When it comes to free content, how do you know whether you’re giving away too much?
On the one hand, you want people to know, like, and trust you. You want to be seen as an expert, and sharing tips, strategies, or how-tos certainly builds your authority and your likability.
On the other hand, you don’t want to end up “always a content-provider and never a coach.” That is, the go-to person for free advice who never gets hired because people feel like you solve all their problems for free.
Here’s how to answer this question about free content once and for all.
You’re Most Likely Not Giving Away Too Much Content
In a nutshell, my answer is “No, you’re not giving away too much free content.” In fact, you might not be giving away enough.
Now, before your heart drops into your stomach as you wonder how you could possibly give away any more than you already are, let me clarify what I mean by “free content.”
What I WANT you to give away:
- answers to general questions
- explanations of the causes of common issues
- a preview of your process that differentiates you and highlights your special sauce
- quick tips that help people deal with general questions or struggles
- steps to get unstuck or deal with common problems
- assessments that help people see they’re ready for change
- your unique perspective about why people need the transformation you provide
- sneak peeks into what it’s like to work with you via client success stories or testimonials
- planners, challenges, worksheets, videos, or audios that help people take a first step so they see they’re ready to work with you
What I DON’T want you to give away for free:
- your best professional secrets
- your 1:1 attention (unless it’s part of a larger strategy for getting clients)
- a specific plan/solution/program
- the exact planners, challenges, worksheets, videos, or audios you use with clients (unless they’re very bare bones and the true value is from the coaching you provide to help clients execute)
- the details of your step-by-step process
Do you see how much value you can give your audience without giving away the farm?
What if People Take Your Ideas?
Even though you can see how it’s possible to be incredibly helpful without giving away your coaching, you might still feel hesitant about free content.
What if you put your best ideas out there, and other coaches take them?
It’s true that this might happen. You simply can’t control what happens to your content once you put it out into the world.
It’s entirely possible that someone will take your worksheet and try to pass it off as theirs. Or take your steps. Or take your exact talking points from a live video. Sadly, it happens.
My best answer to this isn’t my answer at all. It comes from the client of mine who asked me this question in the first place — the question about how much free content to share. She’s rather brilliant, and even as she was asking, she was also realizing the answer. She said in her email to me:
There may be other coaches stealing my ideas, but then again whoever does, good luck with it. and I mean that with compassion, but they are not me.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
You are far more than your worksheets, your steps, your talking points. People want to work with you because of you. Your energy, your spirit, your magic.
Someone taking your content can never equate to someone taking your magic.
Ideas are Not Monogamous
The truth is that someone doesn’t have to take your idea to have your idea. People on opposite sides of the globe might come to the same idea at the same time with absolutely no contact with one another — or even knowledge of the other person’s existence.
This happened with the invention of the internal combustion engine. It was invented by at least three different people (that we know of) within a couple of years.
Do you know what would really suck? Imagine if you kept all your brilliant ideas under wraps because you were worried someone might take them. Then, you saw the exact blog post or free resource you thought about writing — but didn’t write — going totally viral and inspiring the pants off the world. Written by someone else.
Don’t be the armchair quarterback who rants about how they could have done it better. Get in the game. Put your passions out there.
Use Your Free Content to Get Known for Your Ideas
OK, so someone might take your ideas, or they might simply have the same ideas. Either way, the best thing you can possibly do is get known for your ideas!
Show up on your blog, in your emails, on podcast interviews, and on social media talking about your tips, your process, your insights, and your Special Sauce. Get known for these things.
People will start associating you with those ideas. So when your arch-nemesis or evil doppelganger shows up on the scene and starts talking about them, people will say, “Oh yeah, that’s a fabulous idea. That’s what [Your Name Here] teaches.”
What About Your Paying Clients?
People pay to work with you, and you show up and give them your all because you are amazing like that. So, is it fair to give away your best tools and tips to just anyone? For free???
Like my brilliant client pointed out, people don’t pay for tools in a vacuum. They want the specific experience of you delivering the process.
It’s very different to talk about a strategy versus coach someone through how to apply that strategy to their specific situation. Remember, I don’t want you to give away your coaching energy and skill for free. (Unless you’re following a specific strategy for getting clients by offering mini sessions.)
What you’re really doing is showing people a sample of what’s possible for them. But they’re not getting to experience the full benefit that your clients do. Think about how much support you really give your clients. A worksheet or a video doesn’t begin to compare, does it?
Why Buy the Cow?
You might be wondering why people would pay to become your clients when they can get your tips, steps, guides, planners, etc. for free. Fair question. I want to answer it with another question:
If someone gets everything they need from an idea you share that only covers the tip of the iceberg, is that person really your ideal client?
In all likelihood, if they consume your free content and feel full, it’s not a good match. They’re not hungry enough to go deep with you to experience the full transformation you offer. At least not yet. Who knows? They may be in the future.
I’ll tell you my experience as a content consumer — and maybe you relate. When I get a lot of value from a blog post, a Facebook post, or a free resource, my reaction is, “Holy moly! If this is the value this coach offers for free, her paid program must be off the hook!” And do you know what? I’ve never been disappointed when I’ve acted on this thought.
The coaches and mentors I’ve hired have been the people whose free content was bold, unique, and knock-my-socks-off helpful. It stood out from the crowd and got my attention precisely because I’d never heard anyone else explain things that way. They were showing their expertise by providing a tool that actually worked!
So, to answer the question “Why buy the cow, er, the course, when you can get the webinar for free?”… Well, if a one-hour webinar — or a single Facebook post — can make me start to change my thinking and see where I’ve been going wrong, then I don’t want to stop there. I want the full experience. And I want it ASAP.
I bet as a coach, those are the kinds of clients you want to work with. The people who are hungry for transformation. Who see the value in what you’re offering and know that you are the guide they’ve been looking for.
Don’t Let Fear Drive
I hope I’ve convinced you that giving away free content is not a threat. No one can take your magic and do for your clients what you do. Because you are a unique combination of your training, knowledge, approach, personality, energy, and life experience. There is no other you.
In addition, I hope you see the value of sharing free content. It positions you as an expert and differentiates you in your industry.
The clients you really want to work with are the ones craving that deep transformation, so if putting free content out there means the people only looking for surface solutions don’t hire you, well, then, hooray! You’ve just saved yourself the frustration of a client who is not ready (yet) for the true gifts you offer.
Maybe these reasons speak to you and maybe they don’t. You might have a different strategy when it comes to content creation, and that’s cool. But no matter what, please, please, please don’t allow yourself to be motivated by fear. Don’t hold back on sharing your free content because you’re worried someone will take it or that you’ll lose clients.
The energy of fear is draining. And it stops you from shining your brightest light by giving you the illusion of safety. It is precisely by shining your light brighter that you will call in your ideal clients. Your words will be a beacon. If only you’ll let them.
If you’re ready to shine your light but you’re not sure what to write or how to get started, let’s chat. Book a complimentary 30-minute call with me to get clear on your next steps for writing your magic message.