What’s the Value of Free?

Yes, it’s a strange topic, but I was asked that today when several people responded to a free offer I made to them.  One person asked me point blank – “What’s the value of free?” and another asked me if I was running a scam.   Another refused outright, thinking that the free advertising they would receive would hurt their business because many of the products offered were not available here in Newfoundland or in Canada.

Curious as to what the offer was?

I run several websites that promote Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian province where I live.  As part of giving back to the community that has given me so much in life, I offer many opportunities for individuals, organizations and companies to utilize some of the web sites I run for free.  These free offers include free listings in business directories, featured reviews and free websites.

My latest free offer was sent out to approximately 20 different companies from Newfoundland and Labrador, offering to highlight them on Newfoundland Products, Services and Businesses – a site dedicated to providing exposure to those particular areas.  While I could simply blog about the things that I discover, as a courtesy I generally contact those involved and ask for a bit of input to personalize what will be included.

One of the companies replied to the request asking me “What’s the value of free?” … making me pause for a second and wonder what exactly they were asking.  Does making a free offer somehow make the offer invalid?  In fact, the value of free in this case was very evident, or at least I thought it was.  The company would obtain free advertising and a free link to their website.  Perhaps the company didn’t understand the SEO benefit of the article and the link.  To me the value of free was obvious.

Having another company ask me if I was running a scam concerned me.  Has society become so distrusting that everything free is considered a scam.  The email that I sent was not a form letter, it was constructed around the products / services of the company being offered, clearly stated who I was and the intent of the solicitation.  Having this offered considered a scam was suprising.

The third company that refuse the review did so because their products would not be available to potential readers.  One of the owners of the website was concerned about how readers would view an article highlighting products that could not be purchased in our province.  I see the point but wonder about its logic.  The value of free here could show an opportunity to expand a business while also providing free exposure and free SEO benefits that exist outside of our own geography.  Again, it was obvious to me but I guess not to others.

The value of free is well-known.  That’s why many bloggers offer things for free on their websites.  It’s an effective mechanism for attracting visitors and building traffic.  Bloggers such as John Chow who blog about making money online offers free resources to attract new visitors and to engage those that he has reading his blog.  The value of free is in the traffic that he is using to expand his online businesses. 

I do understand why some questioned the free offer that I made and realize that as a society we have become sensitized to many people trying to make a quick buck in this world, preying on the innocent online.  It also saddens me that when we do have people who make legitimate offers, we devalue them quickly without exploring the potential to build long-lasting and beneficial relationships in this impersonal online world.

There is value in free!  Maybe the lesson learned here is that I have to provide a little more information, be more forthcoming and more transparent in how I approach those that I make a free offer.

If you know of any Newfoundland and Labrador business, product or service that you think I should highlight, drop me a note via my contact form.  If you want to do a guest post on my site or any of the sites that I run, do the same.  There is a value in free and it has in the past provided me with a lot of opportunity to expand my social network and grow many of my businesses.

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About Barry Wheeler

Barry Wheeler is a blogger, novice SEO, geek and passionate Newfoundlander. Operating several successful websites and online communities, Barry has started exploring the social internet and its impact on all facets of society including personal life and business relationships. Find Barry on Twitter @barrywheeler and FaceBook or on his website Barry Wheeler - Blogging for Success.
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One Response to What’s the Value of Free?

  1. Luana says:

    It’s true, we as a society have stumbled upon too many scam offers and online thieves to ever trust someone at first glance when we get a real offer. I know myself, that when I found out about your free PR5 links, I was afraid it would be a joke: so I took some time to explore your site and get to know more about you and your writings on this blog, to make sure I could trust you without regrets. And well, I really liked your site, and I realized that you’re a serious blogger and so I took the opportunity you were offering. I think that people and companies should take time to explore and get to know the person and the service he/she offers before judging an opportunity as a scam and just blindly refusing it.
    Thank you for opening our minds with this entry 😉
    – Luana S.

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