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Understand the value of giving away your best work for FREE

So, where do you start?

My recommendation is to start by giving some of your best work for FREE. Let me explain.

If you want to create something very good, it takes time, energy, and sometimes money. There might also be an opportunity cost (you could be doing something else rather than creating this) associated with that creation.

Should you give away that creation for FREE? I’d say … “Yes.”

Here is a business case for doing just that. I will give ten reasons:

10. Get Feedback: The best can even get better.

Yes, I said give away your best work for FREE. Remember that even the “best” has room for improvement. When you give your best work for free, smart people will get to see your work. They may comment on your work, enhance your work, and maybe even, challenge your work. Your best work will get better when you get input from smart people.

9. Extend Reach: Spread your ideas fast AND at a low cost.

There is an information overload out there. If you put out mediocre work, it will simply add to that overload. But, if you give out your best work, chances are that it gets noticed and it spreads fast. People like to talk about “good” (and “bad”) stuff. If you think about it, there is nothing to say about “mediocre” work—it’s there everywhere.

Most people spread the “good” stuff automatically (even if you don’t request that they spread this information.)

Giving away good stuff for FREE may be the fastest way to reach a lot of people.

8. Enhance your Personal Brand.

Give the best out to the world and you will create a positive assessment of yourself in the minds of people. That positive assessment will act as a stepping stone towards building a powerful personal brand.

7. Amplify your Organization’s Brand.

You will not only amplify your personal brand, you will also automatically amplify your organization’s brand on the way. When people see something really good, they not only want to know who is providing it, but also what is the organization the provider is associated (or affiliated) with. You will do your organization a favor by giving away the good stuff for FREE.

6. Build Relationships Across the Globe.

You will have a hard time building relationships with people who are smart and share your interests across the world unless those smart people know that you “exist” and you have something “good” to offer.
Giving away something “good” is a quick way to increase your visibility. Do this consistently and a subset of these smart people will reach out to you and start building relationships with you.

5. Increase the Signal-to-Noise Ratio.

There is already a lot of noise online. If anything, that noise is going to increase in the next few years. While there are no simple techniques to avoid this noise, you can attack the problem by pushing a lot of “good” content out for FREE. An increase in the signal-to-noise ratio on the Web will boost productivity of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

4. Gain Mindshare.

There is so much noise out there on the web. When you consistently produce good stuff and give it away (be it via your blog, podcasts, eBooks, books, columns, or any other means that you choose to use), people mentally bookmark you as a “good source” to keep coming back to. In other words, you earn your mindshare in the marketplace by giving away “good” stuff for FREE.

3. Make Your Next Project Even Better.

The feedback you receive for this work will also serve as a forward feedback for your next unpublished work. You will now be “listening” to the marketplace, and what you learn in the context of one project will have some bearing on how you approach your next project. It’s really a 2-for-1 deal.

2. Lower the Cost of Sale.

Whatever you create—even when it is the best—won’t be applicable for a specific situation for an individual or an organization. Ideas are plentiful, but it’s all in the execution. So, when smart people and smart companies decide to implement your ideas, at least some of them will reach out to you or your organization for specific help. By giving away free (and good) stuff, you would have lowered the cost for that sale.

1. Increase your Premium for those that are not FREE.

Not only will you lower the cost of sale, you will also increase the premium for whatever else you are offering for a fee. Buyers would have seen samples of your work via the “good” stuff you have offered for FREE. They don’t have to guess the quality of your work anymore—so they will be more open to paying a premium for additional work.

With the above points in the background, here are my quick questions for you:

Have you produced something spectacular in the last sixty days?

Are you giving some of that away for FREE?

If yes, congratulations! If not, why not?

In parallel, I am sure you are validating the viability of your startup idea. Just ensure that you avoid the classic startup validation trap.

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