When we build products, whether those products are musical compilations, software plugins, workbooks or other things entirely, we do so in order to get paid. It’s incredibly rare that anyone builds a product with the sole plan of giving it away for free — even non-profits tend to think in terms of the purchases or donations they can get by offering a certain product.
But there are certain situations in which giving away a product for free makes sense. Sometimes it’s only on a one-time basis. Sometimes it’s giving away that product to everyone who wants one. When it makes sense to offer your product for free:
1. Review copies
If you want people to write reviews of your product, you can’t count on them purchasing a copy of their own. If you haven’t built enough awareness of your product yet, offering a review copy for free to someone may be the only way to get that person to even look at what you’re offering. You can afford to be selective with who you offer review copies to, though, so don’t feel like you need to give a copy away to anyone who asks.
2. Building an audience
Giving something away for free can be a major attention-getter. If you’re working to build an audience and demonstrate your expertise in a given topic, giving away a free report or tool can be a fast way to do it. You do have to promote a giveaway almost as hard as a sale, but giving away files (essentially free to copy) can be inexpensive next to many other kinds of marketing. If you can get an email address for each person who downloads a copy of your product, you haven’t really given it away — you’ve sold it for the permission to contact those people in the future.
3. Donations to groups that really need your product:
Sometimes we do something that isn’t about the money, like donating enough of your product to a group that needs it to truly make an impact. Giving copies of an ebook about building a better career, for instance, to a non-profit that specializes in working with the unemployed can be a situation where there isn’t a financial upside but that makes you feel personally rewarded.
4. Promoting a bigger product
There can be direct financial rewards for giving a product away for free, if you do it right. Giving away a copy of a great ebook to every person who buys a high-priced product through your affiliate link can make that gift a direct income source for you. Bundles and other sales can have a similar impact on your bottom line, including when all of the products in question are your own. It can seem like you’re not making as much money overall (the total if you added up the value of everything you sell), but if you make a sale that you wouldn’t have gotten any other way, it’s more than worth it.
There are plenty of other ways to give away your product for free and come out ahead. Of course, you do need to eventually make some sales, but these situations can help you create opportunities to sell your products.