Nothing is free. If it’s free then you are the product.

We want quality and value, but when it comes to the digital world, we don’t want to pay. We want the freebie. We want the content without the cost. In fact, we will spend extra time (money) searching for the free one instead of paying for the one we know is quality.

Perhaps this is a matter of abundance (or overload) that the internet provides. Or maybe we just don’t understand what it means to produce valuable content.

The only way we can understand value in the digital world, is to understand the cost it takes to consume it. We may not pay for the podcast, but we have to listen to the ads. We may not buy the materials, but we now have to deal with the spam. It is not much a matter of price, but value. We waste 25% of our groceries because they go bad, so we lose money every week. We have no problem spending the extra few dollars for that fancy cup of coffee that we burn through once and then throw the container in a landfill.

But, when it comes to the $5 material that we will get hours of use from or the $10 book that can change our life forever, we roll our eyes and scoff at the cost.

How dare this person who put in the time and effort to create this want compensation for their time?

If we value the product that someone produces, whether it be a podcast, ebook, or therapy material, we can show that we value it by purchasing it. Do we want to incentivize those whose ideas we value? Do we want them to continue producing the content we love? It is a matter of positive reinforcement. We reinforce digital products by valuing them. We demonstrate our appreciation of value by purchasing and promoting them.  

In the attention economy, everyone is competing for your eye dollars. We are responsible for who is enhancing us and not extracting from us. We need to be willing to pay the price unless we want the future to be ads, spam and pop-ups. Value is more than money, it is a time metric and a reinforcer. So when you consume content, know it is never free.