As most people who read this blog know, giving away information is what I do. I write, answer emails, give away ebooks, give talks.
Thankfully I also pay the bills. The way I do that is by charging for information. Specific, bespoke advice, workshops, consulting calls, teaching classes.
So many times people have queried the strategy, they do not understand that I get to charge because of all the stuff I give away. As Chris Anderson says though in this interview, it is a model that works:
“The internet has enabled lots of businesses and business models to go digital. And one of the economic advantages of digital is that the marginal costs of manufacturing and distribution are zero, or close to it. This means that you can now experiment with giving away one thing to sell something else.
“It’s no surprise that virtually all businesses on the internet are based on —˜free’ in one way or another.
“It can be just advertising-supported – where you give away one product to sell attention to advertisers. Or it can be an inversion of the traditional sample model. Rather than giving away 1% of the products as samples to sell 99%, you give away 99% of the product as free samples to sell 1%. This is what’s called the —˜freemium’ model.”
The challenge comes when people get so used to seeing you as a free source of information that they get odd about having to pay.
Now that I see I already have a working system, it’s easy to decide who gets how much for free. When people I hardly know asks me to do their homework now, I simply say, “I can tell you where you’ll find what you need.
If they push for me to help them, I say, “If you’d like me to do that for you, we’ll need a more formal arrangement to cover my time. I charge $XXX/hour for that sort of work.”
While your business model might depend on and benefit from giving away free information and ideas, it should never be free at the expense of your business. Your advice has value but only to the level you allow it.