Making FREE something that was paid

I recently took two products I created in the past, which were paid, and I was considering to make them free.

It’s not a decision which you take light-hearted, right?

I invested hundreds of hours into creating those products. Possibly thousands if you consider the knowledge I had to acquire in order to be able to create them.

The first product was a course I did in 2019.

It was a one-time thing. A video course that has a start date, an end date, and which won’t ever repeat.

Yes I could have repurposed that again as a paid course, but as far as courses go, I am now focusing on a different kind of courses, my masterclasses and the bootcamp.

I have no plans to open signups to this course again, and no one was watching it any more.

It’s a waste to have this quality and kind of unique (in my opinion) course there, unseen, collecting dust.

If I let another couple years go by, it will be outdated and useless.

So it’s a “now or never” kind of thing.

I haven’t made any progress on this, but it’s something I have in mind for the future.

The second product I decided to make free was a book I released at the beginning of 2020, almost 2 years ago.

This time, I have acted and the book is now available on https://flaviocopes.com/page/book-blog/.

The book is not about programming, but it’s about blogging, targeting a developers audience.

That book had a good launch week, but after that it sold very few copies. Like 8 copies in 2 months.

Again, I spent countless hours on this book, and basically no one was reading it any more.

The question was: what’s more important for me?

Am I happier if the book makes me a little money, but basically no one reads it? Not everyone that buys a book reads it. I know it first-hand with the countless books sitting unread in my library.

Or am I happier if a lot of people get value from the book?

I’m lucky to have a primary source of income through my programming courses, so I can give the book a new life by making it free.

One question that I posed myself is, will people that purchased those products be angry if I make this change?

In the case of the course, it happened 2.5 years ago and I think that’s a fair amount of time to change things up.

And the big part of the course was watching it unroll live day after day, and being part of the community and ask me questions, so that value can’t be lost.

It was a special kind of course. You signed up, and I’d send you a video each day for 34 days. A video that I hadn’t pre-recorded, it was me building an app “live”, but without the live factor, so the end video was a bit polished.

With the book however, for the people that purchased it in the past 2 months, I offered them a refund.

What am I going to do now with those products?

One thing that comes into play with this kind of decisions is that those products can help get my work out in the world.

I want the best kind of outcome from that.

I don’t just “put things out and see”.

The book is now part of my 15 free books downloadable by joining my email newsletter.

I will also release the book on freeCodeCamp News, the big publication ran by freeCodeCamp with free written tutorials. This should happen this week.

What about the course?

I want to start remixing the videos and I will release the course, composed by 34 videos, as a one big video which runs for ~16 hours.

I considered publishing it on my own YouTube channel, which I kind of abandoned but has 10k subscribers and it might grow with this course published as a video series.

Maybe I can see if I can publish it on freeCodeCamp’s YouTube channel, as that has the biggest distribution with over 4 million subscribers. That’s a lot of developers that might benefit from that course.

That’s good food for thought.

Should I focus on growing a presence on YouTube, or ..not? Sometimes I think about the YouTube channel and what could I do with it.

And most of the time, I definitely do not want to create what the usual programming YouTuber does. Like: I don’t want to make coding tutorials on YouTube.

I already make coding tutorials on my blog.

And I already do videos for my premium courses.

One thing I’d like to do with YouTube is a different kind of videos, and this course is a coding tutorial, so it’d be out of place there.

I imagine if I publish it on my blog, it could have 5 to 10k views total.

If I create the video for freeCodeCamp, it might have 100k views, or 400k. They have videos with multiple million views.

Suppose the video does super well, extraordinarily well, and in 2 years it gets 1 million views. That’d be simply impossible if I post it on my channel, but not impossible with freeCodeCamp, they have many videos with millions of views. And that’d be a 100x result better.

If I am reasonable and I assume it will reach 100k views in 1 year, that’s already 10x better.

So that might be the route I will take, after I finish working on the videos of my JavaScript Masterclass, which fills up my days now.

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