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How to make money by giving stuff away for free

I know what you’re thinking - the title seems to be too good to be true. But let me explain.

When I first started exploring the possibility of teaching online guitar lessons, I was surprised to see that many musicians were giving away lessons on YouTube for free. How did they make money?

Then slowly, I realized why they were doing this: because it makes sense. By providing high-quality, helpful content on the web in the form of videos, blogs, and social media posts, they were getting in front of a larger audience than they would have otherwise - and as a result, they were making more money.

Here’s some other reasons why this approach makes sense:

  • Providing free content builds trust with your audience - which is a key part of sales. With online businesses, often you don’t have the ability to meet your customers in person. By providing these types of free content, you’re giving the customer reasons to respect and trust you, without ever having a face-to-face conversation. It provides legitimacy and credibility, and makes it more likely that your customers will remain loyal to you as a trusted content provider.
  • Once customers have expressed interest in your content and have watched your videos/read your blog articles, they’ll want more. I provide high-quality videos for free that are addressed to guitar beginners. They cover topics like how to buy your first guitar, or how to strum simple chords. However, once beginners master these skills, they’ll want to learn more - and that’s where my paid content comes in. Since they already trust me as a guitar expert, they’re more likely to head to my website to check out my longer-form, more in-depth lessons.

There are several ways to replicate my success when it comes to providing content for free to make money.

  • Start with a few relatively lightweight offerings that are high-quality - it could be articles, blog posts, or videos. Promote them through social media, digital channels, and other areas, and ensure you’re including a call to action so customers know where to go to find more info on you and your subject.
  • Give customers the option of subscribing to a newsletter or providing their email address for more info. This is one way to establish another touchpoint with them, and provide more content that may be of interest. Tools like Hubspot or MailChimp make it easy to create email campaigns.
  • Once you’ve built a following, begin marketing your paid offerings. Ensure that customers know what the benefit of these offerings are, and make sure that it’s clear what they’ll receive if they sign up.

Giving away your expertise sounds counter intuitive, but it’s a great way to build trust, rapport, and followers. Try it, and you’ll see the big effects it can have on your business.


Micah Lipsmeyer is a musician and instructor with over ten years of experience teaching guitar lessons. His teaching style enables his students to learn proper form that lets them start playing their favorite songs faster. Learn more at

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