Us vs. Them - Profiting With Free Content?

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by pallyD, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. pallyD

    pallyD Junior Member

    Aug 6, 2010
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    I'm using something like this on my blog, but I figured it was relevant to this. I'd love some feedback on the whole.

    Can You Really Profit With Free Content?

    The ?gurus? over at WF don?t work on the platform of free. They sell their worthless books again and again, but their ?expertise? is like the work of a bad dentist: an amalgam of phony, over-hyped testimonials; outdated crap; bogus, well-puffed evidence; leaving you filled with something, feeling worse than before, all in the name of a fast buck. No research I?ve found has tested or studied this, so it?s still a hung jury for the time-being. Sure, the ?gurus? are making money, but perhaps youand I can prove them wrong in the meantime, or as some of us can admit to, sell our own WSO and join the ?guru? ranks?

    Two schools of thought exist, when it comes to giving or sharing free content. There?s the thought that the spread of free info will spread word of mouth, and as a result build business, this is the strategy I much prefer. There?s also the opposing thought, that giving away free material will kill off all other ?pay-to-view? businesses once the consumer/viewer begins to believe all information should be free. I personally wouldn?t mind taking down some of the bigger companies and ?gurus? with my free content. On the other side of the coin, the ?pay-to-view?s? argue that we, or maybe just me :-D, free-information marketers, are really just giving away crap, and that we?re the real scammers.

    First-and-second-hand experience says: both of these approaches do work. Obviously selling your WSO Ebook will net you a coupla? dollars, but at the same time, I can make a living doing what I'm doing.

    There are a few factors in this of course, but I?ll let you be the judge:

    Does the presenter of the information seem to ring true with you? Do they have the facts to back up what they are saying? Obviously it?s easier to pin down if the information is free and readily available to the consumer, as the only way to gain credibility in the paid model sans purchase is to garner testimonials from his/her customers, and those can be faked very easily. I like to think that the free model wins over here. After all, where would you look first? Do you tend to open your wallet before you go shopping around?

    The Audience:
    Paid model might actually win out on this one, due to the fact that it can be more fervently and regularly maintained when one is being paid to do so. However, true passion beats a salary every time, so if the content curator is truly committed to the niche/information/audience, then the content can be tailored more often, and generally to a greater degree than someone who is just there for the money. Don?t be too quick to choose a side, if any though, because if you consider how many unmaintained sites there are, free and paid,that will likely never see the light of a computer monitor again, it doesn?t add up either way. Paid does have the benefit of creating a budget to spend on advertising, and putting the teaser in your face so you can react to it, whereas the free model must often be searched for, and found. This ultimately comes down to personal preference however.

    The Information Itself:
    People tend to view information they pay for, as having a higher value, even if it?s artificially created value. Think about all the water bottles in stores. Is that water really that much better just because it says it?s from some ridiculous island? No! It?s all H2O, so why pay more for it!?!? This is just like free and paid information. Free information is out there, and odds are, it?s enough to satisfy your needs.

    Guarantees & Warranties:
    If you see an info-product with a ?Money Back Guarantee ? No Questions Asked!? then let?s be honest, that?s free information regardless of how you cut it. Yeah it may be a dishonest thing to do, buy and refund because the offer is there, but realistically, it?s not costing the seller a dime to send you a PDF report, and yet there are Ebooks which sell for upwards of $47! That?s pure profit, from something some guy spent a couple of hours virtually stapling,taping, and tacking together. That seems sick to me! So, yes a guarantee is a great thing, but from a real, honest standpoint, that?s free information been-locked-up.

    The ?Hot Topics:?
    Yes, just like the store bearing the titular branding, the trendier, newer,hotter topics, stories, and content will sell, even if there is a free alternative. People have been cashing in on the trends since the dawn of business. If you?re involved with something which is a ?hot topic,? then beware the ?breaking news!? vendors, they may leave you in the past.

    When People Pay:
    If no sufficient free information is available to the info-seeker, then they are apt to pay for it. If someone feels the free content is too much for them, if they know that such a simple solution exists, they will buy. Opposite of that, if there is free information readily available which solves the problem, they tend to stay free.

    The Bonuses:
    A salesman can get more sales when he?s offering ?more? than just what he?s selling. I?m sure you?ve heard, ?But wait, THERE?S MORE!? Buyers will be enticed when FREE bonuses are given away. More ?value? is added on, and the purchase is made. As you can see, even paid content is benefitted by including free stuff, or it must be acknowledged to not be a bonus, or it becomes paid content, lowering the value of everything which is being bought. So free must either be, and this is quite generalized but I will include it, wholly good or bad.

    Price Rigidity:
    Free content reduces the price elasticity of paid content. Normally, the cheaper the product, the more that it sells, but the ease of access to free content alters this simple function. Paid content cannot be too cheap or it will come to appear too similar to the free alternative, i.e. of poor quality, misleading, etc., but free content is also a substitute, however imperfect to paid content. Thus, paid content cannot be priced too high either, or people will prefer the free alternative. Free content as a result causes a wavering pricing model for the paid, and tends to lead to a favoring of the completely free.

    These are certainly not the entire list of variables which will determine if one will elect free or paid, but it is a good way to start. So, pick your poison, or choose a mix of both. Obviously, if you give away everything wantonly you will never profit, but giving away free content is a great way to build your authority and reputation, not to mention your list, and that?s where the money is ;)

    It is probably biased, but eh, it's a bit of my upcoming blog post.
    Right or wrong, let me hear it.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2012