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Why you should consider offering an online course for free

The online environment is a vast pool of free knowledge. Started as a complementary source of education, free courses have now become the safety net for millions of learners. Being confined inside our homes made us consider our personal development more. And for some people around the world, free courses meant the only education they could receive during the pandemic.

Not trying to minimize the impact in today's society of free online education, let me present to you the benefits of offering a free course regardless of the unfolding worldwide health issues.

But before we get into that, we need to understand how people perceive the notion of "free stuff" and how they act and react towards it.

Why we love free things

Finding ourselves in front of a free product, most of us will take it in a flash. Whether it's queueing for a free bagel or a slice of pizza, buying more products to receive an extra free one — or simply giving our email address in exchange for a free course — we are willing to play a part in this deal. We offer our time or personal information in the blink of an eye, just to be rewarded with free stuff.

Why is this phenomenon happening universally even when we don't need the product in the first place?

The answer lies in the emotional trigger such an offer causes for people. It's gratifying to receive things for free, knowing that your effort is minimal or non-existent. But why should you, as an entrepreneur, consider this approach? The justification is grounded on the theory of reciprocity related to free products. People feel compelled to give something in return when they receive something for free. It's like they feel in debt towards the person, the business, or the brand to give back.

Statistics show that people who have received free products are likely to remember the offer, the product, and the brand for longer periods. They are also eager to share the information with someone else and even continue buying products of the same brand as a sign of gratitude, thus becoming loyal to the brand.

This type of behavior is what you should nurture as an entrepreneur. You want your prospects to become loyal customers and establish a long term relationship with them.

With this being said, let's dig deeper into the main benefits of offering an online course for free.

5 Reasons why you should be offering an online course for free

There are several advantages I can mention, but I'm going to stick to the following five:

  1. Make yourself known

    When you start the journey of becoming a knowledge entrepreneur, you cannot overlook the importance of the online world, even if you don't intend to have an online business exclusively. Most likely than not, your potential customers are already active online as well, so what better way to connect with them than through this medium?

    Through a free online course, you can reach people easier and make a name for yourself in the industry.

    As a knowledge entrepreneur, you might ask yourself why you should offer what you know for free if this is the very thing that should generate your income. Well, to have your clients, they'll have to get to know your first. So, offering them a glimpse of what you have to offer will open new horizons for you.

    Read more: 6 Personal branding tips for knowledge entrepreneurs

  2. Connect to a wider audience

    Assuming you've already found your niche and have an established audience, by offering a free course, you get to connect to other people and widen your target market.

    This way, you make yourself and your knowledge available to the general public, stepping away from the boundaries of a certain audience.

    I'm not saying that this guarantees your success overnight and you'll be able to enlarge your loyal customer list, but it offers you the chance to grow your business and step outside of your comfort zone.

    At least you can receive feedback from others, which you can use to improve your offer. It might even help reshape your content into a fresh and updated course.

    Read more: 4 Ways of using the feedback you got for your online course

  3. Transform prospects into future paying customers

    The ultimate goal of offering a free online course is to establish a community of learners willing to pay for the content you have to offer.

    For whatever reason, people don't value free courses as much as they do with paid ones. The level of motivation and engagement is higher in learners that had to pay to access the content.

    So, while a free course gets the word out there about you as an instructor, a paid course could seal the deal and get you a loyal customer.

    To reach this stage, one crucial aspect needs to be considered: the value of the free course. If you offer something irrelevant and insignificant to your audience, it's all over. You end up wasting your time and money in vain. People accept free things just because they generate a positive emotion, but they will not interact with the content and have the desired reaction to it if it doesn't mean anything to them or doesn't bring value to their lives.

    Once you offer your potential customers something they were longing for, you establish a connection with them in the long run, and, by means of compensation, they will be there with and for you to experience new things together.

    Read more: Getting people to buy your online courses in COVID-19 times

  4. Create more opportunities to make money

    When you offer your content for free, you forget about the possibility of making money out of it. Although you can turn your free course into a paid one at some point, you can monetize it in different ways, too.

    Getting the word out there that you exist as an instructor can generate many opportunities for you to make money. For instance, you can be asked to speak in various conferences and podcasts and steadily create a strong name for yourself in your domain.

    You could also embrace affiliate marketing, which generates income when others entrust you to promote their business on your blog.

  5. Contribute to the education of the underprivileged

    It's a noble perspective what I'm suggesting here, which should make you think about the larger impact your free course has on people all over the world.

    There are numerous cases worldwide in which a smartphone and internet connection are the only things a child or an adult has to be able to learn and evolve. This way, they can grow personally and even professionally, helping many others around them to improve their lives.

    This humanitarian component is not to be overlooked because education is the only weapon we have to bring prosperity to ourselves and others.

All in all

Free online courses will benefit you and your business, as well as people who want to evolve personally and professionally. Although there are some drawbacks when it comes to offering a course for free, the benefits cannot be taken lightly.

When you are known for what you do, you may not even need to offer free courses to grow your business, but you can still consider the educational impact such a decision has.

So, wait no more and educate, educate, educate, for this is the noblest thing you can do, which can also bring you financial rewards.

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