Giving free content such as online courses and digital downloads away might seem a bad business idea.
It's illogical and contrary to common marketing sense how free-sampling can turn into your actual profit. Earning $0 is the worst perspective for any creator. Especially when a lot of time, imagination and energy were spent to launch the project.
But hold on. One free online course won't make you bankrupt. On the contrary, you can get a perfect ready-to-buy audience and increase your sales in several times. But, yeah, you need to be pretty patient to take your best harvest from your free seeds.
Let's be clear. There will always be people waiting only for free content. They will never turn into your real customers. And they never intended to become ones. But take it easy and do not try to redo them. Better concentrate on the audience begging for your paid exclusive content after they swallowed the free one.
Sometimes it may seem like giving away the best content for free makes it less valuable for people. So, is it a true risk or a wise marketing hook for clients?
Reasons to give away free online course.
People will understand your product better
People don't usually buy without trying the product out. No one will buy 10 kilos of sweets at once. It's smarter to buy a few sweets, then decide whether you like the taste and return for your sugar-coma dosage.
The same works with selling any content you create. First, people want to take a bite and only then eat the whole thing.
No one is interested in buying a pig in a poke. Giving away free content can save from misunderstandings between you and your clients. After a free trial, your expectations have better chances to meet.
Moreover, you will get user trust as they have already interacted with your content at least once. There are better chances for your free users to turn into a paying audience considering your premium offers.
You will get a loyal audience
As people get your content without paying a penny, they will have lower expectations. As a result, they will be more understanding and non-judging.
Sharing free content helps you to build a solid client base. People will find your content, watch it or read it and know for sure you know your stuff. It's one of the best ways to nurture your fans and future paying clients.
Another great thing is that people will share your content with others as there is no gate for them to enter it. It's super beneficial for you, as you will see how your audience is becoming bigger and bigger.
62% of millennials say publishing online content drives brand loyalty. And imagine, this number goes up when you publish smart and useful content, especially for free.
But watch out. Your content has to be intelligent and add real value to people's lives. No sales pitches — share thought-provoking knowledge.
And brand loyalty is guaranteed.
Just for you to know about free online course
Free content such as mini online course, webinar or eBook shows you're an expert
People invest hours in research before making a purchase. Okay, it goes without saying that you need to be presented online. But your valuable advice and domain expertise will make people believe that you are a professional.
You can share your case studies, success stories, or best practices to confirm you are an expert. People will see the real value of your online course and refer to you as a go-to person when they have an issue in your sphere.
Gary Vaynerchuk proves this idea. He is an investor in Twitter, Snapchat and other huge billion-dollar corporations. He advocates that creators should not charge for their best works. It may be hard to let your best work go public for free, but it is worth it. People will see you're not trying to sell some nonsense rubbish but have a high-quality valuable product.
People value accurate and informative content. And it's your opportunity to become an expert giving people the knowledge they need for free. After getting your free advice, they will be ready to pay you as they already know that your help works.
You will get more sales of your main online course
Can you imagine growing your business by 290%? That's what the majority of entrepreneurs and creators dream of. And sharing free content can bring you closer to it.
Free content means free marketing. The more people know about you, the more sales you will have. A very simple math trick.
Also share your content on various platforms. Medium, Reddit, LinkedIn, Youtube — everything will work perfectly in combination.
By the way being a personal fitness trainer doesn't mean you can only go to the gym and train people. You can develop your brand — write useful articles, make videos or online course. Or you can even make your own mobile app. Anything you want!
You can take advantage of your competitors
As you're sharing your ideas for free, make sure it's easy for people to find you in Google. Moreover, your free post can go viral… and that's why you need to take advantage of such publicity!
Tell about your benefits compared to your competitors. That's your time to make a statement.
Let's say, you're a fitness blogger. You offer not only workout programs — but you also have a diet plan and psychology support. It's your advantage and a privilege. Sport, psychology, and nutrition always go side by side.
Is there any risk in giving away free online course?
At some level, unless you do it strategically, there obviously is. You need a plan not to lose everything you have. Remember, you're doing it to create leverage to do and sell later on something that is not free. That's how it should work. First free, then you reap the fruit.
A helpful business tip — make sure your free posts or video meet SEO standards. Increase your online searchability adding trendy words to your SEO plan. It's one of the leading influencers in digital space.
Creators fear free samples will lead to fewer sales, but it's quite the opposite. The more generous you are with a free content putting out, the more sales and customers you will receive. It is pure psychology: it comes from a basic people need to reciprocate. When you receive something sweet, you want to do something nice in return.
What and how to give away
One of the main questions is what to give away. Let's look at this marketing sales funnel.
Awareness is the first element in the purchase decision process. Customers need to be aware of what you're offering, your product, and your advantages before the others. But how exactly can you do it?
The next great picture shows you what content to publish on every stage of the sales funnel. You can see there are several categories of materials depending on the entrance level.
You can divide your content into three types:
- Given absolutely for free, making no obligations for users
- You get people emails in return for your free content
- Registration is needed to get your free content
Your content may vary — from blog posts to white papers — depending on how much your users are eager to pay you out.
So, you need to think about how it's better for your audience to get the content. Will they be willing to leave an email if they don't even know you? Here is a bit of little advice: the first piece of content can be free, then you can ask something in return.
Well, what's the best content to give out for free? People love helpful information, mini online courses, clear instructions, and guide lists. Why not give it to them?
Also, it's a great idea to follow the trends. Today, video content rocks. Choose video streaming as one of the ways to spread your knowledge. People will love this as they will see your brand has a real face. Personal stories touch the most.
You may be lost thinking you need to spend days and nights creating top-notch content and then give it for free. Yeah, your product should be of excellent quality. But, please, don't panic. Take your one idea and then publish it everywhere in a variety of forms. It's called a COPE (create one, publish everywhere) method.
It's quite a lazy way to fill in your content plan, but it works. It doesn't require months of preparations to go live. You can launch much faster.
The idea is elementary — you create an article, then you share it via your social media profiles. Later on, you can make a Youtube video, create an online course, or even make a small ebook. Every piece of content concerns the same topic. The way you share your ideas depends only on your imagination. Make the most of your knowledge!
Just look at one of the most vivid diversification examples. You know who is Jamie Oliver, right? He became famous thanks to his delicious recipes. He is one of the most influential chefs worldwide. And sure he would be able to sell anything if he wants. But still, he gives some of his recipes for free. He has a website where he publishes them. What's more, he does it on the other platforms like Youtube and Instagram. He gives his best recipes for free and is still a very prosperous chef.
It's a great proof that a simple fact of sharing free content won't do any harm. You just need the right plan and a strategy!
To sum up:
- Free content (online course, eBook, webinar) is a key to increasing your sales, brand awareness, and audience loyalty.
- Free content shows you are an expert in some domain. People will go to your even for paid content if they like what you offer for free. Intrigue people with your best free works!
- Divide your content into three categories and think what you can give absolutely for free and where you want to get something in return (let's say, email or registration on your website).
- Great free content is very likely to go viral. People love sharing cool articles, informative videos. It's great for you to have no entrance gate not to push the people wanting your materials.
- Awareness is the first step in making a purchase. And free content strategy can make people get to know more about you and your brand.
- Video content is becoming more and more popular today. Consider offering people free live streaming or online course. It's one of the most engaging types of content.
- Diversify your free content platforms. You can talk about the same topic via various channels — Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, or blog posts. Just don't be afraid to try every single platform to make your content go viral.
- C-O-P-E method is one of the best for sharing free content. It's a multi-channel strategy without multi-hour investments.
There is an old saying: the more you give, the more you receive. That's an absolute truth. But in the marketing world, you need to understand why you offer something for free, what it will give to you. When you understand it, it will become easier to let it go live. You need to be able to predict the outcome and tell whether it meets your marketing and business goals.