Should I give away my best content for free?

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It’s a commonly known content strategy to give away your best stuff up front, so that you can showcase your expertise and build your reputation and authority in the marketplace. However, how much should you really give away? Would it be best to hold back at least a little bit so when people pay you money there’s some additional value? Many people struggle with this concept, and it can stop them from doing their best work. So, let’s get some clarity on it. In this episode I discuss:

How much content should you give away?
What do you REALLY sell?
What might happen if you don’t give away your content


1. How to be found online when no one knows who you are (Part 1)

2. How to be found online when no one knows who you are (Part 2)


It is a commonly known content strategy to give away your best stuff upfront so that you can showcase your expertise and build your reputation and authority in the marketplace. However, how much should you really give away? Would it be best to hold at least a little bit back so that when people pay you money, there are some additional value.

Many people struggle with this concept and it can stop them from doing their best work, so let’s get some clarity on it.

How much content should you give away and why? First of all, let’s explore the problem and why we’re asking this question in the first place. How much content should you give away and why? Right? Why are we asking this question? Perhaps you don’t want to give away for free. What you have learned over the years that’s cost you a lot of money, paid education, professional education experience.

Are we afraid that someone will steal our stuff or use it to their advantage? Maybe we don’t want to give away the content that our clients are currently paying for or so we think they’re paying for more on that later. Maybe you think you need to tier your content or get your content in some way in some sort of way, give away some of your content, but keep some back. Maybe you’re even worried without realizing it, that you might not know what you think you know and you lack the knowledge to truly publish great content or perhaps there’s some imposter syndrome going on as well. You feel like you don’t have the right to publish this content.

So there’s a whole bunch of reasons why we might be asking ourselves this question. How much should I give away and should I give away my best content for free?

But here’s the question that I want to ask you that, sort of pools together this whole podcast episode, what do people really pay you for?

What do you really sell that you’ve really got to think about this question? I’m going to give you some examples and some ideas to help you think about this, right? But what do you really sell? What do people really pay you for? Let me give you an example. I’ve got a bunch actually of examples here for you.

Last night I delivered a training session, live on facebook, free for anybody to watch and get into. I’ve done that every Monday for the last couple of months. I’ve done loads of free content over the years and I’ll continue to do that. You can grab this podcast for free. You can read my blog. I’ve been interviewed on 50 other podcasts too, giving away all that I have every time. Never holding anything back. Never sort of saying, oh, I better not say that because that’s something that people should pay for.

I teach content marketing. How many content marketing blogs do you think there are out there? There are millions, so what is it that people actually pay me for? What unique value do we provide here at Content Marketing Academy? You can spend all your time on the Internet learning everything about content marketing, so why spend money with CMA? If you can get all the information for free, why do people pay me money? Our content can and is copied by other people. People take my content and then they make it make it work for themselves, right? They make it their own. I teach things like the Big Five and They Ask You Answer, which aren’t even in my ideas there Marcus’s ideas, not mine, Marcus Sheridan’s ideas. What does he think about that? Why do people pay me to teach those ideas?

There’s many answers to this question, right? We’re asking all these questions. What are the answers? We’re going to explore them in a few minutes, but all comes back to this question. What is it that you really sell, and once you figure out the answer to that and you feel confident about it, you’re not going to have to worry about giving away your best content upfront ever again.

There is one exception to the rule, which we’ll talk about towards the end, but here’s my main point at this stage.

If your success is hinged upon you or someone else not publishing a piece of content on a specific subject, then it’s not going to be long until you’re out of business. I’ll repeat that. If your success is hinged upon you or someone else you, your competition, maybe not publishing a piece of content on a specific subject, then it’s not going to be long until you’re out of business and we’ll come back to this idea as we go through the show.

Another example, another story I want to share with you is Marcus Sheridan story, right? You’ve, you’ve hopefully heard Marcus Sheridan story. I’m going to keep this short. If you have, I’ll drop a couple of links to podcast episodes. You can go back and listen to it goes into more depth. However, Marcus Sheridan’s journey isn’t that unique, right? And what I want you to see in this journey is how content is helped them to get where he is today.

So here’s here an sort of bullet point format. He had success with content marketing as a pool guy, right? Riverpools and Spas, 2008, business was on the brink of disaster, used content marketing to save and grow the business and the business is still alive and thriving today. He created a platform to share his philosophy and methodology, but what you learned about marketing, and he called that the Sales Lion, he then got a bunch of clients who wanted to have him and his team to implement that philosophy and methodology for them that that successfully sold his business, and now he teaches, They Ask You Answer, The Big Five and his marketing philosophies all over the world. He’s made millions of dollars in the process, right?

So you have to ask yourself, well, what does Marcus get paid for? You can buy his book. You can read his blogs, you can do his programs. There’s courses. You can read all the blogs. You could pay me a lot of money to teach you the thing. What does he get paid for? Right? Why is Marcus making lots and lots of money teaching from the stage? You’ve got to ask yourself, well, what does he get paid for? What does Marcus really sell and this, but this is the key thing that I want you to take away from Marcus’s story, which adds to this whole, this whole podcast episode.

This whole message I want to share with you is what’s happened with Marcus here and what will happen for you too is by creating ideas and then giving away all of your best ideas and content for free. You will have no other choice, but to keep growing and developing yourself to keep getting better ideas, and your challenge is to give it all away so you’ve got room for better ideas and better content so you can do your best work. If you keep it all to yourself you’ll never find your true potential. Otherwise you might find yourself being left behind in your marketplace by someone else who’s willing to give it all away.

Now, there’s rarely any secrets in this world, especially in our world, so what you’re holding onto is probably not the only version of the idea or maybe even the first time that someone has shared this idea. Got to ask yourself, why are you holding onto it? What do you really sell? What do you really get paid for?

Here’s a few generic examples to get your brain working right. Take a chef, for example, right? A chef, just because I can download or you can download any recipe in the world, doesn’t mean you’re going to be a great chef. So what does a chef really sell? Time. Convenience, a culinary experience. Trust, confidence, right? Chef sells all of that stuff.

A graphic designer. You could show someone exactly how to create a logo step by step, but doesn’t mean that people are going to able to be able to or ever want to do it themselves. What does a graphic designer sell? Time, convenience, expert insights, confidence. Helps your organization to look professional. A Graphic designer knows exactly what you should do, right? It’s that experience and that expert insight that they’re bringing to the table. That’s what they sell.

Estate agent. You could write a step by step guide on how to sell your home, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to try and do it themselves, right? That’s why it’s the agent still exist today. What do you really sell? Time, convenience, expertise, administration, a do-it-for-you service.

You can be the best shed manufacturer in the world. You could tell everyone and people, your customers exactly how to build your shed. All your parts that you used, the specs that you use, the design, they could download all, but they still wouldn’t be able to do it. It doesn’t mean that there are going to be a great carpenter or joiner, right? You could buy your shed from B&Q, right? What does a shed manufacturer really sell? Yes. Time and convenience, but it’s a luxury product, a luxury experience. A lifestyle.

If you’re a consultant, you can give away your best strategies and insights, but people are still going to pay to work with you even when people know what to do, they can’t do it, and there is a big difference between knowing and doing so what do you really sell as a consultant to cut through the BS and solve problems based on insight, react to problems immediately, to know the right answer based on years of experience. It’s not about what you know it’s about the results you can get for your clients, motivating people to do the work, holding people accountable to the work that need to do and supporting them and implementation that stuff that people need you to do as a consultant that they will pay you for.

Perhaps you are a yoga instructor, right? You can give away all your best routines. You could give away all your best exercises that you do, but that doesn’t mean that people will no longer come to your classes or hire you for one to one tuition. What do you really sell? Community, accountability, motivation, support and guidance, mentorship.

Knowing and doing are two different things.

Perhaps you’re a membership organization like we are and I’m challenging myself just by doing this podcast. I’m saying, what do I really sell? Community, accountability, access at a lower cost, motivation, new ideas, insights, critique, right? Results. That’s what happens in a membership organization, isn’t just about content, it has to be about something bigger than that.

Recently, another example recently we’ve been talking about Gary Vaynerchuck’s content strategy, his content pyramid that he published recently, right, which is one of the most highly valuable pieces of content I’ve seen in a long time. It’s probably worth like five or $10,000 maybe as a strategy and it’s totally free to download and use. There is a ton of value in it. How many people do you think are actually going to put it into action, right? Has it put any marketing businesses out of business? Has it put Gary Vaynerchuck’s business out of business? Right? Large brands, they don’t seem to have a problem hiring him even though he seems to give it all away, right?

There’s always going to be people who will try to do it themselves because they think it’s cheaper or better or faster, but the chances are that they are probably never going to be a great customer for you in the first place, or perhaps they are more likely to be a better customer for you in the future after they’ve taken some content from you and it won’t be long until someone disrupts your industry with something similar and where will you find yourself? If you are one blog or ebook away from someone putting you out of business, then what do you think you should do?

You should be the one that publishes it. You should be the one that gives away that content. You should be the one that’s challenging your business model. You should be the one that puts you out of business.

You need to question your business model. If the value that you add to the marketplace is simply based on information, you’ve got to really question your business model. If you feel that you can’t publish certain content for free, freely available to your audience because it will risk your business, then you need to think about, well, what am I doing here? What do I really sell? What value am I giving to the marketplace?

So let’s look at some scenarios, right? What is the worst case scenario of giving away all your best stuff. What’s the worst case scenario? Someone takes your work and puts it to good use, someone copies your work, you run out of content, or perhaps you decide to not publish your best stuff. What’s the worst case scenario? You hold onto all your ideas and worry that someone else might publish them anyway? No one knows who you are. Someone else publishes it and picture of business, right? There’s lots of reasons like that’s worst case scenario. Worst case scenario is that no one ever finds you. No one ever knows who you are. No one ever trust you. No one ever really understands what you do.

What’s the best case scenario for publishing all your best stuff? You become an authority in the marketplace. You become well known for what you do. It’s easier to do business with you. People trust you more. They become. You become better at what you do because you’re challenging yourself and you start to do your best work. All of a sudden you’re in a flow and you have your space and it feels great. We all know that when people discover us for the first time they aren’t ready to buy, we need to give value up front. We’re the ones that need to front it. If you want people to trust you, you are the one that has to give that trust away first.

So here’s what to consider when you’re giving away your best content. This is the close. Make sure it’s evergreen. Make sure it’s specific. Make sure it solves a valuable problem for people. Obviously don’t give away anything that will compromise your business model, right? That’s the one exception.

If you have a business model that relies on information, then don’t give away stuff that’s going to compromise that. However, if your business model could fail after publishing your content, then maybe it’s time for a rethink and also think about embracing the Big Five and They Ask You Answer, which is less about what you know and much more about helping your prospects to make a buying decision. Now, like I said, I’ve put a few podcast episodes in the show notes for you to get stuck into Marcus Sheridan’s story and the They Ask You Answer and the big five concepts as well, so get stuck into those.

There is enough room in the world for all of us. We all need to challenge ourselves to do our best work regardless of what other people might think or end up doing with it. We can’t hold onto our ideas because we think someone might copy them. There’s nothing new in the world. People are copying people all the time. Your words and your ideas and your opinions are needed in the world. Your work inspires other people. Show people what you’re capable of, give away your best ideas in order to challenge yourself to be better, and to think of better ideas and more mature ideas. Give away your best content and become known as the best in your industry.

Give it all away. Don’t leave anything back.

As always, my door is open. Drop me an email, or tweet me at @ChrisMarr101. If you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas, I’d love to hear from you. Keep doing great work. I’ll catch you next time.

Don’t forget to be awesome.