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owen at owengreaves dot com

Make Your Content Free – The Money Will Follow

This has been the topic of discussion for a very long time, the argument of making people pay for content over giving it away. The landscape is changing rapidly, the world is and will not tolerate being forced to buy content whether it be music, files or the written word, you can’t enforce control when you need trust! It used to be that he who had control made the money, today, the good news is, that is changing, he who has less control makes more money. The bottom-line is the bottom-line, we will always try to monetize anything and everything. It seems we are very short-sighted though, we are still trying to make people do things they don’t want to do. Trying to control what people can access is not the way to go about building trust, in fact, it puts the guard up and raises questions as to motive.

One of the bigger challenges I see with making money online is, it’s not seamless enough yet, people still have to jump through far too many hoops. You would think with all the advancement in technology this would have been solved long ago. As mobile technology improves, the more and more we become mobile, the more transactions and advertising will be come seamless, it has to because we won’t tolerate what is cumbersome. Mobile advertising is where you should be developing your content, convert your free content into an app for iPad, iTunes or mobile phones and what have you. Advertising (At-vertising) is now Appvertising. The world will almost be 100% mobile in the next 5 – 7 years, focus your distribution through Appvertising. Feed your Blog content through an app, distribution is not the problem anymore, the Internet solved that for us years ago.

The easier you make it for your audience to come in, the greater return on your investment. Attention is the new currency, and in that currency there is an underlying trust osmosis component. The equation of tomorrow is:

EXPOSURE -> DISCOVERY -> COMMUNITY -> REVENUE

We are moving from selling products & services, to selling our attention, Google is doing it all the time.

The power of the future is in sharing, sharing music, sharing content, and sharing means doing it freely, not being forced to pay for that sharing. The problem is we are in the midst of a copyright gridlock (coined by Gerd Leonhard), there is much to be figured out here. Making the money happens around all that sharing, your primary content is distributed freely, this paradigm shift of Free & Open will change behaviour. The revenue change will come after the behaviour, habit & culture changes first.

Being connected scares companies and business owners, because we are going through a fundamental shift, from Closed to Open. The fear of loss is far greater than the desire for gain in this shift. It means not controlling how the money is made, the open & free marketplace means you & I are in control, we get to decide, big business doesn’t want that. So think of ideas that will allow you to maximize the Open & Free Business Model,  that will allow you to attract the right kind of attention.

We have to change our beliefs in how the world really is. Today only 25.6% of the world is here online, what will the world look like in the next 3 – 5 years when that number is over 60%? What would 5 Billion people online change in your online presence and brand? Think about that for just a moment, should you be doing things differently?

We have a Global Trust Crisis, Copyright Gridlock where the value of money needs to be re-determined, and there is so much to unlearn, but that’s what makes all this fun, the future is perfect because we haven’t screwed it up yet!

Give your audience access first before paying, Collaborate instead of Dominate, Coordinate & Cultivate instead of Command & Control, Control is Dead. We are becoming a broadband culture, we click to get before we ever pay. Access first, pay later.

I would love to hear your thoughts, my goal is to make you think, nothing more nothing less.

What do you think?

About Owen Greaves

I'm a Futurist, I write, speak, and teach the open & free business model, the future of business. Create. Differentiate. Deliver.  

40 Comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Owen Greaves, Owen Greaves. Owen Greaves said: New Blog Post: Make Your Content Free – The Money Will Follow http://blog.owengreaves.com/make-your-content-free […]



  2. MattsMedia on April 16, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    I'd say give away your best content for free and charge for information that optimizes the concept you've created.



  3. owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    Thanks Matt, that over simplifies it. Adding better value around your content is paramount, knowing where to put the Toll Booth is even more important. More importantly, ease of payment, packaging and the Interface need to make things seamless. The experience your audience has with your brand will determine whether your brand is good or bad.



  4. dotJenna on April 16, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    Wow! What a fabulous article. This is right up my alley and matches the way I think. I agree with just about all you said.

    However, I am not entirely sure that your proposed solution is a very realistic revenue plan. How will community lead to Revenue if there is not some charge for access at some level? In that case, one could argue: “I'm in a community, I don't want to pay.”

    The other dilemma that remains is how people can produce quality content for free. It's not feasible, and I don't believe it will happen. Sooner or later, we're going to have to break trust and ask for some cold-hard-cash. That's what makes the world go round.

    Quality goods will always have a price whether the market is open or closed. Supply and demand is a law that will not die. We may have to be more innovative to stand out from the pack, but then–that's not such a bad thing.

    You can bait customers into trusting you, but sooner or later you're going to have to make them show you the money, or else you'll no longer be able to produce anything.



  5. owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    Hi There and thank you for your comments. Community is where you start to build momentum, it's where you stand out and build on getting attention. Attention is where you will have influence to convert if you have the right content, the right value around that content.

    The quality goods is not the arguement, it's about the placement of the toll booth for those quality goods.

    As I mentioned, this is not a skill set, it's a paradigm shift, a painful one at that, looking at the world of Internet commerce from a different point of view.

    I'm just a messenger, I'm seeing a huge shift and sharing it with you. I merely want you to be open to newer and probably better ways, consider unlearning everything you know about marketing. Then look at it again.

    Thanks again.



  6. MattsMedia on April 16, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    haha well hey didnt you read my last blog post on simplicity! You make great points here and are absolutely right, the freemium model needs to be blueprinted strategically before being executed.

    Thanks for the post



  7. owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 3:45 PM

    What's funnier, I was reading your post just as this comment came in : ) Well Done!



  8. owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    I think your Simple Model is on the right track, the difference for me is that those companies you mention are all closed control models, that's where I differ.



  9. dotJenna on April 16, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    I am living this model, feeling the pain of working for free, building community and trying to figure out where to charge and how to charge. There is no choice. We must find a way. I do find that the more social proof there is in my midst (via community), the more apt new people are to hire me for consulting, or buy my products. I'm pretty new at this, but it does ache indeed.



  10. owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    The best is yet to come, with only 1.7 Billion people on the net we are early adoptors, in the next 3 – 5 years that number will 5 Billion, that's whole lot of noise to stand out front of and get attention.

    Keep fighting the good fight, getting attention is where the work will come from, but only if the underlying trust is solid with your audience.

    Thanks and stay in touch.



  11. BobSongs on April 16, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    Great article !
    I am always stunned by the websites and software that are designed by wonks who are too “inside”, and never look at it from a fresh, “outside” perspective.
    With the coming shift, I think, even OVER free, is if it is easy and intuitive to get and use your product/service.
    I spent over an hour on the phone (long distance) to find where a widget was hidden on a web site. Since then, I've spent five hours looking for a different provider for that widget !!!
    Thanks for making us think ! Cheers !



  12. MattsMedia on April 16, 2010 at 10:02 PM

    I’d say give away your best content for free and charge for information that optimizes the concept you’ve created.



    • owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 10:32 PM

      Thanks Matt, that over simplifies it. Adding better value around your content is paramount, knowing where to put the Toll Booth is even more important. More importantly, ease of payment, packaging and the Interface need to make things seamless. The experience your audience has with your brand will determine whether your brand is good or bad.



      • MattsMedia on April 16, 2010 at 10:42 PM

        haha well hey didnt you read my last blog post on simplicity! You make great points here and are absolutely right, the freemium model needs to be blueprinted strategically before being executed.

        Thanks for the post



      • owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 10:45 PM

        What’s funnier, I was reading your post just as this comment came in : ) Well Done!



      • owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 10:47 PM

        I think your Simple Model is on the right track, the difference for me is that those companies you mention are all closed control models, that’s where I differ.



  13. owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    Thanks Bob, I'm never surprised to hear the horror stories, it's about service and I mean good service from a support stand point. The Open & Free Business Model will demand it as does the other models. Good luck.



  14. owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    Thanks Bob, I'm never surprised to hear the horror stories, it's about service and I mean good service from a support stand point. The Open & Free Business Model will demand it as does the other models. Good luck.



  15. dotJenna on April 16, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    Wow! What a fabulous article. This is right up my alley and matches the way I think. I agree with just about all you said. However, I am not entirely sure that your proposed solution is a very realistic revenue plan. How will community lead to Revenue if there is not some charge for access at some level? In that case, one could argue: “I’m in a community, I don’t want to pay.”The other dilemma that remains is how people can produce quality content for free. It’s not feasible, and I don’t believe it will happen. Sooner or later, we’re going to have to break trust and ask for some cold-hard-cash. That’s what makes the world go round. Quality goods will always have a price whether the market is open or closed. Supply and demand is a law that will not die. We may have to be more innovative to stand out from the pack, but then–that’s not such a bad thing. You can bait customers into trusting you, but sooner or later you’re going to have to make them show you the money, or else you’ll no longer be able to produce anything.



    • owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 10:41 PM

      Hi There and thank you for your comments. Community is where you start to build momentum, it’s where you stand out and build on getting attention. Attention is where you will have influence to convert if you have the right content, the right value around that content.

      The quality goods is not the arguement, it’s about the placement of the toll booth for those quality goods.

      As I mentioned, this is not a skill set, it’s a paradigm shift, a painful one at that, looking at the world of Internet commerce from a different point of view.

      I’m just a messenger, I’m seeing a huge shift and sharing it with you. I merely want you to be open to newer and probably better ways, consider unlearning everything you know about marketing. Then look at it again.

      Thanks again.



      • dotJenna on April 16, 2010 at 10:55 PM

        I am living this model, feeling the pain of working for free, building community and trying to figure out where to charge and how to charge. There is no choice. We must find a way. I do find that the more social proof there is in my midst (via community), the more apt new people are to hire me for consulting, or buy my products. I’m pretty new at this, but it does ache indeed.



      • owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 11:07 PM

        The best is yet to come, with only 1.7 Billion people on the net we are early adoptors, in the next 3 – 5 years that number will 5 Billion, that’s whole lot of noise to stand out front of and get attention.

        Keep fighting the good fight, getting attention is where the work will come from, but only if the underlying trust is solid with your audience.

        Thanks and stay in touch.



  16. Anonymous on April 16, 2010 at 11:42 PM

    Great article !
    I am always stunned by the websites and software that are designed by wonks who are too “inside”, and never look at it from a fresh, “outside” perspective.
    With the coming shift, I think, even OVER free, is if it is easy and intuitive to get and use your product/service.
    I spent over an hour on the phone (long distance) to find where a widget was hidden on a web site. Since then, I’ve spent five hours looking for a different provider for that widget !!!
    Thanks for making us think ! Cheers !



    • owengreaves on April 17, 2010 at 12:21 AM

      Thanks Bob, I’m never surprised to hear the horror stories, it’s about service and I mean good service from a support stand point. The Open & Free Business Model will demand it as does the other models. Good luck.



  17. Owen on April 16, 2010 at 7:09 PM

    Singing to the chore here.

    If you can provide value you will create a community. With a community you can create revenue, multiple streams of revenue.

    Matt I love your simple blog post (http://www.mattsmedia.ca) so much that I'm seriously thinking of using a line in there for my Tagline.

    ByzHub Business Community – Keep it simple “Simple is hard enough”

    That line has stuck in my head like you wouldn't believe.

    Everything talked about on this post I live by. Nice work Owen

    Owen I like your response to Matt about knowing where to put your toll booth. Yes that is true, however as long as you can create that “community” there will be several places to have the toll booths. I don't think you have to know where it's going to be before you get started. Nothing goes as planned anyway. That being said I only just figured out where one of my toll booths is going in the last 2 weeks.

    My philosophy only works on large numbers, 95% plus of the website is free, maybe only 1% pay for the premium. If you have 10 million in your community and 100,000 are paying you a dollar a month, you are in the top 1/10th of 1% income bracket.

    My comments suggest that I don't necessarily agree with you Matt “the freemium model needs to be blueprinted strategically before being executed.” blue print yes, detailed no.

    I love the fact that all of us are still considered early adopters in this 'paradigm shift'

    Have a great weekend! Owen C.



  18. Owen on April 17, 2010 at 2:09 AM

    Singing to the chore here.

    If you can provide value you will create a community. With a community you can create revenue, multiple streams of revenue.

    Matt I love your simple blog post (http://www.mattsmedia.ca) so much that I’m seriously thinking of using a line in there for my Tagline.

    ByzHub Business Community – Keep it simple “Simple is hard enough”

    That line has stuck in my head like you wouldn’t believe.

    Everything talked about on this post I live by. Nice work Owen

    Owen I like your response to Matt about knowing where to put your toll booth. Yes that is true, however as long as you can create that “community” there will be several places to have the toll booths. I don’t think you have to know where it’s going to be before you get started. Nothing goes as planned anyway. That being said I only just figured out where one of my toll booths is going in the last 2 weeks.

    My philosophy only works on large numbers, 95% plus of the website is free, maybe only 1% pay for the premium. If you have 10 million in your community and 100,000 are paying you a dollar a month, you are in the top 1/10th of 1% income bracket.

    My comments suggest that I don’t necessarily agree with you Matt “the freemium model needs to be blueprinted strategically before being executed.” blue print yes, detailed no.

    I love the fact that all of us are still considered early adopters in this ‘paradigm shift’

    Have a great weekend! Owen C.



  19. MattsMedia on April 16, 2010 at 10:02 PM

    I'd say give away your best content for free and charge for information that optimizes the concept you've created.



  20. owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    Thanks Matt, that over simplifies it. Adding better value around your content is paramount, knowing where to put the Toll Booth is even more important. More importantly, ease of payment, packaging and the Interface need to make things seamless. The experience your audience has with your brand will determine whether your brand is good or bad.



  21. dotJenna on April 16, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    Wow! What a fabulous article. This is right up my alley and matches the way I think. I agree with just about all you said.

    However, I am not entirely sure that your proposed solution is a very realistic revenue plan. How will community lead to Revenue if there is not some charge for access at some level? In that case, one could argue: “I'm in a community, I don't want to pay.”

    The other dilemma that remains is how people can produce quality content for free. It's not feasible, and I don't believe it will happen. Sooner or later, we're going to have to break trust and ask for some cold-hard-cash. That's what makes the world go round.

    Quality goods will always have a price whether the market is open or closed. Supply and demand is a law that will not die. We may have to be more innovative to stand out from the pack, but then–that's not such a bad thing.

    You can bait customers into trusting you, but sooner or later you're going to have to make them show you the money, or else you'll no longer be able to produce anything.



  22. owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 10:41 PM

    Hi There and thank you for your comments. Community is where you start to build momentum, it's where you stand out and build on getting attention. Attention is where you will have influence to convert if you have the right content, the right value around that content.

    The quality goods is not the arguement, it's about the placement of the toll booth for those quality goods.

    As I mentioned, this is not a skill set, it's a paradigm shift, a painful one at that, looking at the world of Internet commerce from a different point of view.

    I'm just a messenger, I'm seeing a huge shift and sharing it with you. I merely want you to be open to newer and probably better ways, consider unlearning everything you know about marketing. Then look at it again.

    Thanks again.



  23. MattsMedia on April 16, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    haha well hey didnt you read my last blog post on simplicity! You make great points here and are absolutely right, the freemium model needs to be blueprinted strategically before being executed.

    Thanks for the post



  24. owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 10:45 PM

    What's funnier, I was reading your post just as this comment came in : ) Well Done!



  25. owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 10:47 PM

    I think your Simple Model is on the right track, the difference for me is that those companies you mention are all closed control models, that's where I differ.



  26. dotJenna on April 16, 2010 at 10:55 PM

    I am living this model, feeling the pain of working for free, building community and trying to figure out where to charge and how to charge. There is no choice. We must find a way. I do find that the more social proof there is in my midst (via community), the more apt new people are to hire me for consulting, or buy my products. I'm pretty new at this, but it does ache indeed.



  27. owengreaves on April 16, 2010 at 11:07 PM

    The best is yet to come, with only 1.7 Billion people on the net we are early adoptors, in the next 3 – 5 years that number will 5 Billion, that's whole lot of noise to stand out front of and get attention.

    Keep fighting the good fight, getting attention is where the work will come from, but only if the underlying trust is solid with your audience.

    Thanks and stay in touch.



  28. BobSongs on April 16, 2010 at 11:42 PM

    Great article !
    I am always stunned by the websites and software that are designed by wonks who are too “inside”, and never look at it from a fresh, “outside” perspective.
    With the coming shift, I think, even OVER free, is if it is easy and intuitive to get and use your product/service.
    I spent over an hour on the phone (long distance) to find where a widget was hidden on a web site. Since then, I've spent five hours looking for a different provider for that widget !!!
    Thanks for making us think ! Cheers !



  29. owengreaves on April 17, 2010 at 12:21 AM

    Thanks Bob, I'm never surprised to hear the horror stories, it's about service and I mean good service from a support stand point. The Open & Free Business Model will demand it as does the other models. Good luck.



  30. Owen on April 17, 2010 at 2:09 AM

    Singing to the chore here.

    If you can provide value you will create a community. With a community you can create revenue, multiple streams of revenue.

    Matt I love your simple blog post (http://www.mattsmedia.ca) so much that I'm seriously thinking of using a line in there for my Tagline.

    ByzHub Business Community – Keep it simple “Simple is hard enough”

    That line has stuck in my head like you wouldn't believe.

    Everything talked about on this post I live by. Nice work Owen

    Owen I like your response to Matt about knowing where to put your toll booth. Yes that is true, however as long as you can create that “community” there will be several places to have the toll booths. I don't think you have to know where it's going to be before you get started. Nothing goes as planned anyway. That being said I only just figured out where one of my toll booths is going in the last 2 weeks.

    My philosophy only works on large numbers, 95% plus of the website is free, maybe only 1% pay for the premium. If you have 10 million in your community and 100,000 are paying you a dollar a month, you are in the top 1/10th of 1% income bracket.

    My comments suggest that I don't necessarily agree with you Matt “the freemium model needs to be blueprinted strategically before being executed.” blue print yes, detailed no.

    I love the fact that all of us are still considered early adopters in this 'paradigm shift'

    Have a great weekend! Owen C.



  31. RUTH GRADY on August 6, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    This is great food for thought. I work for a B2B publication and we’re debating whether online content should be free or paid. Half of us believe our content is worth paying for,(i.e. “free” devalues the content) and the other half believe that encouraging sharing would give us more exposure, and ultimately more advertising revenue. I tend to think we’re the best kept secret in our niche because we’re so protective of our content.



    • Owen Greaves on August 6, 2010 at 3:02 PM

      This is the single most asked question of me, I do workshops to address the problem for businesses such as yours. It’s not the value of the content that’s in question, it’s where your content can take you if you look at a bigger picture. The Open & Free Business Model does not always mean Open & Free.

      Great hearing from you.

      Owen