Your One Dream Has No Value Until You Give It Away For Free

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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One Dream: Samsung Galaxy Note™ 10.1 (Wi-Fi)

This week I am continuing with the theme of building your dream as an online business with the emphasis on becoming a top blogger. I started this series with the article, New Year Goals: The Heart of the Visionary for 1 Year and followed it the last week with Getting Rid of Beliefs That Stop Your Dream Progress Once and For All.

Now I want to focus on the part of your dream journey where you are clear about your one dream, one product, one theme, and when you should give it away for free.

Do not set yourself up for failure by calling yourself a myriad of titles like “I am a writer, spiritual master, graphic designer, and life coach.” (I wish I had a dollar for every time I have seen this online).

You must pick one vision – one title and build a brand around this one thing. If you truly want to be known as a writer, then call yourself a writer.

If you want to be a professional blogger, then call yourself a professional blogger.

Quit labeling your dream with all of your hobbies, loves and wishes.

Choose your one thing

You need a clear vision of your “one thing” so that you can create a plan to build your dream success. Think about how difficult in would be to organize an office around being a wedding photographer, web designer and real estate agent all in one. How would you know what technology you’d need to buy, let alone how to design your business cards and design a theme-based website?

It’s like saying you want to go on vacation to California, Canada, Spain, and Africa at the same time.  How could you plan anything without a clear choice?

This doesn’t mean that your hobbies can’t support your big dream, but the real dream success begins with coming up with a business plan, a list of goals and a serious target.  Even college requires that you choose a major.

Deciding on your one thing allows you to purchase the right URL, create a title, and create the right place to work on your dream. Knowing your one thing makes others take your dream seriously. You can call it a “home office corner,” a “creative corner,” or maybe it’s even a “business corner” you claim and redecorate in your garage (hey, writer, Erma Bombeck was known to write in her special place in the garage on a board balanced on two cardboard boxes), but understanding what your specific dream is allows you to take it from your imagination and turn it into something tangible in your life, like a special place to work on it.

Just as you need to narrow your focus to your one thing, your creative work space cannot be used for anything else but your dream. Nothing else. It can’t double as your laundry folding corner, the place to put everything down when you walk into the room, or the place your husband likes to lay down sports equipment. You need to treat it like you would treat a work office space — with respect and organization.

Create Your One Dream Space

Create your dream space

Do you even have a creative space for your dream? Does your family know? Do they support it?

Once you create your workspace it makes it easy to budget for what you’ll need at the beginning of your dream journey. Start small. As a professional blogger you’ll need a decent Internet connection, a computer you are comfortable sitting in front of for hours on end (one that only you will be using), a printer, a whiteboard, a portable computer for when you absolutely can’t take your creative space anymore and need to go write in a local coffee shop, and a file cabinet, or bins for organizing paperwork. You’ll also want to think about how you will be taking photos for your website or blog – and video – and what devices you want to use to create them.

You will be starting small, but thinking big.

You may be thinking big when you start your online journey — just don’t over-estimate your value in the beginning.

You could very well be the next Erma Bomback, Elizabeth Gilbert, or Jackie Collins, but you aren’t any of them when you are first starting out. If you really are as good as these famous writers, we’d already know who you are and someone else would be setting up your online business for you. Be humble with your talent in the beginning. There’s is much to learn about being an online success and writing talent is only part of the equation.

Give it away for free

In the beginning, you will be showcasing your writing by offering it for free.

That’s just the way it works online, especially when it comes to online content. Content is cheap now because it is so readily available. There’s a new writer hopping online every minute. You will have to showcase your talent for the world to see for free before you ever think about charging for, or making money at creating it.

Sorry dreamers, but if media outlets aren’t calling you for interviews, or masses of people aren’t following your every word on Twitter while thousands of others are begging to follow you on Facebook, Pinterest and other social media outlets then your content is not valuable to anyone but you, and putting a price on it just makes you look foolish.

Your talent online will be judged by who is talking about you and sharing what you create.

Major brands understand the concept of offering something for free to win followers. Have you ever received a new sample product in the mail for free? Did you have to pay for it? No. The company hopes that you will love their product so much, that when you run out of the free sample, nothing will stop you from racing to buy a replacement the first chance you get. And even when a brand offers you this free item, they’ve spent some real money creating that product and time testing it on thousands of users before you.

Pop icon Justin Bieber posted homemade videos of himself on YouTube. Phil Foglio, co-writer and artist of Girl GeSince started selling five times as many books when he put his new comic stories on the web for free.

Your One Dream Has No Value Until You Give It Away For Free: Seth Godin's Free Stuff

Best-selling author,  Seth Godin says

Who said you have a right to cash money from writing? I gave hundreds of speeches before I got paid to write one. I’ve written more than 4000 blog posts for free.

Poets don’t get paid (often), but there’s no poetry shortage. The future is going to be filled with amateurs, and the truly talented and persistent will make a great living. But the days of journeyman writers who make a good living by the word — over.

So factor “free” in your online business plan while you work on making your talent irresistible.

The Samsung brand understands the value of free and they recently sent me a Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet to test drive and write about for 8 Women Dream. They also gave me a Galaxy S3 Smartphone to use and are offering a future Smartphone giveaway to 8 Women Dream readers.

I now love them and their products.


Okay, yes, I think these two products are great and I think that every person working online should have both a Smartphone and a tablet if they want to run their website from anywhere, but the reason I love Samsung is because they offered me something of value for free — something I may never have tested on my own. It made me feel special. And in using their products I’ve discovered just how well-designed they are which now makes me want to spend money with Samsung and buy these products and their accessories.

Let me write this again: they first offered me something of value for free.

Give It Away For Free: The Samsung Gallaxy S3

As you begin your dream journey and you are perfecting your online content, give it away for free and ask for feedback. No one can really steal what you create because you are a factor in the creation of your content. No one can copy who you are. Let your reader’s reactions and how much your content is shared determine when your creation has value. Then sell them something they want you to create.

Now don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying offer your best stuff, your entire book idea and story online for free, but enough to allow visitors to determine the value of what you are offering. In return you get to test the waters without losing your financial shirt on a bad idea that needs changing.

In the words of Hugh MacLeod

“Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.”

This week focus on your one thing, setting up your specific dream space, and including in your plan enough time (and financial cushion) to offer what you create for free.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received two products free from Samsung as part of their test and review bloggers program. The tablet will be returned to Samsung and the phone I get to keep. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  • Natasha von Geldern

    Love the idea of an organised special place for a work station! And if I didn’t love sharing my heart about travel with the world with no compensation whatsoever I wouldn’t want to be doing this for a living!

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  • Love this! What a lovely post. Thanks Cath, i am truly Inspired to be more focused. Love you my super special Editor!

    •  Thank you Sue!

  • Cath – great post! We’ve had this conversation so many times over the years with various clients (and dreamers) and the first reaction is always panic at the word FREE. Love the quote from Seth Godin – “there’s no poetry shortage”. That will help keep my focus when I start to wonder about the adding value.


    •  I know – Seth kills me.

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