Recently Sheryl Schuff contacted me to thank me for referring her to a paid course here on ProBlogger. Her email came a few minutes after I read a comment from another reader saying that they’d ‘never pay for information online’ because ‘everything is available for free already’. I thought that the striking difference between the comment and the email called for a little unpacking so I emailed Sheryl back and asked if she’d be interested in writing about her decision of paying for the course and to talk about why she felt it was worthwhile. Here’s what she came back with.
I’m a big advocate of learning as much as you can from free content, especially when you venture into a new area, particularly in business. I say this both as a producer of free content (articles, reports, blog posts) who encourages entrepreneurs to bootstrap their businesses using free software and services and also as a consumer of free content.
I usually have three or four dozen library books checked out at any one time (almost entirely non-fiction) and I currently have 60 RSS feeds flowing into my Google Reader. I subscribe to (and regularly read) several dozen blogs and ezines.
Every year, I meet some of the continuing professional education requirements for my CPA license by attending free on-line seminars. As helpful as I have found all the varied sources of free information to be, they’re not always enough.
Most of the free on-line resources I’ve used have done a good job of discussing what needs to be done in a specific subject area. Many have also included explanations of why certain things need to be done.
But let’s face it. We can’t expect the authors and consultants to give away all the specific details of how to do things. For one thing, if technology is involved, the how changes pretty rapidly these days. The experts spend a lot of time on research to keep themselves current and competent. They explore the vast amount of information available in their topic area, aggregate it, evaluate it, filter it, and package it in ways that make it easy for others to actually use it. They transform raw data into knowledge.
I know firsthand how much effort is involved to keep current in my field (business startup and taxes), so I’m willing to pay other experts to bring me up to speed in their niches.
It was a no-brainer for me to join the Teaching Sells program when Darren emailed his list to tell them about the launch in October 2007. In 2008, I extended my charter membership and then jumped at the offer to turn it into a lifetime membership.
Brian Clark and Tony Clark developed some amazing courses to teach folks how to create interactive learning environments and membership sites. They shared philosophy, strategy, business models, and methods of content creation. They produced text, audio, and video showing their students in great detail how to use various software and services to develop their new sites.
I learned a lot about educational psychology and the tools available to me to build membership sites. And I also became part of the Teaching Sells community by participating in the forums that were part of the program. The information shared there and the other students I met were every bit as valuable as the course material.
Just to give you an example of how one thing leads to another (and another)…someone at Teaching Sells mentioned the forums at StartUpNation as a place for me to hang out to see what new entrepreneurs were talking about…which lead me to information about HARO…which led to my being interviewed by Donna Amos…which led to my being asked to participate as the tax expert for the International Association of Entrepreneurs…which led me back to Twitter and all sorts of new connections…and a reconnection with Darren…and, well, you get the idea.
I’ve used what I learned at Teaching Sells to develop a couple of membership programs, the first of which I’ll be launching very soon. I’m also discussing two other possibilities with two different potential partners. And late last year I joined Brian Clark & Jon Morrow’s Partnering Profits program, an investment that I know will help take my business to the next level.
As you plan for your personal and professional development this year, I encourage you to think about what motivates you to take action and stay focused.
Are you the type that pays more attention to something you’ve paid for than something that’s given to you for free? Do you stick to your fitness resolutions better when you prepay for ten sessions with a personal trainer than when you try to do it alone? I know I concentrate more on the material in tax training courses that I pay several hundred dollars for than the ones I get for free.
Do you understand how much time you save when you invest in training courses from experts in their fields? And how much more likely you are to get current, credible information from paid programs than from free sources?
Someone who wrote a free report last year on how to use WordPress, for example, doesn’t have much incentive to update the report every time a new WordPress upgrade comes out. Premium content producers like Brian Clark and Tony Clark listen to feedback from their students and spend months revising and reorganizing their courses to keep current and provide superior customer satisfaction.
Read their free report. If you’re interested in creating information products or any type of continuity program, consider joining Teaching Sells when it reopens (update: it just has reopened for the next day or two to take new members).