Huge Profit from a Free Product – Podcast Episode 22

November 27, 2013 , 20 Comments

The most beneficial product I ever created for my business was one I gave away for free.

In today’s podcast episode, you’ll discover what product this was and why it was such a great success (even though it was not monetized with upsells or other direct promotions).

Plus, we derive 3 important lessons from this case study, that you can apply to your own products or services. Check out the audio and video versions of the podcast below, to see what it’s all about:

Podcast Video

[thrive_borderless type=’custom_code’]


Podcast Audio

Click here to download the mp3 for this episode.


Key Lessons:

  • Choosing a very narrow focus for the product paid off.
  • Digging deep/getting immersed in the topic and questioning what most people were teaching also paid off.
  • I made the product “packaging” as appealing as possible. Maximum production value.
  • Production value wasn’t actually that great because my budget was practically zero, but it’s still worth doing what you can. Also: just do significantly better than your competition.
  • If I would have put the same information into a poorly formatted PDF or just published a wall-of-text blog post, none of the positive consequences would have happened.
  • Even if not objectively better, being noticeably different from your competitors is an advantage.
  • Updated site and content several times. Didn’t only win partnerships, but also fans, respect, trust.

As usual, questions, ideas and suggestions are welcome! Leave a comment below and join the discussion!

Shane's Signature

About ​Shane Melaugh

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 entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • You must have been tempted to do a upsell or create a lite version then upsell to a full version but I guess that would have taken away from the wow factor? What about 6 months after launch when you have built up trust or did you just offer new products?

    • Thanks for your comment!

      That was actually never much of a temptation. 6 months later, I had a couple of other products I was selling, so keeping my free products the way there were seemed to make sense. The free products are there to generate leads and provide that wow-factor.

  • Hi Shane,

    a bit of topic, but do you plan some new version of your Backlink Battleplan? or you focus on WP products only now?


    • There won’t be a new Backlink Battleplan, no. SEO is no longer an important part of what I do in my business, so I’m no longer qualified to create a product about it, either.

  • Shane, what I’m about to ask you isn’t pertinent to a free product, but one that’s not.

    How do you protect a product from unauthorized use (ie, theft)?

    I’ve read about various methods: watermark a pdf file, password protected membership site, emailed code sent upon purchase.

    Do you have a favored way?

    The membership site seems pretty straightforward, but if a pdf file is part of the product (mine would be both a pdf and video), some buyers would want to be able to download and save the pdf to their computer.

    Your insights — as usual — are appreciated.



    • Hi Joe,

      I use a membership site (i.e. the product is protected behind a login) and a licensing system for software products.

      Of course, people can still log in, download the material and then share it. Or even crack the software to remove the licensing component, if they know what they’re doing.

      There’s more that could be done, but so far, I have not gotten any more draconian with my security measures. The vast majority of people are honest and will pay you for your product. Some scum will always try to steal from you and some might succeed, but if you put some basic security measures in place, whatever level of piracy happens will probably not hurt your business too much.

  • David Eisner says:

    Awesome content that gave me some things to think about and improve. Thanks Shane

  • Shane where can I learn to create product “packaging” as appealing as possible?


    • Good question. For me, this was one of the things I learnt purely through observation and practice. Whenever I purchase something I ask myself what’s good about the purchasing experience and what isn’t. And for the good things, I try to figure out how I can make them part of my own products as well.

      Also, part of it is design. Getting a good designer to create a nice look and feel for your sites (or using themes/templates that have awesome design) is worth the investment.

  • Ronnie Green says:

    Hi Shane,

    Very good podcast/video really got some good insight into the process of how things went for you so thanks.

    BTW. I had a copy of the free keyword product and also BL battle plan did you change the location of where these products are found, I’m having a problem bringing them up.

    Great info thanks again.

    • Thank you, Ronnie!

      I’ll send you an email with some more info.

  • Shane, this was the best one yet. Great advice. You walk the talk, your insights are truly based on what you practice in your own business. The part that resonated most with me on this episode is showing you care for your audience that you’ll be there for them after you’ve taken their money – and not take them for granted. I’ve seen you’re generosity first hand. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Thank you very much, Al! I absolutely don’t take any of this for granted. It might have to do with how many failures I had before I got my first business properly off the ground.

  • christine mcveigh says:

    Really valuable post!!! Thank you.. Does the Thrive content builder have a membership module attached – are you thinking about it or what do you suggest.

    Again, really great post.

    Thanks for the prompting to do better, the great ideas and the inspiration.

  • You should put a title, which says – “A profitable podcast”. I loved it man! Thanks for sharing with us this type of great stuff, it’s amazingly helpful! Waiting for the another one and I hope that too will be interesting :D

    • Thank you for your comment, Sohil! Glad you found this episode useful. :)

  • I’m definitely interested in improving my production value. I did notice some glitches in this video.

    The autofocus on your camera occasionally screwed up for a few seconds, and went out of focus. I have had similar problems (I use a T4i), only much worse — I think my camera has a problem figuring out what to focus on if it doesn’t “see” eyes, although that is clearly not the problem in your video (e.g., approx the 26:00 minute mark).

    I also noticed the light changing from time to time.

    I would be interested in what you use for your videos, and how you set up to do one. I watched your eyes closely, and I think you referred to a written outline for your presentation, which was positioned to the right of the camera.

    You definitely speak better than I do, but you mention “the grind” as being how you improved your presentations over time. BTW, on that topic, I saw a TED talk which I found very encouraging: where Josh Kaufman talks about accelerated learning, claiming that you can get pretty good at most things in 20 hours or less.

    Perhaps you could produce a video about how you manage your production. I would guess I’m not the only person who wants to know more about this.

    • Thank you for the link! The book “The First 20 Hours” is one I had put on my reading list and then forgotten about again. Just started reading it now, after this reminder.

      I usually set my camera to single focus rather than continuous focus, but I must have forgotten for this shoot. With continuous focus, the camera is bound to get confused and try to refocus at some point during a 30 minute recording, unfortunately. As for setup: I just set up my lights and hit record, pretty much. I don’t have teleprompters or anything like that. For this recording, I had Asana open on my mobile phone, showing me a short list of points that I wanted to make sure to cover.

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