the following recommendations as a set of general guidelines...to get your own creative juices flowing!

Every niche, business, and website will have differeng needs, so no formula is possible or can be expected to work for every business.

What follows is a set of strategies to help you decide how to make these decisions for your own business...

The real underlying question...

"How do you decide what to charge for without losing your audience?"

This is a fine line to walk for every content marketer!

  • If you 'always' offer everything for free, you can quickly set expectations for your audience that "free is normal"
  • If you 'sudddenly start charging' you run the risk of losing some of your established readers

How to avoid this in the first place:

  • Have a Services page, prominently displayed on your MAIN MENU
  • Have a "How to Work with Me" page on your MENU
  • Have a Products page on your MENU

These seemingly-minor details set the right reader expectations that not everything is going to be free...right from the first visit to your website. If you don't already have these, they are very quick to set up, but do require some planning.

Another question you may be asking at this point:

"What if my website/business is new? I don't have products (digital included) to offer...YET!"

Great question and it applies to new & existing businesses...and is just as applicable whether you offer products or services.

Here are some easy things you can to do to set the 'right' expectations...

  • Create a "How to Work with Me" page
    • Offer 1-1 coaching...for a premium fee
    • Offer 'group coaching' for a lower fee
    • Offer a private FB group with periodic "Ask me Anything" sessions for a fee
  • Create a few quick products
    • An e-book format, containing your top articles or tutorials on a specific topic
      • Sell it for just a few dollars, because it packages your content into a single download... Many readers will be happy to 'pay for convenience!'
    • Offer an email course over a set number of days:
      • "10 Days to Eliminate Procrastination"
      • "Establish a Meditation Practice in Just 14 Days"
      • Offer one step of an established and proven process, all for a low price point
      • BUT...don't devalue your own expertise! What you take for granted could be GOLD to your readers!

Recommended Pricing Strategies:

When doing your own planning, it helps to consider who is best served by specific content formats & differing price points. I always try to provide content & pricing that fits most every reader, so everyone interested can get the help they need, even if they simply cannot pay for it:

  • FREE: These will be the majority of your Content Marketing efforts -- articles, tutorials, podcasts, videos, courses. This is best suited for the true DIYer who is self-starting and can apply your principles without much hand-holding...
  • Low-Cost: Best suited for readers who need -- or want -- more guidance and are willing to pay for it. It also helps them "test your content & you out" for a very small risk to them. These could also be your best candidates for future higher-end purchases, since they have already seen what & how you teach. These readers also help you segment your audience, since you know what they have actually invested money in! Mini-courses -- short courses on a very specific topic -- are great to offer here as well. (Think a 'slide deck' or short video) You can offer links to the content via email, or host these on your website with a private link your customer receives by email once they purchase. (BTW, this email sequence can aad should all be automated.)
  • Premium: This would be something like a 'flagship course' or and entire system you have created, such as something you have perfected & successfully used with clients over time. 1-1 coaching is perfect for this price point, as is group coaching, or offering a VIP group with periodic and regular access to you (think private FB group). For Premium courses, it is very difficult to get both pricing & scope 'right' on the first attempt. The best approach is to offer a BETA course -- at a significant discount & for promised customer feedback -- the first couple of times to see what works once you are teaching online.

Part 3 of this Series has provided you with guideslines & recommendations for what to give away and what to charge for...but there's still more!

In Part 4, I'll be tying all of these parts together and showing you how to build a sales funnel, how to create & deliver Lead Magnets, as well as my recommendations for the tools required to make it all happen.

If you have any questions on "marketing speak" that you'd like me to cover in future tutorials, please let me know in the Comments below.

And make sure to subscribe above to be notified when Part 4 is published!

Karen McCamy

I'm a WordPress Trainer & Coach, and believe that everyone should be able to build & maintain their own WordPress website... without having to learn complicated code!

WordPress democratizes online publishing and completely aligns with my values as a a Social Science major, with a degree in Anthropology.

WordPress enables everyone to build a custom & conversion-ready website.

When not teaching WordPress, I enjoy writing at my local coffee house, trying to wrap my head around black holes & multiverses, or relaxing at home with my 3 feline adoptees...

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