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The Internet is free. We all know that. But as an Indie Business owner, do you find that sometimes folks think that your products and services should be free too? How many times a week do you receive an email from somone asking for free samples of your stuff? This "give it to me free" mentality that many people bring to their online shopping experiences has even given rise to it's own word — "freconomics". The notion that everything online should be free is misguided, and yet, there is some truth to it. Consider that the chief way to attract someone to your website is to offer something free. A free sample, a free newsletter, the chance to win a free product, a free e-book. Free — free — free!

The bottom line is that "free: is the name of the game when it comes to online, and in this economy, the more free stuff you bring to the party, the better off you and your business are. Having said that, you have to know where to draw the free line. A free product as part of a weekly drawing is one thing, but taking hours out of each week to respond to email requests from people who want free stuff? Not so much.

My suggestion is to identify 2 or 3 no- or low-cost ways you can add a great deal of value to your customers' experience. This allows them to get a lot without you having to spend a lot. A regularly published newsletter and a blog that churns out a new and informative article once or twice a week are two of the best low or even no-cost ways to keep your customers coming back for more without breaking the bank.

Question: What value added items do you give to your customers to encourage buzz, brand awareness and increase sales?

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.