How Much Do You Give Away for Free?

I always say that the best way for a business owner to build trust is to make your prospects and customers better consumers in your industry. And that’s why creating and delivering and sharing educational content is important.

We’ve been talking about the value of content for some time now. Writing and delivering content helps you become more credible and recognized as an expert in your industry, it helps drive traffic to your web site because its inherently key word rich, and it helps build trust because you’re willing to provide some valuable information with no obligation. But the question that gets asked then is “how much of your knowledge should you give away for free?”

"How much of your knowledge, should you give away for free?”

For those of you that make your living essentially selling knowledge, you might be a little resistant to sharing all of your information for free. There’s no question this is an often debated topic and much has been written and argued in support of both camps.

Adrienne Graham writes on this topic and her argument is that it costs money to develop that knowledge and maintain it with education, networking, and skills mastery. And while I do agree with this point, I think that perhaps Graham takes a very adamant position that, had I taken, I wouldn’t have created the valuable strategic partners that I have today—the partners that have helped create some success for me.

Michael Stelzner, founder of SocialMediaExaminer, also discusses this notion in his latest book, “Launch”—a book in which he shares an amazing amount of information on how to create exceptional content to grow your business beyond the competition. Stelzner suggests that one way to manage this is to provide useful but incomplete information if you’re concerned about giving too much away. He also offers that if you do reveal it all in your content, it still won’t come close to what you as a provider bring to the table. Even though you may have told them how to do it all, no one can do it the way you do, so the results will be difficult to duplicate anyway.

I’m in Stelzner’s camp. Like I said, I do agree that it takes time, money and effort to maintain that knowledge to continue to be an expert in your field, but there are a number of models out there that have proven that you can share it all, and still create a decent business. From my perspective, if I don’t expose that knowledge and those ideas for prospective clients and strategic partners, and I keep it ‘light’, I think they’ll begin to question if I really know anything at all.

What do you think?


  • In my experience, the more I give away, the more business I get. As a radio consultant my main “product” is a Strategic Market Analysis – a 25-50-page document. I sent a copy of a full SMA (with the market and station details masked) to a prospect. He called me and said, “I got a lot of great information from the report you sent me. Thanks.” I thought, “Well, I gave away too much.” But then he added, “I can only imagine what you can do for me.”

  • Thanks for the comment Jay. Totally agree. As John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing often says, “Make your free offering even better than the paid offering from others. “ Then prospects will really know the value you’re capable of delivering.

  • I agree with both of you. I find I build trust and credibility in my expertise as a QuickBooks consultant-trainer by sharing valuable content I’ve gleaned over the years with busness owners. They seem very appreciative and respond well after they learn I’m trustworthy.

  • Thanks Linda. It takes some work to build that trust regardless of how you do it and I think providing some valuable information is a great way to start it off.

  • Absolutely Bill! And some of your free information gives people a chance to try you out to confirm that you can actually help them.

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