In today’s episode, I’m answering a reader’s question about whether something should be free or paid, and how to decide the difference between the two.
If you’ve been wondering how much to give away for free, and how to decide whether you should charge for something or use it for list growth, this is going to be super helpful for you.
Here for the links referenced in the show notes?
Ask a Question: tashcorbin.com/question
Take Off program: tashcorbin.com/takeoff
Let’s dive in…
Christine’s question is:
“How do I decide on the depth of topic per setting when it comes to creating content? Plus, how do I work out if an idea should be free or should be paid?”
Great question, Christine!
This is the decision point of whether the content you create is going to be:
- An online course
- A free webinar
- A paid class
- Something in your podcast
- An Instagram reel
What actually fits for this piece of content? And how do you decide not only how to deliver that piece of content, but also whether it should be free or whether it should be paid?
In this episode, I’ve got six little pieces of advice that will help you to decide whether to make something free or paid, and make the most of that as a strategic asset in your business.
1. Every piece of content that you create has a specific job to do
If you have an idea for a piece of content or something that you want to share, we need to first ensure that whatever you decide to do with it, you give it the right structure and it’s structured in order to fit the job that it needs to do.
For a lot of people, they’re so focused on what they want to share, that they haven’t crafted the way that they share it in order to complete a strategic job in their business.
If we think about your content as an asset rather than an activity where creating content is something that you just do over and over again, then that asset needs to do its job in terms of generating some form of return.
Just like if you were to purchase a printer… Its job is to print. If you were to purchase a vehicle, you’d want to ensure that you purchase a vehicle that is appropriate for the job that it needs to do.
It’s exactly the same when it comes to creating content.
This is the biggest trap that a lot of people fall into. They’re so excited by the idea for that piece of content, that they don’t take a minute to just consider: What job do I need this content to do?
Once you’ve decided what job it needs to do, then the way you present it and the structure you give to it would actually be different depending on where it goes.
That’s my first piece of advice on deciding whether something should be free or paid. Just remember that whatever you decide to do with it, ensure that you make a clear decision of what job you need it to do and structure it accordingly.
2. Look at where you have gaps in your client attraction process
Wherever a gap is in your client attraction process, you could create a piece of content to fill it.
Your client attraction process has the stages of:
- Reaching people
- Nurturing a relationship
- Generating leads
- Converting them
- Delivering on the promise
If you are under-delivering inside a course or program that you’re already selling, then your piece of content could fulfil the role of delivery.
If you have a gap in what you’re delivering and there’s something in particular that you need to help people with and that you want to be charging for, then delivery could absolutely be the gap in the client attraction process that you’re fulfilling.
That would then make it something that people would pay for.
But for a lot of people, where they’re falling down in their business is not in delivery. And if you’re reading this podcast in particular, I would hazard a guess that you don’t underdeliver.
You’re not currently under-delivering and you do not have gaps in the delivery stage of your client attraction process.
If the gap that you’re trying to fill is a reach issue, then I would argue it needs to be free ungated content.
If you have a nurture issue in your client attraction process where you’re not building strong enough relationships with your audience, then you might make it a piece of content that you either gate or have ungated (ie. people either give you their email address or not) so that you can build a stronger relationship with your audience and help them to move forward towards their goals.
For a lead generation issue, you can use that piece of content to generate leads – whether that be by moving your audience closer to that lightbulb of being ready to invest, or by making it something that people can only access if they self-identify as a lead.
If you have a conversion issue, then I would create that piece of content as a conversion event (ie. running a webinar, a challenge, or potentially doing it as a paid lead magnet, which would work for lead generation or conversion).
I do have an opinion on charging for lead magnets…
I understand that low ticket offers and self-liquidating offers are absolutely hot right now. They do have a place in our client attraction process, and absolutely, we can make them work.
But for most people that I am working with, the job in their client attraction process that they are wanting to achieve is actually increasing the number of leads that they’re getting or the number of people on their mailing list significantly.
For me, when it comes to paid lead magnets, I always ask the question: Would I rather have 10 people pay me $20 for this? Or would I rather have 200 people grab this for free?
That’s usually the ratio I experience when I put a price tag on something or not.
If I then decide I’d rather have 10 people pay me $20 for it, that’s a launch that I would need to do to make that $200. Could I make that $200 easier with some of my existing products? Yes, I could.
It helps me to reconcile whether paid lead magnets are a priority strategy for me at this point in time or not.
As I get into scaling up my Facebook ad spend to over the $2,000 to $3,000 a month mark, that is when I have flagged strategically that would be a time where I might charge for high value but low ticket offers for people to be able to learn from me, work with me, or come along to live events.
Strategically, I’ve made a decision to not focus on low-ticket offers for now. This means I can blinker myself and stay focused on my strategy and not get lured into some of that shiny object stuff.
There are so many people out there who are sharing things like, “My Facebook ads are free because they’re paid for by my low ticket offer”.
But it’s taken them nine months to craft and refine and perfect that process.
If I was to invest that same amount of time into improving my launches of the Take Off program, I would make a far more significant amount of money.
We want to make sure that we’re really strategic and understand what the client attraction process gap is that we’re trying to fill with our free or paid thing. We want to really increase the number of people who are moving from one stage to another.
3. Remember the difference between information and transformation
This answers the question of how much to give away for free.
You may have heard me say on the podcast before, that I am pretty unthrottled and unbridled when it comes to how much information I give away for free. This is because I recognise that people can access information anywhere for free. The internet is full of free information, and I want to provide valuable free information to my audience.
But I also know that the reason that people invest to work with me is not to access information. It is because they want to achieve a transformation.
If I separate out my content in that way (is this giving people information? Or is this facilitating a powerful and significant transformation?) that helps me to make a decision about:
- How much detail goes in
- Whether I charge for it or not
- Whether it belongs inside one of my paid programs or not
It really helps me to make an informed and strategic decision.
Really thinking about that information versus transformation helps to understand how much to give away for free.
One thing I will say to that is that even though I say I don’t hold back on the information that I give away for free, I do also give away information in a way that is effective in helping people.
Sometimes people hear me say that I am unabashedly out there sharing information and I don’t hold back, and they misconstrue that and think that they need to jam as much information into their free thing (ie. a webinar) as possible.
But that’s not how you run an effective webinar.
Think about the webinars you’ve been to where you just feel like your brain is at capacity and there’s too much information that’s been shared all in one big go. You can’t digest it and you can’t implement it.
That’s not doing your audience a favour.
Even though I say that I don’t hold back when it comes to giving out free information, I’m not meaning that I am dumping a ton of information on people all at once that they can’t process and can’t do anything with.
That doesn’t mean I have to jam as much as possible into a single webinar.
I’m also mindful of adult learning principles and helping people to actually implement what I teach. I always ensure that I’m presenting that information in a digestible and implementable way.
I just wanted to touch on that because I have had a few questions about that inside the Take Off program.
When I tell people not to hold back on giving away free information, I don’t mean that you should give it all away at once. And I don’t mean that you should give it all away without thinking about where it fits in your client attraction process or what its job is for your business.
Yes, I give away that information freely. But I also do it in a structured and strategic way.
That is the third thing to think about when deciding whether something should be free or paid: Is this facilitating a transformation? Or is this presenting some very well-presented information?
That also helps me to make a decision.
4. What is your model?
What is your model for the different things that you have that people can pay you for?
My model is free or big (in most cases). I have very few things that are low ticket.
That’s because I know selling something for $25 takes just as much (if not more) work as selling something for $2,500. Which one would I rather invest my strategic time into? It’s selling the thing for $2,500!
When I focus that way, it actually means I have far more time to create amazing free content like this podcast, and I’m not tied up in creating lots and lots of little things for sale all the time, because everything that’s paid needs marketing and sales.
Many people underestimate how much marketing it takes.
They think that if they have something for $2,000 and they have something for $20, then the $20 thing is going to have far higher conversion rates.
But that’s actually not true!
In most cases, the conversion rate is fairly similar. It definitely isn’t 10x the conversion rate.
My conversion rate for the Take Off program is between 3% and 7% depending on which webinar I run, how much I’ve been running ads, and how many people come into that launch.
But when I launch my planning system (which is $295 early bird), my conversion rate is between 3% and 5%.
That is not because there are fewer people in my audience that want it or need it. That’s not because I don’t do as good a job marketing it.
I think that my sales process and my conversion into that is actually brilliant. But it’s because the price is only one factor in the decision-making process.
Many people assume cheaper will make more sales, but that is not always the case.
In my model of business, I would rather give away all of that stuff for free and grow my audience significantly with lots of free content so that I can create a lot of trust, build a big strong relationship with my audience, and then invite people into making a bigger investment and working with me in a really high touch way.
It just makes it so much easier for my decision-making.
It also means that I don’t end up back where I was in 2017, with 36 different paid ways that people can work with me.
When I had a business model that was that way, I was constantly jumping from promo to promo, from launch to launch.
I often had two or three things all in launch at one time. That was confusing for my audience, it was hard work for me, and it meant that I was neglecting the things that brought in the most income.
In 2017, the thing that brought in the most income in my business was the Take Off program. And yet, I hadn’t actually done a full launch of the Take Off program that year because I was so busy launching and promoting the $20 thing.
If I’m honest with myself, I felt like it was an easier ask to ask someone for the $20 thing, than it was to make that ask for the Take Off program.
Me selling low-ticket things was actually a very tricksy avoidance strategy on my part.
My sneaky little brain was trying to help me avoid charging for and selling the Take Off program because I had some wobbles about charging a significant amount of money. I felt like that was a big ask of my audience. Anytime I felt wobbly about making that ask, conveniently I had a little low ticket offer that I could focus on instead.
It was actually a big mindset issue that led me down the pathway of creating a lot of low-ticket offers.
In order to prevent myself from sneakily tricking myself into believing low-ticket offers were a good strategy for me (when it was actually just a mindset block), I just adopted the model of my offers being free or a signature program.
That means that I have more time and space to focus on launching those particular programs. But it also means I have more time and space to create amazing free content for you as well.
I feel like it’s a win-win.
I also know it means that when people do decide to invest with me, they know how much amazing connection they’re going to get. They know that this is going to be something that I commit to as well as they commit to.
It just feels like it’s far more congruent to the way that I like working with people, and the way that I like delivering results for people.
So what is your model?
I’m not saying a low-ticket model is a bad model. There are people that I absolutely love and adore who have a low-ticket model.
Their model is that they just spend on ads, and they tweak and finesse ads as they go. That’s a really great way of having a low-ticket model.
But for me, the time and energy that goes into tweaking and finessing those ads, and also the profit margin on those low-ticket products doesn’t make as much sense to me as the model that I have.
With the model that I have, there is a significant return on investment and significant profit margins.
It also means that I get to work with clients in the way that I want to, which is in things like the Take Off program, being highly connected with those people, helping and supporting them to get those outcomes rather than just giving them something to go and watch on their own for them to work out for themselves.
What is your model? What is the way that you prefer to work with people? That’s also going to inform your decision about whether it should be free or paid.
Know what your model is, and know what the strategy is to really make that model thrive for you. Then you can start adding more products to that model.
5. Are you in a long-term growth focus? Or a short-term growth focus?
If it’s a short-term growth focus (there are certain times in my business when I just need a cash injection), then if I’m really focused on short-term income and I’m looking to make a quick cheeky $5,000, then it might make more sense to make it a low-ticket offer.
There have been times in my business when I’ve done this. There have been times where I’ve had a really cool thing that my audience have been begging for me to share with them, and I’ve been confident in being able to sell 100 spots for $49, so I’ve released it with a short-term cash injection focus to make a quick $5,000.
That to me is a very short-term focus.
Whereas if it’s a long-term focus, my number one driver of long-term growth in my business is list growth. I’m going to get far more people on my mailing list if I give it away as a gated freebie, than I would get onto my mailing list if I charged for it.
That is just a fact for me.
I know that some people say if you sell low-ticket, then they’re far more likely to buy the next thing from you quickly. But in my experience, in order for that to work, we often need to not truly deliver on our promises in the low-ticket thing.
That doesn’t feel like it’s in alignment for me. That’s not the type of model of marketing that I like to use. I would rather have long-term strategies to grow my audience and know that the longer someone’s been on my mailing list, the more likely they are to buy one of my products anyway, rather than put pressure on this low-ticket thing to get that upsell quickly in order to get the return on investment of my time as well as the money I put into it.
Are you looking at short-term growth with this piece of content? Or long-term growth?
That will also impact the decision that you make about whether it’s free or paid.
6. Ultimately, you get to choose
The best thing you can do is choose quickly and get it made.
I was at a Rose Farm retreat with Denise Duffield-Thomas in 2020, and we were having a conversation in our little masterminding circle.
One of the attendees was talking about how she wasn’t sure if it would make more money if she made her group program a high-ticket offer, or if she made it a more accessible price with less high-touch.
In response, someone said: I think it would make more money if it existed.
It was such a beautiful moment. We all burst out laughing. It’s now a principle and statement that I say over and over again.
Ever since then, it absolutely rings true for me.
I even talked about this in a training that I did on creating online courses. It will make more money if it exists!
You can make changes and you can adjust as you go.
I know people who have had free things that they’ve then turned into paid things. I know people who have had paid things that they’ve then turned into free things.
Ultimately, you just need to make a decision and move forward. It is absolutely your choice whether you decide to give this away for free or whether you decide to charge for it.
Trust yourself. Make the decision. Get it out there knowing that ultimately you can change your mind even after you’ve launched it out into the world.
Don’t be afraid to just choose action over perfection.
Let it out into the world. Let us benefit from that amazing content, rather than getting caught up in that perfectionism and it never seeing the light of day.
They are my six tips on how to make that decision and decide what to give away for free, what should be paid and where it might fit in that client attraction process for you.
As I said, my model is to make LOTS of free stuff and have a few high-ticket paid things… but I’m also very strategic about when I release the free stuff.
Sometimes the time when I’m really excited to create something is not the same as the time when strategically I should be releasing it out into the world.
I have retreats that I go on where I’m doing a lot of content creation. I have ideas for new freebies that I record straightaway. But I still have a bunch of free resources and content that I’ve created that I still haven’t released out into the world yet.
That’s because I don’t need the time when I make it to be the same as the time when I release it.
I don’t want the fact that I made this thing yesterday to be the main reason why I need to tell the world about it today.
I’ve gotten out of the process of being in perfectionism about what it needs to look like or how it needs to exist. I’ve gone out and I’ve just done the thing and I’ve created it.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to distract my audience from the thing I was already focused on by then releasing this extra new free thing in the meantime.
You can use this as creating a bank of new free resources and new free content that is there and readily available when you have a gap between launches or when you have a need to get that out into the world and have it do that job in your client attraction process.
The reason why I wanted to mention that as well is because I think sometimes we don’t get strategic about distribution. There’s a break between content creation and content distribution. They’re actually two different events in your business.
Just because you’ve created it, doesn’t mean you need to release it straight away.
That also leads me to let you know that I actually do have a bunch of free resources and content behind the scenes that I have plans to release sometime in the future.
But given that this is the end of podcast episode 350, I want to give all of you an invitation as a reader of this podcast, to come on over and send me a DM on Facebook or Instagram. Let me know that you’ve been reading episode 350, and tell me what you need help with right now. Ask whatever questions you have, or anything that you want to know how to do.
If I have a free resource for it, I’ll send it to you. Chances are, I have something that can help.
If I don’t, I’ll either know other people I can direct you to, or I’ll answer your question straight there in the DMs.
So send me a DM and make use of me and my free resources!
I am here to support and help you. That’s my model. My model is being able to support lots and lots of people for free because I have a model where the investment to work with me is a higher cost. But it means that it’s far more hands-on and far more mentoring-based rather than self-study focused.
It frees up so much of my time to be able to create those free resources for you.
I don’t necessarily want you to have to wait for them just because it’s not the right time in my launch structure. If there’s something that you need help with, come and let me know, and if I have something, I’ll give it to you.
If I don’t have something but I think it’s a great idea (sometimes my best content creation times are in response to a request!), I’ll go a create it and get it to you when I can.
I’m so happy to share information, free resources and advice with you absolutely for free.
Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Heart-Centred Business Podcast!
And thank you Christine for such a brilliant question about whether something should be free or paid.
Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.