My wife didn’t understand at first. As I put the finishing touches on a book I’d been working on for over a month, I told her my plans for it.
“Wait… You aren’t going to sell it?” she asked with surprise in her voice.
“Nope. I’m just going to give it away. Totally free.” I replied.
She couldn’t believe that after all the effort I’d put into my book, I was just going to “give it away.” She couldn’t see the benefit of working so hard on something to not getting paid for it.
I assured here there was more to gain long-term by reaching out and helping more people than by chasing a few dollars. The old rules of business did not apply in the Internet economy.
“Greed is good”, as Gordon Gekko was once misquoted as saying, was out. Generosity was cool again.
The Old Economy
Traditionally, businesses spend a lot of money trying to convince you and me that their product is superior to the competition’s. McDonald’s doesn’t give out free Big Macs to convince you to eat at their restaurant instead of Burger King. They’re betting a good chunk of money – estimated at over $2 Billion a year actually – on the idea that if they bombard us with enough with ads we’ll choose to eat at one of their restaurants on name recognition alone.
I don’t have McDonald’s advertising budget. I doubt most people reading this have even $1 million under their sofa cushions either. Fortunately for you and me, the Internet economy doesn’t work that way. Nothing online turns off people faster than when they get bombarded with ads.
Another business strategy is to jealously guard knowledge and dispense it out like tictacs for a high cost. Most big online gurus do this very well. They promise that if you buy “System X” or “Cash Machine Z”, the secrets of online business will be revealed to you. In reality, most of it is hype - they’re extremely good at copywriting – and repackaged, well-worn business advice.
Most of us do not want to resort to these tactics. We consider ourselves honest in our business dealings with people. This because we come from a place of love and generosity, rather than greed. And this is good news, because you don’t have to be scammy or lose your soul to be successful in business, online or off.
5 Reasons Generosity is a Great Blog Content Strategy
I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but if you want your business to take off, start by giving it away.
Here are five reasons why generosity is a powerful blog content strategy, not only for your audience’s benefit, but for the growth of your business as well:
- Helps You Stand Out in Your Field: Holding on to what you believe is “valuable” content to you audience is a mistake. For one, it’s very likely someone has already shared whatever you’re holding on to. Any advantage you may have gained by being the first to share something valuable with an audience will be gone.
- Creates Goodwill: Generosity has many advantages. For one, it helps you build a loyal, grateful audience. Psychology studies show that we’re compelled to return a favor when someone has shown extreme kindness to us. We look for ways to repay the favor, which makes us feel indebted to the giver. Loyalty is one way we repay kindness.
- Lets You Fine Tune Your Message: Sharing what you know can also help you test assumptions. Only by opening up and sharing your thoughts and knowledge will you figure out what your audience responds to. Little by little, sharing what I know about travel and online business has shaped this site’s direction with positive results.
- Quality Builds Incrementally: Producing valuable content tends to have a snowball effect on quality. It forces you to build on previous efforts and deliver even more amazing content. Putting out great stuff helps you build credibility too. I wouldn’t have been able to build my first product for this site, the Living in Antigua Guatemala guide, without first learning some important lessons from writing my first book-writing venture, which I gave away for free.
- Sharing Makes You Human: The Web often has an impersonal quality to it. It’s hard to connect when you’re behind a screen. You can remedy this by not trying to be a know-it-all. Sharing lessons you’ve learned – and mistakes you’ve made along the way – also earns you trust and bonus point for transparency.
Start by answering for your audience one, and only one question alone. As best and as completely as you can, answer your audience’s most important, most pressing question on their mind when they visit your site. Do this well and you’ll become the go-to source for all other lesser questions on the subject.
Next time you’re planning on withholding information from your audience, for whatever purpose, think it over. Are you motivated by greed or by generosity? Those who give first often get it back tenfold.