F*REE isn’t Free Anymore

Solopreneurs are starting to see a pattern online. Within the last five years, we were lulled into the delusion that companies or individuals could spend mega dollars to create websites filled with rich, valuable content which they would make available to the masses for no cost.

The web was never designed to fall prey to the ugly capitalists, some claim. Others thought selling anything online was a gross violation of web integrity.

We have since learned that purchasing tangible things online is a great convenience.Offering services we can access no matter what time zone we live in is an unimaginable luxury.

We’ve also learned that no organization can offer real value for free indefinitely. It will go out of business. That’s a great loss for all of us if that resource has great products or services that have real utility and value to us.

What you have seen in the last two years is a migration toward a more value exchange model. It’s not always a direct cost model, but it’s close.

More websites are offering free white papers or free webinars if you provide your email address, for example. I attended a free webinar for solopreneurs on strategies to drive web traffic, and was very impressed by how much content they provided. Did I give them a legitimate email address? Yes. They deserved that. They earned it.

The web grew up as a sharing environment. Under the best of circumstances, it still is. Don’t be stingy and expect the world for nothing. Those days are over.

It costs real money to build a website, nurture it, create valuable content.

Best Small Biz Help.com was a three year project that cost tens of thousands of dollars to create. Between all the experts who write for the site, the content reflects over a hundred years of business experience that was hard won. I believed the need was crushing in this economic environment and the sacrifice worth it.

Encourage the people who make the sacrifices to create great content and to offer their expertise by your willingness to enter the conversation, offer your email if it’s appropriate or to pay a small gating fee.

We are in the era of the long tail. If hundreds or thousands  of us are willing to contribute a tiny share of ourselves, we will all be better for it.

Support great resources online. Pay it forward.

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