Content Marketing: Should You Give The Milk Away for Free?

Pete Schauer

Marketing Director

By now you know that content is critical to your business and offers many advantages outside of giving your audience something to pass the time. Since content is a form of marketing, many marketers find themselves asking the question of which content to give away for free and which to charge for. Is too much free a good thing? Or should you be selling some of your content?

Like so many other marketing tactics, there is no clear cut answer for this one. Some businesses take pride in the fact that all of their content is free and readers can look to them for a constant flow of information. Others have found that selling some information is okay, too, especially when it contains highly valuable material that people are willing to pay for.

The Case for Free Content

When making decisions for your own business, you must weigh the pros and cons to offering free and paid content and what you can achieve with both of them. Here are a few points to consider when favoring free content.

  • Free content helps you target your audience. You don’t want too much content hidden behind a barrier, otherwise you’ll miss out on opportunities to connect with these audiences.
  • Free content is easy to share. If your customers enjoy what they read, they can share this information with their friends.
  • Free content connects you to peers. It’s not just customers you want to connect with but also industry, networking and partner contacts.
  • Free content helps your audience solve problems. Generally speaking, people type their question or problem into the search box to learn what solutions are available. If your content is locked away, they won’t know how you can help them.
  • Free content distinguishes you from the competition. Your content doesn’t just educate your audience but also shows how you are different from your competitors.
  • Free content shows that there are real people behind your business. These connections are formed early on when readers get familiar with key people in your business and understand your unique personality.

It’s obvious that free content offers many benefits that would be hard to accomplish if the information was only available to paying customers. So is there ever a time that paying for content would be acceptable? Absolutely.

When Paying for Content is Totally OK

Any type of information that contains significant value that the customer can benefit from (how to save time or make a lot of money) is worth paying for. The information contained in these materials is truly beneficial for success, and it makes sense why you wouldn’t want to share it with just anyone. Those who are willing to pay for these concepts are most loyal to your solutions. Additionally, paying customers don’t always mind this approach because it means only a select few have access to the details.

Another example of when asking customers to pay for content is acceptable is when the information is hard to find. It’s not necessarily true that you can find everything on the Web, as the information may be hard to find or not properly indexed. If you have unique information you want to share that doesn’t currently exist on the Internet, it’s okay to ask readers to pay for it. This puts you in the position of a thought leader.

Final Thoughts

People will pay for content, but we understand that it’s hard to ask for payment when so much of the same thing is being given away for free. Interestingly, because there is so much noise on the Internet, customers are willing to pay to get quality, targeted information rather than wasting time and energy weeding through mediocre content and ideas. So as you create stellar content and wonder, “Should I charge for this?” the answer may very well be yes!
 

About the Author: Pete Schauer

Born and raised at the Jersey Shore, Pete Schauer is the Marketing Director at SEMGeeks. He holds a M.A. in Digital Communications from William Paterson University and has 8+ years in the digital space with companies such as Bleacher Report and Social Media Today in addition to SEMGeeks. His background includes creative and professional writing as well as strategic digital marketing communications and management.

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