Free can be good. Somehow we seemed to have lost the essence of this. We equate cost to value. We tend to consider things that we pay for to be superior to things that are free. No wonder marketers are having a field day – they can sell you an inferior product at a higher price. It is the case all over the internet. A lot of the traditional affiliate marketing revolved around things you could find for free online (there are of course honorable exceptions) and repackaging it into something you sell.
Free vs. Paid
One argument for paid content is that it saves you time doing the research yourself. This is partly true. You buy a book because you cannot do the research that the author does. Even if you could, it is probably not worth your time. This is a legitimate reason to buy some lesser known eBooks which are in niche areas, like affiliate marketing or blogging.
That being said, reading specialized books also robs you of something which is far more superior – experience. Sometimes you need to learn things the hard way. Sometimes you need to stumble to find your way. Sometimes failure is the best teacher. You cannot expect someone to feed you all the information you need because you are not the same as that person, no matter how “guru status” the author has.
The Best Things are Free
I am not even talking about the philosophical ideas about best things in life being free. Think of what looks more credible to you – an imperfect Wikipedia article talking about how some common chemicals can be carcinogens or an advertisement from Dow chemicals claiming otherwise? Yes, people trust sources that aren’t doing it just for the money.
Wikipedia of course is the best example of how the best things are free. Linux is another great example. Half the software I use on my computer is free, from VLC Media Player to Open Office.
Information Sources: Blog Posts
Blogs can be an incredible source of information that people oftentimes underestimate. They provide honest reviews, real feedback and real experiences of real people. In many instances, you can relate much more to a human being than to an encyclopedia. This would apply in any area that you are looking at, from local news to fashion to education.
Free Education: The Next Revolution
Free education seems to be the next revolution in free. edX was recently started by a cooperation between MIT and Harvard, which of course comes after Stanford’s Coursera. This of course is a whole new paradigm in itself and needs a fully dedicated blog post of its own. The point is, free online courses can replace the highly overpriced higher education throughout the world, so that students from all over the world of all ages have access to the best of human knowledge all for free.
So stop being fooled by marketing gimmicks and know the reasons when you buy something. Don’t assume something you paid for is better than the stuff freely available just because you paid for it.
Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey