The Internet is revolutionizing the way we do business. Information and technology are rapidly becoming affordable for everyone as the amount of free content on the web keeps growing.
Just to sample the free stuff on the Internet, consider:
- free software programs (like www.picnik.com for photo imaging)
- free blog and web hosting sites (www.wordpress.com and www.blogger.com)
- free information in articles and blogs (www.ezinearticles.com)
- free social networking sites allowing you to connect with family, friends, and colleagues (www.facebook.com and www.twitter.com)
- free digital content sites (www.scribd.com)
In his new book Free: The Future of a Radical Price, Chris Anderson says that “people are making lots of money charging nothing. Not nothing for everything, but nothing for enough that we have essentially created a country-sized economy around the price of $0.00.”
By the way, Anderson’s book releases this week and his blog says that the book will be available in all digital formats – ebook, web book, and audiobook – for free for a limited time. It appears that his publisher is banking on the truth of the message in the book.
You may wonder: How can all these people make money offering stuff for free?
Take a closer look. Most of the free offerings online only offer a “basic” plan. To get the bells and the whistles, you must pay for the “premium” plan. Theses companies are banking on the fact that you will begin to use their program, like it, and then want the upgrade.
For example, Intuit, a publisher of retail management software is offering a free edition of their fully functional retail management software, Cash Register Plus Free Edition, this summer. Why? Because they believe that those retailers who use their program for free will love their software and become an Intuit customer for life (and buy the upgrade version).
Christian publishers are also jumping on board with this concept. Just this spring, Zondervan offered free downloads of the Today’s New International Version (TNIV) Bible for the Kindle. Zondervan reported that more than 7,000 free downloads of the TNIV were made in the first two weeks of the offer. Baker Publishing also offered their Bible in God’s Word (GW) Translation as a free download for Kindle and Kindle 2 users. Crossway, publisher of the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible, offered their highly acclaimed ESV Online Study Bible free on their website for one month.
Each of these publishers was banking on free. They figure that most people still purchase print Bibles. Therefore, offering a digital version for free will hook readers on their particular Biblical translation and this in turn will increase print sales.
How can you get on board with the new price? What can you offer for free to hook readers who will want more and be willing to come back and pay for your books?