Why Do People Like Free Stuff?

Do you like free stuff?

I mean pretty much everyone does. That’s why it’s so popular in business.

There are tons of different ways you can bring “free” into your biz:

  • BOGO deals (buy one get one free).
  • Free trials (like how Hulu offers 30 days free).
  • Free samples (lookin’ at you Costco, grocery stores, and Target).
Even free shipping. 

I’m a sucker for that one. It’s like:

Are you like that too? I bet you are. 

Why are we this way?! (PS: I actually have the answer to that and it’s down at the bottom of the article – or you can get the full skinny here in this podcast episode.)

Giving stuff away for free is a biz strategy that’s used alllllll over the place.

So when I hear shit like “Eh, everybody gives away free content online – why should I even bother?” I literally wanna pull my hair out.

You wanna consider doing it… because it works. Duhhhhh. 

And no, getting in on this doesn’t have to be super complicated, hard, or time consuming. It simply needs to have VALUE.

The Psychology of Free

There’s actually a whole psychology about “freebies” and why they work. 

It’s known as: the universal law of reciprocity.

The thing is… business is ALL about relationships. And it literally doesn’t matter what type of business it is.

It could be your relationship with an actual person or with a company.

For our kinds of businesses – which assume you’re a person doing business with other people – relationships REALLY matter.

And when you give give give… you build relationships that give give give BACK.

What is the Law of Reciprocity?

The law of reciprocity essentially comes down to: when you receive something, you want to give something.

Or, at least, most humans do. I’m not talking about like Tinder Swindler people or con artists.  Those kind of people are master takers.

The law of reciprocity is a real thing. And it really matters.

Here’s an example… 

You go out to lunch with a girlfriend and pick up the tab, then she says, “Ok fine – but I’m paying next time.”

The law of reciprocity lets us feel balanced. Even. On equal footing in our relationship.

And it’s also why you probably feel weird when someone gives TOO much to you. 

Like always picks up the tab. Or goes overboard on gift giving.

I bet you can think of an example from your own life where this happened.

When someone does something nice for you, you want do something nice for them back. You want to reciprocate, right?

It’s in our nature. 

And that’s why we get to use this law to improve our relationships (both personal and work).

The Law of Reciprocity in Business

This universal law happens in business too.

It’s why giving away content, a discount, or something else for free is so compelling.

When you give something of value away for free, it sets you up as an authority and expert. As well as someone who cares – and has the best interest of your audience at heart. 

Or at least, that’s how I approach it.

Personally, I’ve hit a level of my biz where I’m super psyched to see others – especially other women – succeed.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

I used to be in the super competitive mindset. 

  • Gotta hit certain numbers (mostly for myself and my ego, if I’m being real with ya).
  • Gotta rank up. 
  • Gotta pass certain people on that hierarchy.
  • Gotta achieve achieve achieve.
And then once I hit those goals, it was kinda like… Ok so now what? 

And I realized the thing that made me the happiest about achieving those goals was the teamwork involved. The collaboration and mentorship. Achieving TOGETHER.

I loved bringing others up with me. I literally got amped – and still do today – seeing people on my team hit their next level. Hit their goals and achieve their dreams.

Whether that’s being able to send their kids to summer camp that year. 

Or pay off their debt 3 years faster than expected. 

Or even just get a mani pedi every 2 weeks. 

Everyone has different aspirations and goals – big and small.

And even now, seeing this manifest into a reality brings me wayyyy more joy and fulfillment than hitting my own goals and numbers (and on days when both happen? I’m flyin’ high!).

That’s why I’m so passionate about sharing what I’ve learned about holistic wellness and business.

So let’s talk a bit more about how the law of reciprocity works in terms of business strategy.

You’re probably familiar with signing up for an email list in order to get something in exchange.

Maybe it’s some content you want. Or a coupon. Or a free trial.

So you hand over your email address to receive that free thing. And it feels GOOD.

You’re giving something that’s valuable to that company. And you’re receiving something you desire. 

You’re even steven.

It’s still a reciprocal energy exchange – even if you haven’t handed over money yet.

When there’s NOT an energetic exchange – or there’s a totally IMBALANCED exchange – it feels weird, right?

Like if you went into Nordstroms and you saw this gorgeous coat that you’d value at like $300 and you see it tagged at $3… you’d likely think there’s something wrong with it.

It could be that the coat is totally fine. But in your subconscious mind, the law of reciprocity isn’t there.

The whole thing is kinda sus to you.

And while that example is about actually BUYING something, the law of reciprocity also works where there’s no money exchanged at all.

Free Content to Build Relationships (+ Your Email List)

In our kinds of businesses, building your email list is a smart way to establish and nurture relationships – with the intention of them turning into a sale.

And handing over an email address in exchange for a piece of content or a discount feels like an even energy swap.

It’s low risk. And it’s essentially cracking open the door to a relationship. 

If you choose to NOT offer anything free at all, you may struggle to enroll people to work with you. You’ll struggle to build those fruitful relationships.

Because there’s no initial energy exchange. There’s no way to build a deeper relationship.

So when you decide to put yourself out there and offer a piece of content, a discount, or something of value that you have to share, it’s a sign to your audience that you want to build a relationship.

You want to exchange energy with them.

And you want to do it in a way that is simple, low risk, and low commitment.

And from THAT point on, you get to deepen the relationship together (if you both so decide). All the way to an eventual sale.

But before you can do that – before you can even get there – you gotta get them in the door (AKA get their email address). 

Offering something of value for free is a proven and accepted way for this to happen.

Here are some ideas of free things you can use to grow your email list:

  • A downloadable guide.
  • Checklist.
  • Online mini-course.
  • Webinar.
  • Online challenge.
  • Templates or “swipe files” (content you create that they can use as-is).
  • Recipes or DIY instructions.
  • Audio files (such as meditations).
  • Sample products.
  • A coupon or discount.
  • Free shipping.
OH! And speaking of free shipping…

The reason people would rather pay more for an item + free shipping versus having a cheaper price + shipping tacked on?

It all comes down to that value thing.

Most of us (at least nowadays) don’t see shipping as valuable.

We expect that shipping is part of the company’s cost of doing business.

Kinda like – that’s on you, bro. LOL

So even if the item goes up 5 bucks to cover the cost of the shipping, we PERCEIVE the value differently. 

And we’ll keep moving forward with the transaction/energy exchange.

Here’s proof. Did you know that when companies add shipping and other fees to online purchases, almost 50% of us abandon the cart entirely? #nojoke

And we’re less likely to come back. Because we remember this negative impression – and no longer want to have that relationship. 

Ok, I know I’ve taken you on a bit of a wild ride with this topic, so I’ll sum it up for ya:

People like free things when there is a small energy exchange that happens.

They get to sample what you have to offer. And you get to begin a relationship with them (in our case, we’re talking about an email address in exchange for some piece of free content or a discount).

The energy exchange is even and it feels good.

It’s the first step in building a relationship. Which you get to nurture and grow down the line.

Putting out something free online cracks the door open to that relationship.

And if you keep hesitating… keep telling yourself that you can’t do it… or you don’t know how.

Or that you have nothing to offer… or you live in that “who am I to share something with people?” space…

You’re gonna stay in the same place you are now.

So let’s change that. 

Let’s go on the ride together. It really does make me happy to raise others up – and I totally wanna exchange that energy with you.

And you guessed it… it’s FREE. 

This guide is really gonna help you out when you sit down to create free content for your own biz. So you can build your email list.

Because putting out the RIGHT free stuff is really what matters.

So my Build Your Biz Online guide will help you curate the exact right giveaway or free content pieces for YOUR ideal audience.

When you’re ready for that step – or you wanna optimize what you’ve already got – you’ve got the blueprint to know what to create.

This guide helps you determine not only what your free relationship-building content piece could be… it also helps you get clarity on who YOU are in your biz. What makes you different. 

What makes you the absolute right match for your dream customers or clients.

So you CAN confidently take action in your work. 

Put yourself out there, knowing you’re making the right moves… instead of just copying what other people are doing and hoping it works for you.

Trust me, that was my initial strategy when I started my biz and it only works for so long. If it works at all, LOL.

And most of the time it doesn’t. As I learned the hard way.

So let’s take the messiness out of at least THAT part of your life and biz. LOL

And give you the kind of clarity you wish you could have across the board. Ok, or the clarity I wish IIIIII could have in all aspects of my life. LOL


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