Dealing in connection.
I wrote and designed a PDF for one of my clients recently to help her promote her upcoming coach certification program. It outlines her school’s curriculum, philosophy, and the benefits of what her program has to offer.
Upon completion, my client told me that she didn’t want to send it to anyone. She was concerned that it said too much and that someone might rip it off.
Which is very possible.
And also not an issue if the value of what she’s offering comes from the opportunity for connection that her program provides beyond the information that it delivers.
Welcome to the connection economy.
Information—like the industrial goods that came before—is decreasing in value. Perhaps not for those people on a race to the bottom but definitely for the people trying to elevate and empower others through their ability to build community and offer social value through their work.
Unlike information and industrial goods, participating in the connection economy requires empathy, patience, and a desire to make people's lives better.
You don’t need large amounts of capital to get started and you can’t buy into it in the same ways you could buy into the industrial and information economy.
What this means is, the value of what you have to offer is what’s left over once you’ve given all the information you have away.
I am working on three courses for writers right now to help them get out of their own way so they can do their best work. They focus on budgeting, creating content, and marketing.
Anything that’s information-based, I’m giving people free access to. This includes lessons in the form of short videos, questionnaires, diagrams, marketing funnel outlines, pricing models, etc.
All of it. All free.
What people then have the option of paying for is the overlapping coaching and workshop component of each course. For a fraction of what it would cost to work with me one-on-one, students will be given the support they need to get out of their own way, do their best work, and connect to people like them.
They will get coaching practices, live workshop time where they can get help sorting out any professional challenges they might be dealing with, and a forum for them to interact with the other writers in the course.
That’s the value in what I have to offer.
This might mean that everyone takes the courses for free the first year and then signs up for the coaching/workshop component the second year when they realize that there’s more to being a successful writer than just having the right information.
I don’t mind. Participating in the connection economy is about building relationships and that takes time.
While it took me years to learn how to be a successful freelance writer, I’m not interested in charging for that sweat equity. This is in large part because the reason I am where I am is that other people gave away what they knew for free.
Now it’s my turn to pay it forward.
It’s also my turn to make a ruckus and disrupt the way things are.
Because if I start giving everything I know away for free, that might just change the culture of writing, marketing, and coaching. It might mean that you have to start giving everything you know away for free too and spend more time helping us to connect with each other instead.
Or I’ll fail miserably. That risk is what makes the connection economy so exciting.
So how are you participating in the connection economy?