Rebel Rising Podcast

We Need to Talk About the F Word: The Economics of Giving Your Products & Services Away for Free

Hey rebels, we need to talk about the F word: FREE.

This episode might be a little hard to hear, but it's so necessary. I've seen so many online business owners and entrepreneurs giving away their services for free. The hard truth here is giving away our valuable services for free has a pretty negative impact on the economy and on your business.

  • When you give away a service for free, you stop the circulation of money which stunts the growth of the economy. Free services mean people cannot pay their teams, buy products and materials, or even support local businesses.
  • After you give away your signature service or product for free, you've devalued your work. Instead of purchasing your offerings, your audience and potential clients will now wait for you to highly discount said offer or give it away for free again.

So, let's talk about this more. What can you do instead of giving away a free service? Or, how do you move forward if you've already, unfortunately, given something away for free?

Listen in or read through the transcript below

Resources mentioned in this episode

Resources for How to Thrive & Navigate Uncertainty in Your Small Business During this Pandemic 

Heart Centered Podcasting

Megan Auman Jewelry

Get the 3 Word Rebellion book on Kindle

The 3 Word Rebellion messaging intensive and other services

Hey, rebel. How are you feeling? Well, for me, we are on week five. It is Friday, April 10th. As I record this and I am feeling all kinds of antsy, and frankly, I'm starting to miss the little things in life, like taking a walk around Green Lake, which is a park right up the street from where I live in Seattle, or sitting out on the patio and eating food with my neighbors, or, you know, really, I miss my hairstylist because frankly, my bangs are really out of control and I'm tempted to cut them myself. But I know that that story is just going to end in tragedy. So I hope you're hanging in there.

I have something I want to talk to you about today because it's really gotten under my skin in the past a few weeks.

We need to talk about the F word. It's not the F word you're thinking about. It's free.

That's the F word because I have seen some crazy shit happen on the internet over the last few weeks as I've been locked up at home. I have seen people given all kinds of stuff away for free from their thousand dollar signature course that I know that they invested a crap ton of money into creating, I even saw one speaking coach give away his whole entire library of courses all for free, free, free, free, free, free. I get when the pandemic first hit that people wanted to be generous.

I get that people are a little freaked out and they didn't know what life was going to be like and they wanted to be of service, but free also has a larger economic impact.

That's really what I want to talk to you about today-- the economics of free and what that means for your business.

And Hey, if you're listening to this and you're grimacing right now and thinking, oh, Michelle, I'm one of those people who gave something rather substantial away for free. Don't worry. I've got you too.

Okay, so let's talk about the economics of free now. In episode 193 of the podcast I talked about all of the different resources that were really helping my business thrive and helping me thrive personally. And one of the things that I'm still using in my business is this belief that I have, that we are the economy, you and me, we are the economy.

It is not the stock market. It is not the guys on wall street. It's not the world leaders. It's not. the fed. It is you and me as business owners, we're selling our services. We're buying services and products. We're going to the grocery store because when money circulates it drives economic growth.

Now, here's an example of this. So when a client hires me to work on their 3 Word Rebellion and create the messaging for their business, they pay me and I don't hoard that money, right? That money flows back out of my business. It goes to pay Haley at Heart Centered Podcasting, and she helps get this podcast out into the world week after week, month after month, it goes to Niles Peacock, and yes, I swear to God, that is the man's name. He runs a cocktail bar and pizzeria right down the street from me. It just opened in January of this year. Poor guy, but he makes the best pizzas and we get takeout for him. It goes to jewelry creators like Megan Auman for a great piece of jewelry. And when I spend that money, what do those people do with the money?

Well, Haley pays her team and she supports her local businesses. Niles buys more ingredients and keeps those pizzas coming. Megan buys more supplies to create more of her jewelry. So money, it keeps flowing and it keeps circulating right. All right? That is what happens when the economy grows. Money keeps circulating.

So you and I can do that with each other.

But what happens if I started giving the 3 Word Rebellion messaging intensive away for free? 

Let's just say I'm like, okay, I'm giving it away for free, which by the way, it will never, ever, ever in a million years happen. Well, all of a sudden I can't pay Haley. I can't get pizzas from Niles or buy jewelry from Megan and now that I'm not paying these people, Haley can't support her team. Niles doesn't buy more ingredients. Megan doesn't buy more supplies. Money stops circulating. The economy stops growing because money stops flowing and recession happens.

Free has a macroeconomic impact.

I'm going to say that again, free has a macro economic impact. So if we're giving valuable assets from our business away for free, we’re actually causing the economy to slow down. 

Now don't feel bad if you're doing this and don't feel bad if you are giving stuff away for free in your business. We all do this, like this podcast is free, but we have to be intentional about what we're doing for free in our business and what people are going to pay for.

Because the microeconomics of this is that people don't value what is free, and once we give something away that is free, we've actually devalued that asset, especially if people have been paying for it in the past, right?

So if all of a sudden I gave the 3 Word Rebellion messaging intensive away for free, my past clients would be like, dude, what the hell? Like I paid you good money for this service. And going forward, if I tried to charge for that, again, people who might want to work with me would just be waiting around, waiting for me to discount it again, or give it away for free again, because psychologically we think that's what's going to happen, right.

We need to have these boundaries.

So what I want you to do right now, this is an activity for you to do, is to set some boundaries in your business around what you will do for free and what is paid. So unless you're driving. Or taking a walk around your neighborhood. If you're taking a walk or driving, you can do this when you get home, get out a piece of paper on one side, write FREE on one side and then on the other side, write PAID, and then put a dividing line down the middle. 

Then write down right now the things that you do for free in your business. So for instance, the things that I give away for free in my business, I have the 3 Word Rebellion taster, which is just a little taste of the 3 Word Rebellion process that you can get for free. This podcast, if there's 190 plus episodes of it that are for free, I have a blog that's free, the newsletter that I do, my Instagram, The Rebel Rising Facebook group and community. When I do webinars and I'll do some 60 minute online presentations for other groups, I can do that for free, sometimes paid, but mostly for free. When people are interested in working with me, I'm happy to jump on the phone with them for 45 minutes and talk to them for free.

So those are my free things. And the only thing I have a little bit of discomfort with is the discovery calls. And I might be creating some kind of free messaging audit at some point instead of a discovery call. But right now, pretty good with all of those things being for free.

And then these are my paid offerings. So for paid, there's the 3 Word Rebellion book, which is in soft cover. And by the way, guys, if you haven't heard already, it's now available in Kindle since Amazon is taking forever to deliver it (get it here on Kindle and there is a beautiful workbook that goes with it, so you can do all the activities that are in the physical version). There's also the brand message map, and I'm also putting together a marketing action plan as well that will be paid virtual workshops that are 90 minutes or more are, I do paid speaking when we're allowed to go out of the house. Again, that's in person, anything that I have to put like a bra and pants on that's going to be paid, and of course my one on one work.

Okay. So once you figure out what is for free and what is for pay, like look at the list you've created. Is there anything that is free that should be paid? Do you have leaky boundaries anywhere?

And then this one is particularly slippery-- are there any places you're discounting your work? Like I've had some clients who have been like, oh, maybe right now I should be discounting my signature programs or my coaching programs, and I'm like, nah, we do not discount our signature programs. You can create something new that is at a lower price point if you need to keep in your back pocket, but do not discount your signature programs cause you are devaluing your assets.

Okay. So you've set some boundaries and let’s face it…

What if you're one of those people who gave something away for free that was valuable to you, valuable to your business during that initial pandemic frenzy.

Well, you know, the bad news is that you devalued an asset of your business and psychologically people are going to have a hard time paying for tha in the future because you gave it away for free. They're going to think it's not as valuable anymore. But the good news is, you’re a savvy freaking business owner and now is the time to create something new that helps people.

Now is the time to take that thing that you gave away for free and improve it, optimize it, make it even better. How can you add more value to it? How can you make it more efficient? How can you optimize it? How can you make it solve a bigger, better batter problem for people? You are creative. You have got this.

You can create something that is brilliant and that helps people and serves people. I know you can. Because you will come out on the other side of this.

And finally, what I want you to know is that people are still spending money.

Yes, they are. They really, really are. I have clients, especially my coaching clients who are thriving right now, their businesses are doing really well because there are people out there who need help navigating the stressful time and my business is doing great right now, too because people are seeing the resilience of having a 3 Word Rebellion, a message that is bigger than them and bigger than their business.

In the next episode I'm going to talk about having a resilient message that is not based on your solution and how that really lets you pivot easily in your offerings if you need to without really changing what you're about or what you talk about, because that is what I'm seeing with my clients, they're leaning into their 3 Word Rebellion and being able to like really do well right now and show up and lead.

Honestly, if you're in a business that can still sell, because there are so many businesses, like I think about my hairstylist or I think about like my massage therapist or acupuncturist, or you know restaurants who can't even open, if you're in a business that can sell and then put that money back into the communities to circulate that money, then sell baby sell because it helps the economy grow. Don't give it all away for free because that does have an economic impact.

And if you did at the beginning, it's okay because you can create, you are resilient, you are creative  and we are the economy. Remember that always. We are the economy.

So until next time, stay safe out there and wash your hands. Thank you so much for listening to the Rebel Rising podcast. If you enjoy the show and find it valuable, please rate and review us on iTunes, Google, Play or wherever you get your podcasts. When you leave us a review, you help more people find the show. For more information on working with me on your 3 Word Rebellion messaging or your keynote speech and speaker marketing, check out my website. See you next time, rebel riser.

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