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Internet Freedumb: Are You Falling Prey?

This guest post is by Chris The Traffic Blogger.

I can explain why you’re not making any money online in one word: Freedumb.

The irony of my writing a free post aimed at curtailing your misuse of free offers is not lost upon me. While your eyebrows fuse together and you determine whether reading this information is really worth your time, let me assure you that there is a valid reason for not charging any money for this work.

I absolutely believe that it’s worth quite a bit, but the people who need to read it (you’re in that group) would only purchase such knowledge if they already understood the concepts within it! Ironies abound, and you’ll realize just how ironic this entire volume is the further into it you get. In the end, I know my audience, and this article will target them, which is a skillset you need to learn to for yourself as well.

The greatest danger to entrepreneurs worldwide is the concept of Internet Freedumb. It is more lethal than the IRS, writer’s block, and months of poor sales figures combined. When you allow this cancerous notion to enter into your brain, it becomes the equivalent of quicksand beneath your feet. What’s really scary, and the reason it is remarkably deadly, is the fact that it sounds so damn appealing. Yet nobody seems to address it or feel the need to warn entrepreneurs of its affects.

I refuse to sit back and watch your internet dreams fly out the window. You owe to your business and yourself to read this entire document in a single sitting. Enough words of warning, let’s dive head-first into a word that you see every day but have never had access to the vernacular necessary to properly identify it.

What is Internet Freedumb?

Internet Freedumb is difficult to describe—much like the word “pornography.” I can tell you when I see it, but it’s a struggle for me to nail down an all-inclusive definition. Let’s focus on the result of Internet Freedumb in order to help define it.

The effect of Internet Freedumb on an entrepreneur, when you boil it down, is the entrepreneur thinking that making his or her content entirely free is the only way they can compete in the marketplace. It’s also the belief that creating 100% “free stuff” will lead to lots of traffic. This devolves into the use of advertising as the primary source of revenue, which is almost always done poorly, with little foresight.

Instead of building a business model, victims of Internet Freedumb literally set themselves up for bankruptcy.

The most confusing part about Internet Freedumb is the misconception that giving everything away for free makes people’s lives easier. No, it most certainly does not. How much garbage do you have downloaded onto your desktop? How many pdf’s, links, and videos? Probably far too many. We are bombarded day in and day out by the results of Internet Freedumb. Keep in mind, entrepreneurs ironically do this because they believe it will help them to stand out.

You know what does stand out? A paid product that removes the fluff and filler that makes up most Internet Freedumb giveaways. A $37 price tag sticks out. But even better, a $99 price tag really sticks out. As long as you deliver excellent content that both reduces Internet Freedumb inspired garbage down to manageable levels, and adds your own two cents, you will have a product that truly stands out.

By charging people money, you actually are helping them place a value on your work.

Think about when you want to ask the internet for help, and compare that with times when you want to purchase instructions. When you Google something, it’s usually a single question with a very basic answer. For example: “Dear Google, who invented electricity?” Conversely, you don’t go to the internet for a tutorial on how to learn AP Physics. Instead, you’ll spend your money on a concise, structured book about the subject or, even better, attend a course on it.

If you want to make money online, you need to focus on creating the manuals and video courses that teach people something. These must be objects of value, things that stand out above the wasteland of Internet Freedumb-inspired rubbish. It is only then that you will be able to make a living online.

You must not listen to the skeptics who believe that Internet Freedumb is the only way. Most importantly, you must build a new series of experiences that disprove the Internet Freedumb concept we all seem to initially believe in.

Let me clear up some initial confusion: this disease is not the same as the objects it spawns. Remember, we’re talking about entrepreneurs following a doomed-to-fail mindset, and it’s important to distinguish the cause from the result. The reason for this should be obvious: not all free stuff is dumb. There certainly is a time and a place for free pdf downloads and products. Problems arise when entrepreneurs take this too far, and usually they think that they will solve the puzzle of earning money from their free stuff later.

That “later” doesn’t ever come.

So Internet Freedumb really is just a mentality. It’s a losing mentality that makes you feel like a winner. You’ll think to yourself: “Yeah, I’m giving away lots of great stuff for free and everyone will love me for it!” Unfortunately, you’re just peddling more garbage amongst the gigantic pile of everyone else’s garbage online. You’re not building a business, and you’re certainly not making enough money to justify your hours worked.

Everything we do as human beings is aimed at helping someone (especially ourselves). In most cases, we make the wrong choice for the right reasons. Someone who succumbs to the Internet Freedumb mentality believes that they will help their readers. This is a great reason. Unfortunately, the choice of how to deliver that content (all free, all the time) does not lead to making that reason a reality. This someone also believes that giving everything away for free will get them traffic and money. Sorry, it just never works out that way.

Let’s say you have a really amazing product and are getting ready to price it. All too often, you will drop the price down to ridiculous levels, and eventually give it out for free, because you keep telling yourself that no one is going to pay for it. When someone sees the option to download your product for free or pay $50 for a well packaged tutorial on the subject, you instinctually believe that you’ve made their decision easy.

Unfortunately, our minds tend to consider paid products on a higher quality level than free ones. By giving your masterpiece away, you are devaluing it in the eyes of the reader to the point of possibly not even being worth glancing at.

If you find yourself making pennies from hours of hard work, then you have Internet Freedumb sickness. Don’t for a second believe that this only affects “losers.” In many ways, I myself have been bitten by this bug. Any time you cut corners and produce less than optimal quality content, you are falling for Internet Freedumb. It truly is a disease that destroys your work ethic and the ability to read what your customers want from you.

In the end, subscribing to Internet Freedumb means that you are truly selling out. At first you will think that I am lying to you. “No, selling out would be selling a product.” Actually, by giving away more free garbage, you are basically telling your audience that they aren’t worth creating a quality, paid product for.

The cure

How do we cure ourselves of this deadly disease?

The hardest part about defeating Internet Freedumb is the fact that our heart and brain tell us it’s the right way to go. You cannot defeat these forces without the will to experiment. By being willing to try something new and go outside of your comfort zone, you will have a shot at experiencing the opposite of what you thought had to be true.

Let’s say you ask your audience what kind of product they want you to create, and you actually make it beyond their expectations. If they spend money on your product and love you for it, then you will have a real experience to fall back on anytime someone tells you the Internet Freedumb lie, especially yourself.

Here are four actual steps you can take to experience truths that dispel the lies behind Internet Freedumb.

1. Start using a list

The money is in the list, but for technical or psychological reasons, you’ve been avoiding getting one started.

Let’s cut to the chase and actually get to work on the most important part of your online career. Get a list going!

I recommend Aweber for their “$1 for the first month” deal and easy-to-use tools. If you utilize my tactics outlined in the video course, So You Think You Can Blog, then you should be making a hundred to eight hundred dollars per month in no time.

2. Sell outside products

If you want to disprove the Internet Freedumb mentality sooner than later, you’ll need something to actually sell to your audience. Since creating a high quality product takes time, while you wait to implement one, you can sell someone else’s online product.

I would suggest finding anything above $10 and starting there.

I don’t just want you to disprove Internet Freedumb, I want you to remove it from your brain forever. It’s going to take a bunch of sales from your grateful audience to do that. Thinking along those lines, make sure that you pick a product you both use and love yourself before attempting to sell it.

Now, when you go to sell it, make sure that you don’t just slap a banner on the page and say “Buy this awesome product, I recommend it!” Give it some thought and dedicate your time to writing a review or presenting the product in a more colorful light.

3. Work on your own products

Use video software and a camera to produce at least some raw footage about your niche. Focus on featuring yourself because nobody else can be you. Yes, free has been done before, but a product that you create with your voice, and comprehensive thoughts within it, has definitely not been done before.

Be a new voice even if you’re sharing old information and you’ll be shocked at how much money you can make. At the very least, use a microphone like my Blue Snowball and record high quality podcasts. Just do something, even if it’s not the best presentation the first dozen attempts. But be sure to charge money for it.

4. Surround yourself with winners

Stop hanging out with just the crowd of people who believe in Internet Freedumb. Get out there and meet the entrepreneurs who actually are successful in selling products. Maybe you’ll even learn when it’s okay to use free stuff.

Follow my advice and you will quickly find yourself building experiences which contradict the Internet Freedumb mantra. After a short while, you’ll realize just how stupid it is to follow such a suicidal ideal.

What will it be? A real business based on value or a fake business built on free garbage? You decide.

Chris The Traffic Blogger. Creator of “So You Think You Can Blog” – A video course showing how to make $100,000 per year blogging.

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Comments

  1. Chris says:

    This is an interesting post that flies in the face of what many people tell you about blogging. Most of the posts along this line that I have read encourage bloggers to give away their best posts to drive traffic and get people to sign up. I guess that would be like a loss leader at the grocery store.

    Do you think an introductory look at an e-book for free to entice people to buy the rest of it would be a good idea?

  2. Valter Sousa says:

    Hello, Chris. There is no term in Brazil to translate Freedumb. But I understand what you mean and I see a lot of that around here. There really is a feeling of this evil in the air. Also I do not like bad stuff and I strive to produce good content, even at the expense of the little time I have.

    Your article gave me security and I think I am doing the right thing.

  3. Bee Atch says:

    Haha, so we want paydumb? Slapping a price tag on something doesn’t suddenly make it worth what you are trying to sell if for.

    I mean, c’mon, if you can’t produce decent FREE content, then your PAID content is gonna be crap, too. That’s just how it is. And I’ve seen it countless times in the Internet Marketing World.

    Even someone as successful monetarily as Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess (who indeed sells her own e-products), produces a lot of mediocre free content. And I guess there are people who enjoy her free stuff enough to buy her paid stuff. But the quality of her paid products, is no better than her free content. At least according to the reviews.

    However, Matt Stone of 180 Degree Health, has been posting brilliant, hilarious articles for years. But he only began to publish e-books once he had developed his work enough to have ideas worth the effort on his part, and the price on his reader’s part.

    So yeah, sure. Write a book if you know how to write, and have something valuable to say. But in my experience, most people are just putting fancy wrapping paper and a price tag on garbage that’s all over the internet for free anyway. And the later approach, Chris, is what you seem to be advocating.

  4. “Freedumb” or what. I have not heard about that before. Well, I still get the point. I have tread on that path before and left it. Perhaps, someday I would look into that way and work it out to success. I pray. Thanks for the post. GOD BLESS US ALL.

  5. I’ve experimented with both free and paid products on a number of different websites, and what’s always surprised me is that it’s often easier to sell paid products than to get people to take free content.

    I think there’s a lot to be said about our perceptions. When something is offered freely, we assume that it can’t be of much value. After all, if the product was really worth it, the author would be charging! Actually putting a number on that value seems to reinforce the product’s value in a weird way.

    It can be difficult to stomach charging higher prices – especially when it seems like every one and their mothers are offering free products – but doing so seems to ultimately result in more value for both buyers and sellers.

  6. Whitney says:

    It’s been established that offering lots of free stuff will attract lots of traffic, however I agree that you shouldnt’ overdo it. Keep some of your big secrets to make some dough from. I think it’s all about providing value and entertaining, but keeping a balance so that you’re still offering products (that are relevant) from time to time. As long as your readers don’t feel like you’re just using them. Great post.

  7. Saif @ SEO says:

    Excellent post. It is true that most of the people are doing fake things online to earn money and they just know how to make fool. They have made some kinds of methods to blackmail others or earn by fraud.
    You have covered nearly all points.
    Thank you
    Saif

  8. Soumya says:

    You have hit right in my face with this post chris. I am just a toddler in this blogging world but surely infected with this “freedumb” disease.I have started a new blog in the height growth niche (Its been a month now ) and i have created an action plan for it which is that for the first month I would post 10 to 15 posts in the blog and simultaneously make a ebook that i would give away for free.Thinking that I would get more subscribers to whom i would be able to sell some products later. But your post came in the right time and held me right in my way. For now I wold like to do more work on the ebook making it a quality offering so that i can able to sell at a descent price other than giving it away for free.

    Thank you chris.

  9. Mikeachim says:

    Yep, totally agree. It’s the biggest problem going – untargeted hosing of free stuff in the hope of fostering audience loyalty or being discovered by some hotshot…

    I’m a big fan of Sean Platt’s wisdom (he’s a copywriter turned Kindle serials author, and is part of the team behind the Self Publishing Podcast along with Johnny B. Truant and David Wright). He uses free stuff in a very specific way – to lead into paying stuff with a floodlit, neon-lined roadmap. Gary Vaynerchuk uses free stuff to get people hooked, but his follow-through is always in place. If you have a very clear, profitable reason to get people into your funnel, using free stuff is smart. But a lot of the time, as you say in this post, the free stuff comes first. That’s a waste. If you sufficiently woo someone with free things and you have no paying product to give them, it’s a waste of that call to action. And I know this because I realised I had done the same recently. ;)

    Audiences, even loyal ones, will only buy if you have the goods ready to go. They probably won’t wait while you make something free *and then* make something worth buying. Free is a hook, and if you have no line to back it up, it’s useless. That’s my take on it.