5 Unselfish Reasons to Charge for Your Content

I am on sabbatical for the next few weeks. While I am gone, I have asked some of my favorite bloggers to stand in for me. This is a guest post by Stu McLaren, the Co-founder of WishList Member and Rhino Support, as well as being a popular business speaker. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

Nearly ten years ago, I made my first sale online for a $7.95 ebook. You would have thought I had just won the lottery. Dancing, high fives, pictures and a huge ego boost—all from one measly sale of $7.95.

Now I’d like to tell you that from that day forward I became this “sales machine,” but that wouldn’t be true. Anytime you make something available for sale, self-doubt will kick in no matter how much experience you have.

Is it good enough? Will people like it? Is it worth what I’m charging? Will anyone actually pay for it?

Sound familiar?

Because of this, most people never put a price tag on their content.

Subconsciously, we “hope” that by making everything free, we will somehow be rewarded. The reality is, we’re just avoiding the possibility of failure.

However, if you’re serious about spreading your message to more people, and having a greater impact, here are five reasons why you should begin charging for your content (at least some of the time):

  1. Your content will be better. When you have a business model that is designed to generate revenue from what you produce, you can then invest money back into producing a better product.

    Platform University is a prime example. Every month thousands of dollars are invested into producing high quality content, a smooth and reliable learning environment, as well as having the team to support the community.

    Because the revenue is there, Michael can produce more in-depth material (beyond a regular blog post or podcast episode) which inevitably helps his audience progress at a quicker rate (something he is tremendously passionate about).

  2. You can go deeper with your audience. Are you trying to help your audience?

    Then know this…

    Money that is invested wisely can help your audience get results faster.

    I experienced this first hand when I attended the SCORRE conference.

    One of the things that makes this event so unique is the structure. You learn the core content with all the attendees, and then you practice what you just learned with a small group and presentation coach (my coach was Stacey Foster and he totally rocked!) Every day we were learning and practicing. It’s a different experience than having conference notes that usually collect dust as soon as you leave, right?

    After all was said and done, this turned into one of most impactful professional experiences I’ve ever had.

    But here’s the key…

    With over twenty-four-plus coaches, plus all the event and production staff, it just wouldn’t be possible to create that kind of transformational environment if they didn’t charge people for it.

  3. You will have more focus. Reality is that free content doesn’t pay the bills.

    So where does the money come from?

    For most, it’s through a job and for others it could be through their business.

    But if you really want to “Go Pro” as Jeff Goins shared, then you need time to focus on your craft.

    When you have revenue coming in from your content, it mentally frees you up to focus on producing better content. Your mind isn’t focused on quickly cranking out a post because you only have thirty minutes on your lunch hour. Rather, it’s focused on producing the best possible content for your audience—no matter how long that takes.

    Fun Fact #1: Did you know that Michael reserves an entire day to produce two blog posts?

    Fun Fact #2: He also has an entire day blocked off each week to produce one podcast episode.

    The reason Michael’s content is world class, is because he has the time to focus on making it world class. That’s only possible because he generates revenue from content that he produces.

  4. You can reach more people.
  5. If you have something worth saying (which I know you do), then wouldn’t you want more people to hear it?

    Advertising can help you do that. Thanks to Facebook ads and Google Adwords, this is easier than ever before.

    Consider this…

    Great content will spread, but we have to hope people will spread it for us. Advertising just speeds things up. [Tweet This]

    Here’s the rub…

    Advertising costs money (which is why most people shy away from it).

    But if you have revenue coming in, you can afford to invest some of that additional income into reaching more people.

  6. You will have more impact.
  7. Several years ago, my wife and I formed our own charity called World Teacher Aid with the goal of bringing education to rural communities throughout Africa.

    Truthfully, my initial involvement was to support my wife. But that soon changed after our first trip to Africa where I learned the real value of a dollar.

    For most of us, $2 might buy a cup of coffee.

    But in Africa, $2 will feed a child every day for an entire month! Roughly $100 per month will pay the salary of a full-time teacher—who then impacts the lives of the 50–75 kids that he or she teaches that year.

    This experience redefined my definition of an entrepreneur.

    Here’s what I mean…

    Fundamentally, business is a transaction of value. The more value you create, the more money you make. Simple, right?

    Well, if you really want to take this a step further and have real impact on this world, then understand this…

    The more money you make, the more impact you can have. [Tweet This]

    Money provides leverage.

    A volunteer is limited by the number of hours they can give.

    I would love to stay in Africa full-time and help build the schools, but my life, family and business are here in North America—plus, the school would likely fall down because my “brick work” really isn’t that great!

    However, because of an amazing group of donors who are able to give, we can transform entire communities by building a school—in just a matter of months. As soon as a school opens, hundreds and hundreds of kids (over six hundred plus at our last one) immediately have the gift of education.

    This would not be possible without the money that was donated.

Today I look to people like Chuck Feeney (co-founder of the Duty Free Shoppers Group) who used his entrepreneurial skills to build tremendous wealth. He then has made it his life mission to give away every penny of his billion dollar fortune to causes and projects he’s passionate about. By making more money, he has transformed more lives.

Another favorite is Paul Newman (the actor) who created a “side company” called Newman’s Own (the salad dressing). Amazingly, 100% of the proceeds from the company, after taxes, has been donated to causes and organizations that he was passionate about. That figure is now over $370 million and he has positively impacted hundreds of thousands of children.

You and I might not be Chuck Feeney or Paul Newman, and those numbers may seem overwhelming, but think about the difference you could have right now with those close to you.

What kind of impact could you have with friends or family? Your local community? Favorite cause or charity?

My goal is eventually to flip the “tithing model” upside down. Instead of giving 10% and living on 90%, I’d much rather be in a position to give 90% and live on 10%.

To do that, I need to make more money. It wouldn’t be possible if I gave everything away for free.

More Money = More Impact

Next time you feel a sense of anxiety about charging for your content, try refocusing on the benefits to those involved: a better product for your audience, a greater focus for you, and more impact for the causes you’re most passionate about.

Question: Do you get nervous about charging for your content? What’s holding you back?