How much free content should you give away?

Written by Georgina Thorne
On & Categorised in Online Marketing
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Last week I got asked a question about creating content and downloads in the Build your brand online Facebook group.

One of the members is building an online brand and wants to use downloads as part of her content marketing strategy.

Which got us talking about the different types of content you can offer and how much free content should you give away.

First of all, what is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a type of marketing that involves creating and sharing online material in the form of podcasts, downloads, blogs, social media posts or tutorial videos.

Sharing your knowledge and expertise through helpful content, targeted to your specific audience can benefit your business in the following ways:

  1. It shows people you know what your talking about (builds trust)
  2. Becomes a lead magnet which can be used to build your email list (lead generation)
  3. You can use them to drive traffic to your website (Search engine optimisation)
  4. Through all of the above, you will generate more sales for your business.

But, what type of content should you give away for free and what should you charge for?

For free or not for free – that is the question

When it comes to the subject of giving away free content, there are several different opinions.

The 2 main camps are the ‘give away your best content for free’ camp and the ‘only share what you do but not how to do it’ camp.

Give away your best content for free

Giving away your best content for free

What we’re talking about here is sharing high value content that helps your target audience solve a problem or pain point in some way. You share all your best advice, so your audience knows you’re the real deal.

What this does is makes you an authority on your particular subject and builds trust and credibility with your audience as they are beginning to understand the level of value you have to offer.

Just to be clear, it’s not about giving all of your secret sauce away for free so you never creating a viable business. You can share tones of helpful tips and how to’s on your blogs and in downloads, but what you can’t do is get super specific to each individual need. So there’s always somewhere else for your audience to go.

For example; I share lots of advice in my blogs and in my free facebook group about building a brand on social media. I give away tips, how to guides and even short video tutorials. Which is great for audience because they all need help in that department.

But they all run different types of business’ and are all on different platforms with varying time commitments, etc. Which is where the higher level of content comes into play.

If someone needs advice on their specific platforms for their specific niche, then that would be paid for. Or if someone wanted help creating content for their specific channels, that would be paid for too.

So it’s not about giving everything away for free, it’s about introducing your audience to what you have to offer, making yourself familiar and memorable so when they need you, you have a higher level of content or service you can offer them which they’ll be happy to pay for.

Only share what you do, not how to do it

Knowing what to share

Now this is a slightly different way of thinking, in that you share lots information about what you do, why you do it, the purpose and potential benefits, but you keep all the practical hands on stuff to yourself.

For example, if you teach yoga, you could share the benefits of yoga, what kinds of conditions it can help and all the steps you would need to take to picking the type of yoga that’s right for you. But you wouldn’t show them any of your yoga poses.

So, you might give people a list of the most relaxing sound tracks to listen to while you practice yoga, the most comfortable clothes to wear and where to buy them, but the video tutorial on yoga flows for beginners would be part of a paid course.

The problem with this approach is that it’s all based on opinion and not backed up by authority. It’s all very well telling people you’re an expert yoga instructor but if you don’t share any content of you in action, how can you prove it?

Here’s what I think

Providing the free content you share is doing something for you, ie building your email list, increasing website traffic or acting as a step in your sales funnel, then there is no such thing as too much free content.

When it comes to proving your authority on a subject you can never be too helpful or too generous with your advice. You can give away everything you know, and there will still be people out there who will pay you to tailor your skills to their person needs.

If you think about it, there’s a limit to the amount of detail you can go into in a blog post or ebook. You’re going to struggle to cover every little detail in depth, so there will always be a next step or a higher level that you can put a price on.

Going back to the yoga instructor example, you should absolutely share a free video of yoga flows for beginners for free. It will show each viewer your incredible skills and expert knowledge and they can start getting into yoga at their own pace.

They will probably refer back to the video, they might even practice that particular flow for 6 months before they are ready to go to the next level. But when they are ready, guess who they’ll get in touch with? That’s right, the lady who shared that awesome free yoga flow for beginners video.

So I wouldn’t worry too much about whether you’re giving too much content away for free and concentrate on how you can up sell to the next level.