3 Reasons to Stop Launching Free Products (And Get Paid for Your Work)

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By Jenn Monaghan

Breaking into the world of online sales isn’t easy. 

As the new kid on the block, it’s only natural to feel intimidated by your competitors. After all, these business owners have years of experience behind them and they’ve already made a name for themselves.

There couldn’t possibly be room for someone else, right? 

After a brief glimpse of hope, we close our laptops in defeat and wonder why we thought we could do this in the first place. Impostor syndrome kicks into gear and we entertain our fears with fleeting questions like: 

Who would ever pay for what I have to say? 

I’m not formally trained on this subject, why would anyone want to learn from me? 

Maybe I should start by offering my product for free…

We’re here to give it to you straight: You can absolutely charge real money for your product. While it may be tempting to offer a free product as a “test run”, this isn’t the only way to make waves in a new market. 

If you’ve been hesitant to put a price tag on your hard work, this one’s for you. Here are three reasons to charge for your online products and services with the utmost confidence. 

Paid products carry a higher perceived value 

Have you ever searched for something online (a course, a product, a service) only to be met with hundreds of free offerings? 

Learn Spanish in 30 days—for free! 

Fix your marriage with online counseling—at no cost to you! 

Get your winter tires changed—free of charge! 

Here’s the thing: free it a buzzword — it catches our attention and piques that inner, money-conscious part of our brain. At the same time, it can also trigger our cautious side by sounding the alarm bells. 

We’ve learned over the years that a free product (or service) is often synonymous with a low-value product. Whether it’s true or not, there’s no denying this is a common belief in today’s consumers. 

If your audience is serious about gaining value from their product, they’ll want to invest their money in a product that feels high value. 

After all, isn’t there a reason people think wine tastes better when it carries a higher price tag?  

Paid products have a higher rate of usage and completion 

When the pandemic first stuck, I tried my hand at learning Spanish. 

I reached out to the internet gods for help and signed up for two different courses—both free of charge. Score! 

Like a dedicated pupil, I remained strong in my first week of lessons. But as work piled up and spring kicked into gear, my interest quickly feigned. I hit “unsubscribe” from my daily language lessons and gave myself an A for effort. 

It wasn’t until I started using a paid language app that things changed.

I began to take my teachings seriously and actually make progress. I realized that by investing real money into a paid language app, I was more invested in seeing that product through and gaining real value from it. 

In a way, I owed it to myself because I spent real money on it. 

When it comes to your own product, don’t be afraid to put a price tag on it. Financial investment—even minimal—will nearly always be tied to a higher level of engagement and completion. 

You could be doing both yourself and your customer a favor. 

A paid product will paint you as an expert 

You’re in charge of how you want your audience to perceive you.

If you’re giving everything away for free, it’s going to be difficult for your audience to view you as an expert. If you add a price tag to your offer, it gives off the impression you’re a professional — that you genuinely value your time and expertise. 

At the end of the day, it’s essential for your audience to have faith in your product and services.

One of the best ways to impart this faith is to show your level of expertise from the get-go. When you charge for your product, you’ll find that your customers have greater faith in both yourself and their results. 

All that’s left is for you to show that you’re worth it — it’s game time. 

Of course, this isn’t to say the free products are a bad idea altogether

There are plenty of online business owners who do extraordinarily well in offering free courses, workshops, templates, downloads, etc. 

Instead, this is to give you the confidence to try your hand in offering a paid product.