What to sell and what to give away for free
The Goodness Squad Podcast Episode #39
Moving clients through your content is a lot like learning Math concepts. You simply cannot give them what they are not yet ready for. Creating a value ladder will help you meet people where they’re at while also preparing them for the next step they need to take with you.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
This is episode #39 of The Goodness Squad podcast. Today you are going to learn what it is that you should give away for free and what it is that you should charge for. This can be an incredibly difficult decision to make as a content marketer. But I have the answer for you today.
If you have been listening to the podcast, you know that in episode #30, we talked about why you need to actually make money from your business and how that is not only good for you but good for other people. When you are making money you will be enabled to bless more lives in multiple ways.
In episode #33, you learned that in order to make money, you have to have something to sell. And I gave you some different options: You could sell affiliate products or digital products or physical products and so on.
And then in the Product Idea Generator I gave you ideas for how to package that content to sell. You could put it in an ebook or an eCourse, but I also gave you 157 additional ideas for how you could package that content that you’re wanting to sell.
Now, I want to help you understand what information you should be giving away for free and what information you should be selling. At the time of this recording, it is early September of 2020. If you’re listening to this in the future, I want you to remember COVID and when we sent our kids back to school in September of 2020. Some of us were able to send our kids back in person, some of us were homeschooling, some of us were doing online school, some of us were doing a mixture of all of it.
It has been a difficult and overwhelming process. And one thing that many of us are facing is being more involved in the actual education of our children, whether we are homeschooling or doing online school, we are becoming their teachers in many ways.
Another way to think about your free content
I was helping one of my 12-year-old sons with his math homework the other day. He is learning Algebra and negative numbers and all those sorts of concepts. I realized that I learned math in a very different way than the method that he is learning it. The methods his teachers are using to teach him math are different than the methods my teachers used to teach me math.
That was somewhat frustrating, but there was something else I realized. I realized that although there are many different methods for teaching things, there are always prerequisites that we need to fulfill before we can learn something.
My son has learned how to count. He has learned how to add, subtract, multiply, divide. These are all prerequisites for learning how to understand Algebra. Now we touched on this briefly in a previous episode, but this concept is so important that I want to dig a little deeper with you here today and help you understand what it is you should give away for free and what it is you should be selling.
The Why, What & How
Understanding this principle really is the key to creating profitable products that actually help people. So I want you to think about if I was trying to teach my son Algebra without the prerequisites. I also have a fourth-grade daughter and she is currently learning multiplication and division. If I was trying to teach her Algebra before she learned Multiplication and Division, that process would be extremely frustrating for both her and for me.
We try to do this in our business. We try to teach people more advanced concepts and they end up frustrated and so do we. They don’t feel like they need it yet and we’re frustrated that they can’t understand what we really want them to be able to understand.
I want you to think of your content this way. Your free content should prepare people for your paid course. So listen to that again. Your free content, by that I mean your podcast episodes, your Instagram posts, your YouTube videos, your blog posts, all of this content, should prepare people to be able to take advantage of your paid content.
If something is a prerequisite to something else, that should be your free content. What did they have to understand first? Think through what it is you want to teach people and I want you to take just a minute, right now, to think about what is. The ‘learning to count’ level equivalent of your content when it comes to math. So we can go through learning to count, learning addition, subtraction, learning multiplication, division, learning algebra, learning trigonometry, learning calculus. We can continue to go up there.
Right now, I want you to think of what’s the equivalent level of learning to count with whatever it is you are trying to teach your people.
Now I want you to think about what is that in-between level? So maybe the addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, somewhere in that area. What’s that next step for you? What do people need to know after they learn how to count with you? That is the content that you should be giving away for free.
Everything else is something you should be charging for. And just like with math, algebra is very different than calculus. You want to use your less expensive paid content to prepare people for your more expensive paid content. So your algebra level content should cost less than your calculus level content.
Let’s talk about another way to think of this. Oftentimes the why and the what are prerequisites for the how. This isn’t 100% of the time, I will sometimes teach you how for free, but this can be another way to get your mind around this concept.
Let’s talk about why for a minute.
Why is our motivation, right? So some of the things I’ve taught you recently:
- why you should consider content marketing
- why it’s good for Latter-day Saint women
- why you need a product to sell
- why are digital products and affiliate products really good choices for those who are just getting started
I’ve taught you all these why’s and that’s going to get you motivated and ready to learn the what.
What is now going to be the knowledge.
It’s how to act on that Why. So now you know why you need to consider content marketing and you know you need something to sell, but what are the steps you need in order to get there?
So episodes #33-36 of the podcast go through this. I gave you the four steps that you need to take in order to turn a hobby into a content marketing business. That’s the What, here is exactly what you need to do.
The How is empowerment.
It allows you to put those steps (the What) into action inside your own life, in your own business.
For example, the templates that I recently released – Canva templates, website templates, those are How. They are enabling you to now go out and create that product you know you need to create – that ecourse, ebook, workbook, swipe file, or PowerPoint presentation. You now have a template to be able to go out and actually make it happen. That is the How.
In addition, my Tech School, that I will be opening enrollment for on September 28th, that is a How. I’m going to walk you through the tech side of how to set that all up.
So now you have the product, but how in the heck do you actually deliver it to somebody in exchange for their money? How do you charge someone money and have them give you that money and you give them the product? How do you do that? That’s a How that’s inside of Tech School.
Coaching is also a How. Coaching tends to be an extremely high-level calculus. Because in there, what we’re going to do is we’re going to take all the Why, What, and the How’s you’ve learned so far and talk about how to apply them in very specific ways to your exact business situation. So that’s a very high level How. How can your blog posts prepare others for your introductory level content? For your algebra level content? How can your free content prepare others to get the most out of their time with you?
You’ll notice at the top level here, your algebra, trigonometry, and especially your calculus level, those things are going to take more of your time. Coaching takes a lot of time.
I have an Ask Me Anything group, that’s connected to Tech School, where you can ask me questions. Even the templates, those took me an enormous amount of time to create for you. I am willing to answer questions about them specifically. So those things are going to take more of my time. I want my people to be prepared to use those products well.
So before you join coaching with me or Tech School, I want you to know about the five ways you could earn money from a content marketing business, which was episode #35. I want you to know that so that when you come to me you know which way you’re leaning.
Let’s say you choose affiliate marketing and you can ask me intelligent questions specifically about affiliate marketing. We don’t have to go over the five ways to earn money because you already know that. So when you’re ready to pay me for your time, that money is going to be far more well spent.
There are things I can teach you without being personally involved with you. I am going to give you that for free. But there are other things that I cannot teach you without being directly involved with you somehow. And when you’re ready to pay me for that time, I want it to be money well spent.
What is a Value Ladder?
I want you to think of this as another way to serve your people. When you create your content free and paid content using the concept of this model, the marketing term for it is actually called a value ladder.
When you use a value ladder mindset in order to share content with your people, you are doing them a service because they are not paying you for content they are not ready to benefit from. That is a service. This is how we both serve for free and earn money as content marketers.
So let’s look at this in a third way. I really want you to get this concept. You know a lot more about your topic than you realize and this can cause some hang-ups and problems in your business. You see the big picture, you see where you once were and where you are now, you see where your target market is and where they could be and where you hope they are someday.
You see all of that and sometimes you forget that they don’t. What this creates is you giving them what they need, but not what they want.
This would be like me trying to teach my fourth grader, algebra because I know all the cool things that she can figure out in her life with math. And when she really understands algebra, there’s a lot of cool stuff, math stuff that comes into focus and becomes clear when you really understand algebra.
But she’s not ready for it. She doesn’t understand her multiplication and division yet. All I’m going to do is frustrate her and me. She does not even know that she needs algebra. It is not anywhere in her mind, she does not see herself in that picture at all.
You need to realize this with your people. If you try to give them that algebra level content for free, if that’s the first thing they see from me when they go to a podcast episode or they read a blog post, they are going to end up frustrated. They are going to feel misunderstood. They are going to feel like you don’t care about their “real” problems.
In reality, I get it, you do care about their real problems. You know their real problems even better than they do. You know that eventually they’ve got to learn that darn algebra, but they don’t see that yet.
I want you to get down on that level with them of what do they think they need? What do they want right now? What problem is staring them right in the face? When my daughter comes home from school, she is looking at that multiplication problem. And that is her problem. That is what she desperately wants help with. Not algebra.
A value ladder is a great way for you to serve people
Stop trying to give them the algebra, trigonometry, and calculus level stuff, because it is just frustrating them. And it’s frustrating you because you’re trying to teach it and they’re not getting it. That’s frustrating for you and for them.
It is much better to give away the addition, subtraction, multiplication. Give them all that for free. They’re happy. You’re happy because they’re like, Whoa, you just saw my problem. And when they say that, then you can say, Hey, guess what? Now you’re ready for algebra. I know that a month ago or six months ago, or a year ago, you didn’t even know algebra existed. You didn’t even know that it was actually something that could benefit your life. But now you do, come with me. It costs $29 to keep moving forward. And then they get the algebra.
And then you say, come with me again. It costs $300 to keep moving forward with my great course. And then you say, come with me again. You can do coaching now. And now that’s a couple of hundred dollars an hour. You can keep them moving forward – when they are ready for it. This is how we get people to know, like and trust us. It’s by truly earning that trust from them.
Establishing a value ladder will protect your most valuable resource
I want you to use this value ladder type way of looking at your content. There’s a bonus that comes with it. It allows you to protect your time. This is also what is going to allow you to run a business, while being the stellar mom that you want to be, while being a true disciple of Jesus Christ. It is what is going to allow you to create that balance.
For the entry level clients
The early prerequisites are generally principles that apply to everyone. Someone does not need one-on-one access to me to learn what the five ways there are to earn money through a content marketing business. They can learn that from a blog post or from a podcast episode. I can teach that concept to hundreds of thousands of people from just an hour or two of my time, it takes me an hour to two hours to create a podcast episode for you.
When I do that, there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of you who will eventually benefit from those two hours of my time. Crazy. Right? So I can do that for free. That’s easy for me to do for free because it’s not taking an enormous amount of time for me to help thousands or hundreds of thousands of people.
This is why you want to include these simpler concepts, these addition and subtraction level concepts in your free content. This is what allows you to help thousands of people.
For the Mid-level Clients
The middle prerequisites, the algebra level, those are the things for people who enjoy math and they want to go a bit deeper with you. These are your less expensive products.
These are going to be things, for me, like my templates, right? Did my templates take more time than a blog post to create upfront? Absolutely. It was more like 50 hours for me to create all those templates for you. But there’s still the concept that thousands of you could buy those templates and still benefit from them.
Now, will hundreds of thousands? Probably not. You may not need that exact product. And that is okay. And I will be answering questions about those templates specifically to the people who purchase templates from me. So there’s a little bit more of my time involved there. So it’s actually a good thing that not every single person is going to want to buy them.
For the High-Level Clients
And then there’s the next level. We can go into Tech School, right? Tech School is like my trigonometry level, where I go live with you a couple of times a week and answer questions, one-on-one. You can be there with other people who are listening, you can ask me a question and I will answer your specific question. That’s Tech School, that’s taking it up one more level.
These higher-level prerequisites like Tech School, like Coaching, are for the people who want to use math for their career. So think about what that means. How does that analogy translate into your business? For me, these are the people who joined my Tech School, the people who get coaching from me, these are the people who want a full-time business online.
They are no longer dabblers. They are taking this seriously. They have met all the prerequisites. They know what this is going to take, and they are ready to hit the ground running. These are the people who will enroll in Tech School. These are the people who will sign up for my one on one coaching.
This protects my time.
I am not going to do one on one coaching for hundreds of thousands of people. I don’t have the time to do that. So this concept protects my time because fewer people will make it to the top of that value ladder, to the calculus level content, than those who start at the bottom.
So not only can I help people for free at the bottom level, but I can really dive deep with those who love, love, love math. And charge for that. So I can still make money and not have to spend enormous amounts of hours trying to drive enormous amounts of traffic to my website so I get paid for ads. I can just focus on the one, those people who one at a time, want coaching from me. It’s such a fantastic thing.
In summary, there are three ways you can really look at this:
#1 – Think of your value ladder like prerequisites that are required for higher-level math courses. Give away the lower level prerequisites for free and the higher up they get in that train of math classes, the more you charge.
#2 – Why, What and How. Give away the Why and the What for free and charge for the How.
#3 – Give them what they want or what they think they need, instead of what you know they need, for free, and then charge for what they don’t yet know they need that you know they need.
Remember my fourth grade daughter? I can’t teach her algebra. It would frustrate her and me. I need to meet her immediate need for learning multiplication and division.
Start evaluating the content you already have
Your challenge for today, I want you to look through all of your existing content, all of your free content and even your paid content, do you have paid content that should be free? Do you have free content that should be paid?
Can you take some of that free content that maybe is more of a How or an algebra and above level content? Can you take that and turn it into a paid product? That is one quick and easy way to get something out there and ready to sell without having to spend an enormous amount of time creating entirely new content.
For many of you, if you have been blogging or podcasting or a content marketer for a year or more, you have content that is in that upper level, that is algebra and above. That is the How. I want you to take that and stop giving it away for free and start charging for it. Look through your existing content and figure out what you could turn into paid content.
If you are not yet ready to create your own digital product, then the next podcast episode is for you because I am going to be diving deep into the five secrets for successful affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is what I built my last business on for the first half of the time I had that business. I earned a full-time income just from affiliate marketing and I am ready to share my secrets with you in podcast episode #40.
Before I sign off, I have to once again tell you thank you. I think it’s been a few episodes since I have expressed my gratitude for your willingness to be here with me. I am proud of you and grateful for you and I’m cheering you on. You can do this. Do not let imposter syndrome get in the way. Take your rightful place in this space and reach the people that you are meant to reach. Thank you for trusting in me to help you do just that. I will see you next time.
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