I already wrote about the meaning (and importance) of the so-called Free Line – the line that separates the stuff you give away for free from the stuff you charge for. In recent research, I’ve come across two different concepts, that both work effectively, but treat the free line very differently.
This post is about those two methods and how you can implement them in your own marketing.
The expression “free line” was coined by Eben Pagan. He is an advocate of “pushing back the free line”. In other words: Give away tons of value for free, then charge a premium for your higher-end content.
Pagan definitely lives this philosophy. The most recent example of this can (still) be seen on the pre-launch blog for his latest product, Guru Blueprint. Not only did he give away massive value in about half a dozen videos before the product launch, he even continued updating the blog after the launch with some extras like an interview.
I recommend you go take a look at that blog. It shows the kind of free line content that most people are scared to give away, because it seems like “too much”. His product is about creating and selling information products and on the pre-launch blog, you can easily find enough information to start a successful info products business, if you apply the methods in the videos and use some initiative. This begs the question: Why would anyone buy the product if they’re already getting so much stuff for free? Since Guru Blueprint sold out in a few days, I’d say that for whatever reasons, Eben’s approach to the free line works.
Search for “Eben Pagan” or “David DeAngelo” (that’s his pen-name) on YouTube and you’ll find no shortage of further free-line content that Eben has produced. For example, here’s a channel where he’s giving away lots of great productivity advice in 14 videos.
This kind of free line content is one of the best ways to build a reputation, get lots of exposure (through sites like YouTube) and grow a mailing-list (if you put some of the free content “behind” an opt-in form). For long-term, large business projects, I reckon nothing beats Eben-style free content.
The problem with this method is that you need to have wide and deep knowledge of your subject matter, otherwise it’s impossible to apply. After all, the kind of content you’re giving away is equal to or more than many people put into their premium products. If you only know a little about a subject, that might be enough to put together a $7 ebook, but it won’t be nearly enough to create this kind of free line content.
In other words: You need to be an expert to make this happen.
Ryan Deiss and Perry Belcher are both extremely successful and well-known marketers who have partnered on many projects. I mention them both here, because I really don’t know where the “hot tip” comes from, but I’m pretty sure it’s one (or both) of those two guys.
The “hot tip” concept works like this: People have a very short attention span and are looking for instant gratification. So, don’t offer an entire ebook or complex training program for free. Offer one simple, really hot tip instead.
A good example of this is the million dollar napkin by Ryan Deiss. As you can see, the free tip you get for signing up fits on a napkin. You get a simple squeeze page that tells you what you’re about to get (and it’s clear that what you’re about to get is short and sweet) and you need to opt in to get to the next page and see the goodies.
Strangely enough, there are now multiple bonuses and downloads once you opt-in for the million dollar napkin, so it might not be the perfect example anymore. But the concept is clear: You don’t offer something huge and complex; you offer something short and cool.
Ironically, the best example of the “hot tip” was created by none other than Eben Pagan and was called the “Kiss Test”. Unfortunately, it seems that it no longer exists in it’s original form.
Here’s how it worked: You arrive at the squeeze page and see that you can learn one simple technique that will help you tell with 100% certainty whether your date is ready to be kissed. Enter your name and e-mail to learn this simple technique.
If you opt-in, you arrive on the next page, where you read about the Kiss Test (which is only a few paragraphs).
Very simple and very powerful. Think about it: If you’re a guy in the dating market, you’ll instantly give your e-mail address to learn something like the Kiss Test!
The big advantage of this approach is that your freebie is relatively easy to create. Sure, you need to do some good research to find one tip that really has enough pulling power as a “hot tip”. The hot tip you’re giving away is like the first impression you make on your prospect, so if it’s a half-assed piece of advice or something that’s practically common knowledge, you’re losing your credibility and basically ruining any further efforts you make to market to your list.
Essential for both free line approaches is that you build a backend that you can make money off of. The most basic form of a backend is simply your mailing list. You can use your free content to get people on your list and then market to them down the line. As an affiliate, using the “Hot Tip” method and then promoting affiliate offers is probably one of the easiest ways to start building a solid income-basis (did I just give away a big “secret”?).
If you do Pagan-style free content, then it’s almost a given that you need to have your own products to sell. However, in both cases, it’s ideal if you also build a simple funnel after the opt-in, i.e. you add “bonuses” or upsells to the thank-you page, maybe a downsell via exit-script etc. You get the idea.
How do you utilise free content? What do you need to know to get started with either of the above methods? Let me know in the comments!
I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better marketer and product creator. Read more about my story here.