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In our new world of AI, should agencies give knowledge away for free through content?

Why i'm going for a 'Freemium' approach

Should agencies give knowledge away for free through content?


About 5 years ago, I'd have said yes without a doubt. These days, less so..

The general thinking is you give away your knowledge for free, and it drives leads to your business, and that’s how you make money on your content (particularly effective for agencies).

However, these days, I'm starting to second guess this way of thinking.

My initial ‘doubts’ came way back when Google introduced the featured snippets which gave direct answers to questions with little need to refer traffic.

While not a deal breaker it was a clear shift in the ‘exchange’ of knowledge for traffic.

AI has made this ‘exchange’ even more challenging. Models learn from the knowledge you give away and give 0 incentive or hook to visit your website or blog.

Publishers are scrambling to get deals with AI firms so they can actually get paid for providing content to help LLMs learn.

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Here’s some personal examples:
1) When NOVOS started, we had huge success by giving away free SEO eCommerce knowledge, which drove traffic, brand awareness and leads.

2) I’m doing the same approach now with The Living House: we give away free interior design tips and advice weekly. Our SEO traffic has over doubled in 6 months, and we’re at an all-time high in terms of leads and revenue.

3) However, for my personal blog, I’m now taking the approach of “freemium”.

What is ‘Freemium”

The model is popular in the Saas world and I believe you can apply the same model to content.

Over the weekend, I migrated from WordPress to Beehiiv, which gives me the option of selecting specific topics that are available through premium membership vs those that are free.

This has already allowed me to go way more in-depth for certain topics because I actually feel like I’m getting something (small at the moment) in return for this knowledge, whereas previously, I’d be holding back "secret sauce" ( 😂 ) for my agency courses and consultancy.

So as you will see the occasional deep dive content I provide will be gated for premium subscribers. A premium subscription costs less than a coffee and allows me to provide you with topic depth that was only available to my coaching clients.

Premium subscribers can also send topics to me which i will answer in future content, just like an advice column.

You can upgrade, support and influence future content here: https://theagnc.co.uk/upgrade

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My thinking is now going towards giving free content if the service you are offering is a specialised implementation channel.

For example, with agency coaching or consultancy, you can take the knowledge and directly implement the work; you don’t pay a coach to run your business; you pay for knowledge and insights (especially in the early stages).

Whereas with SEO and Interior Design, even if you get some insight and knowledge, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to implement it (properly) yourself.


What do you think about this as topic? is the ‘exchange’ of free content for traffic still a thing?


( p.s. i'm not talking about the engagement-led, click-baity summary content you see on social media. I mean actual in-depth knowledge sharing.)