There is really no such thing as free content on the Internet, for a number of reasons.
The first is that no matter what the content, an article, book, music track or album, video, and so on, someone has had to spend the time, note the word spend, in order to create it.
In some cases, they may have had to study, research, or work hard for years to create the work or achieve a level of skill and expertise in order to be able to create the content in question.
Then there is the cost of publishing the work, with the word publish meaning to spread widely. There are free website hosting sites, and blogging sites, of course, but the companies who run them have to pay for them.
They often get their money from advertising, so we can follow the money and say that any content posted on free sites is being paid for by the creator of the work, the owner of the free hosting site, and the advertiser who pays money for ads on the site and helps keep the hosting site in business.
The advertiser gets their money from profits on products they sell, which often means the selling items to consumers. So we could say ordinary readers are ultimately paying for the content. In this case, they could cut out all the middlemen who are taking a chunk of money and just pay the content creator directly.
This is one of the reasons the Internet has been such a benefit to creative content producers, because now they can sell directly to those interested in their work without the need for a big publishing contract or record deal. But it can also be a disadvantage due to the ‘it should all be free online’ mentality.
Writers and musicians need to feed themselves and their families and there are very few people in the world who are willing to or can afford to keep on working for free just for the sheer love of what they do. Publishing is an industry, and writers and musicians are professionals in that industry who deserve to get paid for their work the same as any other laborer.
If the creator of the work sets up their own website, they have to pay for a domain name, hosting fees, and sometimes software, though there is so called free software for blogging such as WordPress.
Again, though, WordPress is not really free if we think about all of the people who have spent time and effort, note the word spend again, to create a great software program for others to use.
If a business sets up their own website, it is the same story. The business is spending time and effort and some cash up front in order to try to at the very least get some of their money back. They have to do the work first, and then collect the paycheck, if they can. The trouble starts when no paycheck comes because so many Internet users are on the scrounge for free stuff all the time.
So when you are setting up your own website and small business, it is important to note that someone always pays for content one way or the other. In order to stay in business, you will need to be paid in one form or another for what your content is worth. By paying for content yourself, and expecting to be paid fairly for your own content, you can help others stay in business even as you stay in business yourself.
It is also a question of value and respect. You have worked hard in your career, niche or industry to get where you are today, and that is recognized whenever anyone pays money for the content you have created.
A third issue is not only knowing what your work is worth, but what your time is worth. If you are not managing to earn at least minimum wage online with all of your efforts, you will soon get to the point where you simply can’t afford to stay in business any longer.
Fifty percent of new small businesses in the United States fail within the first year, and 80% fail within four years. These sobering statistics are a reminder that you work too hard to just throw away your efforts by failing in the end. If you are going to work that hard to set up your new website or business, set it up for success.
If you do give away ‘free’ content, such as articles or excerpts or even free copies, expect reviews in return. If you do not get any reviews in exchange, then stop giving away the free copies and try other promotional tactics. Every copy you give away is a sale lost if all your target audience does is take without ever giving back themselves.
Expect support from family and friends, and any existing customers you may have. They are the ones who can help you stay in business, by respecting what you do and seeing that you get paid fairly for it because they are intelligent consumers who understand how ecommerce works, and that publishing is an INDUSTRY, that writing or making music is a CAREER, not a hobby.
So even if you are a completely new business owner with a brand new site who has never sold a single thing before, and who has just created their first piece of content to sell, do NOT think small. At the very least you should set out to earn what your website and other services for your business are costing you each and every month, through a range of streams of income. The streams might only add up to a trickle of income each, but a number of streams can all add up to a river of revenue.
As you are creating content, think real value in your free content, with just enough of a taste to help people decide that your paid content will be right for them. Just as Amazon gives samples of music files to listen to in order to determine whether or not to buy the track or album, give small free snippets.
But remember, YOU are the one who ends up paying for the content each time, unless you have a steady stream of honest customers willing to pay for your content, because they are not bargain basement types, but intelligent people who understand that authors, musicians and so on have worked hard to create that content and deserve to be paid accordingly for the time and effort spent.
Don’t just treat your website or blog as a hobby, but a real business, and you will be able to stay in business, and even hire others to help you grow your business, benefiting more and more people (or even rescue pets, as we do here in our company) with the money you earn from your content.
Your time is valuable too-just think what you could be spending it on if you were not sitting at your computer cranking out content. You could be hanging out with friends and family too, watching TV, playing games, partying, just like countless other people who are not creators and content publishers like you.
Running a small business takes time and commitment, and consistent effort, so again, there is no such thing as free content in the end. Just make sure you are NOT the one having to pay for the content all the time, because you will soon burn out and give up on your dream of owning your own successful small business. Do NOT let the myth of free content online destroy your business.
And do not let the word small fool you. It only refers to the number of people working in the business, not the financial opportunities available once you start your own business. Small businesses in the United States are the norm, rather than the exception, and have helped fuel the economic recovery and new job creation after the recession hit in October 2008.
Therefore, be proud of your small business and your work as a professional content creator, and expect to get paid fairly for your work and expertise. Then see what a difference your small business can make to your life, and that of your loved ones.