The Problem with Free

Free is Not Always BestWe’re inundated with free.

Free training, tips, advice, and software.

But most of the time, it doesn’t help.

In fact, it can often hold you back, because you end up confused, frustrated, and overwhelmed.

Yes, there is a lot of free training out there, but it’s hard to figure out what fits where, especially when you’re starting out.

Free can be great, but it can also be not so great.

Free can cost time and turn into frustration.

And it can make you feel hopeless because you’re never quite sure what you’re doing, where you’re going, or if you’re on the right path.

When Free Goes Bad

If you’re trying to learn how you can turn your passion into a lifestyle business, it’s going to be hard to find all the right pieces for free.

I see beginner’s try to build their business with free advice from multiple sources, and it turns into a garbled mess, because there’s no underlying purpose or framework to guide them.

It’s kind of like if you want to get fit. You do what fit people do, or tell you to do, but soon enough, you discover that they’re all telling you to do different things.

One tells you to walk on an empty stomach. Another one says weight training is all you need, while yet another says you need to eliminate eggs from your diet.

You end up feeling confused and disempowered, because no one has helped you understand the core principles.

No one has given you a framework you can fit into your life.

When Free Can Help

Now, I’m not saying free is all bad, because it isn’t.

I offer hundreds of articles for free here on Wake Up Cloud, so free has its place.

When you just need one piece of information, free is fantastic.

Let’s say you need to learn how to install a WordPress blog. You can find plenty of free tutorials for that.

You can do a Google search, or find a video on YouTube and you’ll be up and running in no time.

But if you need in-depth training on how to use WordPress to build an online business, that’s when you may run into trouble.

Even if you manage to find one piece of the puzzle, you may not find the next, and if you do, you don’t really know if it’ll fit into what you want to do.

Now, a quick way to minimize frustration is to focus on just one source of information.

How to Make Real Progress, Fast

I built my first successful website back in 2009, and later that year, I was making thousands each month through my online business.

It allowed me and Ingela (and our dog, Cleo) to move to Spain for 11 months.

But that shift didn’t happen until I decided to focus on one thing, one source of information, and above all, until I decided to find a mentor.

I found someone who was doing what I wanted to do, and I learned from them.

There were other pieces that went into this as well, but the main part was that I was sick of trying to piece everything together myself.

I still struggled. I had to work hard to make things work, but I was determined, and I made it happen.

I’ve learned a lot since then, and I still work with a business coach. It allows me to focus on what’s important, and avoid worrying whether or not I’m using strategies that work.

Also, I tend to have a lot of ideas, so having someone to keep me on track is extremely helpful.

Whenever you can make things easier for yourself, you will make faster progress.

It sounds obvious when I put it like that, but most people don’t do this.

What If You Don’t Have Any Money?

Then you have a bigger problem on your hands.

An online business, or any business, is not going to magically get rid of your money problems.

Many marketers promise that you’ll make thousands in just a few months, which is why so many fall for get-rich quick programs. They really want to succeed fast. I know because I’ve been there.

The truth is that it takes time to build a business that sustains you. And if you’re short on cash while you’re doing it, chances are you’ll make some poor decisions and prioritize money over your customers and clients.

Do what you can to support your rent and food habit, but also know that this takes time.

When you allow it to take the time it takes, things actually go faster. It’s weird, but that’s what I’ve found.

And investing in training doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

I’m not just saying this because I have courses on building a business. There’s plenty of training out there that will help you make progress.

The Wrap

In summary, free can be good, and free can be bad.

Free is good when it helps you move forward.

Free is bad when it prevents you from taking action.

Only you know how it’s working for you, and you can see that from your results.

If what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to change something.

I realize this post may seem contradictory since I offer a lot for free, but when free fits into a consistent system, the problem goes poof.

Remember, progress is key, and when free becomes a problem is when it confuses you and prevents you from taking action.

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Comments

  1. Very well said my friend :)

    Hope that a lot of new people will stumble across this article, since it will definitely save them a ton of time.

  2. Hi Henri,
    I like a lot what you are writing. Trying to read every article from the subscription when I have time.
    This one is especially interesting for me as I have a brain training website http://BrainScale.net. It is currently totally free. It actually started as a side/hobby project and I wasn’t planning to charge something on it. But now I think I can start charging some amount from premium users. And your article confirms I’m thinking in the right direction.
    So, just wanted to say thanks for the article and good writing and ideas on your site.

  3. Peter Hamilton says:

    Hi Henri

    A great article and some very good points. When some people start to give me ‘free advice’ I ask them whether or not I asked for it (politely of course). And more importantly the advice they are giving me have they put it into action and if so what were the results?

    I just about always get a silence and the conversation changes to a very different topic. Now I always go to someone who knows what they are talking about and has a good solid track record in the field of their expertise.

    This is one of the main reasons I joined your Liberation Academy Henri. You also answered all my emails promptly and sincerely, no problems at all. I am more than prepared to rock (as you put it).

    Also one last thing I would urge everybody to get hold of your Manifesto. It is a real mind opener and makes some great points about building a lifestyle business. I wrote three to four thousand words on your questions (on New Years day!) which were very revealing and bought out things I had never thought of before.

    I found the Manifesto a great way and tool to capture your lifestyle dreams like a net and make them visible by writing about them. It is a very powerful technique and well worth doing. I regard it as a work in progress.

    Another ‘spot on’ post Henri keep em coming!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Peter!

      It’s so easy to talk, but not so easy to take action, get results and then share those results.

      If you’re reading this and want to grab the manifesto, you can do so here.

  4. I just signed up for the Academy after months of bouncing around free offer to free offer. I thought I was bright enough to figure it out with all of the advice I was getting. Ha! I have an email inbox that I can’t keep up with contradicting information that has gotten me nowhere. I just unsubscribed from nearly all of them. It’s time to get focused, and get excited to FINALLY get serious! Can’t wait!

    • Glad to have you onboard, Darick!

      It seems we all have to go through these phases of confusion and frustration, because it is what makes us realize what we have to do to truly make this work.

  5. Hey Henri,

    thanks for your comment at Life’s Too Good – I thought I’d pop by and say ‘Hi’ here (and read your article of course). Interesting food for thought.

    I’m amazed with how much you can find out for free these days, but you’re absolutely right, you have to know what you are looking for in the first place, otherwise for anything complex like a business, it’s going to take a long while to put all of the ‘pieces’ together without some kind of guidance or framework.

    Nice article my friend,

    take care & best wishes,
    Alan

  6. I have to disagree. With enough enthusiasm and some common sense one can learn anything for free. On the other hand, if you lack intelligence no paid service will do the work for you.

    It is a matter of mindset mostly.

    • I completely agree.

      I’m not saying free is all bad. I’m saying it’s bad when it stops you from moving forward.

      When people are just starting out, they’re confused, so free often keeps them from taking action.

      • Well said, free is bad when it stops you from moving forward.

        I constantly get stuck with all the free education, learning, awesome content, media, etc. I have folders full, I make lists of content to absorb, go lcik crazy when AppSumo offers free training downloads…and all the while in the name of productivity.

        When I take a step back, it’s a sham, what would have been productive is to create that product, write that blog post that could have brought in traffic, updates my website with a new service to offer. Free is a double edged sword.

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