How Much Info Should You Give Away for Free on Your Blog?

In the last 48 hours I’ve received the same question from 4 different people, so I figured now would be a good time to answer this question:

“How much information should you give away for free on your blog or website?”

This is something I used to think about a lot, and up until recently my blog posts probably suffered as a result.

I was afraid that if I gave away all my best information for free in the form of blog posts, I’d have nothing left to offer as paid content later on.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions I see people make, and a lot of it comes down to understanding exactly why people buy premium products to begin with.

Why People Buy

It’s easy to think that people buy an information product because they want to learn how to do something.

While yes, that’s a primary reason why people buy, the fact is, almost with out fail, any information you can get from a premium product you can get for free online – it just may take a little more work to dig it up.

The value in a paid product isn’t necessarily just about the information contained inside of it – in fact I’d argue that this is one of the least important reasons people will invest in a paid info product.

So in order to answer the question “how much information should I give away for free” you have to understand what the primary motivations are.

In talking with readers and customers on my site, I’ve found four key reasons that people buy my premium products.  Let’s take a look at each of those, and then we’ll answer the question of exactly how much to give away.

Reason #1: Personal Accountability

How long have you been wanting to make a major change in your life? If you’re like many of the people here, the answer is probably quite awhile.

Now, how much have you actually invested financially to help get you closer to that goal?  There’s a good chance that the answer is not very much.

The first reason people pay for premium products is because they want to hold themselves accountable.  If I gave Location Rebel away for free, do you really think there would be as many success stories coming out of it?

I don’t – simply because that investment in the product is an investment in yourself. When money is on the line, more so than any other factor, people get motivated to change.

Does everyone work that way? Of course not, some people will buy and do nothing with it – but there’s a much higher likelihood of taking action if you invested a significant amount to get the information you want.

Reason #2: Access to a “Pre-Screened” Community

Waaaaaay back when, Location Rebel started as a free community for people to talk about location independence, lifestyle businesses and other similar topics.

It wasn’t successful.

Why? Everyone in there loooooved to talk, but few people actually wanted to take any action.

After a couple months it became clear, everyone wants to make a change, but few people are willing to take any action.

These people hadn’t made any investments personally to hold themselves accountable – so nothing was happening.

However, if you can create a community where people are pre-screened, meaning they’ve each invested in themselves and are trying to make a change, all of a sudden you have people who take action, as opposed to just talking about it.

There are over 300 people in our forums who have all invested in themselves and have the exact same goals: to be able to work for themselves from anywhere on earth.

Don’t you think that accountability tool, wealth of information, and the case studies, are just as valuable if not more so than any information I could package together?

I think so – it’s the one thing I would have killed for as I was getting started four years ago.

Reason #3: Convenience

Like I mentioned above, almost all of the how-to information you’re looking for can be found for free on the internet.

That being said, it’s not necessarily just the information people are willing to pay for, it’s the convenience of it.

It’s the package as a whole where you get everything handed to you in a nice little bow, with a plan for exactly how to start, how to execute, and how to scale once you get some traction.

In better terms, people pay for the strategy and the tactics together – not just one or the other.

Bonus Reason: Access

If I found someone who was doing exactly what I wanted, and was someone I wanted to learn from, there’s very little I wouldn’t pay for increased access to that person.

One of the reasons many high end info products are so successful is they come with increased access to the entrepreneur behind it, whether that be in the form of forums, members only calls, increased email access etc.

Obviously not all information products have this, but if there’s an element of increased access then the value of the product increases exponentially.

Put some thought into your unique expertise.  Why would someone want increased access to you, and how would you package that? When you can answer that question, then the idea of how much should you give away for free becomes more or less irrelevant.

So, How Much Should You Give Away for Free?

Looking at the four reasons why people buy, only one of them really has to do with the content itself.

When I’m thinking about writing content and what I give away versus what I make private, I generally go 80/20.  I think giving away 80% of your best content, if not more, is a no brainer – especially when you’re starting out and trying to build your reputation.

If you’re consistently giving out world class, high quality information, and you have a paid product your readers are naturally going to think:

“Man, if his free stuff is this good, I can’t imagine what the paid stuff is like!”

And that’s exactly what you want.

Sure I always keep a few secrets and strategies private that will be game changing for my customers, but I try to provide as much value for free as I can.

If people want to spend hours and hours going through Location 180, they’ll be able to piece together much of the material that I talk about inside Location Rebel.

Will they get everything? Absolutely not.

Will they get the accountability? Nope.

The engaging community with the same goals as them? Not so much.

Priority email and personal forum responses from me? Not going to get that either.

If you structure your paid products in such a way that you deliver all of these other benefits then you should be able to give away 100% of your best information for free, and still have a wildly successful business.

I understand that my lifestyle and this business is a privilege, and it’s something I’ve worked hard to achieve.  Yes, I do need to earn a living, but my primary purpose is to help as many people as possible reach their own goals and their own dream lifestyles.

How do you do this? Give away as much as you can for free, and then provide world class premium content for the people who want to really take things seriously.

Image Credit: Laurence Hunt

Shayna @ Adventurous Soul April 25, 2013 at 9:53 am

Thanks so much for writing this, and BRILLIANT breakdown of the reasons people buy. It can also be good to emphasize some of these aspects in the sales copy (for example, playing up the convenience factor rather than just focusing on the info the customer will get).

Hmm, time to go re-work my sales pages…

Reply

Sean April 25, 2013 at 10:47 am

Glad you enjoyed it Shayna! I’ve just been asked this question a lot lately and figured it was worth articulating in a little bit more depth.

Reply

Siegfried April 25, 2013 at 10:00 am

Interesting, I always thought you should give away everything…
Best Regards!

Reply

Melissa April 25, 2013 at 10:37 am

I really loved this post, Sean. This has been a question of mine as well. Thank you & have a great day! :)

Reply

Lior April 25, 2013 at 11:25 am

Great post Sean. It answered a bit of my question, however the nature of my site/product(weight loss), can pretty much be summed up in one monster post that can be good for SEO as well. I guess the only thing I can offer are extra resources and access to myself.

Thanks!

Reply

Raymond Duke April 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Reading this made me think about how we buy and sell online information. When you buy your generic online product (i.e., an eBook) you are getting a series of words and if you are a lucky, some pictures. The problem with eBooks is that they are just a fragment of what online content can be: an eExperience. Being about to use an online product as a tool, instead of a .pdf that sits on your device, is much more fulfilling.

An eExperience would consist of the things you mentioned; access to a community, access to the content crafter, and a online and offline connection with the investment made in oneself. Not many people that offering online products are fulfilling those needs – and it is the kind of thing I am working towards.

Reply

Jovanni G April 25, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Awesome post Sean! I’ve been asking myself this very question while I continue to post to my blog and work on my info product. Thanks!

Reply

J Munro April 26, 2013 at 2:31 am

Another very well timed article for me. I’m in the process of setting up a resource site where I aim to pretty much give it all away and make a side income through paid training materials and carefully-selected affiliates. I get a lot of people from around the world contacting me already about what I do for a living (I have a unique business model that is very different from the others in my field apparently) so I decided I was an idiot if I didn’t take advantage of that – even though I already run 2 businesses!

As with you. people have also said to me that if I give away so much great info for free then they couldn’t imagine how much I knew that I wasn’t giving away! I always come back to your website, recommend it to everyone, and find your articles so helpful to both of my businesses. You have a brilliant business model, a wonderful website, and a great attitude. I wish more people were doing it as well as you.

Reply

Jo April 26, 2013 at 3:32 am

This is one of the most useful posts I’ve ever written. I’ve been thinking about how I’ll eventually make a bit of income from my blog, and, although I’ve had a lot of ideas, I’ve not been able to convince myself that people would be willing to pay for them. Now I see that they might, for the reasons you outlined in this post. I really needed this – thanks.

Reply

Jo April 26, 2013 at 3:32 am

*you’ve. Doh.

Reply

Brooks April 30, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Ha, I was thinking, “wow, she got pretty ambitious on this comment” :)

Reply

Jo May 1, 2013 at 4:24 am

Lol. One of my more ridiculous typos!

Paul April 26, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Reading this reminded me of a quote by Joe Polish, a top-notch guy within the Direct Marketing realm. To paraphrase, he says that when you pay for something, only then does it take on a role of importance in your life.

Great post, Sean.

Reply

Algis April 26, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Sean,

You’ve seriously been killing it! Your last few posts really hit home with me. This is excellent information. Thank you.

Reply

Scott Nelson April 30, 2013 at 4:02 am

Yes, what Algis said. Great high value posts Sean. Thanks.

Reply

Alicia April 30, 2013 at 7:40 am

This post couldn’t have come at a better time, I just recently launched my free ebook and blog and I’ve been wondering about not having a product that I could actually sell.

Reply

Caelan Huntress April 30, 2013 at 10:18 am

I’ve never decided against doing business with someone because they gave away enough free content that I didn’t need to pay them. This is a zero risk.

Plenty of times, I’ve gotten so much value from someone’s free content (especially if there is a LOT of it) that I felt compelled to patronize their services in some way, because I’ve learned so much.

You’re spot on, Sean, there is never too much you can give away for free.

Reply

Chuck Bartok April 30, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Well stated….
We offer FREE information that dos make sense, but when those are seriously interested in “Growing” they gladly stand up and pay, becasue it is Value added and very visable.
In out retail product businesses it is easy to see touch and feel the difference for PAYING for quality.
On line it takes a little more thought and execution

Reply

Brooks April 30, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Yep, completely agree with you.
Although , I must say that I’ve agreed for years but had a hard time to implement.
It’s a psychological battle.

I have been in the real estate industry for 5 years now.
I know that the more that I share with others the more that will come back to me in the way of business.
But…
A) it’s easier said than done
and
B ) lots of folks are very secretive in the industry

So while I’ve known that the key is giving giving giving, this has taken much practice for me to create a habit with it.

I hope to carry over the same habits as I grow my online presence.

Thanks for the post.

Reply

Jawad Khan | WritingMyDestiny May 1, 2013 at 6:00 am

Hey Sean,

This is the first time I’m visiting your blog and I’m truly impressed by your posts. Great work.

The point that you made about accountability, I think that is the biggest reason why people purchase paid info products. Its a general tendency to value stuff that you pay for.

Regarding the 80/20 rule, in my opinion, when you’re starting out you can even go as far as 100% just to make sure people know that you are the real deal. You can then gradually make the shift to 80/20.

Subscribing :)

Cheers

Reply

Sarah Li Cain May 6, 2013 at 4:14 am

Totally agree! If you don’t at least put your best stuff out there, how can people know what th heck you are talking about?

Reply

Jessica May 6, 2013 at 11:20 am

Great article, and so timely for me, as I am in the process of launching an online business (a vegan meal planning service) and I’ve been toying with the idea of giving some of my recipes and tips away for free in a blog or on my facebook page. It seems that there is definitely a fine line between building content and giving away your product for free, especially if what you’re selling is simply neatly packaged information.

By the way, I am so glad I came across your blog. I left my job as an attorney about 4 weeks ago and I was feeling a little lost the first few days out of the office. After I found your blog, I was inspired to get started on my business right way. Thanks for the great posts…keep ‘em coming!!!

- Jessica

Reply

Antonio Gavrila June 1, 2013 at 2:36 am

Thanks for the article Sean, I’ll use some info from it for my upcoming website.

I’ve sold products before, but just on forums( WF, DP). Launching a blog and building a reputation along with it sounds amazing so it’s good to know when to draw “the free line” as Frank Kern says.

- Antonio

Reply

Box Breaker Brooks June 1, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Hey Antonio, I’ve heard of the Warrior Forum — but what does DP stand for?
Thanks!

Reply

Leave a Comment

« »