Should You Create Content for Free?

Bryan Collins

It’s kind of like playing a video game
Photo by João Ferrão on UnsplashPhoto by João Ferrão on Unsplash

Writing and publishing free content is a bit like releasing a video game demo. A casual gamer plays for a hour or two, puts the controller away and moves on.

A more serious gamer buys the game. They invest their time and attention in getting to the next level. Both get value but in radically different ways.

It’s ok for casual players to enjoy your free stuff, but build a premium offering for your dedicated fans. Help them breakthrough to the next level.

I set up my site Become a Writer Today in 2014 and wrote and published articles with all my best ideas for a year. While learning about creating online courses and digital products, I worried about giving too much away for free.

Since then, I spent over twenty thousand dollars in online courses and masterminds.

I discovered anyone can cobble together the nuts and bolts of a premium course or product for free. But, those who take the time to do it will never buy from you anyway.

People buy a product, like a digital course, because they want convenient results and not just information.

A content creator who publishes consistently is an expert in a specific topic. They can arrange and present information, even if already available, in an accessible format that followers enjoy.

Anyone can find out information about a topic or issue for free. But content creators bring a deep level of insight that’s harder to access without help.

People will pay for that over scrubbing through free YouTube videos and reading old blog posts.

Don’t assume all your followers and fans saw or consumed all of this content, first time around.

Some are new to your ecosystem, while others probably didn’t pay attention last time. It takes up to seven different touchpoints before a potential customer presses the buy button.

Giving free content enables you to validate and test ideas faster rather than keeping it behind a paywall. If something you teach isn’t working, you can change direction much faster.

In short: give away 95% of your best work for free. Test and refine your ideas, and your most loyal followers will pay for that last 5%.

What Should You Give Away For Free?
Photo by Ben White on UnsplashPhoto by Ben White on Unsplash

Start by identifying a clear pain point within your niche that your ideal customer struggles to overcome. What do they struggle with? What keeps them up at three am?

Perhaps they want to self-publish a book and don’t know how. Or maybe they want to overcome procrastination and accomplish more at work.

This painpoint is something you’ve lots of experience with and know how to solve. You’re also comfortable creating content and teaching people about it for free.

You’re also comfortable creating content and teaching people about it for free.

Perhaps, like personal development expert Darius Foroux, you’re an expert in productivity and mindset.

Or like author Joanna Penn, you know how to navigate the murky waters of self-publishing a book.

Next, create free valuable content that addresses this topic. Examples include how-to articles, information videos, explanatory posts, over-the-shoulder tutorials etc.

At the end, include a call-to-action directing engaged followers to take the next step.

Ask them to click on a link that takes them to a landing page whereby they opt in to receive a lead magnet in exchange for their best email address.

It could be a:

  • Checklist
  • Report or guide
  • Short video series
  • Inside interviews
  • Bonus content
  • A free book

This extra piece of content builds on the principles and ideas in your free content.


Profitable content creators give away their best work for free. But, they don’t produce indefinitely in the vague hope of money magically ending up in their back accounts at the end of the month.

They test what resonates with their audiences, foster a long-term relationship and build a backend upon which their business stands.

They test what resonates with their audiences, fosters a long-term relationship, and builds a backend upon which their business stands.

Over several years, they develop an eco-system of products and services that support each other. They give their customers, followers and fans more chances to support their work.

Everybody wins.

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Bryan Collins is an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work

Ireland, IN

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