If You Want to Make Money, Do It for Free

To garner faithful customers, you’re going to have to give them a taste first.

Photo by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash

Counter-intuitive. Contradictory. Unpalatable.

These are words that I would use to describe what seem to be the most efficient means to make a buck online these days. You see, you’re competing against an entire eco-system full of free advice, articles, and information. You have to ask yourself, what makes your article stand out? What does your app offer that your competitors don’t? Why should we trust you?

I’m sure you have a million and one things to say to each of those points. I hope that you do. Unfortunately, in the milliseconds during which your potential hit considers clicking on your link, they’re not going to take the time to interview you. You aren’t important, neither are your competitors, for that matter. The only important thing is how your customer is feeling at that moment.

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

You see, that snap judgment about whether or not to click your link doesn’t actually matter to their lives. Whether they get the information from you, your competitor, or learn it themselves through hard work and grit, they will get it if they want it. Further, once they have the information, you’ll fade from their minds just as fast. Again, as content creators, we don’t matter. That is until we do.

As you provide more and more content that users find helpful, your sphere of influence will grow. Think of exponential growth. Use the spread of the pandemic if you need to visualize it. When there were only one or two cases in whole countries, it didn’t seem like too big of a deal. Within weeks, however, some countries were overrun.

The same can be said for your content. So long as you follow some simple SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tricks, you can start to generate traffic to your website or blog. Create useful and meaningful content. Share that content with the world. If you made an amazing app, make sure you’re talking about it. Use social media. Engage your potential customers.

This works. Time and again, it does. But why does it? Remember, the customer trusts their gut. The first seventeen times they see your article, app, or website link, they may ignore it. Behind the scenes, though, your influence is growing. Slowly but surely, the more you pop up, the more likely they will trust that you are a knowledgeable and trustworthy source.

The trick then is to pop up in the first place. The more content you have, the more likely it is for the potential customer to have seen you. This is the importance of providing free content.

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This is the trick. Any salesman can tell you that. Before your customer has invested in you, you can be easily pushed aside. If you engage your customers, either in person, on social media, or really through any medium at all, you exponentially increase the odds that you will be taken seriously.

Don’t miss your shot, though. As with all things, once you have their attention, it is a double-edged blade. You can either find yourself with a new customer or create a relationship with a disdain for your writing, blog, or what have you.

First impressions can be amazing or brutal. You need to figure out what works and lay into that. When you provide free content that is amazing, the potential customer sees that your paid content is likely worth the investment.

Photo by Philipp Berndt on Unsplash

So you’ve been talking to your customers. You’ve been casually mentioning your product using hashtags on social media and thoroughly explain what you offer whenever anyone gives you the opportunity. That’s great. But where do you live? When you’re offline, where do people go to learn more? That’s right, your blog or website.

By ensuring that your SEO is handled correctly, your website can do a lot of the talking for you, once people know about you anyhow. Ensure that you do the following:

  • Have a website that is simple and easy to navigate. Even a basic WordPress website can do wonders for your product.
  • As naturally as possible, try and include the question that you would answer with your website on every possible page. For example, I recently started running a website on how to make video games. On every page, I try to work on some variation of “how to make video games.” It’s only been a few weeks, and it’s not ranked high, but it’s started to get traffic from search engines, and it’s on the rise.
  • Try and answer questions. Browse Reddit, Quora, Facebook or Twitter. Find things that others are curious about and write about it. Answer their questions. Use keywords and SEO, and then share the article from your social media pages using the same hashtags in which you found the question. The chances are that person already found the answer, but others will be looking.

Persistence is key. Whatever you’re marketing, you need to make sure that you stick to your guns and see it through. The curve will reach exponential growth, but you won’t see it for a long time. It can suck “doing it for free” for a while but keep in mind that we don’t know you, and you don’t know me. We have to show each other what we have to offer.

For more articles about writing, programming, and technology, see Patrick Fluke’s profile.

Freelance Writer and Programmer. https://PatrickFluke.com

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