nothing is free imageThere's something so attractive about the word “free”.

Let's face it. We all love free things.

In our personal life, we love the “buy one get one free” offers at the grocery store.

We love the free car wash with a fill up of gas.

We love the free hotel nights at the casinos.

In our business, we love the free trainings, the free trials, free leads from social media and the free coaching.

But here's the reality …. NOTHING IS FREE.

It's a fallacy.

Why “Free” is Anything But

Listen, I have nothing against free stuff. In fact, I'm a big fan.

But let's understand the underlying cost.

You see, there's always a trade off. When something is free in terms of money, there's another cost involved that most of us don't think too much about.

For the Part Time Marketer, this cost may turn out to be disastrous in the long run.

It's the cost of TIME.

The Drawbacks of Free Training

Let's take free trainings as an example.

Free training can be great!

And with so many Top Marketers competing with one another for your attention (and ultimately your money), the quality of that training can be outstanding.

But if you're not careful, you can get caught up in the vicious circle of watching free training after training, not so much because it will benefit your business right now, but because it might help “someday”… and besides, it's FREE!

And the true cost, of course is your valuable time.

As Part Time Marketers, we have but a few hours a day (at most) to devote to our businesses, so to spend it on trainings that don't directly impact your business TODAY is just too high a price.

It's never free.

What About Free Social Media Leads?

People trying to build a business with little to no money for marketing are in a bit of a bind. For these folks, social media can be a great way to begin building relationships, trust and in time, business prospects.

But again, the cost is TIME.

You can spend hours on social media sites getting to know others and start the process of building trust.  It can suck hours out of your day, time you don't have.

I've referred to it before as the “social media hamster wheel.”

Here's the reality — Social media marketing is a much slower process than paid advertising.

If you have all the time in the world, you may be able to use social media as the primary lead source for your business.

But when time is an issue in the first place, building your business with social media is not realistic.

It just isn't.

Should you use social media if you're a Part Time Marketer?

Of course.

But don't rely on it as the primary lead generation source for your business. It just takes too much time… and time is what you don't have.

Key Takeaway

There really is NO such thing as FREE, especially in business. Everything comes at a cost… and for the Part Time Marketer that cost is TIME.

Be just as guarded with your time as you are with your money. Understand that sometimes it's much better to pay for something that will help you move forward in your business today… than to watch hours of free training that won't.

It's all about the tradeoff… TIME vs. MONEY.

There's always a cost.

    42 replies to "The Fallacy of “Free”"

    • James

      really thought provoking Bob. A while back, I made a post about mastering your mindset about money, and shared a formula I use to place a dollar amount on my own time. As a business owner, especially a part timer, you really need to value your time a lot.

      I have been through loads of free training, and some of it was great, but I didn’t have the foundation necessary to realize how to use it until after I went through a few paid programs.

      I agree with what you say about social media. Many people don’t realize it takes longer to build your business that way, but it does have some advantages as well.

      I have never really done any paid advertising, mainly due to a lack of funds to invest, and having the time to track and analyze what is and isn’t working. (most paid advertisers I have talked to told me up front to expect to lose at least 1,000 before you start seeing it work, although some people get lucky.

      Sometimes though, you have to take a risk to find your reward in time.

      The key is finding the right balance of where to spend your money, and where to spend your time. its hard to define that because it really is dependent on the individual’s situation.

    • Kerris Torkington

      Often when people offer you something for free the price you pay is agreeing to receiving emails from them and then they try to upsell you their products. But if you can get something of value to you then it is worth it.

      When starting out it is not always possible to afford to buy the training you want but you must make sure that you become expert at one thing before moving on to the next new shiny training you find. There is also the problem of becoming overwhelm by too much information and spending so much time learning and no time implementing what you have learned

    • Sylviane Nuccio

      Hey Dr. Bob 

      I totally agree with you. There is no such thing as % free. When I see one of those pop ups saying “you won an ipod or a laptop”, I flee from those BS, because if you would try to go through this stuff,
      you could lose well over an hour of your time and still not have your supposedly “free” gift. When you sign up for a free trial on anything, you’d better make sure that you can unsubscribe easily before you’re due for payment or that you put a note to yourself on your calendar to unsubscribe before your free trial is over. However, how many people do forget that? Many! And they are really counting on that when they’re offering you a free trial.

      However, on a more positive note, I have to say that I have enjoyed free eBooks and free tools quite a bit as well. Those free tools didn’t cost me anything more than my email and name, and I really enjoyed them. After that if I choose to purchase something from the marketers or not is totally up to me.

      Thanks for this excellent info, Bob and have a great weekend.

      • Bob

        Absolutely, Sylviane.. that’s a great strategy I use myself. Grab some free training or a free tool and then, if you need more be willing to pay for advanced training. Works for me, too!

    • Ade

      I think of it as opportunity cost…what opportunities have you missed consuming free information or doing anything that doesn’t help you reach your goals as effectively and quickly as possible. And when it all boils down, time is the only real resource that matters in life…what would you rather have, a million dollars and live for 5 minutes or a modest income and live for 70 years.

      • Bob

        Well said, Ade… couldn’t have said it any better.

        Opportunity cost… love it! Thanks for your insights.

    • Donna Merrill

      Great point you made here. Nothing is really free! Time to me is money. Yes, I may opt into a free webinar if I know it is something of interest and needed at that time, but I have to decline the many free things in my email box each day.
      Being a full time marketer, I do have more time for Social Media. BUT….I don’t waste my time reading everything on Facebook. Rather, I go to my sideboard on my page and have categorized groups that I need to stay in touch with.
      When syndicating other people’s blogs, I just take an extra minute to blast them out on all the Social Media Sites. I do this in one hour increments. I love social media and rather have my business grow organically by it. BUT….I cannot waste time chit chatting. It’s all business for me.
      Thanks and blessings,

      • Bob

        Very true, Donna… the fallacy of free works the same for Part Time or Full Time marketers.

        Sounds like you have your system working just right!

    • Barry Wells

      Hi Bob,

      You’re right. I think it’s a balance of time versus money.

      Many people starting online never really feel sure of whether its for them or not, or whether they have what it takes (knowledge, ideas etc). So they tend to start with a small budget and think they’ll learn as much as possible for free and spend hour after hour of their time.

      When we’re limited on time we do have to be careful how we spend it, same as on a financial budget, that’s a really good point Bob.

      I don’t go for something just because its free now but i did once, heck i used to say if its free take it, if it isn’t any good to you pass it on to someone else.

      Now i only use something if it fits in with the plans or I’m demonstrating it for others. No doubt I’ll be faced with this many more times online and I’ll have to try and think Time versus money 😉

      Thanks Bob, very wise words 🙂


      • Bob

        Good point, Barry.

        The focus on free can be a need (financial) or a want (trying to get something for nothing drives a lot of people). But in the end, it can be costly — in time and yes, in money. We lose money in our business if we are taking time away from our income generating activities by attending free training that doesn’t help us grow our business TODAY.

        Great insights, Barry. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Jane

      If we value our time, it will not be feasible to go for free training programs. Especially if we need in-depth working knowledge on new concepts or new marketing method, it is better to invest in a premium training program.

      What we invest in training will pay us back many more times. So, it is prudent to invest in quality training programs by which we will not waste our time. We will also be able to get the most of the new ways and we will be well ahead of others.

      • Bob

        Agreed, agreed, agreed Jane!

        If you want to become a person that others go to for specific knowledge, Free just won’t cut it. Premium training will ultimately take you far beyond the initial costs.

        You are a life time learner Jane.. and your attitude towards learning is reflected in your success!

    • Wade

      Always looking for the catch Bob. Obviously, I want to sell my wares, yet there is something on offer to those who buy. Simple concept. Another thing is that my product is something in high demand, people certainly need what I have to offer so they should not really require any enticing to buy.

      • Bob

        Oh, I get your point , Wade… thanks for clarifying.

        When you have a product in high demand, you can usually dispense with the enticements (“free stuff”), since they don’t need to be convinced!

        Good point, Wade.

    • Wade

      Could not agree with you more Bob. I am trying to think of a freebie to give away when people buy my products. however people seem resistant to this.

      • Bob

        They are resistant to free, Wade? I haven’t encountered this. Usually, I see the opposite — people are hypnotized by “free” and don’t understand how free things can actually hold you back. Perhaps you can explain further what you are seeing from your customers.

        Thanks for the comment!

    • Reese

      I also believe that nothing is ever truly free. Something is always expected of you. It could be your time or they expect you to get the word out if you like the product/service. Personally, what I do is I try to determine if it’s something that I need or if it’s something that I can benefit from. And if yes, I try to determine if the free stuff is quality made. And finally, if the benefits outweigh the trade off required.

      • Bob

        Don’t get me wrong, Reese, there is great free content available online.. more than ever before. But when one chases the free and fails to understand that it’s usually the more detailed and advanced training (at a cost) that puts them from a category of mediocre to excellent, there is a problem. You should definitely go out and find any free training that is pertinent to what you’re trying to learn, and move on from there.

        Great comment, thanks for sharing Reese!

    • Dickie

      I’ll be honest, I found your blog on a DoFollow list and intended on leaving a quick comment to get a backlink. However, I am very glad I was fortunate enough today to find your site. Too many Internet Marketing blogs are very general, however, the way you niche your site is perfect for me; a pert-time marketer myself. Anyway, on to the post. I have personally fallen victim to the “free training” but a few times. And you’re right, all I ended up with was a loss of time and more questions than answers…and of course a sales pitch at the end, can’t forget that! Thanks for sharing. I’m really looking forward to more now that I’ve discovered your blog.

      • Bob

        LOL love your honesty, Dickie. I’ve worked hard on narrowing our niche and giving them what they want. Glad you have found it useful.

        Regarding the free training, I think people need to understand the way the game is played. When someone gives free training, it’s usually just enough of a taste to get you interested in the paid version — the complete training. That’s just the way it is. And why not, these people are in business to help, but also to make money. Why shouldn’t they be compensated for their knowledge. I have no problem with that.

        Where I do have a problem is when the “free training” is absolute fluff, with no substance. I’m sure we’ve all been on those webinars, where we waste an hour waiting for the good stuff and it never comes. It’s just one big commercial for the paid product. That angers me.

        Anyway, enough of my mini-rant. Appreciate you taking the time to comment, Dickie. I know us “part timers” are super busy!

        • Dickie

          Right on with using fluff to describe the “free training.” Thanks for the thorough reply, Bob. Have a good rest of the week.

          • Bob

            You too, Dickie

    • Janet

      Hi Bob!

      It is true that there are innumerable free training. But, these training programs are not relevant for today. We need today’s food today but not tomorrow. Similarly the training that we take should serve current requirements.

      Instead of regretting later by wasting time in free courses, it is wise to select reliable premium training programs which will also repay the amount that you have invested towards training.

      Thanks for your post.


      • Bob

        Hi Janet!

        I agree that we need to look at current training that will help us in our business TODAY. If not, pass it up.

        As for premium training — definitely! The most I’ve ever learned has come from premium training, not the free stuff. But that’s not to say that you can’t pick up a few gold nuggets from free training. You most definitely can.

        Thanks for the comment.

    • Lambert twagirimana

      wow .

      Thank you Mr bob ,

      l am agree with Mr crever , this comment was nice and l w’ll tell you mine next time ,

      Thank you very much sir ,


      • Bob

        Sure Lambert,glad you enjoyed the post.

    • Shelon

      Hi, Bob 🙂 Thank you for an inspiring post. It’s true that the internet offers us a lot of free stuff and we are almost always willing to try them all, because they’re free! But often we don’t realize how much time it takes us to try the free offers, without actually getting a good immediate result. Participating in social media is an example. It’s good to be visible in these platforms but sometimes, it is not worth the time. It’s better to invest your time, effort, and money on activities that will surely provide good results in real time.

      • Bob

        Exactly, Shelon! Sometimes “Free” can be very costly in the long run.

        Now “targeted free” is another story. That’s when you know exactly what you need to learn to move forward, and you’re lucky enough to find some free training in that area. Then you’ve hit gold.

        But it’s likely that you’ll want to go further even then and pick up some of the paid training as well.

        Appreciate the comment!

        • Shelon

          I agree. We also need to strike a balance. We can utilize both “targeted free” and paid marketing strategies, as long as we know how far we can go with each of them.

          • Bob

            Exactly, Shelon. There’s nothing wrong with free, as long as it will teach you something you can use immediately in your business. When I want to learn something new, I look for the free training first, choose the best and then see if I can get more advanced, paid training from that person. That’s just the way I roll. It’s the same with marketing strategies — a balance of free vs. paid works very well. For me, its Facebook and blogging (free) and solo ads (paid).

            Thanks for your comment!

    • Oliver Tausend

      Hi Bob,

      if “time” is our issue, the problems will be the following: We try to impose our notion of “time” – our timing – on the other person. In a relationship business our time is never relevant – it’s the timing of our client, customer or student that counts because it is their time and their life.

      I agree though that “free stuff” can lead to the over-preparation syndrome. We attend one free training after the other and eventually do nothing with what we learned.

      I have found out it in my internet career that the cost of a product is completely unrelated to its quality. There’s awesome free stuff available without any strings attached and we can waste a lot of money for worthless informational products. The problem with “free” is often our belief that there must be catch. But it’s just a belief, is it not ?

      Thanks for sharing your insights and Happy Easter !


      • Bob

        Hi Oliver… many things to ponder in your comment!

        The difference between time and timing is an interesting philosophical discussion. I agree that, when it comes to timing it certainly is all about your prospect, student or mentee… your timing doesn’t matter much.

        And yes, there are plenty of free trainings that stand on their own in terms of their excellence. But many, I’m afraid are just “tasty” enough to want us to get more. Nothing wrong with that, but if you’re always looking for “free” you may be missing out on the most important lessons.

        Have a great Easter, Oliver!

    • Jennifer

      While there are some free stuffs that are actually satisfying, there are those that actually are a waste of time. However, free trials are a great way to gain understanding of the product. What I think about is if the free stuff is great, how much more if I paid to avail the whole package.

      • Bob

        Free stuff is usually designed to wet your appetite, Jennifer…. leave you with a feeling of, “Hey this person knows alot, what else can I learn from them?”

        That’s why the best marketers lead with free and then have much more to offer that isn’t free. It’s smart marketing.

        I also like free or introductory trials, where you can dig in and see if a particular thing is right for you.

    • Steven Papas

      I totally agree. In my high school economics class I had to memorize the acronym TINSTAFL. It meant there is no such thing as a free lunch. You always pay one way or another, but you could pay a lot less for some things and that’s when it becomes worth it.

      • Bob

        TINSTAFL — love it, Steven!

        Don’t get me wrong — there is NOTHING wrong with Free. There is plenty of free stuff on the Internet that you can learn from. It’s just that sometimes we get so focused on finding the free that we lose sight of our goals. That’s when it becomes a “fallacy”.

        Thanks for the comment.

    • Nick

      I totally agree with you Bob. Your declaration “But here’s the reality …. NOTHING IS FREE” is so true.
      Whenever I see the word free, I’m starting to consider what lies beneath, that eventually I’ll have to pay.
      And as you said, time nowadays is very expensive.

      Thank you for this great post Bob.

      • Bob

        I don’t look at it with suspicion, Nick. I understand the game. Free stuff is put out there to teach us something. For some people, that will be enough, just what they were looking for.

        But for many, they’ll want to learn more and of course we should pay for that level of knowledge. It’s just the way it should be.

        Thanks for your comment.

    • Carol Lynn

      Could not agree more. The idea that social marketing is “free” is one of those things I have to overcome whenever I try to sell my marketing service to clients. They think well, Facebook is free, you can just do my marketing there! Right, but who is sitting there doing the work and the engaging and the research… it’s all about time.

      The other tradeoff for free is YOU – think Facebook, Google, just about any service you use for free. You are trading your personal information in exchange for a service, and that can come back to haunt you, too!

      At this point in my life, whenever I see something “free” my instinct is to run fast and far in the other direction. You are right – nothing is free and somewhere I will pay with my time, my data, an expectation, an obligation… ugh, I’d rather pay up front and know what the cost is.

      • Bob

        Ah, the fallacy of free, right Carol?

        I hadn’t thought of the cost of releasing your personal information, but you’re absolutely right. Great point.

        Free is okay for what it is. You just have to recognize that many times, the gold is underneath, under the Pay Here tab! 🙂

    • Adrienne

      You are so right Bob…

      I’ve always been very budget conscious and I blame that on my Mom. So I always go for free whenever possible but as I’ve learned online throughout these last several years that although the information is valuable and extremely helpful in most cases, you don’t have that support or help when it comes to implementing it should you run into any problems.

      Had I known back then all the time I would waste by always going for the next “free” info product or training I would have just invested the money for a coach or mentor and had someone to work with who could really point me in the right direction and be that support I desperately needed. When you tally up all the time I’ve wasted over the years, the money for that coaching is dirt cheap.

      Free is good but what’s the real price for it!

      Thanks Bob, another great wake up call for us all.


      • Bob

        Hey Adrienne… great to see you again!

        It’s true what you say — many times its the support and individual attention that is needed to make what you learn WORK for you. And that support is never free.

        Thanks for that insightful contribution!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.