Should you give your product away for free to first adopters?


During the first few weeks of launching, should you give your product away for free to get people to use it and possibly spread the word about it?

Is that a good marketing tactic? It's a strategy that is often used by authors -- they give away copies of their book in order to get reviews and people talking about it.

Marketing Products Free Early Adopters Startups

asked May 20 '14 at 13:21
Cynthia Wilson
12 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

2 Answers


I'd recommend you charge for your product from day 1. Here's why:

  • You will get better feedback from customers as they are putting their money where their mouth is.
  • You'll have cash flow (albeit small at the beginning) to continue building and growing the business. Some cash flow is better than no cash flow.
  • It's harder to get an accurate sense if people will pay for your product unless they're actually paying for it. If you were to pitch your product to 100 companies and said "it's free" at the end, almost all would be up for signing up blindly. Yet if it came with a cost, they would have take a honest look at whether there's value in it for them.
answered May 21 '14 at 13:58
Nishank Khanna
4,265 points
  • I second this. In fact, I see lots of people shifting to the "money back guarantee" model instead of freemium. – Josh Anderson 10 years ago
  • I agree with your suggestions. – Garysvpa 10 years ago


It depends on the type of product you are selling, marketplace you are in, and expectations of your prospective customers.

If you save people time or money, you should charge for your product from day 1.

If you need to educate people on the utility of your product because it's something innovative, giving it away for free will allow you to get some users onboard and get early data and feedback on usage.

If you are in a market where free products are very common and competition is high and/or customers do expect free versions or samples (or trials) of the product, giving away your product for free can become your engine of growth because certain customer groups eagerly promote free products they like.

Freemium model isn't dead, it's just not for everyone, but still works for many companies and products.

Optional Reading:

I had this one competitor who grew their site to 1.5 million uniques per month in about 3-4 years by giving away all their product for free, they monetized with advertising. They then added subscription plans and from what I can tell, the traffic didn't drop off at all. The tens of thousands of backlinks they got from being free are still sending them traffic, which they now successfully convert to paid subscribers. I feel I owe them for a lesson on "the power of free".

answered May 21 '14 at 18:36
2,835 points

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