To Free Or Not To Free - That Is The Question

6 replies
I read a great post by Seth Godin today called "The Choke Point" giving some good insight into the whole philosophy of "Free" on the web.

Again and again, we see that if you're not the customer, you're the product. "Free" usually means, "you're not in charge.", says Godin.

And it's true. If you're using Gmail you're giving them the right to scan your personal mail so they can refine their advertising, if you're using free web hosting you're likely agreeing to receive advertising on the site you don't control, or are restricted on what you can do with it. What freedom are you giving up for a free product?

Of course this applies mainly to software as a service tool that you use, certainly open source challenges this as the Wordpress platform testifies.

The next time you think of using a free tool for your business, consider whether it will mean you are someone else's product and will be actually giving up some of your freedom or whether you want to pay instead to become a customer, and gain the benefits of being in charge that come along with that.
#free #question
  • Profile picture of the author writeaway
    Good point. The free lunch has yet to be invented. There is always an angle when it comes to 'freebies.'
    People who say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are MAKING IT HAPPEN
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  • Profile picture of the author John J M
    Yes and no. I agree with Godin on a lot, but he also had to start somewhere. We all do.

    And when it comes to IM, the reality of why people start here is cause they need to make more money, not to spend more money (unfortunately, that's often what happens).

    I have a balanced approach here. When something that costs truly moves your business forward, consider it investment. If you're not sure about it or it's really just for the perception factor, forget it until you have tons of "discretionary income."
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  • Thinked about it for some time. Definitly gave my brains some candy.
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  • Profile picture of the author Zabrina
    I agree and disagree. On the one hand, for long-term, sustainable business growth, you absolutely should make the investment to avoid sacrificing elements of your business in order to get free stuff. On the other, I've long been an advocate of "start where you are" or "use what you have" business building.

    I got started with free tools. In fact, I first published articles on content mills -- not that I'd recommend it today, but it helped me learn how to write a web article. Next, I wasn't sure I could be a service provider and make that work financially, so I used a free Blogspot domain as my first portfolio. Once I'd gotten a few clients, I invested in a domain and a year of hosting for my portfolio. I just kept on building from there.

    I followed a policy of not investing anything on IM that I hadn't earned from IM, and it worked because:

    1. It motivated me to start earning money fast, rather than getting stuck in the research phase.
    2. It prevented me from getting caught up in the "shiny object phase" because I didn't have the money, or I needed to prioritize where I spent it (hosting rather than WSOs, for example).
    3. When I did get to a point where I could invest in expensive courses, I thought long and hard over them, researched them, looked at reviews, and so on. I ensured that I'd pay close attention to these training courses rather than buying and forgetting them.

    So I see Seth's point, but there's a fair counterargument to be made for using free tools at first.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewRiseDigital
    I've long been an advocate of "start where you are" or "use what you have" business building.
    definitely have to agree with that Zabrina! As I mentioned in the original post, there's always open source which has many good free alternatives, Open Office, Wordpress, the list goes on...
    Interviews With The Top Digital Marketing Experts - Get The New Book "Essential Digital Marketing For Small Business
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  • Profile picture of the author isadoregregory
    freebies normally comes with hidden price tags that may come in various forms. a free blog theme, for example, are normally laden with outbound links at the footer. some of them might be a small price to pay compared to the advantage and the benefits you get out of using them, but for business, settling for freebies is not really recommended, unless of course, you can find a good alternative like what InternetBusinessKickStart mentioned. the key really is to be thorough and resourceful in looking for these stuff!
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