Posted on January 21, 2012 by Colin

The Power of Free

When you’re selling anything — from lawyering services to sponges for your kitchen — you’re asking your customers to leap over an enormous hurdle for a taste of what you have to offer.

This is because a price tag of any size creates a barrier-to-entry that will automatically exclude a large group of people. Nowhere is this truer than online, where ‘free’ has become synonymous with ‘content’ for many people, and the Napster Generation has subtly but definitely found that anything made of pixels can be had without that price tag, should they look around hard enough.

It’s an issue that has some industries up in arms, but it’s a situation I find appealing for a few reasons.

The first is that I enjoy being able to give work away. A big part of why I do what I do, and have set up my lifestyle the way that I have, is so that I will always be creating extra value I can give to people without worrying about cutting into my overall payout at the end of each year.

The second is that I enjoy solving problems. I find it to be an interesting challenge, promoting my work, knowing full well that I am competing against my own work provided elsewhere, for free. It means I have to go above and beyond in terms of interaction, ease-of-access and pricing structure, and it’s something I do willingly; I benefit from the culture-of-free that has sprung up around the net just as much as anyone else.

Finally, I like that free has become so easy to achieve when that’s what you’re aiming for.

Joshua Millburn and Julien Smith approached me with an idea not long ago; one that involved taking some of our best work and making it available for free. The small barrier to entry (cost) would be dropped for a few days, and people could grab what they wanted of our product, damn the consequences.

The choice was a simple one for all three of us, I think, because these days it’s possible to create work and then have it available as an asset from that point forward. A decade ago, it wouldn’t be quite so simple, as putting together an ebook took a bit more work than it does now, and people didn’t understand the value of such ebooks anyway. Now, that simple file can be just as coveted as a print version, and perhaps even more so, if you appreciate the portability and versatility it allows.

So putting these thoughts into practice, I’ve set the new edition of How to Be Remarkable from ‘$.99′ to ‘Free’ for the next three days. It’s not a large discount at all, but it’s amazing how massive a wall even a dollar can build in some peoples’ minds, and the content of the book is something I’d like to share with everyone, even if some people don’t like making purchases online, or don’t have a buck to spare.

You can hop on over to Amazon and snag your free copy now (if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle software for whatever device or computer you have lying around).

You can also pick up Josh’s amazing collection of short fiction, Falling While Sitting Down, and Julien’s inspiring new work, The Flinch, both for free on Amazon for a limited time.

I highly-recommend picking up all three, and I ask you to ponder something while adding them to your shopping cart: what’s something of value that you possess that can be given away for free, even if just for a short while? What have you created that is so good that everyone should be exposed to it, regardless of whether they can (or want to) pay?

Don’t risk your business model, but think about it; you may even find that the additional exposure ends up being a smart business decision, not just a solid philosophical one.