Free vs. Paid Content: Which is Right for Your Audience?

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Free vs. Paid Content

Free content is key to any content monetization strategy. It might seem counterintuitive that if you want to make money as a content creator that you continue to make free content readily available, but it is incredibly important. How? Don’t worry we’ll get into that in a second. Free vs. paid content –

Once you determine that you want to start monetizing your content, it can be hard to decide how much information or what kinds of content you want to give away for free. The line between free content and paid content is constantly moving – and deciding whether you’ve created a great YouTube video or a great piece of content that provides in-depth knowledge for your next paid course isn’t always obvious.

So let’s take a look at how to monetize content and when to offer free vs. paid content.

What separates free content and paid content?

Free content is usually shorter and less detailed than paid content. You’re still providing valuable insight, but you’re giving a much broader answer to someone’s problem, rather than detailed steps or providing an in-depth solution. Your free content should tell your audience “why” they should do something and your paid content should tell them “how” to do it.

Since a wider audience will be consuming your free content, this content will tend to be more general to capture more people’s attention. With your paid content, you can be more tailored to a specific subsection of your audience and dive into more niche topics. 

Pros of free content

  • Reaches a wider audience
  • Establishes authority and trust
  • Provides entertainment value
  • Gives you an opportunity to connect and engage with your audience
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Cons of free content

  • Not always compensated for the time that goes into making content
  • Your audience might expect to only get free content from you in the future

Using free content in your content monetization strategy

So, thankfully there are a few ways you can make money while offering your audience free content. You can either post sponsored content, get brand deals, make a percentage of sales with affiliate links, or ask for fan donations. Social media platforms also have monetization tools that allow you to make money off of ad revenue or earn a portion of a creator fund when your content performs well.

Pros of paid content

  • Is a product/service that you own on your own platform/website
  • Can provide a higher-level interaction with your most engaged customers and supporters
  • Enables you to earn recurring revenue and be compensated for your work

Cons of paid content

  • Reaches a much more narrow audience
  • Can require more upfront effort and organization

Using paid content in your content monetization strategy

Paid content allows you to monetize your following and the content you’re already making without having to add a lot of extra work. You can offer fan subscriptions to access exclusive content, memberships so your audience can get behind the scenes of your process and connect more with you, paid guides or courses to expand further on your expertise, or consulting to sit down one-on-one with someone and give them personalized advice.

Should you offer free or paid content? Or both? 

Many creators think that they can only have free content or only have paid content. Ultimately, it depends on the goal of your account and your content. But we recommend having a mix of both.

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Both types of content have their own value and serve different purposes. Your free content can be more general, short form, and entertaining. This will help you reach a wider audience and increase your following. And it can act as a funnel for your paid content by providing them with just enough information that they want more. Then your paid content can be more in-depth, long form, and educational, and will satisfy those looking to learn more from your expertise.

If you’re ready to take your content to the next level, check out Retrieve.com to see how we can help start earning money off your content and leverage your fan base.

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