How to differentiate between free and paid content for your online business

There’s a lot of us trying to grow our businesses online at the moment (thanks to COVID-19 and nationwide lockdowns!) – maybe that’s moving our previous face to face work online, getting more clients or starting to think about creating your own digital product.

One of the biggest questions I’ve been getting asked lately in my Facebook community is –

‘If I’m thinking about creating some kind of online digital product, how do I differentiate between what I give away for free and what I charge for?’

This has become an even more important question as it may feel like a lot of people online are giving away lots of stuff for free – even, gasp, the kind of stuff you’d like to charge for!

Well fret not, in this Facebook Live recording and the notes below I’m going to share some really effective ways to think about what you can give away for free and how to differentiate your paid offerings from that.

Important note – there’s no rule that says you have to give anything away for free, but it is a very effective marketing strategy – more on that in a sec.

To sum up some of the main points I cover in the video:

Free content might be anything you create for marketing purposes that is designed to be helpful, entertaining or educational for your ideal clients (which is what all marketing content should be really!) 

That might look like – blog posts, videos, live videos, social media posts, podcasts, free PDF guides, free audios etc

Here’s a quick rundown of some examples of free v paid options to help you see what these might look like:

  • Free: general advice / Paid: personalised advice
  • Free: the ‘why’ / Paid: the ‘how’
  • Free: inspiration / Paid: accountability
  • Free: support up to a certain point / Paid: support for the longer journey
  • Free: snippet or ‘taste’/ Paid: the full monty
  • Paid: Step by step
  • Paid: Curated 

For example, my Ultimate Self Care Kit is free which is a short guide to help you create a self care plan. My Wholehearted Self Care guide is paid and is a much fuller digital guide with recipes, a journal, a home retreat guide and more. 

Another example – my Mini Mindset Course is a free 5 day course which takes people up to a certain point with regards to understanding their mindset. My Mindset Makeover Course is a full online programme that helps people transform their mindset around food and their body and includes a lot of practical tools. 

In these examples the free version is helpful and offers fantastic value – there’s absolutely no point in making free offers that are crap! The free content will get people from point A to point B (which for some people is all they need), but the paid offerings take them much further to point Z!

Another thing to remember is that people will happily pay for convenience – yes there’s a lot of free stuff out there but just the fact that there’s so much means that if you can provide people with a curated selection of content that’s perfectly suited to their needs, many will happily pay for that ease and time saving. 

Also don’t discount the impact of people wanting to work with you, and your energy. A great example is my friend Jo at Happy Yoga Newcastle. She started moving some of her business online before COVID really kicked off and despite there being a lot of free yoga content out there she has lots of paid members of her online community who not only enjoy the fact that her videos are a curated collection but also don’t just want yoga – they want yoga from JO.

I’d love to hear about how you differentiate between your free and paid content – pop me a comment below and do come and join my free Facebook Group Wholehearted Coaches Collective for free support. 

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Laura Agar Wilson is a wellbeing coach and business mentor who helps overwhelmed women live a life of more intention via planning, routines and seasonal living.

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