Free vs. Paid Content: Are You Giving Away Too Much?

February 19, 2021

Helping people with useful ideas and concepts probably plays a major role in your business values. But you gotta eat, too. The goal is to always serve your people well, so that what you have is valuable enough to get paid for it.

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 free vs paid content

Do you fully value things that are always free? Think about the Dum Dums lollipops you can get at the bank. You’re probably not jumping at the chance to spend your hard-earned cash on a bag of those. The same principle applies to marketing and free vs. paid content.

The bottom line is, you’re an expert. Your knowledge has value. 

While free content does have its place, you don’t want to give away too much for free. Paid content gives your business a healthier bottom line and more robust ROI. So, let’s break down free vs. paid content and when you should use either or. 

That’s some catch, that catch-22

What’s your currency as a business owner? It’s your expertise and knowledge as a specialist in your field. But unfortunately, business owners in the age of the internet face a major catch-22. 

You’ve gotta prove your expertise, and the chief way to do that is through content marketing. You use content to demonstrate why you’re an expert in your field and persuade people to do business with you. 

Give away your best ideas for free, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. 

Yeah, not all the time. 

You’re probably figuring out there’s a balance to strike here between free vs. paid content. Too much of one or the other isn’t going to help your business grow, scale, and generate revenue. You’ve gotta balance the tightrope between free content and paid content while continuously serving your tribe. That’s when the money flows. 

Suppose you lean toward putting a lot of content behind a paid course or membership site. In that case, you might be thinking if you give away too much free content showcasing your best ideas, no one will have an incentive to buy from you. But that’s not necessarily true. 

What if you struggle with charging people for your content? You’re not doing your business (and your bank account) any favors. 

Confused yet? Allow me to clarify. 

Your specialized knowledge is more valuable than your free content 

People don’t purchase from a brand because it has the most content. They do business with brands that solve their problems, make their lives better, save them money, time, etc. 

Be brave enough to freely give some of your best ideas. But notice I said some! People will still do business with you because what they ultimately value (and will pay for) is your specialized knowledge. 

Your content is just one sharp tool in the toolbox when it comes to demonstrating how your business makes life easier for your ideal customers. 

Content plays a big part in building brand awareness and getting people to your offers. But what type of magic does it weave once people are inside? Here’s how to decide when to make a piece of content free vs. paid. 

Free vs. Paid Content: How to Categorize

Free content should be all about the whats and the whys. Paid content? That’s the how

When deciding what to make free vs. paid, ask yourself:

What does my target customer need to know, understand, be aware of, or believe before purchasing from me?

Mostly, you’ll want to make simple tips and opinions-free content. Systems, blueprints, how-to guides, and the like should be paid. 

With your free content, you’re building awareness and demonstrating trust. Free content is designed to prime the buyer. With this type of content, you’re answering questions, overcoming objections, and tackling limiting beliefs and imposter syndrome. 

You’re demonstrating you’ve got the background to solve an important issue, answer a question, etc. That’s what gives your ideal customer a taste of what your brand is capable of. 

With the paid content, your potential customer will learn how your systems or processes ultimately solve their problem. Ultimately, paid content is designed to give the client a transformation and deliver on the promises you’ve made. And that has value — monetary value. 

True, free content is valuable too. But it’s the paid content that needs to be highly specific, detailed, and worth the dollar amount attached to it. 

Free content is like looking at the outside of a pretty castle and oohing and aahing over the landscaping. Paid content gets you inside to look at and interact with all the cool sh$t. 

Use your free content to:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Generate buzz and interest in an offering 
  • Demonstrate trustworthiness and specialization

Paid content should:

  • Showcase your expertise
  • Solve a real, tangible problem with concrete steps and solutions
  • Give in-depth, high-specialized insight into a specific issue

Paid vs. Free Content Key takeaway: It all starts with a change in mindset

Let’s get down to it. 

At the end of the day, inspiring people and getting engagement is great. But it doesn’t translate into sales, The bottom line is, if you’re not selling a product or a service, then you don’t have a business. You’ve got a concept or an idea. 

Helping people with useful ideas and concepts probably plays a major role in your business values. But you gotta eat, too. The goal is to always serve your people well so that what you have is valuable enough to get paid for it. 

Creating high-value content isn’t easy, cheap, or free. Even if you’re DIYing it, you may not pay for great content in cash, but your time. Which, in a way, is also money. 

Figuring out the calculus behind free vs. paid content often requires a mindset shift. A lot of people don’t think their opinions or knowledge have a monetary value. 

Or they have a scarcity mindset and think any free content is giving away the farm. Effective content marketing requires striking a balance between the two. 

Do you struggle with charging people for your efforts, time, and your content? It’s your mindset that needs to change. Start thinking like a CEO. Because ultimately, that’s what you are as a business owner. 

I break down this balance you need to strike in even more detail with my Free vs. Paid Content Guide. Once you hit the right balance between free vs. paid content, you’ll:

  • Build brand awareness with far less effort
  • Quickly generate buzz and interest in your offerings
  • Increase your conversions and your revenue via content marketing
  • Grow and scale your business

Never agonize over whether your content should be free or paid again. Download the guide today. 

free vs paid content

Free vs. Paid Content Guide…Go Get It!

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