You find priceless photography or filmmaking knowledge in online material. You start digesting it, but together with the precious free information, the author mentions a product or a service, which they obviously try to sell you. Do you feel you have been tricked?
The Average Client's Point of View Today
When you need to know something about a certain area of the photography or filmmaking industry, you go to a search engine and try to find the information you need. Most of it is already there, because someone published it. People get used to that to the point that today, there are complaints from people who are offended that together with the invaluable free knowledge, they got pitched to buy a related product or a service.
Why Has Selling Become More Difficult?
The advancement of transportation and communication meant businesses went beyond the local area trying to sell their goods to a broader market. If you lived 200 years ago, the businesses you'd probably be familiar with would be the local bakery, the dairy farm, the sawyer, the huckleberry picker, and a few others. Nowadays, you are reached not only by local businesses but also by companies that are thousands of miles away. You become so overloaded with information that you tend to pay less attention to the multitude of ads you see. In order to sell their products and services. businesses decided to do something more creative that involves a certain investment: creating goods that are free of charge.
How Is Free Content Produced?
Free content, as the name suggests, does not require a payment for viewing and reading. However, it doesn't come free to the publishers. They have to invest their time and resources to write an informative article or to film a video, cut it, mix it with music, add graphics, and market it through different outlets. Sometimes, these free-of-charge materials are created by enthusiasts who don't seek any financial reward for that. Businesses don't make profit from just free content. They use it in an indirect way to attract potential buyers. That's not anything new. When you go to the farmers market, sometimes, farmers let you taste their production for free in order to buy from them a bigger quantity.
Are You Tricked as a Client?
Depends on the point of view. When the information is informative and marketed properly, it's a win-win situation. People get their free content and in return are advertised products and services. Imagine you are a photographer who does that full-time. Will you write blog posts about all your knowledge for free? Will you create online photography courses for free, including person-to-person education for free? Would you rather teach your clients how to take photographs (free of charge, of course) than asking them to pay you for the service? Imagine you are assisting a photographer who does everything free of charge. Do you think you will receive a salary? If you are an enthusiast who has a day job that's not photography or filmmaking, but enjoys publishing free content without advertising products or services, keep in mind your employer can't do that, because otherwise you won't get paid.
Whether or not free content has ads for products and services, it should be both free and informative without any trickery. If we, as clients, enjoy the published materials free of charge, we should not get turned away from a sales pitch along the way. Remember, free content is created for a mutual benefit, not just for the consumers.