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I help creative folk like you tell strategic stories to build a thriving business rooted in boundaries and driven by connection. 

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Controversial Opinion: You CAN Give It All Away For Free and Still Make A Living

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Yes, you should give away all your secrets as an online brand.
Give away all of your knowledge for free.
I promise you can still make a living.
In fact, you’ll make a better one.

Let’s back up.

So we know that social content falls into one of four main objectives:

  • Educate – content that informs and teaches about your industry and niche;
  • Engage – content that establishes a deeper connection with your audience;
  • Entertain – content that demonstrates your sense of humor, style, and taste;
  • Encourage – content that acts as inspiration and cheers on your audience.

And when it comes to content that aims to educate, there’s contradictory advice flying every which way about what to share and what NOT to share.

By and large, folks tend to get very concerned about what they can give away for free and what tips and tricks they should be sharing when they’re planning out their social content. We get scared that, “If I’m gonna say this for free, why would you hire me?”

Spoiler alert: they will absolutely still hire you.


Reason #1: It’s Already Free

You can learn pretty much anything you want from free internet education.

Give pretty much any topic a basic google search and odds are you will find a tutorial – for free! – on how to start the thing you seek to learn to do.

And when it comes to learning about how to build an online business, the resources are (without exaggeration) infinite. Pinterest alone – a fave search engine for budding business owners – has more than 450 million active users per month as of 2021.

Unsure how to do literally anything as you build a small business?
There’s a pin for that.

Obviously, there are continuing exceptions for online education like legitimate medical care (please don’t go telling your lawyer after a medical disaster that Megan Dowd told you it was fine to figure it out from webmd).

But for execution type tasks within a business, you can figure out pretty much anything that you would hire someone to do.

It’s not an issue of pricing.

The “answer” is already out there for free.


Reason #2  Folks Don’t Want to Do It Alone

We as small business owners hire other people because 1) we straight up do not want to do the work we are hiring out OR 2) we don’t feel qualified to do the work we are hiring out.

Let’s use the example of design.

Folks don’t hire designers because there aren’t any DIY design resources. For one, there are sites like Canva and Kapwing that provide graphic and video design/editing that was previously exclusive to “niche software” like Photoshop or iMovie. For two, that “niche software” isn’t so niche anymore and is readily available to the average consumer who owns a computer. And finally, learning platforms like CreativeLive and Skillshare are continually offering design basics or “how to make a logo” classes.

We, in theory, could perform and execute all our design needs for ourselves.

But training to be a great designer is NOT free. And most of us don’t have the design eye and we don’t want to spend the time to make the design on our own that we know is only going to look half as good as if we had paid someone.

We pay for design because it’s more than just the execution of “need graphic → get graphic.”

If folks searching for your services are going to get the info for free anyhow, why not prime them with your methodology, with your brand, with the experience that is YOU?!

Which segues nicely into…


Reason #3 We Hire People, Not Just Outcomes

This also relates to the experience of someone saying they hired you because they like “your energy.” 

When folks say that, what they’re indicating is that they like the experience of working with you. They don’t just want the work that you’re going to turn out; they want to work with you. 

When it comes to folks hiring small businesses, there’s always a bigger, cheaper “box store” version. When they’re purchasing from you, they’re doing so because they want to support a small business and they want the personal experience that you bring to that. 

Yes, we need to honor our paid communities, paid services, paid products – absolutely.

But giving it all away for free in your social content does not undermine your paid offerings.
In fact, it’s an excellent lead into whatever that paid offer is!

Let’s use cooking classes as an example.

As stated earlier, you can learn pretty much anything on the internet, and between Pinterest recipes and YouTube tutorials both the ingredients and techniques are covered.

So why are folks still offering and signing up for cooking classes?
For the experience.
To know what it’s like to work and learn with *that* instructor.
To get the technique secrets from the master themselves, and process that information however they like.

To take the metaphor back to your social content that educates, you can give your audience the whole recipe.
You won’t lose and they will win. 
And then you go a step further and say, “I teach you how to assemble it on the inside of this [paid offer]”.

In one fell swoop you can establish the KNOW-LIKE-TRUST triad of purchasing decisions.


Changing How We Think

We can – and we need to! – shift how we think about this. 

While I hate to say it, the truth is that our fear of “giving it all away” is a scarcity mindset we need to get away from. We need to acknowledge where that’s showing up. And it crops up when we’re afraid to imbue our content with the good stuff.

Another shift is identifying why you’re on social media in the first place. How do you want to connect with folks? How do you best operate? If you’re trying to share in a format or genre that doesn’t work for you, the feeling of “why am I even sharing this?!” becomes painful.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I communicate?
  • How do I connect?
  • How do I tell stories?
  • What forms come most naturally to me?

Maybe educational content is not your thing.
That’s fine!
We all gravitate toward different objectives.
Go deep on the “why” for your content.

That requires figuring out how this all fits into your offer suite and customer journey. Because without that understanding, you’re just throwing content at a wall. Which, if you’ve got the time and energy to and or you just want to play with content, have fun!

But If you are strapped for time, if social is not your jam, but it’s important to reach your people, examine how it all fits together into the big puzzle.


A final note:

And that’s all the spice for now. Figuring out this content game is tricky, which is why I made the content connection quiz to help you identify how you naturally shine online!

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