How to compete with free

Imagine you’re in a market, where there is a ton of competitors providing what it is you want to sell, for free.

Tough scenario. Right?

How do I sell my paid content in a membership program when similar content is available for free all over the web? I get this question all the time from people who are thinking about starting a membership site or paid program.

Well my friends I’ve got the answer for you.

I was recently having a conversation with a dear friend about something she was sharing:

  • how there is a lot of free content in her target market and
  • how in a discussion with a group of her friends, they were commenting that they would rather go to the film libraries and grab free movies than buying them on Amazon Prime or Netflix.

I smiled because when I heard her, I couldn’t help but think why people really do pay for things.

Yes, there will always be a pocket of people who will choose the free alternative but you and I need to get clear on the real reason why people are going to pay for our content.

Many times we think it’s that they’re paying for the content itself but they’re not actually always paying for the content itself.

For what people are really paying for?

The answer is they’re paying for the convenience of getting exactly what they need in the right order that they need it.

So for example my younger brother Bishal. Last year during summer vacation he wanted to learn Graphic Designing. He was quite acquainted with Canva using which he can design social media posts and banners. Now he wanted to take his graphic designing skills to next level. So I posted a question to our community where we have a ton of incredible designers in our community. I just said what’s the best software for my brother to be able to do his graphic designs. The overwhelming majority of people said Adobe Illustrator. They said that was the tool to go with, so I bought Adobe Illustrator licensed version and I opened it up for Bishal.

Both brothers then started trying to figure it out. After some time, I’m just like ‘okay! I’m gonna need some coaching’. So then I went online and I did a little YouTube Search. There’s like a boatload of Adobe Illustrator tutorials and I’m like oh okay, where do I go from here? I then clicked on 7-9 videos.

I was overwhelmed. There were literally thousands and thousands of different YouTube teachers teaching all kinds of different things. And I’m like where do I even start.

After a lot of hustle, what ultimately happened is I ended up buying 2 different courses from Udemy instead of learning from free youtube videos.


Because I didn’t want to have to spend that time sifting and sorting through thousands and thousands of different YouTube teachers. I just wanted someone to bring me up with the required content as quickly as possible and in a curated manner.

This is the key insight that I want you to take on here. People are paying for the convenience of you breaking down a large chunk of information and sharing in bite-size chunks, in order that’s gonna get them from where they are to where they want to be. They need a pass. They want to be told what to do. They don’t want to have to think. They want to be able to save time.

So I responded back to my friend I said look the reason that your friends are opting to go to the library instead of paying $3 for an online movie is because the library is convenient. It’s right around the corner but if the library was all the way across town and they had to fight traffic to get there. My guess is they wouldn’t even think twice about paying the $3.

This is why when you’re in a market where there’s an abundance of free content I want you to celebrate this as a really good thing.

The fact of the matter is the more content that’s readily available, the more likely people are going to be willing to pay you, to be able to sift and sort through all of that to give them on a silver platter. The bite-sized nuggets that are going to take them from where they are to where they want to be. 

Do not underestimate people’s willingness to pay to be able to save time. They don’t want to think. They’d much rather have it given to them on a silver platter to save time.

The same is true for you.

So when you’re thinking about positioning, think about what it is that you are offering. Especially if you’re selling a chorus a membership or paid program of any kind what I want you to remember is that it’s not just about the information that you’re going to provide.

Yes, that’s important. But I also want you to remember there are other reasons why people are going to be investing in what it is that you’re offering and many times it’s the convenience of being able to get the pathway. So to speak where they don’t have to sift and sort through 1000001 pieces of content instead you’re telling them look here’s where you are and here’s what you need to focus on, forget everything else.

Once your target audience accomplishes the thing they wanted, then people are going to thank you because no longer are they wasting time watching and listening and sifting through a whole bunch of information that is irrelevant. Instead, they’re being given exactly what they need & when they need it. It’s saving them time. It’s providing them the convenience of getting exactly what they need & when they need it.

Don’t forget that because when it comes to standing out in a sea of freeness convenience and saving time is your advantage.