Small Thoughts

Lift Off #7 – Freemium Business Model

Podcast Notes:

I had this great business idea last week. Develop a website that lets businesses easily create branded infographics and images for free. You could build a user base of your free service and offer those users upgraded capabilities or even premium graphic design services.

Well, this week I stumbled across They allow you to create infographics for free, with a monthly premium upgrade… There goes that idea.

I like that business model though. It’s not unique, but it’s smart. Offer a free service that draws users in and builds a strong user base. Especially a service that is so inherently engaging, like creating graphics. The act of creation is stimulating and addicting. Soon, the basic services won’t be enough for each user.

When they want to produce more attractive and elaborate creations, offer upgraded services. In Venngage’s case, more icons, templates, charts, and maps. In providing the free service, you build credibility and trust. It proves you can deliver an excellent product/service and that you’re concerned for the customer’s experience.

Think about your business. What could you offer for free that would draw people in?

Landscapers can do quick “how-to” videos or graphics for the simple jobs. When someone wants a more complex project done, they come to you because they know you’re the expert.

Artists can offer digital greeting cards, icons, or badges for free from their website. People use your art on social media while spreading your name through their networks at the same time. Then when someone wants a commission, book illustration, or web design done, they come to you because they already know you’re style is awesome.

Tutors can launch a membership website with paid content and free content. The free content, draws users in and proves you know what you’re talking about. People also get used to your teaching style. When they want to dig deeper, offer them an upgrade to premium service.

If you own a gift shop, post gift wrapping lessons for unique styles. Do a few quick videos or graphics about how to make some simple simple craft items with the materials you sell. Or better yet, host weekly classes for free in your community to demonstrate some craft idea. That’s “freemium” too.

Much of the freemium universe is online and deals with membership sites. But any time you offer a free service to draw people in and serve their basic needs, that technically freemium. In a couple weeks I’ll be talking about Netflix in a blog post. They offered a full month of free service as an incentive to get people in. That’s huge. It was a big expense, but they turned 93% of those free users into paid users. That’s a lot of monthly revenue. Free works.

I hope this sparked a few ideas for you. If you have any questions, or if you have a business idea you want me to hash out, email me. If you’re a reader, go to for more in-depth marketing articles.

If you haven’t already, subscribe on iTunes, the link is below. Give Lift Off a 5 star rating if you enjoy these small episodes! I’ve enjoyed producing them.

Well that was lift off. Fly true today, land safe. See you on Monday.

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