Let me answer this question with another question.

Which is more valuable to you…

1. Your favorite story, given by your departed mother on your birthday, with a dedication telling you how much she loves and appreciates you?

OR

2. The same story, same book, same everything… But you bought it at a bookstore?

Let’s rephrase that question another way.

Again, which is more valuable to you…

1. A free, autographed book given to you by your favorite author or artist?

OR

2. A free, autographed book given to you by an artist you’re familiar with, but aren’t really a big fan of?

Finally, let me rephrase that question a third time.

Which is more valuable to you…

1. The word of the person you value most (whether that’s your mother, your father, your sister, or your best friend)?

OR

2. The word of a colleague you don’t really know all that much?

 

There is more to VALUE than just PRICE

An object or person’s inherent value isn’t entirely dictated by its price. The truth is that TRUST is just as much a factor in bringing value to something. In fact, trust is more valuable than price ever could be.

Without trust, you’re less likely to make a sale. It’s why once-successful businesses suddenly lose customers—because the donut holes grew bigger, and the donuts themselves shrunk. A pastry that once tasted spectacular is now 80% air and 20% goodness. The moment that happens, trust is violated, and so sales plummet.

Of course, price can determine the value of something (especially when it comes to the retail businesses). Sometimes price can bring in the quality. It’s why designer bags are so expensive. They simply last longer! There’s more care put into them.

But you see, in these scenarios, price and trust are on equal grounds. These companies earned that trust from their customers by continuously putting quality and care into their products.

 

Value is Relative

In his book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, Chris Anderson says,

It turns out that our feelings about “free” are relative, not absolute. If something used to cost money and now doesn’t, we tend to correlate that with a decline in quality. But if something never cost money, we don’t feel the same way. A free bagel is probably stale, but free ketchup in a restaurant is fine. Nobody thinks that Google is an inferior search engine because it doesn’t charge.

He also cites an experiment and report by Cliff Harris and Kevin Kelley on video games.

In a sense, the people in the marketplace were telling him that they valued his games less than he thought they were worth. He realized any efforts to fight this would be fruitless unless people thought the games were worth more.

Same goes with our comics and stories. If your readers don’t think your story is worth the price you put on it, nothing you do can ever change that. The best thing you could do is write a better story, or make a better comic.

 

CONCLUSION

Offering something for free doesn’t mean your product is worthless, or of less quality than others that are offered at a higher price.

It’s the reader, your audience, that determines how valuable your art is—not you. If your work is extremely valuable to them, you could charge practically any price for it, and people will scramble in line to grab it. On the other hand, if they couldn’t care less about your work, then even giving it away for free won’t generate any interest or value.

So what should you do?

BUILD THAT TRUST BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR READERS!

Only then can you say that your work is worth something, even if you give it away for free. Because they’ll treasure it nonetheless (Click here to find out how to increase the chances of them loving your work). In fact, they might treasure that piece of art even more just because you gave it away for free, as a gift to them.

 

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN

Do you have any experience that agrees or disagrees with this idea? You’re welcome to share it in the comments. And if you do agree with the idea that value isn’t just based on price, please do share this with your friends.