How Much Information Should You Give Away for Free?

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Sales letters, emails and teaser posts on sites like Facebook face this dilemma all the time. How much information should you give away for free and how much should you keep back so that people will pay you for whatever it is you’re promoting?

You could go to the extreme of clickbait where there’s often no real information given away at all, just a question that is sufficiently controversial that it almost demands a response. But unless you’re a tabloid journalist in the making, that path is a difficult one to follow.

Or you could go to the other extreme where you give away the whole technique and then offer extras that make the process easier (software promoters often choose this route) or you use the situation to build up trust and (maybe) subscribers or followers.

Sometimes the information is given on a blog post like this one, other times it’s in the giveaway that you promise on your squeeze page, other times it’s in the webinar that you’re promoting.

All of those can work.

You need to decide what your preferred outcome is.

Wikipedia decided that it would be a non-profit organisation but it raises donations to make sure that it’s war chest has enough in it to keep the site running for at least a year.

It’s not likely that you’ll be running a site that takes millions of dollars a year to run with no revenue from advertising or product sales but it’s a model you could follow on a smaller scale and ask for donations to cover costs. I’ve seen something similar done with information about curing or regulating diseases (often with natural cures that aren’t officially approved) as well as with churches and other organisations.

Another option is to run a free service that’s supported by adverts but also ask for money every now and then, probably with some bonuses that encourage the more loyal subscribers to do that.

It’s an interesting model and one that can work.

It’s fairly typical for the vast majority of subscribers in that situation to not pay any money and probably not click any adverts (although the latter is the advertiser’s problem, not the publication’s, the advertiser will run the numbers and decide whether it’s worthwhile). But if the user base is big enough enough then enough people will donate something. I’ve done it with a UK music and show-biz gossip newsletter that I enjoy reading.

If you think about it for a few seconds, free information paid for with advertising is how most newspaper sites work. The only problem there is that the adverts tend to take over the site and push the content further and further away from the readers. Which then means readers get fed up and install ad blocker programs. These tame the excess of adverts but obviously affect the revenue stream – hence a lot of newspaper sites put up text pleading with visitors to remove the ad blocker. Forbes goes even further – you can’t view the site on their domain if you’ve got an ad blocker installed. So you have a choice of putting up with the ads or searching for the title and viewing the information via Google’s cache of the page or on another site that isn’t so aggressive.

That’s actually the problem with information…

It’s almost always available for free somewhere.

Usually with a simple search.

Sometimes only if you’re prepared to put your morals aside, either by eliminating adverts or going across to the dark side and getting hold of an illegal copy of the information.

The “it’s available free somewhere” problem is one we all face as internet marketers.

All of the basic techniques in internet marketing and near enough any other niche are available free. Probably on YouTube. Probably scattered across thousands of web pages.

So why should someone pay you for the same information?

That’s the job of your sales letter.

Maybe it’s the community you have – a forum or Facebook or Skype group that’s there to offer help and support.

Maybe it’s the twist of your years of experience so that people don’t need to go down a hundred and one dead ends before they find what they were looking for.

You need to come up with that angle to justify anything you’re charging.

Which I guess doesn’t really answer the question of how much to give away for free in the first place.

Sorry about that.

It’s your choice entirely.

Give away near enough everything (search through this site and there’s not much to do with my area of the current state of internet marketing that I haven’t covered) and then offer extras to smooth the path. That’s what I’m currently doing and it can work.

Give away a glimpse of what you could achieve and then charge for access to the information behind that glimpse. Plenty of internet marketers do that but you need to be sure the information you’re selling delivers on the promise you made.

Or do something between those two extremes.

Choose a direction that you’re comfortable with and test it out for yourself to find out what works best for you.

And (here comes the sales pitch!) if you’d like access to lots more information in a relatively short weekly video, check out my internet marketing super vault. You’ll get immediate access to the archives and an email each week reminding you that a new video has been uploaded.

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