Free vs. Paid – How to Avoid Giving Away Too Much

Everyone tells you to give away great content in blog articles, presentations, online gifts, videos, and more. Recently someone asked me, “How do you know what to give away and what to charge for? At what point does giving away free content hurt my business?”

In this article, I give you easy guidelines to decide what content to give away vs. what to include in a paid program. We’ll start with high-end programs and work our way to blog articles and other free content.

High-end Coaching Programs

I am a big proponent of giving away 90% of what you know and saving the best 10% for your high-paying clients. Here’s why.

As a health coach, most of the information you teach your clients is available for free online anyway, such as what to eat and not eat. What you charge for – that isn’t available online – is how to apply that knowledge specifically to get fast results.

High-end holistic programs typically include one-on-one consultations with a lot of customization. While the basic information you share on lifestyle changes, reducing stress, and nutrition may be available for free in many places, what isn’t free is your expertise in how to apply the information for the client’s particular needs.

Group Programs and Home Study Courses

Home study courses and larger group programs allow you to offer your expertise and knowledge to others at a lower investment level. But it doesn’t allow for one-on-one client sessions or customization.

Therefore, at this level of service, you will still include general type information that you would offer for free, such as why they should buy non-GMO foods or the top benefits of taking vitamin D. And you will also include your easy to implement, signature step-by-step program.

You may also include done-for-you templates, recipes, or checklists to add value to your program. While you may offer some of these items for free elsewhere in your marketing, you charge for them when you put them all together in a package, along with step-by-step guidance.

For instance, you may have an article on your blog where you give away a checklist for finding hidden sugar in your diet. You include it with your paid detox cleanse program, along with recipes and meal plans that supplement your signature program.

Blog Articles, Newsletters, and Other Free Content

When someone comes to your blog to read an article or watch a free video, what they typically want is a quick take-away. Today, people have a very limited attention span. Their attention is constantly pulled in multiple directions at any given time thanks to work, family, cell phones, email, texting, internet, and social media (just to name a few).

They want an idea, strategy, or tip that they can immediately put into action. This is why in today’s market, giving away a 50-page e-book is not an effective strategy for attracting clients. (Though, it worked great before 2006.)

For instance, you might give them an explanation to help them understand a complex concept or see the big picture, such as 10 reasons why buying organic foods is worth the cost. Or your free content might be a tip on how to do something specific, like how to organize their pantry or make an energy boosting smoothie.

The important thing to remember with free content is that you want to give them just one, self-contained piece of information. So they may get a free recipe for a cleansing smoothie, but they have to buy your 14-day detoxing program. The recipe is valuable by itself, and they don’t need any other information in order to use it.


When it comes to drawing the line between free vs. paid content, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Charge your highest rates for personal access to you and for customized solutions.
  • Charge for content that includes a complete, step-by-step system or solution that helps them get results quickly.
  • Give away content that is one, self-contained piece of information, such as a tip, strategy, or explanation that they can implement immediately.

You may wonder if people will pay for content that is already available for free on your website. The answer is yes; they will. People will still pay for information that walks them through what they need to do.

When your clients pay for a course or program, what they want is for you to pull all of these individual pieces of information together into a system that is easy to understand and implement.

Once you understand this, you’ll never again fear that you’re giving away too much. Why? Because it’s almost impossible to provide a complete system in the context of an article, report, or short video.

Use the guidelines above, you’ll never have to worry about holding back or revealing “too much” in your free content.

If you’ve found this article helpful, please leave a comment or ask a question. I love hearing from my readers.

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