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Why Content Creators Need to Understand the Value of Free Stuff

To make money online in 2023


People don’t understand free products.

Free means no money, right? Well, right and wrong.

Here’s why free products are the foundation of earning money online in 2023.


Free funneling

Not free falling.

Successful online creators use free products as funnels to their paid products, services, or courses.

A good funnel strategy is a gateway to solo creator success & online income.

How?

Free products are only free in terms of money. They do provide a different value to a content creator, otherwise, no creator would give hours of work away for free.

This additional value comes in two forms:

  1. Growing an audience
  2. Gaining email members/subscribers

The former can mean growing a social media account or a content creation platform like Medium. The latter means growing a platform-independent list of email addresses you take with you wherever you go. This is key.


Strategic giveaways

Here’s my funnel strategy in three forms:

  1. I write a free Substack newsletter
  2. I write a free Medium newsletter
  3. I offer multiple free products in my online store

All three offerings are strategic funnels because inside or alongside those free offerings, I promote and regularly add paid offerings, which come in three forms again:

  1. Paid products in my online store
  2. Affiliate marketing & partnerships
  3. Paid content (for example my paid newsletter version)

Free content and products will help people get to know you and test-drive your products and abilities. This, in turn, will make it more likely for them to buy and pay for future content and products you create.

There’s nothing evil about this. It’s simple marketing. And both sides benefit from it. I as the creator earn money, and you as the consumer enjoy free stuff.

The content creator economy 2023 is built on this process. And you can be part of it by starting with your first free offering.

Ideas? No? Here are a few!


What to create for free

Anything is possible online. One thing I’ve learned is that there’s a niche for everything. And people who need it.

Create the following:

  1. A resource for a specific niche. This might be a collection of tools for designers, a pack of templates for Notion creators from other Notion creators, or a list of free alternatives to popular paid tools.
  2. Create templates yourself. This can be Notion templates, design templates, website templates, and more. Just remember to keep the template small and simple as it will be your free funnel. Keep more complex ideas for paid offerings later.
  3. course or newsletter about a niche or topic that you feel is underrepresented or a field you’re an expert in. Again, keep it simple and easy to manage as a free offering. Build on that later with a more complex paid deal.

How to go from free to paid

Free will be your lead magnet, your funnel.

You share your free offering on social media, via your creative outlets (like Medium, blogs, YouTube, etc.) and you grow your audience and email list.

Your paid product will be the aftermath. The offering you send to the email list you build with your free product.

That’s why email lists are crucial in today’s world and even more so in 2023.

People often confuse newsletters with email lists, but they’re not necessarily the same. Your email list is a resource to grow and target with specific deals. it is not or should not be the target for your daily, weekly, and monthly email blasts. This would be a newsletter.

Sure, you can combine the two, but in my experience, it helps to keep them separate and build on the success of each one.

What to create for money:

  1. complex resource for a specific niche building on your free one. An example: I created a free list of resources for writers and online creators, called Creators’ Toolbox. Then, I created Write OS, a complex system for writers & content creators. It fits together. Find something like that.
  2. Create paid templates. Use the free simple templates as guidance. If one gets downloaded a lot, build a more complex one and sell it to the people who downloaded the free template. You can do that with simple email automation via tools like Gumroad, Lemon Squeezy, or ConvertKit. I have more tools to do that in my Creators’ Toolbox, for example.
  3. Create a paid course or newsletter. Building on your free course or newsletter. A genius example of this strategy is Eve Arnold. She gives incredible value away for free in form of templates, courses & newsletters, and then delivers big time with her paid offerings like her Twitter course* or The Medium Blueprint*. Follow her and watch how it’s done.

(*this is an affiliate link. I’ll earn a commission for referring people.)


The bottom line

That’s it.

You’ve started building your funnel, your gateway to making money online.

This is the importance of free products for content creators to earn money online in 2023. Free products can serve as funnels to paid products, help grow an audience, and gain email subscribers.

Creating resources, templates, courses, or newsletters as free offerings and using them to promote paid offerings is key to content creator success.

At the heart of it all is your email list. Grow that today, benefit tomorrow!

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