The Free Line

The Free Line

This post is about the concept of the “Free Line”, the line that separates stuff you give away for free from stuff that you charge for. The Free Line is a concept that I first heard Eben Pagan talk about (though I don’t know if he coined the term) and it’s one of the things that is drastically different in online marketing, compared to “traditional” offline marketing.

Read on to learn exactly what the Free Line is and how it’s placement can dramatically impact your business.

The Basic Concept

As stated above, the Free Line is simply what separates your free products from your “premium” or paid products. The first interesting point about this is that there is a part of your product range that’s available for free. I’m sure you’re no stranger to this: In online marketing, everyone’s trying to give away free stuff, right? The typical example would be a short ebook report or a freebie to download (free theme, free sample, demo-version of a program…).

When we’re talking about the Free Line, it’s about more than just having some stuff that you give away for free, however. The question is where you are placing your Free Line, in other words: How much stuff you give away and how valuable that stuff is.


Value and amount of freebies is where we see the big difference between online- and offline marketing. Offline, most things you can get for free are purely promotional (e.g. brochures, product catalogs,…). Online, you’ll often be offered real value. A brochure is something you wouldn’t pay for if you didn’t get it for free, since there’s almost no value in it. On the other hand, a limited-time trial of a piece of software has real value – as much value as the full program, during the time of the trial. And the same goes for free information products: Many businesses give away very valuable and useful information in the free guides they offer.

Business Application

Giving away free things is valuable in three ways:

  1. Reputation
    By giving away something of real value for free, you position yourself favourably with your potential customers and the better your freebie is, the more likely people will remember you.
  2. Sign-Ups
    Most freebies are offered in exchange for an e-mail address. In fact, giving away free things is the most popular list-building technique out there.
  3. Trust
    The prospect can get an idea of your quality standard by checking out your free offering. If you’re giving away something really awesome for free, then your premium products must be worth looking at.

Eben Pagan says that you should give away your best stuff for free, then create something better and sell that. He recommends that you push the free line further back, offer more things and more valuable things for free and then scale your prices in the back end. He himself lives this principle in his businesses: He always gives away a lot of valuable stuff and on the premium side, he holds $10’000 seminars, among other things.

Your Free Line

Are you aware of where you have placed the free line in your business? If it doesn’t exist yet (common in e-commerce and brick-and-mortar businesses), how can you create it? What is the best thing you can afford to give away for free? If you already have a free line, how can you push it back? How can you give away more value?

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid of the free line plunging you into poverty. If you’ve been watching the recent big launches in the make money online market, you’ve probably seen very generous free offers in the pre-launches. For example, Frank Kern gave away one of his earlier big courses and a very interesting list-building script during the pre-launch of List Control. We’ve seen many examples, lately, of marketers pushing back the free line and still raking in millions with their premium product.

What has your experience with free giveaways been? Do you appreciate them as a customer? Do you like to give things away to your prospects? Let me know in the comments!



About the Author 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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