Expensive or Free: Sharing Information

A woman wearing a face mask on the bus looking at her smartphone

An informed audience is your best friend.

The more they know about fitness and nutrition, the more likely they are to choose you as a coach.

As I wrote in “Be Expensive or Be Free,” your coaching should be expensive. But your information should be free. An informed audience is your best audience.

Our media ethos at Catalyst (my gym) is this: “Teach our audience to know more than any of the other trainers in town.”

The more my audience knows, the more likely they are to choose Catalyst.

Sharing Information

Almost every day, I get an email like this:

“If you care so much, why are you still charging for your service during covid?”

The simple answer, of course, is that we’re not a charity—and your business shouldn’t be a charity either.

But the deeper answer is that mentorship is more valuable than ever before.

Think about it: a successful gym owner who’s been in your shoes and can tell you how to avoid huge problems? A caring expert who can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars and many sleepless nights? Yeah, I’m not going to ask that mentor to work for free. The hard-won experience, backed by crazy expensive data, is most useful to the people who trade something to receive it.

But I will share our collective knowledge for free. I’ll share the data that cost me over $1 million to collect and analyze. I’ll spend over $20,000 per month on media we give away for free.

I’ll do all that because knowledge helps everyone: A gym owner who knows more than the other “gurus” is a good fit for Two-Brain.

How Much Is too Much?

All content producers ask themselves this question: “Am I giving too much away for free?” At least until they realize they’re not selling secrets. There are no secrets anymore.

Content paywalls and hidden knowledge are ineffective because your clients can always find the information somewhere else—if they want to.

The key is to provide the specific answer your audience needs. Give them the full map, and then sell your service as a guide.

I often give away templates and workbooks. Click here for a mountain of them. You don’t have to go that far if it makes you uncomfortable. But after almost a decade of giving information away for free every day, I promise you this: I’ve never given away too much.

Why You Can’t Provide Service for Free

Information should be free. Your coaching should be expensive.

It will be tempting to give away coaching for free. People will ask you for advice over text or ask to “get on a call” for more info. You have to know where to draw the line. And you draw the line wherever someone else is paying for the same service.

For example, sometimes people ask me to write their kids a program to make them better at hockey. That would be easy for me, but it wouldn’t be fair to my other clients, who are paying for coaching.

I’ve given scholarships in my gym before. And once, I even gave a scholarship to Two-Brain. CrossFit HQ staff asked me to help a box owner in trouble—one of the OGs who just couldn’t get profitable. And guess what? People who don’t trade value for value don’t get value. Paying me a few thousand won’t change my life, but if clients don’t pay, I can’t change their lives.

Nassim Taleb would call that “skin in the game.”

My gym has waitresses who work an extra shift each week to pay for their memberships. They don’t complain about value and they don’t ask for discounts.

That doesn’t mean you can’t help people. It doesn’t mean you can’t be generous. You can do those things without destroying your platform.

My online hero, Seth Godin, wrote this:

“Gifts create connection and possibility, but not all gifts have monetary value. In fact, some of the most important gifts involve time, effort and care instead.”

So we have daily blog posts. We have three podcasts per week. We spend over $25,000 per month creating materials and media that we just give away for free. Use it all. It’s yours.

We also have the most valuable mentorship practice in the fitness industry.

A final note: If you want to send me a letter calling me a bastard because I won’t give you something that hundreds of others pay to get, maybe just hold onto it. You won’t change my mind, but you will lose access to everything we publish over the next 10 years.


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.