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Don’t Lie: Your Content Isn’t Free

content isn't free

Nothing in life is free.

I always cringe a little when I hear people talk about how much free content they give away like it’s worthy of praise. There’s always a price (but that’s not necessarily a bad thing).

As someone who helps entrepreneurs and executives leverage their personal brands to grow industry influence, authority, and their businesses, I live on both sides of the content machine: the creation side and the consumption side. I also create content for my personal brand, so I hold myself to the standards I’m about to discuss.

Whether you are creating or consuming, you are participating in a value exchange, which is exactly why there is no excuse to not focus on value first. Ultimately, this will lead to better content quality overall.

To Content Creators – Your Content Isn’t Free

You need to treat your content as you would any other product or service and consider the audience (or “customer”) first. This goes for all content creators — not just those who make content for a living —  I’m talking to anyone putting content out.

No matter how altruistic your intentions or motives, you have an obligation to the consumer to add value. Why? Because no piece of content is “free.” Just because you aren’t asking for a direct sale, the purpose of that content you are “giving away” is with the hope of some gain.

Whether it’s to sell a product or service indirectly, to generate influence, to be viewed as an authority or expert, or even just share your craft, it doesn’t matter because, at the end of the day, you are asking the consumer to pay some price. That price might be money, time, attention, trust, data, social proof, or a mix of all of these things. Not going in for the ask, doesn’t mean you aren’t asking.

Not going in for the ask, doesn’t mean you aren’t asking.

On the flip side, consumers need to be very conscious of what they are giving up by receiving anything for “free,” so they can take their attention elsewhere if it’s not valued. In the online space, don’t underestimate your audience’s ability to call BS.

Give your audience credit — no one thinks your webinar doesn’t end in a sales pitch or that the all of your free social content isn’t laddering to something bigger. The best part is, if you actually give them the value, those people will actually give you what you truly want.

The best free content is a win for both sides. So before you post that next piece of content (and any content going forward), remember to: Respect your audience and always ask “what value does this add?”

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