Have you noticed? The open-sourcing model is catching fire, and paying for content is no longer absolute. As an entrepreneur or freelancer, starting to get your name out into the public sphere often means working for free. While it might not seem ideal, sharing what you know without the promise of a paycheck can pay off big later on. Here are some of the best reasons to give away your work for free.
Gaining Expert Status
Giving away your work grows the number of people who have access to it, and by extension access to you. Having an audience to your expertise is a baseline to securing future work, and expanding that audience is extraordinarily valuable. Don’t worry about not getting paid off the bat. Once you’ve emerged as verifiably knowledgeable on your subject, the tide will likely shift and bring paid work to you in lieu of you seeking it out in the future.
Making your content widely available increases the chances it will spread quickly. Content spreads by sharing, and one way to encourage that something be shared is to make it free. If what you publish for free testifies the depth of your knowledge, the more likely it is that readers will come to you seeking all the content you’ve kept below the waterline. Later on, you’ll be able to cash in on what hasn’t yet been exposed. So be free and generous, and trust that it will come back to you.
Develop Reader Relationships
The best way to sustain a business or a livelihood is to secure the loyalty of your customer base. For readers, this is about trust. Be honest in your work, and be open to engaging in a dialogue with your audience. Coming to life as a living expert that readers have access to humanizes your work, and encourages your readership to return to you in the future. If you keep feeding your audience engaging content for free, trust in the depth of your knowledge will grow. Trust lasts. Publishing one-off pieces does not.
Securing Bigger Work, Later On
Providing bits of what you know for free whets a reader’s palate for the things you can offer. Know what bits of information will be the most appetizing on paper, and again, know what to keep below the waterline. At the same time, don’t be afraid to release some of your most valuable bits for free, they will serve as proof that you do, indeed, have a great deal to offer. Later on, you can offer a more detailed, in-depth experience of your topic as a class. That said, an audience will be more likely to sign up for your workshop or a class down the road if they can trust that no one else is offering what you are. Just because you have given something away for free once doesn’t mean you won’t be able to charge for it later on. The most important thing, while you are starting out, is establishing a reputation, proving your worth, and spreading your name in the broadest way possible. So get out there, and start giving.
For more information on Devin and his business tips, check out his free Make Your Website Work For You course on creativeLIVE.
- Why You Should Give Away Your Work: The Power of Free Content - September 9, 2013