The Price of Free Stuff

The Price of Free Stuff

We all love something for nothing. Scrolling through my feed recently, I found a post “I’ve unsubscribed from over 200 lists this morning.” What a relief, it was like decluttering the house.

Have You Been Researching, Collecting or Hoarding

It’s so easy to check stuff now, although nobody’s really sure if you can trust the source. A simple Google search and you have the definitive answer, no more arguments here…

A well-respected entrepreneur posted a story “Was this man a Time Traveller?” from the Facebook Page: Lifeestory. A friend soon posted a comment: Fact Check: False from Snopes. It was a well-written story of a guy who turned $800 into $350M in a few days. Great article, journalistic style and full of conspiracy theory. I suspect the entrepreneur was having a little Sunday humour, mainly as he’d earlier in the week posted his take on Bitcoin.

It’s a classic example of a story, seemingly well researched, being taken as true. We’ve all joked from time to time “It must be true, I read it on the internet.” Sadly, from time to time, we share information without checking a source and their intent. We accept a story about a business solution as accurate information without checking verification or on a personal level because it was free.

The Pros and Cons of Free Web-Based Information

For the Pros

  • It can settle an argument between friends at the pub quicker than you can say “let’s look it up on the ” Did you know Guinness Book of Records is produced by the Guinness Brewing company in Ireland as a means to settle ‘Pub disagreements’. It was created to become a definitive list of ‘the best of…’ to settle the score.
  • There is so much information available – Absolutely just not all the information there is.
  • It’s Free – Well kind of – we’ll discuss more of this later.
  • It’s quick – Well kind of – ever started a search and three hours later found your lost on an entirely different topic and can’t remember why you began delving through the internet, Facebook or other social media in the first place?
  • You can go to a trusted source and get precisely what you want quickly – True, if you’re going to a trusted source.

The Cons

  • It can be hard to tell the difference between the truth and a hoax, take the example above. People have been calling the FBI and enquiring as to why this has been covered up.
  • You can quickly get onto a host (over 200 as in my friend) of mailing lists which clutters not only your inbox but your mind, stealing your focus and a whole lot of your time later.
  • Do you really want to be in this sales funnel? Sometimes we do (great) sometimes, we do NOT. Unsubscribing should be easy but isn’t always, and it takes discipline
  • Many of the answers end up posing more questions to research. Often a ‘How to’ solution will be more a ‘what to’ solution leaving you to need to discover the how to later – and guess what, the author will often have an answer for that if you pay them.

The Web is a Great Research Tool

When used appropriately, the web can solve all our problems.

Please don’t confuse, ‘no charge’ for ‘free’.

They are two entirely different things. If you submit your email, you just paid a fee, you’ve given that business permission to include you in their sales funnel. Being included in a sales funnel is excellent if that’s your intent. It’s a small fee; I encourage you to start considering the time you then spend further reading material from that business as part of the cost/investment in your solution.

Who to Trust

Only you can decide on that.

In Amy Cuddy’s book “Presence” she discusses that as people approach us, we have two fundamental questions. 1: Can I trust this person? Their intent towards me, and 2: Are they credible? Can they deliver on the promises they make?

Too often in business, we get hung up on displaying our credibility first, before trust is established. We mistakenly feel that trust is built on credibility. Unfortunately, your audience may not have heard a word; they’re stuck working out whether they can trust you or if you’re just there to sell them something.

The Cost of Free Stuff – A Simple Formula

Traditional employment has approximately 2,000 hours a year, roughly 40 hours a week by 50 weeks a year. I appreciate this isn’t precise, but you may work a little more and have holidays etc. and I can nail the two times tables.

With this in mind, if you divide the income you desire, by 2,000 you have an hourly rate. This is the cost of your time in simple terms. Please decide if you determine this to be your gross revenue (what you bill) or your net income (what you get to keep).

Then, four hours researching comes at the cost of your hourly rate times the time that was taken, four hours. To shortcut this, I’ve been told a substitute of $50 per hour is a reasonable rule of thumb.

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