Free vs Paid for Services?

How do you decide what to give away for free (as a discount, offer or opt-in) and what you should charge for?

This was a recent question from someone in my Facebook Community (The Impact Entrepreneurs Club) - “where do you draw the line?”

In a simple answer you should charge for ALL your services.

Free content is only there to serve a specific purpose. Whether it be a podcast, blog, discount, offer or opt-in you shouldn’t just give it away for free unless you’re clear on it’s purpose and how it generates you income further down your ‘sales funnel’.

Now, I know some of you are not going to like me saying this, so I am going to explain my “hard-line” on this and share it with LOVE.

REMEMBER, you are running a business (not a hobby!) and anytime you’re producing something for free, or giving it away for free, you’re not generating income or helping your business to thrive. And you’re not helping yourself.

So the first thing is, what’s the purpose of your content? Where does it fit within your business model and sales funnel? If it’s a freebie, what’s its specific purpose?

And secondly, if you’re asking yourself whether you should charge for a specific service you’re probably having doubts about your own VALUE and the value of your services - and this is all to do with MINDSET.

What’s the purpose of your freebie?

People will always take free content but what you want to do is connect with these people and build a tribe of loyal fans who can’t wait for your next paid service or offer.

So your freebie should always have a very clear purpose and be the start of a process to build a relationship with your target audience and convert them in to customers. Without a clear purpose it’s unlikely they will convert because when you’re muddled they’re confused. And confused people don’t buy.

  • Make a list of everything you currently give away for free, including discounts on any offers you provide. How many do you have?

  • Now write down all your packages and services that you sell (or have on offer to buy). How many do you have of these?

If the first number is higher than the second number then you firstly have waaayyy too many freebies and need to start charging for services, or getting serious about sales rather than focusing on freebies.

You may be the worlds best at creating free content but this alone does not create revenue, or a business. And it’s likely you’re stuck here in your comfort zone because you’re not confident about how to successfully sell your paid for services. I see this all too often, so I’m calling you out on it!

STOP CREATING FREE CONTENT WITHOUT A PURPOSE and start focusing on selling your paid for services.

The good news is, if you already have loads of free content you can use this to get serious about sales, generate a sales funnel and start generating income really quickly. Especially as you’ve probably already got hundreds of warm leads from all those freebies you’re giving out!

free vs paid for services social enterprise

So as I’ve already made it clear (I hope) you need to have a specific reason to give something away for free and it should in some way link to a sales funnel.

Note, this doesn’t mean that every single person who consumes your free content is going to journey down your funnel but it means that you have the option there for them and you’ve created the content with this in mind. It also means that you’ve created a funnel that enables this to happen in a way that the proportion of sales you do make covers the time you spend on creating free content.

For example, if you produce a free podcast you have links for people to sign up to the podcast and in doing so you create a sales funnel (utilising the mailing list and podcast) to selling a course to a proportion of your listeners later down the line at a rate that justifies the time you spend producing the podcast. (See Amy Porterfield podcast and her courses as an example of this model).

Or, another example, you produce a free resource or opt-in on your website in exchange for an email address - these become warm leads - people who want to find out more. So you nurture them with an email sequence until your next launch or paid for service is available. This can also be done with a discount code for product based businesses.

There are different reasons why you give away free content, you may choose one or more of these reasons as the purpose of your free content:

  • To demonstrate your knowledge and value (e.g. in a free resource, podcast, blog, or via nurture sequence)

  • To get them to join your mailing list, nurture sequence or sales funnel

  • To build a relationship with potential customers (e.g. via blogs, in a FB community or via a nurture sequence)

  • To give them a taster of your paid for services

  • To encourage them to make that first purchase (e.g. discount on first purchase)

So what’s the purpose of your free content? What’s the next action you want them to take after they’ve consumed their free content? What’s you’re next action to moving them closer to a sale?

2. What VALUE do you give through your services?

Building your confidence in the value of your services builds your confidence in your sales. This also builds your confidence in knowing what to offer for free and what to charge for.

If we go back to my earlier point about the need to charge for all your services you should allocate a price to everything you produce. And your price should reflect cost, value and profit.

You should always start with your paid for service and the work backwards from this thinking about your sales funnel and whether a free service, freebie or discount would help people join that funnel.

Once you’ve decided it would you can then start thinking about what the freebie might be.

Go through each freebie you have and ask yourself: What would I charge for this? What value does it give?

Your freebie obviously has to have value otherwise it’s not useful or of benefit to the potential customer and they won’t come to value what else you offer, once they’re in your funnel. (This doesn’t have to be reflected as a price, but you need to know the cost & value to your business of producing it so you create a funnel that recoups this time, energy and knowledge).

Remember, if you offer too much for free your potential customer will be confused and overwhelmed. They will also come to not value what you offer because it’s all available for free.

Use a freebie to show them the value you can provide, to build a genuine connection and explore whether your paid for services are for them. If they are - make the sale!!

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