That’s a question that many business owners grapple with everyday. Giving away your knowledge or products and services and then starting to charge is called the “Free Trial” strategy.
The “Freemium” model is a strategy of continuing to give away your stuff while charging for upgrades or new products and services. Then there is simply the “pay for what you get” model.
Making Your Customers Mad
The problem is that consumers have gotten used to getting things for free because there is so much available on the web and social media. What might happen if you decided to start charging for what you’re now giving away for free?
The dangers of trying to switch from the Free Trial to a Freemium model backfired big time for Australian Instagram superstar Essena O’Neill. Her 500,000 followers got to see her modeling clothes and other products for which she was paid a small sum by advertisers.
She set up her own shoots – including the props and doing the photography. At 19, she abruptly quit, losing her sponsors. She called it all a fake and denounced our growing addiction to social media.
She was trashed by most of the press, who accused her of using the very social media she denounced to ask her followers to send her donations for her new venture, a website called Let’s Be Game Changers, where she offers her advice and also content she accesses from the web.
However, I tend to agree with Arthur Chu, who wrote in the Daily Beast,
People are accusing O’Neill of hypocrisy for asking for donations from her fans after turning her back on her Instagram career. But the real hypocrisy is from the people who were happy to consume her photos “for free,” remaining blissfully, willfully ignorant of the money they must have known was changing hands behind the scenes, but who are now offended because she’s making explicit that her online presence is a job she does for money.
Can You Make Money?
It concerns me that many bloggers, who are also business owners, are finding it futile to make money online. A lot of work goes into writing great content, developing recipes, doing photo shoots, researching topics and then providing invaluable advice that consumers can act upon.
Some write e-books that languish on Amazon or sell for a pittance.
Why shouldn’t we get paid if we’re offering valuable information and services? How did we get into this mess, where we give away our services and our followers are keeping our profits?
Think about it. The money they don’t pay for the things we give them for free stays in their wallets. That’s hard cash that we expended and they pocketed because we didn’t charge them.
It isn’t a fair exchange. If you go to the local garage to get your car repaired, you have to pay. I can’t imagine the mechanic saying, “That’s OK, it’s free and always will be.”
How long can you keep offering Free Trials? Is the Freemium model the way to go? Below is a slide presentation I uncovered in my research that describes the Freemium model.