Every marketer knows the value of having a free giveaway on your site or blog in order to build a list. It is a well-known strategy;
I give you this 25 page free report and the only thing I ask is you give me your email address.
To most visitors, this transaction seems completely free and they are able to obtain a valuable report for free, but it is not completely free.
As Seth Godin points out in this WebInkNow video, this is considered more of a transaction then a true giveaway. The reader is, in essence, giving you their email in exchange for the report. That is not a true giveaway. A true giveaway is passing on free information, either through your blog, a book, eBook, or other means for the sole purpose or getting your idea out into the masses. There is no expectation on your part, just a need to pass on your knowledge because you feel there is great value in teaching it to or sharing it with others.
There can be a number of benefits which arise, either intentionally or not, by giving away information for free. The most important is spreading an idea with your name on it. This is valuable for a few reasons.
First, you gain reputation as an authority on said idea and will be sought after for further discussion on the topic by anyone who may come across your information and find it valuable to themselves or their readers, student and such.
Second, you gain trust. There is no transaction, no exchange or expectation of the receiver having to give something to you in exchange for this information. The information immediately takes on a greater value to the receiver since they feel as though they have been given a gift and third, the receiver is more inclined to pass the material on and gift it to others that they feel may also find value in it. It was initially free after all.
A give away is not always in the form of an E-Book or report, in many cases it can simply be your time, for instance speaking at an event or helping with some code on an Open Source app. If you truly believe in an idea and feel that there is greater value in the idea itself than in any benefit you may gain from monetizing it, then giving it away comes down to the personal gratification one feels when their idea becomes well known. The added benefits that may or may not arise take second stage.
It may be difficult for an artist to give away their work. Even the smallest project involves a piece of us and our time. There are moments when we feel that tug to gain monetarily from it because of this and we tend to forget the value of the piece in terms of passing on our knowledge to others. If we are truly committed to an idea then it would personally benefit us to have that idea accepted, appreciated and practiced by others. The value in that is immeasurable.
Try to think of something that you have and could truly give for free. No expectations, no string, just give it away. I can almost predict the positive impact it could have on you and your business in the future. Go on, give it a try!