Free vs. Paid Content: How to know when to charge

During a recent brainstorming session, you jotted down several great ideas in your bullet journal on how to help your audience. The only problem is that you’re not so sure of what content should be considered free and what should be paid. You have a ton of ideas, but you’re not sure of what to do with them.

You’ve grown accustomed to putting free content out into the world so now it’s a little nerve-wracking to ask people to pay for something that you’ve created. Free is your comfort zone. Asking people to pay you something? Now that’s scary.

What if it’s not good enough? What if someone else has offered the same information for free elsewhere?

After all, there are plenty YouTube series covering the same topics, so won’t your followers stumble upon those videos and get angry with you for charging them for similar information?

You’d LOVE to have money coming into your business, and you’re tired of not getting consistent sales. So, how are you supposed to know what information should be available for free or when you should charge?

In today’s post, I’m going to share my method of how to figure out when to charge and when to keep your content free:

First up, is how you can determine what information should be available for free.

Start off by thinking about where your audience is in the customer buying journey. Where are they struggling with their business or life? How can you help move them closer to what they desire?

Click to Tweet – “Free vs paid? Think about where your audience is in the customer buying journey.”

Free content should help your customers or clients to be better prepared to buy your paid content.

If, for example, you are going to teach your customers how to paint with acrylics, then your free content should help prepare them to do that.

You should blog about things like basic brush strokes, the best paint brushes to use with acrylic paint, how to choose a color palette, and where to find inspiration for what to paint. Each of these blog posts ideas will help your ideal audience to be ready to purchase something from you that teaches how to paint with acrylics.

If you sell jewelry, you can blog about personal style, makeup tips, how to keep your jewelry organized, and how to clean your jewelry, so it lasts forever. These are things that your ideal customers might be wondering and worrying about before they purchase from you.

You’ll want to think about where your audience is now and how you can move them a few steps closer to being in a place where they are ready to purchase something from you.

This means that you’ll need to step back into a beginner mindset, to recall where your customers are at and what they’re struggling with in their life or business.

I often find that to do this, I need to be in constant communication with customers and clients, asking questions that will clue me into what they are struggling with in their lives and business. I like to ask these questions through social media posts, as well as on my blog and in my emails. You can just send an annual survey to your email list asking 5-10 questions that will help you to know what they’d love help with in the future.

Entertaining content to build Brand awareness

Besides writing content that helps beginners, you can also write entertaining content to create Brand awareness and help your audience to get to know you a bit better.

Compelling content should be fun and relaxed, but should also be related to your Brand in some way. I love to reinforce my Brand goals and values through the content that I create. I use entertaining content to give my readers a break between meatier posts that have a lot of information or action steps.

Free content to test out new products or services

I also love to test out new products or services by writing something for free or running an open live challenge or workshop. By doing this, I’m able to test whether or not my audience is responsive to what I’m talking about or teaching.

Later, I can change the format of the free content to add more value and then put it up for sale on my website. Just by running through the content for free, I can validate whether or not it is a good idea and also get feedback from the participants. By serving my audience in this way, I can help them and build a rapport with future clients or customers. The participants who show up time and time again usually become advocates for my Brand and share my stuff everywhere.

The content that I post on my blog, on YouTube, or in my free workshops, all continuously work toward a few different goals: 1) To help get my audience to a place where they are ready to buy from me, 2) To increase Brand awareness through entertaining content, or 3) To test and validate new product or service ideas.

Click to Tweet – “Often, my clients start their blog or website without knowing what they’d like to offer.”

So often, my clients start their blog or website without knowing what they’d like to offer. Or they get stuck in the rut of giving everything away for free. My goal is to get them to a place where their website is doing the work for them, and to where they are helping their customers and clients to move through the customer buying journey.

Because websites need to do more than just look pretty.

Next up is paid content.

This is the content that you charge for because it teaches a specific skill or technique that you have designed to help your customers. Or you charge for it because it takes a bit of time for you to make.

You want to charge for things that require a specific skill or technique because you don’t want just to teach people how to do what you do for free.

Of course, if I were to show my audience how to create their websites from scratch through my blog posts, I would still have people who wouldn’t have the time to do it themselves. These people would prefer to sign up for my services because it saves them time. And I’d rather charge for this knowledge because it’s taken a lot of effort and money to learn it myself. Plus, not everyone has a knack for design. So, I’m able to charge for my one-on-one custom design services and my web coaching packages.

Now, I’m not saying to throw generosity out the window. Generosity is needed and essential, but I think you can be generous and still charge for a specific skill, technique, or system.

You’ll want to charge if it takes a bit of time for you to create.

If it takes more than a few hours from the time of conception to the time you have an end product in your hands, unless you’re using it to grow your email list, then you should probably charge for it. Your time is valuable, and you want to make sure that you’re compensated for the time spent.

The only exception I make for this is when I create content upgrades or free webinars/workshops. These free things help you to build your email list, which I still consider being “compensation”. You’re just being compensated with an email address, rather than with monetary payment.

You’ll want to charge if it costs you a lot of money for the materials you use to create your product.

I’m all about marketing your business, but if something costs you a ton of money to make it, you have to evaluate whether the return on investment is worth what you’re getting out of it.

I like to use things that take my time, rather than costly resources to market my business.

After weighing all of these things, you hopefully can know what to charge for and what to offer to your audience for free.

If you’re struggling to come up with product or service ideas for your business, come join the free 5-day challenge and plan your next offer. Each day there are videos for you to watch and worksheets for you to fill out. By the end of day five, you’ll have several ideas for your next offer and you’ll have taken the time to understand what your audience needs from you.

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Not sure when to charge for content and when to make it free? In this post, you'll learn how to use free content to prime people to buy and what content works better as paid content. | Creative Entrepreneur, Full-Time Entrepreneur, Artist, Creator |    Not sure when to charge for content and when to make it free? In this post, you'll learn how to use free content to prime people to buy and what content works better as paid content. | Creative Entrepreneur, Full-Time Entrepreneur, Artist, Creator |

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  1. Bonnie says

    Awesome post, Amanda! I feel like you were writing it right to me;) Because I actually AM preparing to teach a class on how to paint with acrylics. lol And thanks to you, I’ve come up with some good ideas for content around it. Also, I struggle with deciding what to give away free vs what to offer as a paid product, so this really helps!! Thanks:)

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