What about Free?

I tend to gravitate toward the idea of tribes, of creating a unique community. That takes time, but what happens is that you gain fans gathered around a cause, folks who are zealous to promote your books for you. To me, it typifies this verse: “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips” (see Proverbs 27:2).

Giving things away free, in light of creating a tribe, then, makes sense. You are offering a bit of yourself, your heart, to a potential tribe member. That’s why I have a free ebook for 2017 about writing YOUR book. (You can nab it here).

I do know, however, that free has an underbelly. If we always give away our content, we can come dangerously close to cheapening it. I don’t have a simple solution. Where I’ve fallen on the issue is to use free strategically (as a means to invite people to my mailing list, or as the first book (permafree) in a series to promote discoverability.

Every day I get emails from people needing something. Often I’ll send them something free as God prompts me–one of my self-published books in e format, for instance. I figure it’s better to err on the side of generosity than live in the land of fear and stinginess.

I’ve navigated “free” by praying, asking God to situationally guide me as I give away books. Sometimes He says not to do it. Sometimes He prompts me to give sacrificially. I am learning to let the pieces rest in His sovereign hands. But I don’t divorce myself from strategy either. Free can be good, particularly when I’m building a new mailing list.

In this marketing world, tend to think in terms of one little decision at a time, and that those little decisions, though they take forever, add up to something bigger over time. The key is to continue to be faithful in little things, not get discouraged, hold everything loosely, and rest in God’s sovereignty.

What about you? What role does free play in your marketing?

2 thoughts on “What about Free?

  1. Naomi Johnson Reply

    Wonderful insight and example Mary!
    For some years I attended writers conferences, knowing I was in no-way interested in the “marketing self” aspects.
    (I’ve appreciated your speaking openly and honestly about that too).
    Now, years later, I realize it’s at least partially — if not more — necessary and not to be eschewed.

    This piece, above, speaks to a companion side of that aspect of ministry/writer/sales. Now that your business and platform is up and running, you’re still prioritizing your right to be LED by HIS SPIRIT. Allelujah!
    Yet you’re not ignoring sound and needed business practices.
    Wow and Hurrah for Being Led by The Spirit, even as you continue developing your business and platforms so very well.
    What a great example you are, for someone like me. And many others, I’m sure.

    Deeply appreciative! NJ/ Toronto

  2. Naomi Johnson Reply

    Further to my previous comment, I think this topic — not just allowing ourselves, but KNOWING HOW and BEING REMINDED Who It IS that we’re ultimately serving (the High King, in His Great Kingdom) is a topic that deserves or requires A LOT MORE attention in today’s platform building world.

    You seem to have really struck (or at least are genuinely interested) the right chord for truly being His Emissary, not just being a writer-speaker-blogger who has a business to run, and thus, a “professional demeanor” to keep established. And who therefore must keep most everyone not in your inner circle at a polite, curt, circled off distance.
    Wow – no small feat those things. Do I smell another book in the making? Particularly, being Christ’s SPIRIT LED servant in the midst of all this?

    As someone who listens to the top platform/mentor/writer/marketing people {Hyatt, Miller, Goins, McLaren, etc] I believe you could bring a unique DISCIPLESHIP perspective to the conversation. You already are.
    One day we’ll have Mary’s own “platform book” and it will be wondrously unique, as her Beautiful Lord will be just as much as central part of it, as He is in her life, and in her growing platform.
    I, for one, will be waiting with bells on my toes for that book/webinar/course. . . whatever it all becomes.

    Thanks again Mary, for not only sharing your ministry-writing-n’-platform skills and savvy with us, but for doing it with His Heartbeat, heard and kept in the center of it. Yay!!!

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