“Free” Can Hurt You: Always Have a Reason to Give Stuff Away

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Many businesses use “free stuff” as a marketing strategy.

Content marketing is based on free stuff. There’s nothing wrong with it. It works, as long as you’re making money.

Ten times as many online publications are charging for their content this year, as were charging last year. They know that you can’t keep giving stuff away if you want to stay in business.

However, as Chris Garrett points out, too many bloggers get stuck in the free model and never make money. In How to Get Paid for Free he says:

“A lot of bloggers don’t even get that far – we get into the free rut. You do have to break out of it eventually. It’s a comfort zone. Blogging is hard work, and only ever giving stuff away can lead your audience to assume you are not in business at all. When you finally do start to suggest they pay money you can get a lot of push back. “

Know your business strategy BEFORE you use the “free” model

As I said on my Just Write a Book Blog:

Loss-leading products are a favorite way for supermarkets to make sales. Loss leaders work for book sales too.

Chances are you won’t have Amazon helping you out, but you can certainly use this strategy. The key is to have sufficient books in the marketplace. You offer one or two books at a lower price, hoping that readers will give you a try. Not every reader will love your style. However, you will develop a loyal readership — a platform. Those loyal readers are the key to your success.

I’ve seen many authors on Amazon giving their one and only ebook away for free, using KDP Select. I always wonder WHY they would do that. What’s the point? Wait until you’re selling several ebooks before you start giving them away.

Know how you’ll make money before you use the “free” strategy

If you want to start an online business and use the content marketing strategy, know how you’ll make money, and when you’ll start charging. Once it’s time to charge money, start charging.

Content Marketing: A Brilliant Example

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Frustrated with your content marketing efforts? Get inspired, with this brilliant example of content marketing.

David Meerman Scott interviewed Larry Waight of The Lodge at Chaa Creek, Web Ink Now: How to create awesome web content and achieve top search engine rankings:

Solving buyers problem with content

Most interesting to me is how Larry creates content that is about Belize, not just about the hotel.

This is an essential element of Chaa Creek’s marketing success. Search terms such as Belize winter solstice 2012 and bird watching in Belize drive people to the lodge who were searching on general travel information. Brilliant.”

While you may not have a glamorous destination to promote in your content marketing efforts, you can promote anything by thinking creatively.

I know that I allow myself to get into a rut when creating content for my own sites. After a while, how much more can you say about freelance writing, for example?

Larry Waight’s shown me that I’m just being lazy. I’m determined to do better. And I love The Lodge at Chaa Creek! I’ve never thought of Belize as a vacation destination, but I’m thinking of it now.

Larry’s created an amazing site and blog; he’s an inspiration.

Content Marketing, Content Farms and Google’s Changes

Content sells online. That being so, the more content the better. Creating quality content takes time to create, however. Therefore huge businesses are being built on the back of not-so-great content.

Aaron Wall writes that Demand Media (which creates blizzards of content each month) is worth almost two billion dollars, in this post, Google vs Bing | SEO Book.com:

“Demand Media is currently worth $1.74 billion, but it remains to be seen what happens to the efficacy of the content farm business model if & when Google makes promised changes. “

On my freelance writing blog, I warned writers about writing for content farms in the face of Google’s promised algorithm change.

It will be interesting to see whether that change happens, because there’s so much money involved for both the content farms, and the search engines.

In Google’s Content Farm Algorithm Not Live Yet, Barry Schwartz says: “… we learned that the new algorithm that went live last week is related to blocking low quality content scraper sites and not content farms.”

Typically Google doesn’t broadcast major changes. It just makes them, often leaving thousands of online businesses devastated. However, when Google can’t easily make changes algorithmically, as with the commercial links marketplace, it announces “changes” and scares businesses into submission.

With billions at stake, the big players won’t scare easily.

Content Marketing: Get Attention When You Freshen Up Your Aged Content

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Got content? Content marketing is hotter this year than it’s ever been.

Although wise marketers have been using a content marketing strategy for several years, in the past year, everyone’s climbing onto the “more content!” bandwagon.

Companies which cheerfully scoffed at any form of Web marketing now flog their writers into generating ever more content.

This presents a challenge: how do you manage many hundreds, and often thousands of pages of content and keep them fresh and relevant?

In this article, Article Marketing: 5 Easy Ways to Use Articles to Sell | Angela Booth’s Creativity Factory I suggested:

Re-Purpose Your Articles: They’re Valuable. As we’ve said, the more articles you have the better. But don’t stop there. You can re-purpose your articles in many ways. For example, you can transform them into press releases, ebooks, reports, and white papers with minimal effort.”

So that’s one solution. Don’t get your aged content languish. Give it a new life by repurposing it.

You can also freshen up your content by:

Editing it

Review aged content regularly. Update it with new information, and new links to make it relevant for today. Get it working for you — relate it to your current marketing efforts.

Deleting it

If aged content is completely irrelevant, delete the content, and redirect the page. Create 301 redirects, sending visitors to fresher content. (Beware of using this tactic to fool your visitors, however.)

Link to aged content to offer more information to your visitors

Great content is great content. Link to it. Your site’s visitors will appreciate it, and they’ll stay longer.

Tip: create a content inventory. Yes, this task can take weeks if you have thousands of pages, but you have a priceless resource. Make the most of it.

Need content? Let me help you with your content marketing strategy.

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