IIP070: Why Would You Pay For Something That’s Free?

Episode Highlights

  • How my guest made the transition from jumping from helicopters and running convoys into Baghdad to becoming an independent author and publisher.
  • The similarities between army life and successful entrepreneurship (mainly SOPs, systems and teamwork)
  • How my guest started making money by allowing people to download everything he has for free
  • How the Pay What You Want model was born, and how it allows my guest to make 3x more money than he would had he used traditional payment models
  • How to use Gumroad to sell anything online within a few seconds and with no technical knowledge
  • How to make money from attending conferences
  • DO’s and DONT’s When Using the Pay What You Want model

Today’s Guest

Tom Morkes, CEO of Insurgent Publishing
Tom Morkes, CEO of Insurgent Publishing

When Tom Morkes was 22 years old, he was in-charge of 40 guys and a dozen MRAP, when he was running convoys in and out of Baghdad. His role in the US Army required him to come up with new SOPs and TTPs (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures) for convoys, since the type of technology and environment they served in were new to the army. He had to figure out everything on his own without being able to rely on previous knowledge in the communication.

In many ways, he agrees, there are many similarities between his role in the army and becoming an entrepreneur.

When you become an entrepreneur, you find yourself with no manual. There is no step-by-step guidance and you need to figure it out for yourself. You need to figure out what works for you and in what way. In the army, Tom spent a lot of time planning the worse case scenario and then trying to define best practices in order to avoid, handle and get out of such scenarios. In many ways, that’s what we do in the early days of entrepreneurship.

When he left the army, Tom knew he doesn’t want to answer to other people’s order anymore. He decided to use his skills of writing and started his first website. He sailed forward — meaning he was failing but learning. For the first 6 months, he didn’t make a single dollar.

“But that might be due to the fact I didn’t offer anything to sell.”

He had an idea that he decided to test out: After attending a conference held by Seth Godin with a hundred other people, he decided to take the notes he made and create a small e-book from it titled, 2 Days With Seth Godin. Of course that is already brilliant branding, if you asked me. Since when I heard about it, I figured Tom and Seth are close friends at least, and then realized it was on the context of conference.

At the time, Tom had just short of 150 e-mail subscribers. He sent them an e-mail, letting them know about the book and offered it to them to download and to pay for it as much as they want. People could get it for free or choose to pay some amount of money that would go to contribute for Tom being able to continue to do his work. 80 people ended up downloading the book, half of which contributed money. In fact, on average, the book sold at $15 a piece, which was more than 3x more than what Tom would make had he made his book available on Amazon!

Ever since, Tom has been intrigued by Pay What You Want model. You can learn about it more in his latest book The Complete Guide To Pay What You Want Pricing. And in today’s episode, he shares what he learned.

Tune in to find out how you can start making money with your brand … without asking for money!

Mentioned Resources

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7 thoughts on “IIP070: Why Would You Pay For Something That’s Free?”

  1. I think you’ll hit a nice, little revenue stream by hooking up your free give away per podcast to the $0+ model.

    Gives listeners who want to give back an opportunity to do so.

    I’ve struggled with the $0+ model for my site as I don’t have many repeat visitors (I think I hover around 20% of my traffic is repeat). I also haven’t posted consistently to build a readership base.

    My apprehension is that I haven’t built up enough report with readers where they would want to pony up some dough. Though, I’m only making about $500 per year in eBook sales, the risk/reward ratio is pretty low (not much risk). Also since I have an App that sales for $2.99, the increase in takers may result in increase app sales lessening the risk.

    My other thought was giving the entire eBook away for free on the site as a series of posts. This would be give me over a year of content (1 per week) and just sell the eBook as a downloadable collection of all the content on the site.

    1. Thanks, Jason. I’m thinking on setting up a “Free resources” page that will have all of the PDFs in one place, with an explanation about the pay what you want model. Would that make sense?

      Pat Flynn made a lot of money by taking all the content he had on his Lead Exam site and packaging it as an ebook, without changing the content. Applying the same logic but reversed to your site – maybe instead of looking at it as “giving it away for free” – repurpose the content to indeed create content – maybe use some of it as guest posts to get in front of new eyeballs – and in each post mention that it is a part of your book, and link to the book for those that want to check it out. Does that make sense to you?

      1. Both make sense.

        On your site, my thought with putting it on the individual page is that most people would be visiting fresh from listening to the podcast. They come to a page that has the show notes from the awesome conversation they just heard. They’re ready to download the PDF you’re providing.

        Then, they see a blurb about how it’s free, but if they can also contribute to the show (support the show) if they want. The visitor may be more in the mindset of wanting to contribute a few dollars.

        Regarding “Free Resources”, I probably wouldn’t call it that since there’s the view that though it’s free, it can also be paid. I would stick with Resources or Podcast Resources.

        However, I think the psychology of the visitor changes once they visit a resource page. Many resource pages online are links to items that cost money. It may put people on the defensive.

        Also, seeing all the resources in one spot may invoke a mentality of “I’m sure someone else has contributed, I don’t need to”.

        Unless you’ve got some huge listen #s that convert to the site, neither is going to bring in solid revenue, but I do like the idea of giving listeners a chance to contribute.

        Me in your shoes, I’d set up both spots – episode page and resource page. I would direct people to the episode page on the podcast. On the episode page, have a link to download with pay optional. And below that, have a link to the resource page where they download other resources from other episodes.

        1. Side note:

          What membership plugin are you using for Podcast Incubator? Is it all OptimizePress?

          I’m currently building a new site with a membership component. I tested out PaidMembershipsPro and this weekend will be looking at memberpress.

        2. I see your point about putting the “pay as you want” right in the show notes. To be honest, the only thing worrying me is reduced conversion rate. The most important thing the show note can do for my relationship with me audience is get them on the list, so we can communicate outside of the podcast app. I’m weary about changing that… But perhaps the only way is to test…

          I wouldn’t want to first collect an email and then provide the choice of paying or downloading for free – that’s just too much work for downloading a single PDF and would piss me off as a reader / listener.

          You made really great points about the resources page, Jason. Thanks for that. For all the feedback!

          Your point of linking all show notes back to the main PDF resources page is gold, BTW!

          So I still haven’t made up my mind about the “pay what you want” – but one thing is for sure – it’s time for a resources page, LOL! 🙂

  2. Loved this poddy, Meron. Thanks, Tom. I was thinking of going to Gumroad or Sendowl because I really hate my e-books being on Clickbank (it seemed like a good idea at the time – not now!) So I think I might give this model a try at the beginning of Sept (or maybe Oct).

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